Investment plan

BRI and the EU investment plan in Africa: a critical analysis | By Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

BRI and the EU investment plan for Africa: a critical analysis

The geopolitical OBSESSION has once again compelled the European Union (EU) to invest in the African continent to compete with the Chinese BRI.

China’s US-sponsored and plotted containment policy has now been hijacked and extended even to African countries.

In this regard, the so-called sugar-coated geo-economic shift from the EU to Africa has in fact inflated political intentions and geo-strategic constraints.

Moreover, Wang Yi’s successful diplomatic trip in January 2022 sent shock and awe through European capitals and his aftershocks even shook Washington DC.

In early January, Morocco signed an agreement with China facilitating the joint implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), making it the first country in North Africa to do so. More and more African countries are looking closely at the new BRI implementation plan, with a view to developing their own similar plans.

Morocco’s geopolitical position, combined with China’s growing global influence and economic success, is injecting new energy into the framework of global South cooperation.

In this regard, the implementation plan between Morocco and China also sends a clear signal in the face of rising geopolitical factors, that China regards Africa as a strategic partner and a key economic pole, and will compete in accordance with international laws for fair access and free trade, built on a win-win strategy.

To counter the strong Chinese economic presence and stop the periods of membership before the European Union-African Union summit which is due to start on February 17, 2022, the EU would work on a financing plan of 20 billion euros (22.7 billion of dollars) to support so-called African development.

China’s BRI, a multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment platform, has positive economic implications for developing countries on the African continent and the EU and US are constantly overshadowed by political concerns and of national security.

Despite Western propaganda, the BRI is currently carrying out many infrastructure, railway, energy, industrialization and ICT development mega-projects in various countries in Africa that pose no threat to the security of the EU and US. Thus, geopolitical externalities are a secondary concern for recipient states.

In the near past, the EU unveiled its “Global Gateway” project which is seen as a European alternative to the Chinese BRI.

In December 2021, the 27-member bloc announced that it would mobilize up to 300 billion euros ($343.5 billion) in public and private investment worldwide by 2027. Rising to 60 billion euros per year, the funds would be used to help emerging countries. economies are recovering from the coronavirus pandemic which has plunged many African countries into debt distress.

Europe is not alone in wanting to overshadow the Chinese BRI. The United States also announced its own initiative, “Build Back Better World” (B3W), at the G7 summit in June 2021.

Now the EU has announced a program which is the first regional plan of the European Union’s Global Gateway.

It will use funding from EU institutions and member countries to leverage private sector investment. It will be used for renewable energies, natural disaster risk reduction, Internet access, transport, vaccine production and education in Africa.

Speaking at a press conference in Senegal’s capital Dakar, von der Leyen told reporters she was “proud” to announce plans for Africa, where the aim was to raise at least less than 150 billion euros of investments.

The EU’s website says Global Gateway money will be earmarked for so-called “smart, lean and secure links” in communications and transport and improving health, education and the research. Von der Leyen, president of the powerful executive European Commission, arrived in Africa to prepare for a summit between the EU and the African Union on February 17-18.

Speaking to the press ahead of his arrival in Senegal, von der Leyen warned that foreign investment in Africa too often comes with “hidden costs”.

More recently, China hosted the 8th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation where the “2035 Vision for China-Africa Cooperation” involving 60 billion dollars of investment was presented, as well as the “Dakar Action Plan (2022-2024) which provides for “less” 9 billion euros of investment in Senegal alone.

Thus, China takes Africa’s economic development seriously. To conclude, the EU Global Gateway (EGG) is mainly a politically motivated project that bears no resemblance to the BRI proposed by China. It is therefore another failed attempt by the EU to “counter China’s reach on the continent.” Thus, the pure economic concept of shared prosperity and community development is sorely lacking in the EU investment plan for Africa.

According to the EU, the new investment plan for Africa covers a wide range of areas, ranging from transport networks, energy, digital and education to health projects; however, EU member states “have yet to commit to funding the infrastructure plans that are urgently needed in various African countries.

Thus, its economic importance is reduced and bogged down by certain geopolitical objectives. On the other hand, due to the weak global economic outlook, the EU bloc and many other countries now do not have enough surplus funds to support these projects in Africa. It seems that the real problem with the EU investment plan in Africa has geopolitical motivations.

It is a bitter reality that many European countries and the United States all have a long history of shame and shambles on the African continent.

France and the United Kingdom were once the two largest colonial empires on the continent, plundering resources and ruthlessly exploiting Africans. All colonized EU countries have treated Africans as their personal slaves in the past.

Unfortunately, even today, colonialism is still deeply rooted in the Western mentality towards Africa, with eyes fixed on the continent’s resources and materials. The growth of African countries and the livelihoods of Africans are never on the priority list of hypocritical Western powers.

There is now an economic competition between the Chinese concept of shared prosperity and the perpetual colonialization of the EU, the Chinese economic generosity and the genocides of the EU, the development of the Chinese community and the discrimination of the EU against the Black Africans and last, but not least, the Chinese spirit of cooperation and coordination and the evil spirit of conspiracy and conflict of the EU.