Abstract: Africa has become a major arena in the so-called “multiplex world.” The growing presence of China and other emerging countries on the continent in the last two decades has turned Africa into an area in which there are a large number of different patterns of interaction between state and non-state actors. International debates are polarised over whether these new South–South dynamics generate new dependency relations or whether they provide genuine opportunities for transformation. This article focuses on China’s role in the ongoing processes of economic integration in Africa. Far from merely reproducing a neoliberal pattern, this interaction may highlight a certain convergence between the African regional integration projects and China’s desire to promote structural transformation strategies, with investment in infrastructure being an example. However, the article concludes that rather than reinforcing African regional integration, this essentially bilateral and highly pragmatic Chinese strategy may have some indirect returns on regional integration but is actually showing some signs of decline.
Keywords: Africa–China relations; African Continental Free Trade Area; Agenda 2063; Belt and Road Initiative; regional integration; South–South cooperation