Publications: Policy Briefs
Disasters While Digging: Rates of Violence Against Mine Workers in Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Zambia
By: Christian Freymeyer (Policy Brief 37/2019)
In 2010, violence broke out at a mine in Zambia and many local workers were injured. This incident served as a jump-off point for criticism of Chinese mines in Africa and a broader discussion of the treatment of workers by Chinese managers and companies. But is there actually a higher rate of violence against workers in Chinese-owned mines? In this brief, Christian Freymeyer explores rates of violence against workers in mines in Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Zambia, and further dissects the idea of mine ownership to help answer this question.
By: Sergio Chichava, Shubo Li and Michael G. Sambo (Policy Brief 36/2019)
Comparing Chinese and Irish companies in their respective dealings with local civil societies and communities, Chichava, Li, and Sambo probe the social impacts of heavy sand mining by international companies in Mozambique. They set to find out how international mining affects local social organization in terms of work, labor relations, and livelihoods, and how disputes are negotiated between the mining companies, municipal and provincial governments, and civil society groups representing the interests of local communities. Disagreements around compensation, resource depletion, and labor-relations are the primary source of controversy and tension generated by the mining projects.
Wealth from Waste? Chinese Investments and Technology Transfer in the Tanzanian Plastic Recycling Industry
By: Ying Xia (Policy Brief 35/2019)
Since the 1990s, China has emerged as the center of the global waste trade and recycling industry, importing and reprocessing millions of tons of waste materials every year. In recent years, due to rising costs for labor and environmental compliance in China, Chinese investors have been exploring the recycling industry in Africa, currently serving both Chinese and African markets with a variety of products. This research examines the potential of knowledge transfer from Chinese investments in the Tanzanian plastic recycling industry to the local economy. It also assesses how the recent regulatory change in China, i.e., the imposition of an import ban on waste materials since 2018, has affected plastic recycling and reprocessing industries in Tanzania.
Lessons from East Asia: Comparing Ethiopia and Vietnam’s Early-Stage Special Economic Zone Development
By: Keyi Tang (Policy Brief 34/2019)
This paper by Keyi Tang compares how Ethiopia and Vietnam, two rising stars actively employing industrial policies as catalysts of structural change, have learned from East Asian countries’ experiences in developing their own special economic zones (SEZs). A Chinese and a Taiwanese overseas SEZ were the first SEZs developed respectively in Ethiopia and in Vietnam, which provided eye-opening lessons for domestic policymakers on how to better improve the legal and institutional framework, infrastructure, and administrative services needed for SEZ development. Overall, however, one of the biggest obstacles facing Ethiopia and Vietnam in learning from China’s experiences is the lack of local autonomy given to SEZs in their own administration.
Do China-Financed Dams in Sub-Saharan Africa Improve the Region’s Social Welfare? A Case Study of the Impacts of Ghana’s Bui Dam
By: Keyi Tang and Yingjiao Shen (Policy Brief 33/2019)
This empirical case study by Keyi Tang and Yingjiao Shen conducts an impact evaluation of Ghana's Bui Dam, a China-financed hydropower project completed in 2013. Through two difference-in-differences econometric models and an extensive literature review on relevant field research, this papers analyzes the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the Bui Dam on local households and communities. The authors’ empirical models show that the Bui Dam has significantly improved local urban households’ access to electricity and increased their ownership of some electric appliances.
By: Tang Xiaoyang (Policy Brief 32/2019)
The uniqueness and diversity of socio-economic conditions in Africa call for a careful case-by-case examination to understand the real impacts of FDI on knowledge development. As such, this study aims to shed light on the knowledge transfer effects of Chinese investment in Africa’s manufacturing sector with a concrete case study of Ethiopia. This paper examines knowledge transfer mechanisms between Chinese investments and Ethiopian firms, institutions, and individuals at four different levels in the manufacturing sector. The lessons learned from this case may provide insights into China-African cooperation and Africa’s development process in general.
