West casts shadow over Africa

Updated: 2014-08-25 08:11

By Fu Jing(China Daily)

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After enjoying rain and cool weather almost everyday in Ethiopia, I ended my Africa trip in Egypt, where it was unbearably hot.

The contrast between the two countries goes far beyond weather. Ethiopia is a land-locked country with vast highland region in the interior while Egypt enjoys a long coastline and is the gateway to Europe, North Africa and West Asia.

As one of the poorest countries in Africa, Ethiopia's per capita GDP is just one-sixth that of Egypt. In Ethiopia taxis are still donkey or horse-pulled carts in some regions, while in Egypt secondhand cars from Europe or Japan are used for that purpose.

But Ethiopia has registered an average of 10 percent economic growth rate during the past decade due to its opening to foreign direct investment, expansion of infrastructure construction, commercial agriculture and its manufacturing industry.

Of course, China's construction of Ethiopia's first highway and roads, a cross-border railway and light-railway, as well as factories producing cement, sugar, and glass has helped inject vigor into this fast growing non-oil economy, where previously the population relied on agriculture and foreign aid for subsistence.

In contrast, Egypt's growth rate, after two revolutions and regime changes, has been halved during the previous four years from an annual rate of nearly 5 percent before 2011. The economy is sluggish, foreign investment has run away and tourists are staying away.

In contrast to China's helping hand in Ethiopia, the US has been blamed by nearly every Egyptian I met for the hardships they are suffering now. The superpower has been manipulating its influence in this geopolitically important country.

"Egypt is not a happy country," I read in The Egyptian Gazette, which was citing a UN-commissioned report that said Egypt had the greatest fall in happiness levels in comparison to previous years: On a scale of 1 to 10, Egypt garnered a score of 5.4 between the years 2005 and 2007, but averaged a score of 4.3 between the years 2010 and 2012. This places Egypt 130th among the 156 nations ranked according to their happiness ratings.

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