Updated: 09 June 2022 10:34 STI
Brussels [Belgium]Jun 09 (ANI): Chinese lending to Africa tends to decline in times of crisis and lending commitment dropped in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic and its economic aftershocks have had a negative impact on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, both in terms of implementation and funding, European Times reported.
Chinese loan commitments to African countries reached a historic low of $1.9 billion in 2020 and the total number of projects declined with only 11 projects funded, compared to a total average of around 60 projects per year between 2015 and 2019.
Among the top ten loan recipients, only Ghana received new loans in 2020. In contrast, historically heavy borrowers such as Angola and Ethiopia received no loans.
This trend raises the question of whether Chinese lending to Africa is drying up. This comes against the backdrop of Chinese financiers signing 1,188 loan commitments worth $160 billion with 49 African governments over the period 2000-2020, European Times reported.
But there are other bigger issues regarding Chinese investment in African countries.
Besides the impact of the pandemic, BRI projects are losing credibility due to labor and human rights violations, in addition to causing serious environmental damage.
China’s unethical ways of doing business in African countries are fast becoming a new norm rather than an exception. A Chinese national was recently arrested in Uganda for allegedly preventing the Minister of Gender, Labor and Social Development, Betty Amongi Akena, from inspecting the working conditions of employees of Sunbelt Industries Ltd.
Apparently, at least 80% of the 100 women working in the factory don’t even have access to basic amenities like clean sanitary facilities. The minister also found that none of the factory workers wore headgear despite the use of heavy machinery.
In addition, the workers alleged widespread aggression and intimidation by Chinese owners against the workers in addition to their poor working conditions. Cases of worker exploitation and sexual harassment by Chinese nationals had also been previously reported.
Police in Bukwo District, Uganda arrested (April 2022) two Chinese nationals from China State Construction Engineering and Cooperation for alleged sexual harassment of female workers at the company
Similar cases of torture of local people have also been reported in neighboring Rwanda. A Chinese national has been sentenced to 20 years for torturing local minors after a video showing him whipping a man attached to a post went viral on social media.
Chinese companies are also known to have signed very biased contractual agreements with host countries in Africa. Beijing has often been criticized for signing strict agreements and further banning their publication. It also stipulates conditions such as reimbursement in Chinese currency or its conversion at the prevailing rates, which makes settlement difficult. (ANI)