Kenya and China Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The China Factor in Kenya and Zimbabwe

As Kenya and Zimbabwe navigate their political futures, much in both countries will no doubt change – one hopes for the better. In any case, their ties with China will be an important metric in assessing their trajectory, and here Zimbabwe may have the advantage.

BEIJING – Ask anyone with a basic knowledge of Africa which country is more poised for success – Zimbabwe or Kenya – and he or she will undoubtedly answer “Kenya.” Events of the last week would seem to confirm that verdict.

On Monday, after Kenya’s Supreme Court upheld the reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the country’s contested presidential election, the rule of law seemed to trump political violence for the first time in years. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, is without President Robert Mugabe for the first time in 37 years. And, although the country may be ecstatic now, its political future is far from certain.

But as a Kenyan living in China, one of the African continent’s most important development partners, I see one metric that tips the scale in Zimbabwe’s favor: its relationship with my adopted home. In fact, Zimbabwe’s economic and political ties to China could prove decisive for Africa’s perpetual underdog.

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