Saturday, June 25, 2011

Applause for New Study on Africa and Its Emerging Partners [China]

Released in June 2011: an insightful new African Economic Outlook 2010 highlights a very careful study of Africa's "emerging partners" (mainly, but not exclusively, China).

The annual African Economic Outlook "combines the expertise of the African Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Development Programme and a network of African think tanks and research centres".  The study draws on numerous background papers and field reports from member countries.

Chapter 6, "Africa and its Emerging Partners" is one of the most balanced, detailed, evidence-based pieces of group research I have seen on this topic and I highly recommend it. Among the interesting findings: 
  • An analysis of Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) data reveals that, by 2009, 76% of Chinese outward FDI in Africa was in countries defined by the IMF (2007) as hydrocarbon- or mineral-rich .... [however] For FDI from OECD member-countries this ratio is even higher, at 85%. By implication, FDI from emerging partners is actually less concentrated in oil-exporting countries than that of traditional partners.
  • Outlook experts give a cautiously positive verdict on concerns about the impact of the emerging partners on Africa’s development. Prospects are good for the transfer of technology and access to finance. There is no evidence to suggest that the new players are hindering Africa's industrialisation, debt sustainability or governance, but Africa needs a clear engagement strategy and all sides must show greater transparency
  • [S]everal countries have begun formulating such strategy [for engaging emerging powers]: Namibia’s engagement strategy is formalised and the assistance provided by emerging partners is integrated into the national development plan; similarly, Cameroon’s engagement strategy with emerging partners is framed within the country’s development vision for 2035. In Morocco, Chinese operators are actively encouraged to invest in the country to counterweigh Chinese imports and ease the commercial deficit; in Cape Verde, the government plays on the full range of partners to modernise productive capacity and infrastructure; in Equatorial Guinea, officials negotiate in Chinese with their Chinese counterparts.
  • History makes it clear that investment decisions concerning infrastructure projects currently conducted by emerging partners need to be properly budgeted for and framed consistently with a sustainable, realistic, home-grown development strategy. Projects that are approved need to clear the hurdle of high and wide relevance for the country’s development and chosen to be sustainable not only within the country’s current economic conditions but also in times of economic trouble domestically or worldwide.

Full disclosure: I was a reviewer of an earlier version of the chapter. I think they put in a tremendous amount of effort and the results show this:  they did a great job. While the study is available for purchase, parts of Chapter 6 can be read online or downloaded.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks a lot, dear Prof. Brautigam.

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  2. I love your synthesis of the key points....the third bullet is and has always been the key point for me as a China analyst....I made the point here in 2010: http://twnafrica.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=321:africa-china-planning-for-the-long-term&catid=37:african-agenda&Itemid=58
    and in a 2011 book chapter:
    Public Policy Formation in Africa in the Wake of the Global financial Meltdown: Building Blocks for a New Mind in a Multi-polar World(Chapter 14; 2011, Brill, Lieden, Netherlands)(http://www.brill.nl/african-engagements).

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