The Impact of Chinese Investment on Skill Development and Technology Transfer in Zambia and Malawi’s Cotton Sector
By: Tang Xiaoyang (Policy Brief 31/2019)
This paper by Tang Xiaoyang looks into China-Africa Cotton (CAC), one of the first Chinese cotton firms to enter the African market. The study analyzes China-Africa Cotton’s operations in Zambia to investigate the impact on the technological development of the local cotton sector. As a new player in the arena, CAC has business models and a management style that differ from those of previous foreign investors in the region. Within six years, CAC has grown from a sole ginnery into a firm with tens of thousands of contracted outgrowers, and is now a comprehensive multinational business with an integrated value chain.
Local Skill Development from China’s Engagement in Africa: Comparative Evidence from the Construction Sector in Ghana
By: Qingwei Meng and Eugene Bempong Nyantakyi (Policy Brief 30/2019)
Over the past decade, Chinese enterprises have made significant progress in developing new business ventures in Africa, yet there is ongoing debate about whether these Chinese enterprises contribute to local skill development of their host countries. To inform this debate, Qingwei Meng and Eugene Bempong Nyantakyi use survey data from the construction sector in Ghana to examine the heterogeneity in skill transfer to local workers in Chinese enterprises, other foreign and local enterprises, and the challenges faced by firms in local skill development. The results show that both Chinese and other foreign owned enterprises contribute positively to local skill development through the provision of general and specific training. However, Chinese enterprises have a higher propensity to provide short-term general training to local workers than those of other foreign enterprises.
By: David G. Landry (Policy Brief 29/2018)
This paper by David G. Landry explores whether various institutional indicators among African countries impact their development finance from China and Western countries differently. This research is the first to explicitly compare the determinants of the value of Chinese and Western development finance received by other countries. It finds that bilateral trade relations and UN voting alignment have a stronger impact on China’s development finance than that of Western countries. The research also finds that institutional quality plays a much stronger role in predicting Western development finance than that of China, as China appears to disregard institutional quality in its allocation of development finance.
By: Hang Zhou (Policy Brief 28/2018)
Trilateral development cooperation is believed to reflect aid’s changing geographies while helping to forge new, more equitable partnerships. Chinese engagement in trilateral development cooperations has so far received limited attention, and this paper by Hang Zhou seeks to fill the gap. By drawing on field research from one of China’s first trilateral projects with traditional donors in Africa—a Ugandan cassava project co-initiated with Britain—this paper details key coordination challenges from the project implementation phase. More importantly, it also critically examines two often-claimed “advantages" of trilateral development cooperation: its contribution to more horizontal development partnerships and its role in providing recipient countries with more suitable technical assistance.
Work, Employment, and Training through Africa-China Cooperation Zones: Evidence from the Eastern Industrial Zone in Ethiopia
By: Ding Fei (Policy Brief 27/2018)
This paper by Ding Fei investigates the developmental impacts of Ethiopia’s Eastern Industrial Zone (EIZ) through a cross-company and cross-sector analysis of local worker experiences of working for, training with, and learning from resident companies. It highlights both similarities and differences in Chinese companies’ management strategies and training provisions, which are contingent upon industry sector, scale of production, and market conditions. While sixty percent of the surveyed local workers did receive training of varying quality and length, they were not satisfied with the training provision and promotion opportunities in current companies. The paper argues for concrete and targeted policy implementation by the Ethiopian government to enforce skills transfer by foreign investors, building of linkages between companies and local training institutions, and organizing zone-wide skills sessions.
