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China in Africa: The Real Story

Four-Way Cooperation: China, France, Uganda, UK

Deborah Brautigam

One of the questions I get asked most often by US government officials is:  How can we (the US) do something cooperatively with China in Africa? The idea in Washington is that a successful cooperative development activity will help to build trust, something sorely lacking these days. My response has always been that whatever you do, it needs to be focused on mutual benefit. The oil industry is an obvious place where vast scope exists for some kind of cooperation based on benefits to all three parties (social, environmental, developmental -- moving up the value chain). So far, it doesn't seem to have happened.

That's why Uganda is interesting. It's not the US, but rather China-Uganda-UK-France. China Daily reported February 21, 2012, that CNOOC (a Chinese oil company), France's Total SA, the UK company Tullow Oil, and Uganda are discussing a joint investment in a refinery to process Uganda's newly discovered oil (the country currently imports all of its petroleum products. No doubt if the project goes forward, a Chinese company will build the refinery. It's developmental, cooperative, "win-win." Can't the US foster something similar, somewhere?

H/T to Chinascope