"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


don't knock china

Say what you will about China's multi-billion dollar deal with the Congolese government to trade infrastructure development for access to minerals with little regard for human rights and environmental issues. They've still managed to turn a big segment of North Kivu's main highway from this:

Into this:


And I have to tell you, after riding down one of the huge walls of the Great Rift Valley escarpment on a terrifying dirt segment of the highway that has yet to be paved, China's intentions in Africa don't seem so bad at all.

I may have to rethink a few things.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure what you are saying by "rethink". Certainly you aren't suggesting China's myriad crimes are somehow mitigated by good road-building.

Sunday, July 11, 2010 5:45:00 PM

Anonymous Squidbert said...

Didn't C.(china?) Montgomery Burns put extra ketchup packets in the plant's cafeteria so that no one would care the dental plan was being taken away?

Sunday, July 11, 2010 5:49:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't get too excited about those roads. The Chinese had a similar deal in Zimbabwe probably 10 years back, albeit on a smaller scale. They paved a few dust roads in some rural areas. A few rainy seasons later, the roads were in quite a horrific state to the point where locals had formed a dust road next to 'tarred' road coz it was a lot kinder on the tires.

And anyway, the Chinese have to build the road to be able to transport the minerals.

Sunday, July 11, 2010 6:37:00 PM

Blogger ambrose said...

Can you get independent evaluators assess to quality of African infrastructure built as part of such agreements?

Sunday, July 11, 2010 7:01:00 PM

Blogger Tauratinzwe said...

Like some others, I remain skeptical of the Chinese. I was in Tanzania when they were building the great railway. The cost to Tanzania in poor quality merchandise they were required to buy was greater than the railway. The Chinese drive tough bargains and always get the better deal.

Monday, July 12, 2010 6:30:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments maybe too tough.Who would do something no profit?They just made a deal.And both sides knew the benefits and obligations,and both agreed.So what did you guys blame on the common and regular transaction.Only because they're Chinese or the prejudice planted in your mind?

Monday, July 12, 2010 9:31:00 AM

Blogger Ready2Go said...

Let's not act like U.S. intervention in African countries has been a walk through the park. Western companies to this day are still exploiting resources and people. It is up to African leaders to make sure that before Chinese companies and workers come into their countries, there are guidelines/regulations in place so that Africans really do benefit and are not let worse off.

Some Americans really need to get off their high horse and really research our gov'ts involvement in African affairs and how we have made many lives worse off before pointing the finger at the Chinese. All countries should be able to help Africans as long as African leaders are responsible about it.

Monday, July 12, 2010 10:00:00 AM

Anonymous Jonathan said...

I'm still not clear as to why this is up for some sort of debate. While I don't necessarily agree with China's human rights or environmental record, I don't always agree with the US or (US companies) HR and environmental records either. That being said, making a business deal requires two parties in agreement and I think it is a bit strange to insinuate that African countries are being victimized by these deals. What's worse is why are we (as Americans) allowed to determine who has the right to do business with African nations.

More to the point is what happens to these huge infrastructure when certain African governments do not have the capabilities to contribute to their upkeep?

Monday, July 12, 2010 8:53:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am all for the Chinese being in African countries. As a Nigerian, I feel the relationship is mutually beneficial. After the British left Nigeria there were literally no infrasrtuctures left behind. Nothing to show for all the years of colonization except for rail tracks leading straight to the ports.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 5:22:00 PM

Anonymous ken said...

I think the nice thing about the Chinese minerals-for-infrastructure deals is that it guarantees provision of public goods. Yes, huge percentages get lost in kickbacks but at least the average people get something in return.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 4:11:00 AM

Anonymous изработка на сайт said...

Bravo! Good job for China.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 8:39:00 AM

Anonymous Sam Gardner said...

When I was living in Burundi, in the eighties, it was the same picture: new tar roads reaching in every corner of the country, with economic growth on its tails. Indeed, without transport, producing more than for the village is not useful. Suddenly opportunities open.
In those days there was talk the roads were there for military reasons, but the poor farmers benefited anyway. That was indeed before the civil war.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 3:51:00 PM

Blogger D Ham said...

they turned the car into a bike too? nice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 5:22:00 PM

Blogger Matt Davies said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thursday, July 15, 2010 5:26:00 AM

Blogger Matt Davies said...

It's clear where there are minerals, there's China (...and private sector UK, US, Canada etc. companies of course). Talking with a colleague in Burkina Faso, where there are few mineral deposits, China is conspicuous by its absence. Although there is Taiwan...!

Thursday, July 15, 2010 5:27:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

There's a point to be made that the minerals are going to be exploited anyway, and, as someone above noted, at least this way some public goods are provided in exchange...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:14:00 AM

OpenID sararich said...

I've been living in Kinshasa for the past three years and when I visited Goma back in March we learned about a rather disturbing aspect of the road building. Paving some of the roads also sometimes is requiring WIDENING of the roads. First we noticed big white X marks across roadside homes and businesses. Okay, fine. But THEN we saw several frustrated people yelling and complaining about the destruction of their businesses, etc. So we asked, "Why are people so mad?!" Well apparently the Congolese government failed to notify people that their homes and businesses were going to be destroyed until the machines-of-destruction showed up on their doorstep! We immediately asked, "Why don't people go to the mayor's office and complain?!!!" And they said, "Well one guy did do that, and now he's in jail."

texasinafrica I really appreciate your hesitancy in thinking that this doesn't seem so bad. I initially felt that way too when suddenly 30 Juin in Kin was perfectly smooth... but after seeing that in Goma... it confirmed my suspicion that this most definitely can't be all good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:25:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A train system would be great, they could haul heavy containers as well as transport passengers instead of relying on trucks that are vulnerable to mechanical failures - the train workers would be trained to a higher level of proficiency to maintain and repair the trains than the lorry drivers who transport goods and passengers now.

Monday, August 02, 2010 3:36:00 PM


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