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China in Africa: The Real Story

Ethiopia's Partnership with China: Feedback

Deborah Brautigam

Chinese-built Ring Road, Addis: Flicker-Pougala
On December 30, The Guardian's Global Development, Poverty Matters blog published a short article they had requested from me on China and Africa as part of their end of the year wrap up of development news. I decided to write on China and Ethiopia. Having just spent several weeks there looking into Chinese engagement for an IFPRI study, I was fascinated by how many different instruments shape the activities in this cooperation. And how different it is from the West's engagement in Ethiopia, most of which is based on aid and NGOs. To read the article, click here.

In my article I noted that Chinese state-owned oil companies had explored for oil but left empty-handed. I'd concluded this, as "everyone knows" that "China" was exploring for oil in the Ogaden in 2007 when they were attacked by the ONLF. Here's a comment I received from the Ethiopian chairman & CEO of a Hong Kong-registered company, Southwest Energy (HK) Ltd.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog in the Guardian about Ethiopia’s Partnership with China. I have also purchased your book and I am looking forward to reading it.
Regarding your comment on China exploring for oil in Ethiopia and leaving empty handed, that is not entirely accurate. Until recently, no Chinese companies have actually acquired exploration licenses in Ethiopia. They have only worked as sub-contractors for other oil companies. I know because we were one of the companies which hired them. 
In general, I very much agree with your thesis.
It's great to have first-hand feedback on the real story from participants.