Amid growing concerns, especially from the United State of America, about the People’s Republic of China’s burgeoning influence in Africa, the Republic has set its 2019 engagement focus compass in the East African direction; a decision that has the potential to disrupt political and business environs in Africa.

China is sure not paying attention to any country worrying about its African expansion, not even the America’s multiple warnings that the China-Africa relationship is a parasitic one that would plunge African economies into huge debts they’d be unable to repay. According to specialist global risk consultancy Control Risk’s RiskMap report, 2019 would see an increase in US-China rivalry as well as open doors for additional investments opportunities in Africa, but it would not be all rosy for Africa.

Some of the worst business disruptions in 2019 will arise from the rivalry as the US-China confrontations will define global geopolitics, complicating businesses in African countries with increasingly starker foreign policy and commercial choices. In addition, frictionless trade might become a mirage as supply chains start to drag, the report noted.

For this, RiskMap 2019 has singled out Ethiopia as a key point of observation in 2019 because of the ongoing political reformation that would likely attract Foreign Direct Investment in the country. Previously, Ethiopia had a tightly controlled political and economic system, but new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is changing the political climate in the country.

Abiy’s statement to China’s Xi Jinping in September — “China is the leading development partner of Ethiopia and Ethiopia would like to share China’s experience of administrative practices” — as well as his reforms, have posed a political and economic risk for the country, according to RiskMap 2019.

China’s African expansion might increase starker foreign policy and commercial choices in Africa, but America is still not a better alternative to China. China’s aid to Africa is neither completely bad nor completely good. Besides, China and America are just two sides of the same coin; all looking to get a piece of the African pie, one wanting it more than the other but nevertheless, the pie remains the goal.


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