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ABSTRACT

Despite rapid economic growth, the numbers living in absolute poverty in Africa have grown. China's rapidly expanding presence in Africa is widely considered to be a prime source of this unequalization. However, at the same time, its presence also supports countervailing and unrecognized processes of equalization, although this varies by country, class, gender and age grouping. China has the capacity to help Africa move to a more sustainable and less unequal growth path by providing low-cost consumer and capital goods, new market opportunities which can be accessed by small-scale producers and new, more appropriate capital goods. Taking advantage of the China-induced commodities price boom to promote more equal patterns of growth will depend on the capacity of African actors to promote linkages effectively. The extent to which Africa is able to take advantage of opportunities opened up by China to move to a new, more inclusive growth path will largely be determined by political developments in Africa. But these political dynamics are not independent of China's increasing economic and political footprint, both globally and in its direct relations with Africa.