This year, Zimbabwe became the first foreign country to adopt the Chinese yuan as its primary international currency. As part of Uncle Mugabe's "Look East" policy (meaning no more Western aid or partnerships) the small south African nation announced it's decision to use the yuan after the Chinese government agreed to cancel $40 million in Zimbabwean debt. Hmmm neo-colonialism, or nah? I mean honestly, after the 2008 CRASH of the Zimbabwean dollar (think inflation of over 200 percent, where a loaf of bread cost $300 Zimbabwean dollars...people where bringing truck loads of money to the market just to go shopping for a week) we all knew Zimbabwe was going to need to adopt SOMEONES currency. But the Chinese? Anyone who studies post-colonial Africa is sure the question anything that the Chinese facilitate on the continent. The Chinese are known for crafting multi-billion dollar infrastructure or agricultural projects across Africa, intended to further exploit African resources, and in turn line the pockets of our politiocal leaders. And proponents of the Chinese investment apparatus can say that these conglomerates are "creating jobs" when they come into Africa but that is not the case. More frequently, jobs are lost to Chinese employees: For example, the growing Chinese presence in South Africa may have cost the country 75,000 jobs from 2000 to 2011. In Nigeria, the influx of low-priced Chinese textile goods has caused 80% of Nigerian companies in this industry to close.
When we look at an arguably "failed state" like Zimbabwe, with its isolated political regime, and volatile economic history, it can seem like the only quick cure is even more aid from a rich superpower. Robert Mugabe thinks that Africans should divorce themselves from their colonizers and look "East" for partnerships, but that doesn't solve the problem. This economic problem can not be solved by adopting foreign currency because for home grown problems, home grown solutions must be implemented. The mentality that only aid and Chinese partnerships can save Africa will perpetuate the dependency culture that has crippled the continent since our arbitrary borders were drawn. So no, I don't have the answers for Zimbabwe's economic woes, that would take years to figure out and I can't defer my student loans for that long. What I do know is that Africa's economic problems need creative leaders whom are loyal to their people and not their pockets.