China’s influence in Africa is growing quickly on many levels. All across the continent, Chinese companies are creating new highways, light rail systems, Special Economic Zones, and mass housing developments. Cities have received brand new skylines “made in China”: designed by Chinese architecture firms, financed by Chinese banks, and built by Chinese contractors. From foundational elements such as concrete, window frames, and fire extinguishers, to decorative ones such as carpets and curtains, many of the basic items used to construct these skylines have been sourced directly from China.
Journalist Michiel Hulshof and architect Daan Roggeveen have traveled to six African cities, from Accra to Addis Ababa to Kigali, in order to research the Chinese impact that exists on the ground. They interviewed over a hundred Chinese and African architects, politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, students, developers, artists, and individuals who are involved in or touched by Africa’s rapid process of urbanization.
China’s influence in Africa often goes even further than what we perceive through the lens of the built environment. China’s state-owned CCTV Africa is broadcasting throughout the continent, and many African capitals have Confucius Institutes, in which an increasing number of African students are learning Mandarin Chinese.