African nations look east to China as a model for their own countries’ economic and social life, with respondents in three of five African regions saying that China either matches or exceeds the approval that Africans have for the United States.
That’s according to a new report from Afrobarometer, the well-regarded public opinion polling and statistics nonprofit based in Ghana.
The “Perceptions of China in Africa” report included responses from 36 of Africa’s 54 different countries, all pointing to the fact that apart from the former colonial powers in some regions, China is the second-most popular international presence on the continent.
The study found 63 percent of people surveyed said China had a somewhat or very positive influence in their own country, primarily because of investments in infrastructure and business development. The top complaint about China was pointed at the poor quality of Chinese products.
China’s influence is perceived to be highest in Zimbabwe, followed by Mozambique, Sudan, Zambia, South Africa and Tanzania. The least favorable view of China’s economic influence was in Madagascar, followed by Tunisia, Ghana and Algeria.
Overall, former colonial powers were viewed to have the greatest external influence with 28 percent of responses – and they clearly dominate in Central and West Africa. Respondents chose China at 23 percent and the U.S. at 22 percent overall, with China seen as most influential in Southern Africa, while the U.S. was chosen in North and East Africa.
Eleven percent of respondents chose South Africa for its influence, while just 2 percent chose India, but those responses taken as a whole offer some insight on how the BRICS nations are seen by Africans.