The Guardian newspaper highlighted some of the African cables taht came out of the US Embassy's as part of the Wikileaks. I find these cables very interesting as they in many ways show an honest insight into how African's are viewing the rise of China's economic influence in Africa. The ability of China to offer investments in a way that differs greatly from the Western model of AID development has as the African's rightly point out that this is "giving the African countries options after several decades of a largely "Western" development model."
I think this is a critical insight into how the African's have felt in the decades of Euro-American AID. They have not had a choice, during the Cold War the choice was between Communism and Capitalist-Democracy and either choice came with huge costs and potential conflict. Today's choices come with far fewer consequences, and most of them are in some way positive. There are concerns raised that this Chinese model offers support to corrupt governments. I am not well studied in this arena (my friend Steven Nakana is far better versed in this stuff) but I do know that many horrid dictators in Africa were supported by Western governments over the decades of development AID.
The point is that it opens up the choices and this is a good thing, it increases competition and forces governments to offer a range of choices - a set of diverse options. This is good for Africa, after all Africa is not monolithic and the situations faced by each country are both unique and similar. This is why it is great to see the UK' DFID being identified for its ability to work on small projects in collaboration with others including the Chinese.
Ending with my continued belief that Africa is going to surprise everyone in the 21st century. More on that later though. Oh here is the link to the Guardian article: US embassy cables: African countries prefer Chinese aid to US-China cooperation.