ACCRA — The image of China as a development model has soared among Africans, said a report based on the latest survey findings of Afrobarometer, a pan-African, non-partisan research network.
In the eyes of Africans, China rivals the United States in influence and popularity as a development model, according to the new report released on Oct 24, which covered 36 African countries and involved 54,000 respondents on China’s growing presence in Africa.
Across the 36 African countries surveyed, China, cited by 24 percent of respondents, becomes the second most popular model for national development.
Only the United States, which scored 30 percent, beats China, while about one in 10 respondents prefer their former colonial powers (13 percent) or South Africa (11 percent) as a model.
Meanwhile, countries and regions vary in their admiration of various development models. In southern and north Africa, China matches the US in popularity; in central Africa, China takes the lead with 35 percent, versus 27 percent for the United States. In the five southern African countries including Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, South Africa is the most highly regarded development model, the report said.
A majority (56 percent) of Africans surveyed also see China’s development assistance as doing a good job of meeting the needs of their countries.
Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of Africans also say China’s influence is “somewhat” or “very” positive, while only 15 percent see it as somewhat/very negative.
The report recognized that China had rapidly deepened its ties with the continent in recent years, with the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), formed in 2000, as the primary institutional vehicle for its strategic engagement with sub-Saharan Africa.
Value of bilateral trade between the continent and China grew from about $10 billion in 2000 to $220 billion in 2014.
For Africans, China rivals the United States in influence and popularity as a development model, the report said.
“Despite considerable criticism in the media of China’s interests and operations in Africa, Africans view China’s emergence as an addition to the economic playing field,” it said.
In particular, China’s investments in infrastructure and business development have contributed to positive perceptions of China, it said.
“Majorities value China’s development assistance and see its influence as more rewarding than detrimental to their country’s development prospects,” the report concluded.