Is trade still dynamic, in sharp decline or completely insignificant? At a time when global inflation is reaching new heights and geopolitical ... balances are being reconfigured, we take a look at Sino-African relations and the issues underlying the partnerships between the continent and the Asian giant.
From 11 March 2020 – the official start date of the Covid pandemic – to June 2021, China invested $11.2bn in the continent, according to the China Global Investment Tracker of the think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), equivalent to Rwanda’s annual GDP in 2020. Over the same period, Chinese investment amounted to $75bn worldwide.
Egypt is considered one of the most attractive African countries to Chinese companies, as the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) invested $1.9bn in it in February 2021. The money will be used to build five residential skyscrapers in the city of New Alamein.
Tanzania ($2.2bn), Zambia ($1.7bn) and Ghana ($1.1bn) are also among the African countries that have received the most attention from Beijing, according to figures from the China Global Investment Tracker.
Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Algeria
West Africa is still benefiting from these investments. The latest Chinese investment on the continent was made in Mali in June 2021. The Chinese lithium giant Jiangxi Ganfeng concluded a financial agreement with the Australian company Firefinch to exploit the lithium Goulamina mine, located in the central part of the country. The Chinese company will invest $130m in this 50/50 joint venture.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) had invested $430m in constructing the second container terminal at the port of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire Terminal (CIT), by the end of August 2020.
Signed with the consortium in charge of CIT, which is composed of the Bolloré Group and APM Terminals, this project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
Another notable project is a contract signed between CSCEC and Algeria’s government in May 2020. This $120m investment will facilitate the construction of a six-hectare distribution centre in the Algerian capital.
Additionally, investments have been made in Guinea ($300m), Rwanda ($210m), Gabon ($140m) and Niger ($110m), according to the China Global Investment Tracker.
Peak in 2013
However, Chinese investments stocks reached a record high of $34.5bn in sub-Saharan Africa in 2013 – when President Xi Jinping launched the New Silk Roads project.
As a reminder, Chinese companies have invested $35bn in Nigeria – an oil-rich country – $13.5bn in Algeria and $11.7bn in the DRC since 2010, according to the China Global Investment Tracker. Chad and Cameroon have both received $7bn, compared to Senegal’s $4.5bn and Côte d’Ivoire’s $4.9bn.
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