By: Janet Eom (Policy Brief 26/2018)
As a small, landlocked country with few natural resources, Rwanda has focused on becoming a knowledge-intensive business and technology hub rather than a labor-intensive manufacturing base. But in 2015, a Chinese garment manufacturing firm, C&H Garments, began operations in Kigali. This paper by Janet Eom finds that the Rwandan government’s shift towards creating jobs in the manufacturing sector, and implementation of requirements for training and hiring local workers, have been key to negotiating an agreement with C&H Garments that supports technology transfer to Rwandans. However, the C&H factory has faced obstacles such as cultural and linguistic differences; this paper suggests the exchange of African managers between countries may help. Finally, this study holds significance given that the Rwandan government’s desire to boost local manufacturing capacity has been at the center of recent trade tensions between Rwanda and the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The East Africa Shift in Textile and Apparel Manufacturing: China-Africa Strategies and AGOA’s Influence
By: Weiyi Wang, Jinghao Lu, and Wilmot Allen (Policy Brief 25/2018)
With rapidly rising labor costs and tightening environmental policy, the global textile and apparel industry is expected to shift its center away from China. In fact, Chinese entrepreneurs have long started looking for opportunities in the African continent in the face of fierce domestic competition. What are the opportunities and challenges facing Chinese investment in the textile and apparel sectors in Africa? How can Africa capitalize on the preferential trade provisions of AGOA to boost these sectors? Drawing from field research and literature review, this policy brief by Weiyi Wang, Jinghao Lu, and Wilmot Allen examines the strategies of leading textile and apparel firms and makes recommendations for supporting more of the value chain shift into East Africa.
By: Deborah Brautigam, Tang Xiaoyang, and Ying Xia (Policy Brief 24/2018)
In a thoroughly researched piece, Brautigam, Tang, and Xia offer a preliminary analysis of the nature of Chinese manufacturing investments in Africa, focusing predominantly on four countries -- Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Drawing on fieldwork conducted between 2014 and 2016, they explore the varieties of existing Chinese manufacturing investment and the sectors into which Chinese companies are investing. Several investors fit the model of Akamatsu’s “flying geese” (large firms seeking new locations for production as part of global networks and value chains), yet the authors also identified three other kinds of “geese”: large, strategic, local market-seeking geese; raw material-seeking geese; and small geese traveling together in flocks. The different kinds of firms offer different kinds of development opportunities and challenges for structural transformation in Africa.
By: Yunnan Chen (Policy Brief 23/2018)
This paper by Yunnan Chen explores the Belt and Road Initiative, which has become a centerpiece of China’s foreign economic policy. While it primarily focused on the Eurasian region, the BRI has salient implications for African development and regional integration, accelerating existing infrastructure and industrial cooperation and contributing to African industrialization strategies. However, rapid expansion of infrastructure lending also brings risks in its debt burdens, sustainability impacts, and economic viability.
The Risks and Rewards of Resource-for-Infrastructure Deals: Lessons from the Congo’s Sicomines Agreement
By: David G. Landry (Policy Brief 22/2018)
This paper by David G. Landry explores the Sicomines agreement and highlights the role risk has played from its inception a decade ago until now. This case reveals how, while simple on the surface, Resource-for-Infrastructure (RFI) deals carry significant risks for their signatories because of the long time horizon through which they operate. This has led the Sicomines agreement to experience many hurdles, both on the infrastructure delivery and resource extraction fronts. Landry employs financial modeling techniques to highlight the pitfalls of attempting to identify a “winner” in such ventures until they reach their conclusion. As demonstrated through the Sicomines case, the expected benefits of RFI deals can change swiftly and unpredictably.
By: Xiaoxiao Jiang Kwete (Policy Brief 21/2017)
This paper by Xiaoxiao Jiang Kwete analyzes China's program of sending a Chinese Medical Team (CMT) to an African country, in this case the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The CMT in the DRC, from HeBei Province, started its 15th deployment in May 2012, for a two-year mission in the Chinese-Congolese Friendship Hospital in Kinshasa. This brief focuses on the challenges the CMT faced in the DRC, compares it to Médecins Sans Frontières's operations in the DRC, and proposes recommendations for improvements in the future.
Community Engagement in Chinese and American Gold Mining Companies: A Comparative Case Study in Ghana
By: Yang Jiao (Policy Brief 20/2017)
This paper by Jiao Yang presents the results of field research examining local engagement and impact on local communities by a Chinese company and an American company operating in Ghana. Golden Sunshine Mining Company Ltd., a large-scale Chinese gold mining corporation is a relatively young company and is just starting to venture into the world of corporate social responsibility. It relies on local expertise in its engagement with the local community, and so far it has had a limited impact on local labor recruitment. Meanwhile, Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, an American company that has operated in Ghana for over ten years, has developed a robust local governance structure for supporting community development projects. Although locals seem to expect this level of effort from mining companies, Golden Sunshine does not prioritize community development.
