African continent needs foreign investors and so is attention to the fine prints

A multi-billion shilling investment by Chinese Road and Bridge Corporation (CBRC) constructing  609km railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi caused a bit of commotion in August when it was revealed to the Kenyans that Chinese were coming to the country with 5000 of its own workforce. Surely that can’t be too great for Kenyans unemployed youths.

This is not to undermine the importance foreign investors coming to Africa but rather a note for Africa to pay attention and look well into the future before committing into accepting projects of any sorts knowing fully well that investors are in the continent to maximise returns on their investments. It is in their best interest to leave the ‘tricky’ bits of the agreement to the last but it is our responsibility to make sure every aspect of agreement is ironed out that the benefits to local people and economy make absolute sense for us.

Admittedly, Nigeria for example though have huge population to boast of but not enough of our graduates are trained in the field that could add value. If we look at it from investors point of view, it is not Chinese responsibility to train our people, that’s our job however, we can use our huge human capital to our advantage to insist on favourable percentage of our people to be involved in projects. Actually this is exactly what Chinese did to the big American companies in the late 1970s.

This is not a favour it is business.

For now, Kenya is stuck for with 5000 Chinese workers – better luck next time. Nothing wrong with 5000 Chinese workers in Kenyan only that labour is what we have most on the continent. And this brings me to the need for Africa to find a better way to work together – amazing that we tend to unite on all fronts except when the deal is important for the masses.

Why is this my headache given Nigeria has enough of wahala you ask? Nigeria is very bad accumulating public debts with no thoughts to future generations. Fine prints are the last thing we pay attention to. Only a few years ago we managed to get out of a mountain of debts from the Paris Club – thanks to the Minister of Finance, Madam Okonjo-Iweala.

The intention behind many of these projects  across the continent were amazing and no doubt needed especially the transportation links, electricity etc. but we are responsible for understanding the terms and conditions clearly before signing otherwise future generation would not be too pleased.


Categories: Africa, Nigeria

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14 replies

  1. I learn new things everyday thanks to blogging friends like you. Thanks for educated me on topics that likely would never have crossed my path.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Fola, and thanks to you, Ms. Farrel for this wonderful subject.

    It is true that “African leaders should realize that … investors are not delivering charity; they want something from Africa”. It is unconscionable that the Chinese would bring – as it appears – drawers of water and carriers of cement and aggregates to further maximize their returns on the “aid” being offered to Kenya.

    The fault here as pointed out in the essay and in Ms. Farrell’s comments lies with African leaders who apparently believe they are getting charity. How many of the 5000 Chinese would be performing professional/technical duties that Kenyans are not available for?

    This practice is not new because even aid donors, while doing “good” give with one hand and take back with the other, and I’m not talking of the “something from Africa” that comes after the initial “aid”. Most “donors” have stipulations that ensure that substantial portion of grants go back to Europe, England, etcetera on Euro aid; DFID aid, et cetera. How? Most of the consultants – even though very qualified – on projects for which Nigerians are qualified – for projects are Europeans, English … depending on the countries giving the aid, grant …

    In a way, employment is provided for their people. As in all things, however, the Chinese have taken their “aid” steps further by insisting on bringing even tea girls – pardon me – from the Republic of China. Millions would be returned to this “donor” country IN ADDITION to whatever the Chinese would get in return for the “help”.

    As for “Madam Okonjo-Iweala” who, “Only a few years ago managed to get us out of a mountain of debts from the Paris Club”, it is the same “madam” who has championed and led Nigeria back to servitude in accumulating tons of debt. Pardon my taking this in a direction that is apparently not your slant, if anything, Dr. Iweala IS the one that should be blamed with Nigeria’s load of debts both domestic and foreign.

    Hardly had she left her position as minister under Obasanjo when she announced to the world that Nigeria still needed loans, et cetera.

    As I won’t want to list the many essays on the role that Dr. Iweala, Nigeria’s Economy minister has played in getting Nigeria back into a leading debtor country in your blog, please type Dr. Iweala in the search box on (not the new blog) and check out essays not only by me but by others on her role in reversing what all of us were hailing her for some years ago.

    Thanks for your work on Nigeria; many of us have lost hope but who knows. May Nigeria prove people like me very wrong.

    My regards,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks Mrs Adele for the insightful comments. I do not mind you shedding lights of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s involvement in the new debt accumulation, and indeed appreciate it.

      Kindest regards,


      • Thanks, Fola.

        We are all in the work of “building the [Nigerian] nation” together, to borrow the title of a Nigerian poem whose author I cannot now remember.

        A permanent secretary and the driver who drove him to a party both believe they are both working on building a nation through their work but while the P.S. was served the bountiful fare at the party, the driver was left high and dry! I have a feeling you may know the poet because he came on the scene long after we’d left school!



  3. Goodluck made it official, so I say to you – my friend – Good Luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Details, details, details! Always, the devil is in the details. Beware ‘suitors’ bearing gifts!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh, talk of history repeating itself! The British colonisation of Kenya revolved around the building of the existing railway, and bringing in a labour force from the Indian subcontinent, many of whom settled in Kenya. The whole European colonisation process revolved around trying to make the railway pay. These days the country does indeed have a huge unemployment problem, and there was absolutely no need to import more labour. Many unemployed Kenyans are well skilled too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said.

      History repeating itself big time. Chinese investors are just finishing up Abuja to Kaduna railway and had 1000 Chinese staff on ground.
      Hardly could anyone successfully argue Nigeria does not have enough workforce even if one has to bring them up to ‘speed’. Kenyans are not alone.

      Investors have the money, only if my people could insist on favourable contracts that wouldn’t leave us worse off.


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