in: Megatrends Afrika, Policy Brief 07 (November 2022)
To bridge the telecom gap between people in rural and urban areas, and between landlocked and coastal countries, African governments and the African Union have supported the continent’s infrastructure development in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. At the same time, China has increasingly shown an interest in investing in ICT in Africa in order to export its manufacturing products, develop its technology and acquire foreign technology, as well as contributing to its global influence in ICT as stipulated in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–2015) and 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–2025). China’s increasing interest in ICT and the growing presence of Chinese telecom companies in Africa have contributed to a resurgence of the European Union’s motivation to re-engage in Africa’s ICT sector. This Policy Brief discusses whether, in the development of the African ICT sector, there is an alignment between Chinese telecom companies’ engagement in Africa and the interests of African countries. It argues that while Chinese investment interests meet Africa’s need for the development of its ICT sector, help bridge the telecom gap and contribute to connectivity across the continent, there are risks, challenges and concerns surrounding China’s engagement in African countries’ ICT sector.