By: Lu Yao, Barry Sautman, Yan Hairong, and Zhou Weixuan (Policy Brief 19/2017)
This paper examines the widespread belief that Chinese immigrants in Africa self-isolate and whether this alleged behavior is due to extreme ethnocentricity. Such beliefs implicate Chinese identity as central to this behavior, implicitly assuming that other non-indigenous people do not self-isolate. While some scholars claim that Chinese enterprises have achieved significant localization, others hold that the Chinese tend to live isolated from local society and leave open the reasons for this trend, allowing that ethnocentricity may be a cause. However, for the authors, who conducted a survey on the level of adaptation of Chinese immigrants in Zambia, there is no evidence that Chinese immigrants are particularly ethnocentric.
By: Janet Eom, Jyhjong Hwang, Lucas Atkins, Yunnan Chen, and Siqi Zhou (Policy Brief 18/2017)
This brief examines how Chinese engagement compares to US engagement in African countries. How do oil exports influence Chinese and US trade relations with Africa? Why do Chinese and US firms favor investment in different African industries? What are the main sectors to which China and the United States provide loans in Africa? To answer such questions, this policy brief analyzes CARI’s data on Chinese and US trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and loans to Africa over the past 15 years. The authors find that Chinese engagement emphasizes Africa’s infrastructure needs, key countries are consistently top destinations for different types of economic activities, and fluctuating commodity prices are important to both the United States and China in Africa.
By: Irene Yuan Sun and Lin Qi (Policy Brief 17/2017)
This paper explains how Chinese companies view the issue of local skills development in Africa. Do Chinese companies perceive local skills development to be a salient issue? Has this issue caused them to change their strategies and operations? How has this inﬂuenced how they interact with local stakeholders, and what sorts of changes are produced as a result of these interactions? This study offers a starting point for answering these questions by using AVIC International as a case study. AVIC International is a Chinese state-owned company and member of the Global Fortune 500, and is one of the major construction contractors and heavy machinery providers in Kenya. It has also made major investments in the area of local skills development.
Local Politics Meets Chinese Engineers: A Study of the Chinese-Built Standard Gauge Railway Project in Kenya
By: Uwe Wissenbach and Yuan Wang (Policy Brief 16/2016)
As part of China’s new “Belt and Road Initiative,” Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) aims to open East and Central Africa up to Chinese trade and investment. The first phase of the SGR, from Mombassa to Nairobi, is being constructed by the China Roads and Bridges Corporation (CRBC). Much like other Chinese infrastructure projects in Africa, the SGR has sparked controversy around its economic viability, opaque contracting practices, financing arrangements, and community and labor issues. Yet, as this policy brief by Uwe Wissenbach and Yuan Wang shows, the project has also created modest development opportunities for local content, jobs, and skills.
By: Xuefei Shi (Policy Brief 15/2016)
China has a system, referred to as duikou zhiyuan (对口支援, “twinning assistance”), in which developed provinces assisted less developed ones. A similar twinning system can also be found in China’s foreign aid programs. For example, since 2006, China has funded 25 agro-technology demonstration centers (ATDCs) in Africa, most of which have contracts with teams from different Chinese provinces. This brief by Xuefei Shi looks specifically at Sichuan Province's projects in Uganda to assess how the twinning system has allowed Sichuanese companies to expand those aid relationships into business ventures. Shi argues that Sichuan companies have a big head start, and are likely to be able to expand in the local market at an unprecedented scale, outpacing their rivals from other Chinese provinces.
By: Benjamin Tsui (Policy Brief 14/2016)
Since first entering the African telecommunications market in 1998, Huawei Technologies has established seven training centers and sponsored training programs throughout the continent. This policy brief examines Huawei's engagement in developing local talent in information communications and technologies (ICT) in Africa, specifically in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. It argues that African governments should encourage schools and universities to develop partnerships with foreign ICT companies such as Huawei, promote partnerships between foreign and local companies, and provide incentives for foreign firms to establish training centers.
