The Globalisation of Foreign Investment in Africa: In Comes the Dragon

  • Adams BodomoEmail author
  • Dewei Che
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


Africa in the twenty-first century has become a destination for foreign investment from all corners of the globe to the extent that we may talk of the globalisation of foreign investment on the continent. In the study of the effects of globalisation on contemporary society, foreign investment features as a salient issue for intellectual discussion of issues such as agency, soft power, and symmetry. Rather than being an obscure technical-economic notion, it has become a popular and popularised topic for analysing political, economic, and cultural aspects of national and continental development. In this paper, we outline the important role that China has played in the globalisation of investment in Africa, and argue that China has, indeed, created a paradigm shift with respect to its investment engagement with the African continent. This paradigm shift can be calibrated in terms of the volume of engagement; in terms of the speed and efficiency with which investment projects are completed; and, in terms of the very discourse of trade and investment. The argument is further advanced by discussing some of the main features of Chinese investment that distinguish it from that of other global players on the African continent, such as Europe and India. The paper ends with an outline of the strategies China can pursue, and the pitfalls China must avoid, if it is to consolidate its leading role on the African continent in the second decade of the twenty-first century.


China Globalisation Foreign investment Infrastructure Oil Trade 



The authors thank the reviewers and especially the editors of this book, Ross Anthony and Uta Rupert, for closely reading through the paper and making critical comments and suggestions that improved the content. All errors remain the authors’ responsibility.


