How China Is Changing Africa

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects the guard of honour following his arrival in Harare where China and Zimbabwe are schedu
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects the guard of honour following his arrival in Harare where China and Zimbabwe are scheduled to sign various economic deals in agriculture, energy and infrastructure development December 1 2015. China's President Xi Jinping started a five-day visit to Zimbabwe and South Africa, with African concern over the impact of the Chinese economic slowdown set to dominate the agenda. Xi will be the most prominent global leader to visit Zimbabwe for many years as veteran President Robert Mugabe, 91, is widely shunned by Western powers. / AFP / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

In their new book "Continental Shift: A Journey Into Africa's Changing Fortunes," South African authors Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak embarked on 14-country odyssey across two continents over a span of five years to report on Africa's changing economic, political and social landscapes.

What they discovered along the way was that China's role had become pivotal in so many of the African countries they visited. The Chinese presence in Africa, they observed, "is the defining phenomenon of our time."

Bloom and Poplak don't advocate that China's ever-expanding engagement across the continent is either good or bad for Africa. It's neither, it's both, it's complicated. What isn't in dispute, though, is that China is changing Africa either through new infrastructure, more trade, imported labor, corruption and in countless other ways.

The two journalist-authors join Eric & Cobus -- in the podcast above -- to discuss their new book and their perceptions of China's role in Africa's "continental shift."

Watch Eric Olander discuss U.S. and Chinese competition for influence in Africa on HuffPost Live: