President Nana Akufo-Addo has urged Africa to learn from China’s past woes with the “Western Railways imperialism” as it enters into necessary development deals with the East Asian nation.
In his address to the 73rd UN General Assembly on Wednesday, the President held up China as a new avenue for addressing Africa’s infrastructure deficit.
He said, “it is obvious to us that the development trajectory we had been on for many decades is not working.”
“We must address our infrastructural deficit. The traditional methods of tackling this problem will not provide the answer. We are looking for new ways to resolve it. Ghana, like many countries in Africa, is forging relations with China to make arrangements to help address part of our infrastructure deficit.”
Africa’s ties with China have been points of concern and criticism in recent times.
Ghana, in particular, is coming off a $2 billion agreement for the construction of priority projects by Chinese firm SynoHydro Corporation, in exchange for alumina processed from Bauxite deposits.
More recently, there has been controversy over perceived attempts by China to exert its soft power in Ghana by taking over Ghana’s Digital Terrestrial Television network platform via Chinese media firm, StarTimes.
President Akufo-Addo admitted that “it is also not lost on us that a lot of anxiety is being expressed about the possibility of a recolonization of the African continent by a new power.”
He thus remarked that “we should, indeed, learn from history.”
China’s past struggles
President Akufo-Addo made reference to China’s trade ties with the west at the turn of the 20th century, where China notably leased Hong Kong to the British for 99 years.
Hong Kong, with its strategic business port, was only handed back to China in 1997 by the British.
“It was at the turn of the 20th century that China’s first railways were built by Western companies, financed by Western loans to a nearly bankrupt Qing Dynasty, and it was under those circumstances that a certain strategic port called Hong Kong was leased for 99 years, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.”
But China is now a global economic powerhouse, despite its past struggles, President Akufo-Addo stated.
“Today, the former victim of Western Railways imperialism is lending billions to countries throughout Asia, Africa and Europe to construct not only railroads, but also highways, ports, power plants and other infrastructure, and many businesses. The historical echoes are certainly worrisome, but, yes, surely, we must and can learn from history.”