Sino-Africa scholar Deborah Brautigam argues that Africa cannot develop like China:
There isn't any country in Africa that has the same kind of leadership as China where there is such a focus on development....There might have been a few places that have come close such as Ethiopia under Meles Zenawi (prime minister until his death in August) and also currently Rwanda, but very few....There are 54 countries in Africa so you can't really say there is one model for Africa,...But it is true there is more focus on manufacturing in Africa. There are a number of countries that have also concentrated on manufacturing such as Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya as well as Tunisia and Egypt and others that are not naturally resource-rich. For some parts of the continent, the manufacturing model is already working.
A number of African scholars have recently argued that China is working with African countries to advance the continent's development, while the United States is deeply engaged in security and terror issues in Africa... Although there is an element of truth in this thesis, particularly with regard to the American involvement in Africa, I beg to differ with the claim that China's interventions are significantly advancing Africa's capacity to develop....The critical question is: What the Asian or PRC leadership did differently than Africans to advance their economies? For starters, the younger Asian Tigers had a model of industrial development in Japan. East Asians and PRC understood that without a strong industrial base they could not develop.Consequently, their industrial strategy was qualitatively different than any other Third World government through the discipline their state exercised. State companies took the lead and this approach blossomed in China after the post-Mao reform in the late 1970. It is the emergence of state-directed industrial development that has given Asia or China an incredible competitive advantage in so many fields....Beneath the media glare that surrounded the inaugural ceremony of the AU ceremony, the Chinese guest must have minimally felt pity for his hosts whose incompetence created the opportunity for such gift giving. In the colonial era, Africans were denied the opportunity to develop their skills and build their enterprises.For instance, early last century, King Khama of Bechuanaland (today's Botswana) established a state company to assist his people compete with South Africa's white businesses in his territory. But the British authorities forced Khama to liquidate his enterprise and this damaged the future Republic of Botswana.More recently, African governments have failed to learn from their history and those of others by squandering opportunities to capacitate their people so they can design and construct their own domes.The African people's disability is unmistakably exemplified by the AU building and that is why it is Africa's "Dome of Shame". To challenge this history, the response of young Africans must be: never again will others build things for us and steal our precious natural resources and markets."
One wonders if, ultimately, the perception that African countries are relying on "the Chinese" (The quote is there to signify that the term is more complicated than its use implies) to build necessary infrastructure is really the way to go.