Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Sunday, July 13, 2014

China is not a superpower, yet

Recently in Dar es Salaam I was on one of the invited guests when Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao was the chief guest at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation Square, a real estate development in Dar es Salaam jointly developed by the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, and China Railway Group Limited on a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis, and with further funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Strong signals that China is an emerging power could be seen and heard. First, the Master-of-Ceremonies was a Chinese official who conducted the ceremony in Chinese. A Tanzanian translator provided the English translation to the invited guests. Kiswahili speakers were left to their own devices and to their ability to understand either Chinese or English.

Second, the plaque that was jointly unveiled by the Chinese vice president and Tanzanian prime minister Mizengo Pinda was inscribed in Chinese, followed by an English translation. Again, Kiswahili was found unnecessary.


If my memory serves me correctly the background music was Chinese, with a sprinkling of some Tanzanian songs.

Yet for all this display of power I could not happen notice that, in contrast to the existing power – the United States of America – China still has a long way to go. We have witnessed how every detail of a visit by an American president to Tanzania is taken over by Americans – civilian and military. Even our president’s security is seconded to the Secret Service, I am told. Mobile phone commuications were unaivalable while President Clinton visited Arusha. Dar es Salaam’s residents were asked to stay off the route President Obama’s motorcade used from the airport. And when Air Force One used the airport it was the only aircraft operating except for US military helicopters. Other aircraft were either grounded or diverted elsewhere. And, as with our president’s bobyguards, Tanzanian airport traffic controllers were replaced by Americans.

On their way to the top superpowers step on more than a few toes and, inevitably, there are millions of people across the Globe with sore toes who would like to squeeze their hands around the neck of a leading representative of a superpower. So, one can understand the motive prompting this Great Wall that shields these representatives. The difficult part is understanding the motive by government’s around the world for accepting the humiliation of hosting such leaders.

I decided during the event in Dar es Salaam that, in this context, China is not yet a superpower. No one was strip-searched or sniffed for explosives when we entered the building site, and we were free to mingle with the Chinese delegation. Perhaps the Chinese have not yet reached the stage of stepping on other people’s toes.

I could not help wondering what would have happened if the American Vice President was the chief guest. One certaintly is I would have been wearing my best underwear.

2 comments:

Gerald Nyerere said...

Indeed, Madaraka. China is still trying to be as such, like us, from the scourge of being one of the developing countries.

I was in Dar es Salaam this past week to talk to marketing and technical officials of one of leading Chinese ICT device makers for the possibility of being their lake zone or rather their supplier in the Mara region.

My hope being as one of their device suppliers vanished due to their limit terms they proclaimed to me. They have only one supplier in Tanzania and the company have set terms that may only be applied to well established and best funded suppliers as that one based in Dar and serving only corporate customers there that are tied only with supplier's network service.

Among the terms, include minimum order of 500 pieces of the such of routers and minimum of 2000 pieces of the such of modems and paid 100% upfront prior to the order that takes between one to three months upon delivery. For that terms along others and by the fact that they don't wholesalers or sellers in between, I can say the company seem to monopolize the device market due to their costs advantages and market potential to deal only with the best marketing acumen and well funded mobile operators. Even TTCL, their first corporate customer in Tanzania seem to break loose with them.

For the U.S. companies that have more reliable but costly devices, you can find them even from Ebay, Amazon, Alibaba and the likes and in the quantities that you want and they have wholesalers worldwide and many in Dar es Salaam including those in retail scale. I am still wondering how it has become this difficult for us in the low and medium scale to acquire these most acceptable and most affordable ICT devices made by the leading Chinese companies.

If really this and others you have mentioned continue in this pace, truly China has still the long way to be superpower!

Gerald Nyerere said...

Indeed, Madaraka. China is still trying to be as such, like us, from the scourge of being one of the developing countries.

I was in Dar es Salaam this past week to talk to marketing and technical officials of one of leading Chinese ICT device makers for the possibility of being their lake zone or rather their supplier in the Mara region.

My hope being as one of their device suppliers vanished due to their limit terms they proclaimed to me. They have only one supplier in Tanzania and the company have set terms that may only be applied to well established and best funded suppliers as that only one supplier based in Dar and serving only corporate customers there that are tied only with supplier's network service.

Among the terms, include minimum order of 500 pieces of the such of routers and minimum of 2000 pieces of the such of modems and paid 100% upfront prior to the order that takes between one to three months upon delivery. For that terms along others and by the fact that they don't have wholesalers or sellers in between, I can say the company seem to monopolize the device market due to their costs advantages and market potential to deal only with the best marketing acumen and well funded mobile operators. Even TTCL, their first corporate customer in Tanzania seem to break loose with them.

For the U.S. companies that have more reliable but costly devices, you can find them even from Ebay, Amazon, Alibaba and the likes and in the quantities that you want and they have wholesalers worldwide and many in Dar es Salaam including those in retail scale. I am still wondering how it has become this difficult for us in the low and medium scale to acquire these most acceptable and most affordable ICT devices made by the leading Chinese companies.

If really this and others you have mentioned continue in this pace, truly China has still the long way to be superpower!