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China in Africa: The Real Story

Lusaka-Chirundu Road and Summer Research

Deborah Brautigam

Road after rainstorm

Road when originally completed.
Here are a couple of 2009 photos of the Lusaka-Chirundu road, another problematic Chinese construction project, this one a key link between Zambia and its southern neighbors. China Henan was the company in this case. A hat tip to Wei for this story.

This project -- along with the crumbling Angola hospital -- was part of this week's Economist story on China and Africa. The Economist reported that the "The Chinese-built road from Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, to Chirundu, 130km (81 miles) to the south-east, was quickly swept away by rains." Well, I don't think the entire road was quickly swept away by rains, but clearly a chunk of it was.

For another Zambia story on the heavy pressure some of these roads are under, see this Lusaka Times story. Researchers: Zambia provides a wealth of examples of comparative road construction. In this story from 2005, we can see the mention of a Chinese company, a local firm (Sable) and a South African company: Steffanutti and Bressan, all with similar contracts. What an interesting summer research project: comparative analysis of the state of these Zambian roads today, based on contracts awarded in 2005.