As a long-term investor and developer of infrastructure in West Africa, I have been tracking China’s courtship of African nations over the last decade. Traditionally, most Chinese foreign investment in Africa has been aggressively one sided and based more on politics than an objective business case. These investments often require local sovereign guarantees and strong local government support. This may be one of the reasons why, despite the strong business case for infrastructure development in Africa, these investments have yielded mixed results.
The basis of Chinese investment in Africa is now changing, perhaps in part due to slowing growth in China and the crack downs on corruption taking place in China and in many African countries, notably Nigeria. In fact, both traditional Western and Chinese investors have acknowledged over the last two years that new, business-focused, transparent investment strategies are urgently required for Africa. Both sets of foreign investors are now collaborating more with credible private local companies and institutions, rather than governments and/or politically exposed people and organisations.