China’s Influence in Africa Expanding Through Telecom Network Deals

By Soko Directory Team / Published August 19, 2021 | 12:54 pm




KEY POINTS

Beijing’s influence has sparked concern across the globe and experts cite this dependence as putting the Asian country in a position to exert political influence in other nations.


China Africa

China’s rising economic influence in Africa has been in the works for two decades now. The impact stretches from infrastructure to the telecommunication network – the latter gradually taking over Africa’s cyberspace.

Beijing’s influence has sparked concern across the globe and experts cite this dependence as putting the Asian country in a position to exert political influence in other nations.

A good example is Huawei, one of the world’s leading sellers of 5G technology and smartphones. The company is seen by countries such as the US as “beholden to the Chinese government, which could use the company” for spying, an accusation Huawei denies, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think tank in the US released a report in May 2021 that noted that the majority of Huawei’s deals (57 percent) are in countries that are middle-income and partly free or not free.

The report added that the company’s cloud infrastructure and e-government services are handling sensitive data, services that “could provide Chinese authorities with intelligence and even coercive leverage.”

ALSO READ: Chinese To Set Up A Mega City Worth 200 Billion Shillings in Kenya

The “intelligence and even coercive leverage” language stems from China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, which stipulated that any organization and Chinese citizen should “support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work.” The law does not limit these activities to China.

The influence of China in Africa can be associated with the Africa Union’s goal of connecting every individual, business, and government in the continent by 2030. The expansion is supported by the World Bank Group.

According to Africa Data Centers Association, Africa needs 1,000 megawatts (MW) of new facility capacity or about 700 new data center facilities to meet growing demand in the continent.

The scale of need for these tech hubs is astoundingly significant, and countries such as China are likely to leverage them to expand the influence of their projects.

Take for instance the recently opened national data center just outside Dakar, the capital of Senegal, it was financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, and the center was built with equipment and technical backing from Huawei. Senegal’s status declined from free to partly free in the Freedom in the World 2020 report from Freedom House.

In July 2020, Cameroon completed a government data center on the outskirts of Yaounde, the capital. It was funded by the Export-Import Bank of China, built by the Beijing-controlled China Shenyang International Economic & Technical Cooperation Corporation, and equipped with Huawei gear. Freedom House in 2020 rated Cameroon as not free.

In April 2019, Kenya and Huawei signed a deal for a data center, a smart city, and a surveillance project, according to DataCenterDynamics. Also, Freedom House rated Kenya as partly free in 2020.

Huawei’s e-government services include elections, document digitization, national ID systems, and tax services, according to the CSIS report.

While the digitization of government records may allow greater surveillance, it can also mean more effective tax collection and less corruption, according to a March 2021 post on a tech site of the Brookings Institution a Washington think tank.

As the continent recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, its leaders face a choice between harnessing emerging technology to improve government effectiveness, increase transparency, and foster inclusion, or as a tool of repression, division, and conflict.

China has a history of financing and supplying telecom and information and computer technology (ICT) throughout Africa. Over the past two decades, Huawei has built about 50 percent of Africa’s 3G networks and 70 percent of its 4G networks.

The expansion began in 1999 when China launched its Go Out policy, which pushed Chinese companies to invest abroad and strengthen China’s global business presence.

By 2018, China had expanded to at least 40 African nations, according to Africa Times.

The Export-Import Bank [of China] has been able to offer large loans, as part of deals with African governments, with the condition that these loans will be used to deploy technology using a Chinese company.

Chinese state banks provide such generous financing to Huawei’s customers that most commercial banks cannot match the terms, “making Huawei equipment cheaper to deploy at any price,” according to a 2020 report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank.

There has been relatively little attention paid to Africa as an emerging tech market. This means that there aren’t many credible competitors to Chinese companies on the scene.

ALSO READ: Seven Countries Trapped in China’s Exploitive Loans-Debt Trap Diplomacy

Nonetheless, it is worth noting that there isn’t proof that China is ‘exporting’ its own domestic system or pressuring countries to emulate its policies.

