What a difference a factory makes?

Seriously, what is it about China and Africa? Is it neo-colonialism or are we witnessing a more nuanced relationship. Neo-colonialism is a very charged word. In itself this is not a problem but I do question its explanatory power, as I question the explanatory power of the concept of globalisation and the explanatory power of a "new scramble" for Africa. My biggest worry is understanding if, in academia, media and everyday conversations we are articulating useful concepts and useful ideas. Study and a 'wee' bit of experience tell me there is always room for more nuance, and that this is especially the case with China's engagement of Africa.

What if there is actually something about the industrialization of Africa? It has been a great old promise ever since the 1960s and the dusty import-substitution policies of the newly independent African states. If there is something about it , China will be in the game, that I am certain. If in turn, you ask me if this industrialization will achieve all the wonderful things that were there on the pages of these aged economics textbooks I will have to answer that I do not know, but that the case is that, without greater attention from the African side, probably not. Cutting-up red ribbons in the grand-oppenings of factories is not but the beginning of a process with imprecise outcomes.

What I do know is that a new and big Chinese car factory opened in Angola last week. A new, big, and expensive factory that will produce many, many cars a day and even SUVs, pick-ups, compact cars and buses. I wonder what the people that work at CGS think, what their lifestyles are like? How is that factory in their first days of opening already changing their lives. Same goes for those who will purchase those four-wheels. Is the destiny of that factory outside Luanda tied to something bigger happening in the continent which we are just beggining to grasp? I think it is, but I just don't quite know yet what that exactly is...

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