I’m writing while I’m staying in Kenyan capital city. Every year I come here twice, in Spring and in Autumn, to check and manage the activities of our NGO Alice for Children, which for ten years has been working in Korogocho e Dandora slums.
In these days a piece of news has shocked and stunned me very much: China rejected a new request from Kenyan government for a loan of 3.5 billion dollars to build another part of the Mombasa – Nairobi railway , in particular that part from Nairobi to Kisumu and then to Uganda’s border. Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s president, flew to Bejing along with Mr Raila Odinga, his opponent during last elections, to get the loan.
Xi Jinping‘s refusal was flat, even if – as it often happens with a political unsuccess – Kenyan politicians didn’t mention it when they came back to Kenya. During a sumptuous press conference inside State House, Mr Kenyatta said to journalists that this topic was not on his agenda. That was a great lie. Even local newspapers – which usually don’t criticise polticians – reported the news with irony.
But this is news. And it is not negligible.
It means that China is changing its mind: after its succes in Africa, when it made presents and built bad infrastructure, now it is changing its behaviour in the continent, especially in a country it has not conquered at all. The interpretations of this “little” fact can be many.
First: China has decided to make more controlled and thinner investments in Africa, becuase it wants it clear that good times are over.
Second: China is changing its goals: the new Silk Road gives opportunities to make business with wealthier countries, which are interested and interesting. As a consequence, it’s better to improve investments where they have more value, than in a continent nobody cares of.
Third: China is starting a new strategy of opposition against the other two important poles of the world, that is Europe and USA. The arrival of the SIlk Road to Italy is a clue of this – good for China, not so good for us.
If a change is on the move. then we should open to new opportunities. We should give an eye for eye and take the place – as Europeans and as Italians – of China in Africa. This continent is economically poor and its GDP is as worth as that of France, but in 30 years it will become the continent with the greatest number of working-age people and of mineral resources, arable lands and sources for sustainable energies.
We should think about it, and not about Chinese helps.