Blog entries from: China in Africa: The Real Story

Digging into the myths and realities

1 to 10 of 36

October 15 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Wed Oct 15 2014, 17:08:00

Photo credit: limaoscarjuliet. 

As many readers know, I am writing a book on China's agricultural investments in Africa. One of pieces of conventional wisdom I am questioning is the assumption that China wants to source its food in Africa. It's clear from detailed COMTRADE trade data that China actually exports far more food to Africa than the reverse. But that database is a pain to use.

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September 28 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Sun Sep 28 2014, 11:24:00

OK, here is where I really need some help from readers. I am down to the wire on a title for my new book on Chinese agricultural investment (or not) in Africa. I had what I thought was a great title, Feeding Frenzy, which would play off of the general perception that the Chinese are leading the land grab in Africa, to grow food to ship back to China. (There is little evidence of any grand strategy to do this, let alone of Chinese farms in Africa growing food for China -- at least for now). Then, a few months ago, someone else published a book with that title. It's about the global food crisis and not about China and Africa, but my publisher (Oxford again), emailed me on Friday: "Ok - we're at the finish line for titles. We need one asap (for the catalog). Feeding Frenzy is taken and ...

Hmmmm ... this doesn't work for me. It's too much of an echo of other writers who have argued the thesis I am going to dispute, i.e. that China does want to make Africa into its rice bowl ...

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September 12 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Fri Sep 12 2014, 10:41:00

I am again looking for an excellent candidate to undertake Ph.D. research on China-Africa economic engagement under my supervision, to enter in the Fall of 2015. SAIS offers fully funded Ph.D. fellowships. Candidates must already have an MA degree, ideally in development studies, economics, or international relations.

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September 5 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Fri Sep 5 2014, 15:46:00

IFDC.org Demonstration plot, Togo

Over the past couple of years I have been hard at work on a new book focused on China's agricultural investments in Africa. Some are very hard to track down. China State Farm Agribusiness Corporation (中国农垦)'s Togo Agriculture Development Company Ltd. for example. They reportedly developed a small-scale mixed farm offering demonstration and technical services in modern aquaculture, poultry, and pigs in an alluvial area 30 kilometers north of Lomé, according to a paper by J. R. Chaponniere and Zheng Qi, but as of 2014, we have not been able to find a trace of it.

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August 19 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Tue Aug 19 2014, 21:52:00

CIFOR -- The Center for International Forestry Research -- has just published another paper in its series on Chinese investment in Africa: George Schoneveld, Laura German, and Davison Gumbo, "The developmental implications of Sino‑African economic and political relations: A preliminary assessment for the case of Zambia." CIFOR does great, very solid work, and this team is particularly good. I have enjoyed and profited from their studies for years. 

Highlights from the abstract:

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July 21 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Mon Jul 21 2014, 09:36:00

Chinese rice imports at the port of Dakar, Senegal. China is exploring ways to feed its growing population using food grown in Africa. Photo by: vredeseilanden / CC BY-NC

Recently colleagues at Devex published a story about what China's move away from grain self-sufficiency means for African agriculture.  Curiously, they illustrated this story with the photo and caption above, of a pile of 50kg bags of rice ... coming INTO Senegal. Devex said these imports are from China. As the Ameropa label shows, this is unlikely. Ameropa is a Swiss multinational with a branch that specializes in importing Asian rice for African markets. The rice in this photo was probably sourced in Vietnam or Thailand, not China. As our recent SAIS-CARI conference on Chinese agricultural investment in ...

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July 10 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Thu Jul 10 2014, 22:16:00

Last summer, we started hearing that Chinese analysts were working on the second white paper on foreign aid. It has been many months in the works, and unexplicably delayed for months, but now, at last, the second White Paper on Foreign Aid has been published. It is much less detailed than the first, and perhaps that reflects the triumph of whatever concerns delayed it. Here's what's interesting.

In the three years (2010-2012) since the last report, China provided (committed? disbursed?) $14.41 bn in official development assistance (ODA), or an average of $4.8 bn per year:

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June 11 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Wed Jun 11 2014, 09:11:00

On May 20th I spoke at a World Bank event "China in the World Economy: New Partnerships in Africa." Some of the people speaking (and attending) have been following this topic for a few years now, and they had interesting things to say. Here are a few of them:

On debt sustainability, an official from the IMF confirmed: "The Chinese look at debt very differently [from the IMF]. It's a function of the project investment." He noted that the IMF Board has had "intense debate" on the debt limits policy (a post-HIPC innovation). "The debate has been heavily influenced by the way China has been approaching Africa. And that's all to the good."

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June 9 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Mon Jun 9 2014, 09:48:00

At last, a team of experienced researchers with extensive experience on official development assistance (and foreign aid), and with deep background on China, the OECD, and the Asian approach to aid and cooperation more generally, has come up with an estimate of China's total annual official development assistance (ODA) in 2013 of $7.1 billion. This fits well with the latest glimpse into official figures, when a Chinese official let slip in April 2013 that China's official aid was about $6.35 billion, and with my own estimates.

I highly recommend their paper: "Estimating China's Foreign Aid, 2001-2013 JICA-RI Working Paper No. 78, June 2014. Lead author Naohiro Kitano and his colleague Yukinori Harada have done a superb job. The methodology is carefully worked out and fully ...

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June 5 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Thu Jun 5 2014, 09:58:00

Pyramid Scheme Shop credit: James Wan

Interesting, detailed, and alarming story on a Chinese quack and the profitable, deadly pyramid scheme he has rolled out in Uganda:

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