How China is transforming Africa into the next 'factory of the world'
China is investing a gargantuan amount of money in Africa, but it's leaving many in the global community concerned as to why.
In the past few years, Chinese investment in Africa has exploded. While the US currently has $58 billion worth of investments in Africa and China has $40 billion, the US's investments in Africa have been dropping over time. Consider the fact that in 2014, the US pledged to invest $14 billion in Africa over the next decade. China pledged to invest $175 billion in the same time period, dwarfing the US's commitment.
Unlike the US, China's investments mainly take the form of loans for infrastructure development. In contrast, US investment is focused on aid programs—primarily healthcare and education. Many Africans welcome China's investment into much-needed infrastructure, but it's not clear how much of a benefit African nations are seeing. One major issue is that many countries are becoming excessively indebted to China. Kenya, for instance, has $50 billion of debt, 72% of which comes from China. In Senegal, highways, industrial parks, and other infrastructure projects are being funded by a $1.6 billion loan (source in French). Djibouti has received $1.1 billion in loans to upgrade its seaport and to build a railway to Addis Ababa, a water pipeline from Ethiopia, and a new airport.
Not only are these loans greater than what many countries can afford to repay, much of their value goes straight back to China. Tim Wegenast, the author of a report on Chinese mining in Africa by the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, stated that, “It's more or less safe to say that Chinese companies employ less local labor than other companies because they bring over many Chinese workers, and when they develop local infrastructure, they provide countries with loans which are being used to pay for it, which is then constructed by Chinese companies and Chinese labor."
People hold up the Chinese and Djiboutian flags before the launch of a 1,000-unit housing development funded by a Chinese company (photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images).
Furthermore, the new infrastructure is designed to enable Chinese corporations to extract natural resources, such as minerals and oil. Unfortunately, many of these ventures fail to meet regulatory, environmental, and ethical standards. Chinese companies have been accused of illegal mining in Ghana; corruption in Angola, Guinea, and others; environmental degradation in Chad; and generally poor working conditions. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chinese companies have been linked to the use of child labor to extract cobalt for smartphones.
Nigeria, where Boko Haram bases their operations, paid $470 million for the development of a grid of CCTV cameras to improve security in the capital of Abuja. The Chinese company ZTE developed the CCTV cameras, but many were found to be completely non-functioning. If ZTE sounds familiar, it's because President Trump recently lifted a ban that prevented US companies from selling electronic components to ZTE after it was discovered that they were illegally exporting technology to North Korea and Iran.
As a token of their growing relationship, China funded the development of the African Union headquarters, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This development also included an IT system that, according to Le Monde, allegedly contained a backdoor that was sending the African Union's data to Shanghai.
China's growing presence in Africa is essentially an effort to transform Africa into the next factory of the world. Although China currently holds this title, its rapidly growing economy is likely to lift its citizens out of poverty and into roles that are more service-oriented, like the US, and less based on manufacturing. Instead, Chinese factories are relocating to Africa.
And despite the lack of regulation from Chinese investment, many Africans see this as a positive thing. A survey conducted in a variety of African countries found that 63% of Africans see China's influence positively. According to the survey, this positive feeling is mainly due to China's investments in infrastructure. While China is seen favorably in Africa, the survey also uncovered that the US's development model was still the most popular, with China's development model coming in second. However, considering the vast disparity in how much each country is investing in Africa, it may not matter which economic development model is more popular so much as which model is put in place.
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What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
A recent study gives new meaning to the saying "fake it 'til you make it."
- The study involves four experiments that measured individuals' socioeconomic status, overconfidence and actual performance.
- Results consistently showed that high-class people tend to overestimate their abilities.
- However, this overconfidence was misinterpreted as genuine competence in one study, suggesting overestimating your abilities can have social advantages.
Is this proof of a dramatic shift?
- Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
- Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
- A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses
Dramatic and misleading
Image: Reddit / SICResearch
The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.
Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.
The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.
Let's zoom in:
- It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
- By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
- Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
- In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
- Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
- By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.
Image source: Reddit / SICResearch
This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?
- "The end is near."
- "The idiocracy grows."
- "(It's) like a spreading disease."
- "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
- "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
- "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
- "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
- "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."
Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:
- "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
- "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
- "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
- "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."
"Old people learning to Google"
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)
But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:
- "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
- "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
- "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
- "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."
A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.
The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.
One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.
Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.
It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.
CNN, Fox and MSNBC
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison
For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):
- Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
- MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
- CNN: 706,000 (-9%)
And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
If you thought your mother was pushy in her pursuit of grandchildren, wait until you learn about bonobo mothers.
- Mother bonobos have been observed to help their sons find and copulate with mates.
- The mothers accomplish this by leading sons to mates, interfering with other males trying to copulate with females, and helping sons rise in the social hierarchy of the group.
- Why do mother bonobos do this? The "grandmother hypothesis" might hold part of the answer.
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