Blog entries from: China in Africa: The Real Story

Digging into the myths and realities

1 to 10 of 42

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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June 4 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Wed Jun 4 2014, 10:12:00

In southern Africa, many people believe that Chinese companies are exempt from the indigenization policy in Zimbabwe -- a requirement that firms submit plans as to how they will achieve 51 percent Zimbabwean ownership over a set period. I don't think Chinese firms have a blanket exemption. True, I have read that the tobacco buyer Tian Ze -- which has been working with indigenous Zimbabwean tobacco farmers in a contract farming arrangement, supplying inputs and credit, and purchasing their crop -- was given an exemption. There may be some other Chinese companies that have negotiated exceptions just as some other foreign firms have been trying to do, but despite the oft-stated "Chinese are exempt" belief, the evidence suggests that Chinese firm have no blanket exemption.

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May 23 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Fri May 23 2014, 09:01:00

Here in Washington, I am asked a lot by people at USAID and the World Bank: why is it so hard to cooperate with China in Africa? Usually the person asking the question has in mind doing a foreign aid/development project together. It's not always clear exactly what the purpose of such cooperation is -- and I suspect that usually the subtext is "we need to teach the Chinese how to be better donors." I am collecting examples of US-China-Africa cooperation that already exist. Usually these are commercial deals where cooperation has a business rationale. This is an excellent, and more sustainable way to go.

Here's the kind of example I'm looking for:

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May 22 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Thu May 22 2014, 08:56:00

My program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is seeking a visiting professor of international development for a one year position, beginning in September. We are accepting applications now and will begin reviewing them in June. Position description follows:

SAIS seeks to appoint a one year visiting professor of international development at the assistant or associate level. The faculty member will teach courses and advise students in the International Development Program. Candidates should be excellent scholars and also have practical experience in international development. Field and discipline are open although the candidate should be able to teach an interdisciplinary survey course in international development. A Ph.D. degree is welcome but not mandatory ...

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May 19 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Mon May 19 2014, 12:46:00

According to the Financial Times, the Chinese and the Africa Development Bank will soon announce a contribution of $2 bn to an Africa-wide investment vehicle, "Africa Growing Together Fund." Unlike most Chinese finance on the continent, this would be open to all companies to compete. If it's true (and it is still to be confirmed), this is a huge change and a very welcome one. While the multilateral banks are not immune from corruption and embezzlement challenges, they do have stakeholders that try to hold them accountable in a transparent process. That has not been the case with the Chinese policy banks. I suspect that Chinese firms will still win the majority of contracts but what an excellent tactic by a maturing Chinese leadership to make them compete internationally for their wins. ...

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