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Africa's Great Vulnerability

Two cases:

  • China is allegedly working with its commercial/civilian drone maker to collect sensitive infrastructure data in countries where the drones are flown. That is the accusation of the U.S. government against the DJI, the China-based global civilian drone maker. DJI denies the accusation.

Now D.J.I. is fighting a claim by one United States government office that its commercial drones and software may be sending sensitive information about American infrastructure back to China, in the latest clash over the power of data in the growing technological rivalry between the two countries. It also shows how consumer technology companies have become increasingly central to debates about national security

  • A government openly working with private companies to collect data of private citizens for many applications including weeding out criminals, silencing political dissent, etc. From Fortune newsletter:

China's tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu are using the vast amounts of personal information they collect from Chinese citizens daily to help China's government weed out criminals, silence political dissent and set up cities under surveillance. 

When you read things like this, you will begin to wonder how the world will look if China triumphs and the West diminishes. Certainly, China sees people as numbers, and not humans, and it does not care. The vision of China and its capabilities are things African Union may have to setup protocols to help its member states to manage, as they partner with China.

There is nothing that stops China installing surveillance equipment in our airports, hotels, government buildings, and all the infrastructure they are funding in the continent. Surveillance is in their DNA and Africa needs to plan. They are building new government mansions, refurbishing old ones and entering into new sectors like telecoms. We need to ask and then verify because if China can do all these to its citizens, I do not think it will respect Africa and Africans.

I don't know if African leaders could summon such courage, with the way everyone is competing to become China's darling. Development and technology as we know them didn't come from China, unfortunately China came with big cheque, and our governments are gradually handing China the keys to our bedrooms, kitchens, wardrobes, toilets, etc. I don't see this uncomfortable romance ending well, the spy master is taking charge of our lives gradually.