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China in Africa: The Real Story

China in Nigeria: Update on Mambilla (and Brazil!)

Deborah Brautigam

In May, I posted on China-in-Nigeria "Power Myths", including my debunking of the oft-circulated 'fact' that 'China' was building the Mambilla, or Mambila, hydropower plant for Nigeria.

Update: The Nigerian paper Business Day published a story on August 4, 2010 in which a top Nigerian government official "stated that the Brazilian government had indicated its interest to invest in the country’s power sector, especially the Mambilla Power Project."

This new development illustrates several things relevant to research on China-and-Africa:
  • Many announcements of 'interest' are made by recipient governments who get political capital from showing that they are busy arranging important deals.
  • Many of these announcements of interest will go nowhere.
  • Check and double-check before adding projects like Mambilla to any list of Chinese deals!
Will Brazil actually finance Mambilla? I wouldn't hold my breath. For at least one reason why, see Peter Bosshard's comments on my May posting.

A hat tip to the Center for Chinese Studies in Stellenbosch.