The issue is less that China is using data networks to influence local politics and more that its position as a network provider is just one aspect of a much broader trade and investment presence.

It is perhaps China’s role as a major trade, financing, and development partner to many African countries that naturally makes them less willing to cross any of Beijing’s ‘red lines.

 

 




About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

View other posts by Soko Directory Team


More Articles From This Author








Trending Stories










Other Related Articles










SOKO DIRECTORY & FINANCIAL GUIDE



ARCHIVES

2022
  • January 2022 (293)
  • February 2022 (329)
  • March 2022 (360)
  • April 2022 (294)
  • May 2022 (271)
  • June 2022 (232)
  • July 2022 (278)
  • August 2022 (253)
  • September 2022 (246)
  • October 2022 (20)
  • 2021
  • January 2021 (182)
  • February 2021 (227)
  • March 2021 (325)
  • April 2021 (259)
  • May 2021 (285)
  • June 2021 (273)
  • July 2021 (277)
  • August 2021 (232)
  • September 2021 (271)
  • October 2021 (305)
  • November 2021 (364)
  • December 2021 (249)
  • 2020
  • January 2020 (272)
  • February 2020 (310)
  • March 2020 (390)
  • April 2020 (321)
  • May 2020 (335)
  • June 2020 (327)
  • July 2020 (333)
  • August 2020 (276)
  • September 2020 (214)
  • October 2020 (233)
  • November 2020 (242)
  • December 2020 (187)
  • 2019
  • January 2019 (251)
  • February 2019 (215)
  • March 2019 (283)
  • April 2019 (254)
  • May 2019 (269)
  • June 2019 (249)
  • July 2019 (335)
  • August 2019 (293)
  • September 2019 (306)
  • October 2019 (313)
  • November 2019 (362)
  • December 2019 (318)
  • 2018
  • January 2018 (291)
  • February 2018 (213)
  • March 2018 (275)
  • April 2018 (223)
  • May 2018 (235)
  • June 2018 (176)
  • July 2018 (256)
  • August 2018 (247)
  • September 2018 (255)
  • October 2018 (282)
  • November 2018 (282)
  • December 2018 (184)
  • 2017
  • January 2017 (183)
  • February 2017 (194)
  • March 2017 (207)
  • April 2017 (104)
  • May 2017 (169)
  • June 2017 (205)
  • July 2017 (189)
  • August 2017 (195)
  • September 2017 (186)
  • October 2017 (235)
  • November 2017 (253)
  • December 2017 (266)
  • 2016
  • January 2016 (164)
  • February 2016 (165)
  • March 2016 (189)
  • April 2016 (143)
  • May 2016 (245)
  • June 2016 (182)
  • July 2016 (271)
  • August 2016 (247)
  • September 2016 (233)
  • October 2016 (191)
  • November 2016 (243)
  • December 2016 (153)
  • 2015
  • January 2015 (1)
  • February 2015 (4)
  • March 2015 (164)
  • April 2015 (107)
  • May 2015 (116)
  • June 2015 (119)
  • July 2015 (145)
  • August 2015 (157)
  • September 2015 (186)
  • October 2015 (169)
  • November 2015 (173)
  • December 2015 (205)
  • 2014
  • March 2014 (2)
  • 2013
  • March 2013 (10)
  • June 2013 (1)
  • 2012
  • March 2012 (7)
  • April 2012 (15)
  • May 2012 (1)
  • July 2012 (1)
  • August 2012 (4)
  • October 2012 (2)
  • November 2012 (2)
  • December 2012 (1)
  • 2011
    2010
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    2001
    2000
    1999
    1998
    1997
    1996
    1995
    1994
    1993
    1992
    1991
    1990
    1989
    1988
    1987
    1986
    1985
    1984
    1983
    1982
    1981
    1980
    1979
    1978
    1977
    1976
    1975
    1974
    1973
    1972
    1971
    1970
    1969
    1968
    1967
    1966
    1965
    1964
    1963
    1962
    1961
    1960
    1959
    1958
    1957
    1956
    1955
    1954
    1953
    1952
    1951
    1950