Chorus+Echo

Investment or Exploitation? China and Africa

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) meets with President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou-Nguesso 

Hello, Lynch here. If you were to go exploring in the Congo you might be very surprised with what you found. Deep in the middle of the jungle not only might you come across the most fascinating fauna you’ve ever seen in your life, you might discover a small gang of Chinese men.

What will they be doing?

Answer: prospecting and surveying the jungle in order to build infrastructure for the Congo. This forms part of a 5 billion dollar deal in which the Chinese gets access to Congolese minerals and the Congolese get much needed cash. Read more about this from the New York Times.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/21/world/asia/21iht-letter.1.7595719.html

The $5 billion that China is plunking down promises a great leap forward for Congo, and this begins with about 3,200 kilometers of new rail lines and an equivalent amount of new roads. The money will also pay for 31 hospitals and 145 smaller health care centers, along with two large new universities and 5,000 new government housing units.

The Chinese promise not to dilly-dally, too. Most of this will be accomplished in a mere 36 months, they say, and I for one believe them, having seen the pace of change even in the most remote Chinese backwaters. If war or political upheaval doesn’t get in the way, Congo stands to experience more progress in 36 months than it has in 47 years of independence from Belgium, or as a colony of Brussels for that matter.

The Chinese move is impressive on many levels, none more so than the fact of the immense vacuum in Africa they are moving to fill, and there are few characteristics more distinctive of an emerging superpower than filling vacuums.

What do you think? Will it work or will there be issues of unrest in the oft problematic area of Africa? We would love to hear your comments!