Technology Transfer in Telecommunications: Barriers and Opportunities in the Case of Huawei and ZTE in South Africa
By: June Sun (Policy Brief 13/2016)
South Africa is one of the most important markets in Africa for Chinese firms Huawei Technologies (Huawei) and Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation (ZTE). Telecommunications, and the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector more broadly, presents a particularly interesting China-Africa case study. This brief outlines three barriers to technology transfer from Chinese vendors to South African companies: increased managed services contracts, contestations for legitimacy, and weaknesses in the institutional framework. Drawing upon three months of field research, it concludes that the ICT sector should be prioritized by African governments, skills training should be implemented without delay, and Huawei and ZTE should address issues of legitimacy by seriously contending with the challenges of localization.
By: Jákup Emil Hansen (Policy Brief 12/2016)
As part of its growing engagement in the African media sector, China leads training courses for African journalists. This has sparked debate in recent years, with some noting that China is ranked at the bottom of press freedom indices. This policy brief reports the results of a one-month field study in Uganda involving interviews with local journalists who attended Chinese training programs for African journalists. These interviews provide insight into the purpose and goals of the training programs, their possible impact on African journalistic practices, and the overall implications on freedom of the press and democracy in Africa.
By: Jyhjong Hwang, Deborah Brautigam, and Janet Eom (Policy Brief 11/2016, updated April 31, 2016)
When, why, and how are Chinese banks really financing African development? This policy brief presents CARI researchers’ analysis of Chinese loans in Africa, drawing from data collected and cleaned by CARI since 2007. Between 2000 and 2014, the Chinese government, banks and contractors extended US $86.3 billion worth of loans to African governments and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Angola received the most Chinese loans, totally $21.2 billion over the past 15 years, followed by Ethiopia ($12.3 billion) and Sudan ($5.6 billion). Transportation, energy, and mining are the three largest sectors financed by Chinese loans in Africa.
By: Thomas Chen (Policy Brief 10/2016)
In 2010, Ghana secured a $3 billion loan from the China Development Bank to finance urgently needed gas projects. Six years later the agreement still faces major setbacks. This policy brief explores the factors behind these developments, and it outlines four key lessons from this experience. First, the brief concludes that it is important to garner the support of all stakeholders before approving a large-scale loan project. Second, inconsistencies between the loan financing agreement and existing regulations might have been avoided if Ghana had consulted with a third-party such as the World Bank. Third, institutional capacity is key to overseeing major infrastructure projects. Finally, when external fiscal conditions are favorable, Ghana should build external and fiscal policy buffers to mitigate against inevitable cyclical price shocks.
Looking Back and Moving Forward: An Analysis of China-Africa Economic Trends and the Outcomes of the 2015 Forum on China Africa Cooperation
By: Janet Eom, Jyhjong Hwang, Ying Xia, and Deborah Brautigam (Policy Brief 09/2016)
In early December 2015, Chinese and African officials met in Johannesburg at the sixth Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting. The 2015 FOCAC summit took place amid news reports of China’s economic slowdown, and concerns over how Africa would be impacted. In this policy brief, Janet Eom, Jyhjong Hwang, Ying Xia, and Deborah Brautigam of the China Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS-CARI) situate the sixth FOCAC meeting in the context of China’s evolving economic relationship with the African continent.
By: Deborah Brautigam, Jyhjong Hwang, and Lu Wang (Policy Brief 08/2015)
This policy brief provides an analysis of Chinese practice in financing large—over 50 megawatt (MW)—hydropower projects in Africa between 2000 and 2013. Hydropower energy has benefits as a renewable and local source of power, but there can be significant social and environmental risks. These risks have made international banks and aid agencies reluctant to finance large hydropower projects in recent decades. This brief finds that, since 2000, Chinese construction companies and banks have shown sustained interest in 53 large hydropower projects in Africa. However, contrary to popular belief, there can be significant lags to Chinese finance, and many Chinese financiers require important environmental or social impact studies before starting a project.
