CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
By Obinna Chima, â€¨with agency reports
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has described China as a major contributor to the de-industrialisation as well as underdevelopment of Africa.
Sanusi said this in an article published in the Financial Times obtained by THISDAY Tuesday.
He warned that with the growing interest of China in the continent, Africa is “opening itself up to a new form of imperialism.”
The CBN chief also insisted that a review of the “exploitative elements” in what he also described as a “marital contract” between Africa and China was long overdue.
He advised governments and policy makers in the continent to shake off their “romantic view of China,” and see Beijing as a competitor as well as a partner capable of the same exploitative practices as the old colonial powers.
Sanusi explained: “China takes from us primary goods and sells us manufactured ones. This was also the essence of colonialism. China is no longer a fellow underdeveloped economy. China is the second biggest economy in the world, an economic giant capable of the same forms of exploitation as the West. China is a major contributor to the de-industrialisation of Africa and thus African underdevelopment.”
Trade between China and Africa was worth more than $200 billion in 2012, 20 times what it was in 2000 when Beijing committed to a policy of accelerated engagement.
There has also been strong growth partly as a result of Asian demand for African resources.
But the boom in commodities, services and consumer spending has coincided with the relative decline of African manufacturing from 12.8 per cent to 10.5 per cent of regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the United Nations.
African leaders and the African Development Bank (ADB) recently urged governments to work with one another to ensure they maximise benefits from relations with their leading trade partner, but they have traditionally cloaked their concerns in emollient diplomatic language.
Reflecting our the shifting views of a growing number of senior African officials who fear the continent’s anaemic industrial sector is being battered by cheap Chinese imports, Sanusi argued in the article that African countries must respond to “predatory” trade practices such as subsidies and currency manipulation that give Chinese exports an advantage. He stressed that the continent must build infrastructure and invest in education so that African businesses can compete for continental trade as Chinese labour costs rise.
“China is losing that advantage as its economy grows and prosperity spreads. Africa must seize the moment and move manufacturing of goods consumed in Africa out of China to the African continent ... I cannot recommend a divorce. However, a review of the exploitative elements in this marital contract is long overdue.”
Sanusi’s opinion came just as South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, had warned western companies to shed an old “colonial” mindset when investing in Africa and to stop warning against the embrace of China.
"China is doing business in a particular way and we think we can see the benefits. But we are very, very careful,” Zuma added, citing Africa’s experience of colonialism.
Such a relationship, he said, must “benefit both. And this is what we and China have been agreeing on.”