  1. Amra, R. 2001. Suleimaniye Minarets on the Midrand: Turkey’s Economic Incipience in Africa. Perspectives on Emerging Powers in Africa. Accessed 2 July 2011.
  2. Anyanwu, J.C. 2012. Why Does Foreign Direct Investment Go Where It Goes? New Evidence from African Countries. Annals of Economics and Finance 13 (2): 433–470.Google Scholar
  3. Asiedu, E. 2002. On the Determinant of Foreign Direct Investment to Developing Countries: Is Africa Different? World Development 30: 107–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baah, Y., and H. Jauch. 2009. Chinese Investment in Africa: A Labour Perspective. African Labour Research Network. Accessed 14 Apr 2017.
  5. Berger, B. 2007. China Outwits the EU. Asia Times Online, December 13. Accessed 6 July 2011.
  6. Bodomo, A. 2009. Africa-China Relations: Symmetry, Soft Power and South Africa. China Review 9 (2): 169–178.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2011. La Globalizacion de las Inversiones en Africa. Madrid, Spain: Los Libros de la Catarata.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2013. African Diaspora Remittances Are Better Than Foreign Aid Funds: Diaspora-Driven Development in the 21st Century. World Economics 14 (4): 21–29.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2015. African Soft Power in China. African East-Asian Affairs 2: 76–97.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2016. The Rise of Chinese Soft Power in Africa. China Policy Institute Blog. The University of Nottingham. Accessed 27 Mar 2016.
  11. ———. 2017. The Globalization of Foreign Investment in Africa: The Role of Europe, China and India. Bingley, UK: Emerld Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  12. Bouët, A., R. Devesh, and S. Mishra. 2007. Why Is Africa Marginalized in World Trade? Telos.Google Scholar
  13. Broadman, H. 2008. China and India Go into Africa: New Deals in the Developing World. Foreign Affairs 87 (2): 95–109.Google Scholar
  14. Chand, M. 2011. A Two-Way Street: India Brands Its Africa Diplomacy. Perspectives on Emerging Powers in Africa. Accessed 2 July 2011.
  15. Chase-Dunn, C. 1989. Global Formation: Structures of the World Economy. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  16. Chin, G. 2014. China’s Challenge in Africa: Avoid Blame of Neo-Colonialism. Yale Global Online. Accessed 18 Apr 2016.
  17. CNBC. 2016. China Oil Demand to Grow 4.3 Percent in 2016: CNPC Research, January 26. Accessed 18 Apr 2016.
  18. Cunningham, N. 2015. The Battle for China’s Oil Market. Oil Price.Com, July 15. Accessed 18 Apr 2016.
  19. Deepak, B.R. 2014. China in Africa: A Close Friend or a Neo Colonialist? South Asia Analysis Group. Accessed 18 Apr 2016.
  20. Downs, E.S. 2007a. The Fact and Fiction of Sino-African Energy Relations. China Security 3 (3): 42–68.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 2007b. China’s Quest for Overseas Oil. Far Eastern Economic Review 170 (7): 52–56.Google Scholar
  22. Hagen, R.J. 2002. Marginalisation in the Context of Globalisation: Why Is Africa so Poor? Nordic Journal of Political Economy 28: 147–179.Google Scholar
  23. Haidar, S. 2015. India-Africa Summit: Beyond the Event. The Hindu, November 9. Accessed 18 Apr 2016.
  24. Hartig, F. 2015. Confucius Institutes in Africa: A New Soft Power Instrument in the Making? Paper read at the Afraso Conference on Africa—Asia Encounters, March 24–26, Cape Town.Google Scholar
  25. Ju, H. 2015. China’s Maritime Power and Strategy: History, National Security and Geopolitics. Beijing: China Social Sciences Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kiggundu, M. 2011. China’s Economic Relations with Africa: Beyond Palaces and Petroleum. Paper Presented at the Oxfam HKU Workshop on Africa-China Relations, May.Google Scholar
  27. Kiggundu, M., and S. Ji. 2008. Global Growth Companies in Emerging Economies: New Champions, New Challenges. Journal of Business and Behavioural Sciences 19 (1): 70–90.Google Scholar
  28. Mathews, K. 2011. A New Architecture for India-Africa Cooperation: The Second India-Africa. Forum Summit. Perspectives on Emerging Powers in Africa. Accessed 2 July 2011.
  29. Mawdsley, E., and G. McCann. 2011. India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power. Oxford: Pambazuka Press.Google Scholar
  30. Meidan, M. 2006. China’s Africa Policy: Business Now, Politics Later. Asian Perspective 30 (4): 69–93.Google Scholar
  31. Meyer, J. 1980. The World Polity and the Authority of the Nation-State. In Studies of the Modern World-System, ed. A. Bergesen, 109–137. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  32. Meyer, J., J. Boli, G.M. Thomas, and F.O. Ramirez. 1997. World Society and the Nation-State. American Journal of Sociology 103 (1): 144–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mhandara, L., C. Manyeruke, and E. Nyemba. 2013. Debating China’s New Role in Africa’s Political Economy. African East-Asian Affairs 2: 79–101.Google Scholar
  34. Mohan, G., and B. Lampert. 2012. Negotiating China: Reinserting African Agency into China-Africa Relations. African Affairs 112 (446): 92–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Monson, J. 2009. Africa’s Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Moyo, D. 2009. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is Another Way for Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  37. ———. 2010. How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly—And the Stark Choices That Lie Ahead. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  38. Nyabor, J. 2017. Chinese Mission Angry Over Galamsey Reportage, Calls for Fairness. Citifmonline, April 8. Accessed 22 May 2018.
  39. Okolo, A.L., and J.O. Akwu. 2016. China’s Foreign Direct Investment in Africa’s Land: Hallmarks of Neo-Colonialism or South-South Cooperation? African Review 8 (1): 44–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rich, T.S., and S. Recker. 2013. Understanding Sino-African Relations: Neocolonialism or a New Era? Journal of International and Area Studies 20 (1): 61–76.Google Scholar
  41. Robertson, R. 1992. Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Saibu, M.O. 2004. Openness and Economic Growth in Nigeria: Further Evidence on Causality Issue. South African Journal of Economic Management Science 7 (2): 115–131.Google Scholar
  43. Sautman, B., and H. Yan. 2009. Trade, Investment, Power and the China-in-Africa Discourse. The Asia-Pacific Journal 52 (3): 1–23.Google Scholar
  44. Schneidman, W., and J. Wiegert. 2018. Competing in Africa: China, the European Union, and the United States. Brookings. Accessed 22 May 2018.
  45. Shinn, D. 2007. Africa, China, the United States, and Oil. Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Accessed 18 Apr 2018.
  46. Skarica, D. 2010. The Great Super Cycle: Profit from the Coming Inflation Tidal Wave and Dollar Devaluation. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  47. Statista. n.d. Breakdown of China’s Crude Imports in 2014, by Source Country. Accessed 22 May 2018.
  48. Steger, M. 2009. Globalization: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Sun, I. 2017. The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment Is Reshaping Africa. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.Google Scholar
  50. Sun, I., K. Jayaram, and O. Kassiri. 2017. Dance of the Lions and Dragons: How Are Africa and China Engaging and How Will the Partnership Evolve? McKinsey & Company.Google Scholar
  51. Taylor, I. 2006. China’s Oil Diplomacy in Africa. International Affairs 82 (5): 937–959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. UNCTAD. 2015. World Investment Report 2015: Reforming International Investment Governance. United Nations Publication. Accessed 27 Mar 2016.
  53. Van Staden. C. 2015. Hostile Imaginaries: Internet Activism, the Poaching Controversy and Chinese Soft Power in Africa. Paper read at the Afraso Conference on Africa-Asia Encounters, March 24–26, Cape Town.Google Scholar
  54. Vicky, A. 2011. Turkey Moves into Africa. Le Monde Diplomatique. Accessed 4 July 2011.
  55. Wallerstein, I.M. 1998. Utopistics: Or, Historical Choices of the Twenty-First Century. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  56. Wassermann, H. 2015. China-Africa Media Contestations and Collaborations. Paper read at the Afraso Conference on Africa-Asia Encounters, March 24–26, Cape Town.Google Scholar
  57. Wold Economic Forum. 2014. List of Global Growth Companies Honorees 2014. Accessed 27 Mar 2016.
  58. Yanshuo, N. 2015. In Search of Synergy. Beijing Review, December 17. Accessed 27 Mar 2016.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ViennaViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations