Stat of the Month: Chinese woo Africa

$50bn (estimated) - The value of Sino-African trade, 2006.

That's up from $10 billion at the start of the decade. It's a logical relationship - Africa is rich in oil and other raw materials, China has the capital and a voracious appetite for resources (40% of the total growth in demand for oil over the past four years is down to the Asian giant). China's investment in Africa now totals $6.4 billion. And while Africa's traditional economic suitors, Europe and the US, weigh their investments with abstract clauses of 'sustainability' and 'humanitarianism', China rolls in and delivers what the people can actually use - roads, railways and stadiums. The West may grumble that China is feting Africa for its own interests - 48 African nations have now signed up to the one-China policy, snubbing Taiwan - yet many African leaders see a once-poor powerhouse that can teach them how to make it big themselves. China may not always be a shining example of principled investment, but as long as it provides tangible benefits to Africa, the West will be missing out on opportunities.

- Source: China's Ministry of Commerce.

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