Last weekend I had a transit flight through Abu Dhabi. During my 10-hour stopover in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, I came across several Africans from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and even Liberia. Most of them were on business trips to and from China.
I spoke to a Nigerian, who had squashed himself next to my sleeping bank in the waiting hall of Terminal 1. I asked him whether he had ever been to Europe. His response: "Never, and I don't intend to do so any time soon." Was I surprised? Absolutely not!
In the last ten years of China's increasing presence in Africa, many Africans with business capital as small as $5,000 (4,700 euros), can now travel to the Asian economic powerhouse to buy and sell goods. It's never been this easy for young and ambitious African entrepreneurs.
Europe prides itself on being Africa's only neighbor. And not just that, Europeans had managed to spread their cultures and values across the African continent and dominated trade and investments in the continent until the arrival of, firstly, the United States, and then the Chinese.
As bizarre as it may sound in contemporary politics, Europe still doesn't consider Africa as an equal. Of course, the European continent is highly developed – far more advanced than Africa. But it's cynical for Europe to still consider Africa as the "begging continent." Over sixty years of development aid hasn't yielded much other than helping fund corruption and putting small shop owners out of business.
Abu-Bakarr Jalloh is an editor at DW's English for Africa department
The common rhetoric among Europeans is that China's increasing presence in Africa is undermining European values and political strategies in the African continent. A statement like this sounds insulting to Africans.
For centuries, Africans have imbibed European values and culture. And yes, we even think and speak in their languages. While many have benefited from these cultural integrations, millions still have not.
It's as if we are back to the 1884 Berlin Conference, where Africa was split into several parts, left to be scavenged upon by power-mongering European colonial masters.
African states are simply trying to forge their own future and whoever they choose to do this with should be decided by themselves and not external actors.
China, of course, is putting billions in Africa to fulfill its ambition of becoming a global player – a world superpower, if you like. African leaders are fully aware of it. But the opportunities China presents to Africa is far better than what Europeans have to........