It was reported that Equatorial Guineas’ government announced a decision to donate 2 million to China towards its fight against Coronavirus. The country claimed that China has been a very reliable trade partner the west African country’s development drive.
This has been done through various project construction of telecommunication and other modern infrastructure. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons said, “China has always been a very strong and loyal supporter of Equatorial Guinea and the donation is a demonstration that Equatorial Guinea stands in solidarity with China. “It was also a gesture to further strengthen an ongoing year of investment initiative between the two states.
However, it defeats logic to dig into national coffers which are nowhere near those of China in a bid to strengthen political ties. The projects conducted by China in Equatorial Guinea are not donations but are transactions between the two states. The relationship between the two countries is one that allows for the benefit of both countries through their engagement in various projects together.
China is not erecting infrastructure for free in Equatorial Guinea but instead has commercial gain that comes from such endeavors. This does not necessarily entail that people of Equatorial Guinea through the government should not be global actors and donate where the need arises.
China has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 13.6 trillion dollars second to the United States of America dwarfs that of Equatorial Guinea of 13.4 billion. Therefore, such donations are a bit too hypocritical for a nation with a poverty rate of 76.8% of the population according to the World Bank.
Equatorial Guinea has enough domestic problems that can be solved by financial injection. The donation comes as a slap in the face of Equatorial Guinea’s citizens who should be the real beneficiaries of the state funding. Despite China facing challenges with combating the Coronavirus, resources were never cited as the main challenges they face. The main problem still stands as to how the country will contain the spread of the virus.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already pledged up to 100 million dollars towards China’s fight against the Coronavirus. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also announced a pledge of up to 100 million dollars from the government of the United States of America. The donation by Equatorial Guinea does not only seem inconsequential but shows that this move was not of a grave emergency such that Equatorial Guinea had to part away with such amount of funds.
Since the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea has become one of sub-Sahara’s biggest oil producers but a large proportion of the population still lives in poverty. Instead of the government seeking to resolve internal developmental issues and poverty they make a gesture that implies the state is well off.
This is a testament to the governments’ lack of empathy with its people as opposed to a noble gesture to help curb a serious matter that has gripped China and its people. African states should find other diplomatic ways to strengthen ties with investor countries. When African leaders go on investment drives they are seeking money to be injected into their developing countries.
This is clearly to say they do not have adequate money to invest in their economies. It is a classical example of returning “water to the ocean” when China is your lead investing country and you proceed to take the money back to them when you have barely developed your local industry.
It is noble to be global players when the need arises. However, it is prudent to first assess your situation and to note if you are capable of contributing without hurting yourself. One of the last straws for the Ghanaian people with Kwame Nkrumah (The father of African Independence and Pan- Africanism) was how he took money from national coffers of an ailing economy to constantly fund training and movement of African liberation fighters towards the independence of their own countries. Therefore, despite how noble a cause may be, it is crucial to not take away from those without to help those who are better off and to not take away from state coffers when the citizen's financial grievances have not been addressed.
It is such politics by African leaders that ensures the stagnant and regressive economies and failure to develop or move from the titles third world countries/developing countries.
The time will come when African states can be key players in the world. Until when there is full development of African states their is a need to guard jealously the national coffers and ensure they serve the citizens first before we can assist elsewhere. This is not to say Africa should not care but the leaders should put the rightful beneficiaries of the state funds first, the citizens!