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Sunday, July 26, 2015

When America makes mistake China amplifies that mistake and showsit to the rest of the world

In Obama's Africa's trip China is like a shadow following every move and examining all  propositions Obama is making.  If any offer  Obama makes China will double even triple it. Like if  Obama promises to build a stadium in Africa ,  China will do two things. Firist it will offer a bigger money or it will offer a cheaper contract to build the stadium with the American money. In both ways China will be benefited  from both offers.

Let me tell you my personal story. Three years ago after absence of several years from my county I went to Ethiopia.  At first I was shocked  by when I saw  the entire Ethiopia was  almost  Made In  China.  The road, hotel, hospital, university, apartment , airport, stadium, mall  and every thing I saw were built by Chinese Companies or Chinese made materials . When I went to shopping I was so surprised  to see the entire shopping mall was full of Chinese products. One thing which made me surprise was  all Made in China products were sold twice expensive than if they were/are sold in US market. In most shops I found out most  items which had similar quality which are  are sold in Amrica in  cheap store called .99 Cents or Dollar stores. In current exchange rate 1$ USD is about 19.70 Birr or 22 Birr in black market. That means an item should be less than 25 Birr. However, in Ethiopians  Store the minimum sale price  was over 45 Birr. That means a $1 item is sold more than $2 in Africa.

This shows us China makes more money in Africa than  in America. During my stay I tried to find a Made in USA item. The only place I saw MADE IN USA was in an empty cooking oil jar and empty sack which was donated from USAID. The rest are Made in China, Made in Japan (70-80% cars), Made in India (three  wheeled taxis) and few European cars and clothing items.

But America is the biggest donor but that donation goes to hire or buy Chinese products. One of the biggest mistake for America was it sees itself as a donor instead of   an investor and partner. I see here and there few Americans in Ethiopia but the majority of them were volunteers and working for NGOs. But while I was  staying in Ethiopia  I saw several Chinese   worker who are assimilated in Ethiopian daily  life and doing their business.

America is a power full  and an influential nation on earth.  Its invitation , creativity culture and tradition can move the entire universe to one direction. But sometimes Americans focus in one direction and leave the rest for  field for  others to take advantage of the situation. Now Obama's trip looks what I am taking about, he is trying to see African nations as US partners but not as looking them as donation receivers. We like it or not most African countries are trying to avoid  seen as donation receivers. Now US should respect what their mission and encourage them to see them as potential partners. Because China, India, Turkey and Korea (South and North) are doing so. They build business as partners and inverters.

I started this journey in 1999. I called my journey "Africa the future frontier" . At that time I tried to approach few American companies but non of them gave me a positive answer. Most of them have a very distorted idea about Africa. Most  American CEO's still think Africa is risk prone continent they will not even open their ears and eyes to  hear about Africa. In their opinion Africa is full of  war, starvation, disease and  unsuitability.  I stopped inviting them and waited then China came to game. China came in every direction and saw big opportunity where others refused to see. Today when Obama is visiting Africa , the presence of China is very huge. It starts from the airport where Air  Force One is  landed. If you see the cloth and shoes all the people wearing I beat 90% of it is Made In China . The road where his motorcade is heading is built by China, the hotel he is staying,  the water he drinks may be filtered by Made in China  water filtration machine. Mr President will see the huge presence of China when he tries to address the African Union. In AU  the entire building (A-Z ) is built by China. May be the only thing which may not have Chinese presence could  be American Embassies in Africa.

But why? Well, China and other  nations who are investing in Africa nailed it. Because they know what African people want. The number one thing is genuine  or fake  Respect, that means they don't want to see a relation donor benefactor vs recipient, in the contrary they want see partnership.They want to be part of the process. Most young Africans think donation kills the progress of Africa and they don't  want  to see a pure humanitarian aspect of the donation but they see donation is indirect suppress and an extension of colonization designed to keep the Africans in trap.

Now, when we see China's approach  they are coming from a different angle. May be a 90 degree angle. What they do is the come with problems and solutions. Let us say, if they want to build a hospital they will show how luck of hospital will kill  people and they will propose a solution to build a single hospital . What they don't tell is they know if they build one hospital there will be 100 hospitals. needed So they will give the first hospital free or very less value. When the politicians see the effect of one hospital every region needs it and they will secure the contract for 100 hospitals. If the country does not have money they will give loan and they will ask free land or mineral right That way they build, they will  dig  and mine and the  will keep controlling power. In the process you will see tangible things build but do not ask me  about quality and durability.

China way of taking money is not a thing I wish for US. but there is a pure way of  expanding opportunities with out compromising values. Africa has untapped human resource, buying power and very vibrant young generation. If US focuses on using this very productive generation for a potential partner that will be huge success.  Africans love to buy American products and work for American companies. But still lots of American companies are not ready to be part of  this action. I hope Obama's visit should open their eyes and ears.

But America  should make a fundamental change how it sees Africa. It needs a groundbreaking policy change to bring Africans and Americans together.  One thing we need to learn from China is we (US) should not interfere with African country's internal affair. Yes America has a huge power but sometimes we need to know when to use that power. If we try to impose our ideology on African counties internal affair that will back fire and other countries may amplify the issue to use it against us.

So as a concerned citizen and  an Ethiopian American my advice is  Mr Obama when you are visiting any African country the first thing is  we need to respect people's culture, value and tradition and we need to stop to impose our internal policies  in those countries.  

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