Photo Credit: Reuters

What sources of funding is Uganda looking to for its railway modernizations? What is Huawei’s “Safe City” technology, and how is it spreading through the African continent? What issues are arising due to the China-Ghana Bauxite deal? What is the state of Chinese investments in Morocco? How will France build business connections in the African continent? How is the U.S. planning to respond to China’s Belt and Road Initiative? Read this issue of the China Monitor to find out! 

Every two weeks, The Carter Center’s China Program releases an overview of major events involving Chinese and US global engagement, with a particular focus on emerging issues in Africa. In addition to using news sources, the news roundup analyzes papers and reports from academic journals, governmental bodies, and NGOs, and also summarizes debates and other events organized by think tanks on select issues. The news roundup is intended to be a platform and resource for both China watchers and for readers interested in political and economic development in developing countries. It aims to deepen the understanding of China’s foreign policy, and emerging issues and trends in developing countries, as well as to enhance the prospect of multinational cooperation among China, the U.S., and developing countries in Africa and around the world. 

Uganda seeks other backers to fix railway after China delays US$2.2 billion in funds 

Credit: South China Morning Post, November 6, 2019; Photo Credit: Reuters 

After Uganda failed to secure $2.2 billion in Chinese funding for a new standard-gauge line, Uganda will be looking to refurbish its old rail network. The refurbishing project will cost at least $267 million, taking place over several years. The European Union has given a grant of $23.76 million, and Uganda is looking to secure more funding from other international lenders. The old network had not been properly maintained over the past century. Bulk cargo transporters are now looking for cheaper and more reliable transport, spurring the refurbishing project.  

Read more at: https://www.scmp.com/news/world/africa/article/3036622/uganda-seeks-other-backers-fix-creaky-railway-after-china-delays 

SMEs are key to reviving French business ties to Africa 

Credit: RFI, June 11, 2019; Photo Credit: Eric Piermont/AFP 

As French trade with Africa falls to $48 billion annually-a third of China’s $150 billion trade with Africa-France has encouraged its small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to invest in Africa. The French Foreign Minister stated that France plans to win African cooperation by meeting Africa’s needs, with a special focus on “smart city” projects and other solutions to address demographic shifts, population growth, and climate change. French efforts have been hindered by the increased scrutiny that French investors subject African countries to, as compared to lessened Chinese scrutiny.  

Read more at: http://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20191106-france-banks-small-businesses-revive-africa-ties-China-competition 

US woos Asia with plan to rival China’s ‘Belt and Road’ 

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sits on chair after delivering a speech.

Credit: ABC News, November 5, 2019, Photo Credit: Sakchai Lalit, AP 

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced a rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative called the Blue Dot Network. Although it is currently limited to Asia, the Network shows what the US likely has in mind for infrastructure development programs in Africa. Rather than using large state investments to develop infrastructure, the Network certifies private infrastructure projects that meet certain standards. It also works with small to medium enterprises (SMEs) instead of relying on massive state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The US, Japan, and Australia will cooperate on the Network and are seeking new partners. 

Read more at: https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-woos-asia-plan-rival-chinas-belt-road-66758005 

For further commentary, read: https://uscnpm.org/2019/11/11/connecting-the-dots-the-us-answer-to-the-bri/ 

Morocco bank reaches $5-bil deal with Export-Import Bank of China 

Reuters reported that Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank had agreed with the Export-Import Bank of China to set up a $5 billion-dollar fund to “to promote African exports to China and industrial zones on the continent.” 

Read more at: https://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFKBN1XJ04A-OZABS

Ghana-China Bauxite Deal Raises Water Concerns 

Ghana intends to mine bauxite in the Atewa reserve to uphold a barter deal with China’s Sinohydro Corporation. Sinohydro has funded over $2 billion in infrastructure projects in Ghana, which Ghana agreed to pay back through the sale of Bauxite. However, mining operations risk in Atewa contaminating water supplies for over 1 million people and could negatively affect local biodiversity. 

Read more at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/mining-ghanas-bauxite-would-bring-in-billions-from-china-but-it-could-also-taint-the-water-for-5-million-people/2019/10/25/e4726518-e3a7-11e9-b0a6-3d03721b85ef_story.html 

Huawei expands “Safe Cities” Surveillance Technology in Africa 

Credit: China Africa Project, November 13, 2019; Photo Credit: CSIS 

The Center for Strategic and International Studies published a report on Huawei’s expansion of its “Safe Cities” products in Africa, which include facial recognition and social media monitoring technologies. The report notes that much of Huawei’s marketing material relies on exaggeration and questionable statistics of success, but that states with low degrees of political freedom continue purchases. 

Read more at: https://chinaafricaproject.com/2019/11/13/huaweis-surveillance-technology-program-safe-cities-now-active-in-12-african-countries/