Jun 21, 2019
Blessed with generous government-backed loans and low-cost, high-quality equipment, Chinese technology companies have transformed African telecommunications. Millions can now connect for voice and data using devices made by Tecno, Huawei, and ZTE among countless others. Similarly, in media, private companies like StarTimes and state-backed propaganda outlets like CGTN now reach tens of millions of consumers across the continent.
That China has wired up the continent and provided millions of people with affordable communications tools is undeniably a good thing.
But Chinese technology in Africa is also a source of considerable controversy with the spread of surveillance technologies that are being used by governments to monitor and suppress dissent. Similarly, Chinese-produced artificial intelligence and facial recognition technologies are making their way to places like Zambia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe and other countries, prompting legitimate concerns that Beijing isn't just exporting equipment but also a culture of surveillance.
Wits University scholar Iginio Gagliardone is among the world's leading experts on the rise of Chinese technology in Africa. He joins Eric and Cobus to discuss his new book, "China, Africa, and the Future of the Internet" published by Zed Books in South Africa.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION:
What do you think of the indispensable role that China now plays in Africa's telecommunications and information technology sectors? Do the benefits of China's affordable technologies outweigh the concerns related to surveillance? Let us know.
Let us know what you think.