By: Zhou Jinyan (Policy Brief 07/2015)
Chinese-Angolan agricultural cooperation can be divided into two phases, beginning in 2004. In the first period, from 2004 to 2008, Chinese engagement focused on infrastructure construction. Since 2008, cooperation has centered on the development of comprehensive farm projects supported by credit from the China Development Bank. These projects are not intended to solve China's food security problem, but are instead aimed at improving Angola’s agricultural capacity and food production. This paper finds that the “Angola Mode” of cooperation challenges the common perception of an oil-centric relationship. However, Angola's needs and Chinese finance are not currently well-aligned, and the long-term sustainability of Chinese engagement is questionable.
By: Tang Xiaoyang (Policy Brief 06/2015)
An influx of Chinese and other Asian investment in Southeast Africa over the last decade has had a significant impact on the cotton-textile value chain in the region. Increased investment has changed the structure of the region's cotton market, increased competition in local markets, introduced new challenges for cotton producers, and affected relationships with local communities. Meanwhile, although the textile sector remains relatively underdeveloped, it has the potential to add value to local cotton sectors if investment continues to increase. Based on extensive fieldwork, this research analyzes the impact Asian investment has had on Southeast Africa's cotton value chain, and identifies strategies for encouraging greater investment from Asian textile manufacturers.
By: Yang Jiao (Policy Brief 05/2015)
Agriculture is an important area of Chinese economic engagement in Africa. Since the 1960s, China has provided aid, sent experts, and trained African farmers. However, there is still little empirical research on recent Chinese agribusiness investments in Africa. Drawing on case studies of a private Chinese agribusiness enterprise in Ghana and a Chinese state-owned enterprise in Nigeria, this brief explores the motivation, challenges, and initial social impact of Chinese agricultural investment in Africa.
By: Solange Guo Chatelard and Jessica M. Chu (Policy Brief 04/2015)
Recent focus on large-scale Chinese investments in African agriculture has fueled popular misperceptions of Chinese "land grabs" and has overshadowed another unexplored -and perhaps more significant-phenomenon: the rise of medium-scale private Chinese farmers and rural entrepreneurs. Despite growing research in the field, few reports thus far have examined what individual Chinese actors and investors are actually doing-or not doing-on the ground, or measured the implications of these activities for agricultural development. By examining the diverse scale and nature of Chinese agricultural investments in Zambia, and by situating these different forms of engagement within the broader context of the commercialization of agriculture, this brief reveals a complex picture of overlapping agricultural dynamics and interests.
By: Henry Tugendhat (Policy Brief 03/2014)
As part of its growing engagement in Africa, China has become one of the world’s largest providers of short-term agricultural training courses. China’s training course model differs from most other traditional donors in that it almost exclusively targets government officials. These courses aim to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology, increase trade opportunities, foster stronger political and economic relationships, and present a positive image of China. This research concludes that the courses appear to be achieving these goals, with different benefits for both sides.
By: Sérgio Chichava (Policy Brief 02/2014)
The Hubei Gaza Friendship Farm was established in 2007 in Xai-Xai, Mozambique, and has been managed by Wanbao Africa Agriculture Development Limited (WAADL), a private Chinese company, since 2011. Critics see this project as a "land grab"; supporters argue that the investment is a positive force for agricultural growth and development. As discussed in this brief, the Wanbao rice farm case demonstrates the many obstacles to successful agricultural investment in Mozambique, which are exacerbated by tension between local civil society organizations, the Mozambican government, and Chinese investors.
By: Josh Maiyo (Policy Brief 01/2014)
How is Chinese agricultural investment progressing in Africa? Research reported at the SAIS-CARI conference in May 2014 suggests the topic is poorly understood and that investment is both far lower and far more problematic in implementation. In our first CARI policy brief, Josh Maiyo looks into Chinese private farming in Uganda. Media reports depict at least 12,000 hectares of private Chinese agricultural investment. Doing fieldwork in Uganda, Maiyo found only one farm, Hubei Hanhe, with 160 hectares. His story of the Hubei Hanhe Farm is a cautionary tale of a much more contentious, challenging investment environment than is often assumed.