Weekly news

News round-up: 13 July 2013 to 19 July 2013

CAN Comment: East Africa’s regional integration project includes rail and pipeline projects, identity cards and customs union, but the rail project being managed from Uganda has run into confusion. Four Chinese construction firms are in competition for the lucrative construction contracts and have signed agreements with different branches of the government, creating a risk of delays and litigation. This is a good example to debunk the myth of a China Inc. controlling all Chinese actors on the continent.

CAN Comment: At the crux of the questioning of China’s role in Africa is whether it is a positive relationship for the continent. Generally a lot is made of the differences between Chinese and Western investment and engagement, but generally they are driven by the same goals and they invest in similar industries. The really significant and yet under-realised difference is the one pointed out in this article, that China has the potential to help Africa industrialise in a way that the West does not. If the potential of the relationship outlined in this article can be realised, then the question of whether China was good for Africa might be given a definitive answer.

CAN Comment: This story provides hope that both the Nigerian government led by well-respected Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Chinese government in the form of  the China Development Bank  (CDB) and the China Africa Development Fund (CAD Fund), understand the potential for China to catalyse industrialisation. As China seeks to re-balance it economy over the coming years it might present opportunities for manufacturers in Africa, if supported by their governments.

CAN Comment: There has been a lot of Chinese attention on Sierra Leone in recent weeks as President Koroma has visited China. Among the projects announced are  a $1.5 billion rubber plantation project, an energy and mining project worth $6.5 billion, and the much-talked about new airport deal said to cost $300 million (which for anyone who has visited Freetown’s current airport will be welcome news). There are also plans to build an industrial city near the site of the current airport in Lungi. As part of the typical Chinese charm offensive Sierra Leonean ministers have been on a tour of Chinese cities to build their capacity in urban planning.

CAN Comment: Interesting article from a government banned website in Zambia highlighting the increasing Chinese media presence in the country, and also Zambian President Micheal Sata’s increasing borrowing of oppressive techniques from China. Sata swept to power on an anti-China mandate, but quickly warmed to Beijing after his election, and has recently been forging closer relations.

CAN Comment: Interesting article from a Chinese news source on the need for greater international cooperation to end ivory smuggling. There has been a lot of work done in East Africa to educate local populations on the negative impacts of poaching, but there now needs to be an increasing focus on buyers in China. Schemes underway are focusing on Chinese tourists, but also using the media to build awareness.

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