The Rwanda – China Connection set to intensify
The relationship between China and Africa as a whole is already very strong, with China being Africa’s largest trading partner, and in turn, Africa featuring as China’s largest import source. This mutually beneficial partnership serves as fertile ground for a further involved relationship between Rwanda and China.
Just last year, China’s trade with Rwanda was $240 million, reflecting the latest growth in the partnership’s 50 percent increase year-on-year average. This relates to Rwanda’s exports to China, as well as China’s imports into the African country. Such a phenomenal growth in this trade and investment partnership sets Rwanda apart as China’s most lucrative partnership in Africa.
Are China’s Exports up to scratch?
It’s all very well being excited about an increase in China’s importing relations with Africa, but there have been questions raised about the quality of the products being brought into the continent. Some traders have complained about the products they’ve received, and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce have taken notice of the problem.
“I agree that there is a problem of quality of some Chinese products,” states Chen Hao, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s West Asian and African Affairs department deputy director in Beijing. “We have to admit it and face it. Some people make substandard products in China illegally and sell them, not only in Africa, but also on the Chinese market.” This has led to Hao’s department, as well as the Chinese customs administration, the bureau of quality inspection, the Public Security Ministry, and local governments taking action to rectify this problem, for the good of their exports reputation, as well as for their own citizen’s quality of life.
In 2012 and 2013 they implemented campaigns to curb illegal and sub-standard exports to Africa, “The campaigns are bearing results,” declares Hao. “Besides, the government has zero tolerance for such practices. We have in fact instituted severe measures for anyone found producing and selling substandard goods to Africa.”
Hao also makes the point that China’s main aim is to export affordable and quality goods to Africa, in order to improve people’s quality of life, without the expensive price tag of other countries exports. “Despite the problems Chinese products have, they are helping meet the needs of the ordinary people on the continent and in other parts of the world,” emphasises Hao. “Let us look at mobile phones, for example; in some poor and remote areas of Africa people cannot afford European or American made mobile phones because they are not available or they are expensive; but this is not the case with Chinese phones, which are affordable and they have improved the quality of people’s lives on the continent.”
Chinese Sponsorship in Rwanda
Not only has Chinese trade with Rwanda increased in recent years, but so has China’s investment in the country and its people. According to Chinese Ambassador Shu Zhan, the Chinese government is set to give around 100 Rwandans various training sponsorships to China in order to improve their skills. These sponsorships are in line with the Rwandan development agenda, and Rwandans have been able to go to China for weeks, months and sometimes even a year to share knowledge and gain insight from their Chinese counterparts. “This was a re-union for them to know each other and share their experiences while in China,” states Zhan.
This investment in Rwanda shows the scope of China’s interest in Rwanda’s success. Currently, China supports Rwanda in its infrastructure, health, agriculture, ICT and education sectors, investing holistically in the country so that the economy can thrive. China’s investment in Rwanda’s economy last year totaled at 2.6 million, which might seem low, but shows the significant partnership and investment between the two nations.
For further reading, we suggest these sites:
- Paul Ntambara, “Rwanda-China trade grows by 50% to $240m”, The New Times, 25 March 2014. Available at: http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15672&a=75555
- FPR Inkotanyi, 2014. Available at: http://rpfinkotanyi.org/en/?China-Rwanda-in-capacity-building
- Daniel Nzohabonimana, “Rwanda: Boom Town – Kigali’s Chinese Investment”, All Africa, 12 February 2014. Available at: http://allafrica.com/stories/201402190316.html