Engaging with the emerging economies

15 September 2016

Over the last decade, the deepening footprint of emerging economies in Africa has been subject to substantial and lively debate, with much attention dedicated to China in particular. As a matter of fact, numbers reflect the Asian giant’s growing economic relations with African economies in an impressive way. The share of China in sub-Saharan Africa’s total trade has jumped from around 3 percent in the late 1990’s to roughly one quarter in recent years, with aid and investment following similarly spectacular upward trends. Despite China continuing to lead the pack today, other emerging partners – such as Brazil, India, Korea, Singapore, or Turkey, among others – are also developing significant aid, trade, and investment ties with the continent.

While some analysts have highlighted the potential of those burgeoning economic relations with emerging countries to support African development, others have shown more cautious, emphasising possible risks for African economies. Today, no matter what view one has on this specific question, examining the opportunities and challenges stemming from emerging economies’ growing presence on the continent has become an indispensable part of any serious reflection on African development prospects.

Against this backdrop, many questions are worth exploring to better grasp the dynamics at play and formulate appropriate policy recommendations. What is the exact scope and nature of emerging partners’ economic links with Africa? Which of the recent initiatives from these partners should African governments and stakeholders be paying attention to? How could relations with emerging economies be leveraged to support both African regional integration and development?

In the lead article of this issue, Vinaye Ancharaz provides a general overview of emerging countries’ engagement with the continent. By looking, in turn, at trade, investment, and aid, the article provides recommendations on how Africa could capitalise on those intensifying ties to foster economic diversification and development. This piece is complemented by another contribution by Memory Dube, in which the author examines the potential role that emerging economies could play in order to encourage African regional integration.

This issue also contains three articles which focus on specific emerging countries or regions. While Lauren Johnston’s piece investigates the implications of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative for Africa, Alioune Ndiaye’s article explores the budding investment relations between the continent and India. In the last article, Florencia Rubiolo looks at Southeast Asian emerging economies’ recent interest in the continent and the prospects for African development in this rapprochement.

As usual, we welcome your substantive feedback and contributions. Write to us at bridgesafrica@ictsd.ch.

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