Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ethiopia's Partnership with China: Feedback

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.

5 comments:

  1. This Al Jazeera film on China and Zambia may be of interest:
    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2012/01/20121484624797945.html

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  2. Thanks Deborah for these interesting new posts!

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  3. "King Cobra and the Dragon: As China increases its economic ties in Africa, has the continent entered a new era of colonialism?"

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2012/01/20121484624797945.html

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  4. I was in Ethiopia at the time of the 2007 attacks by the ONLF - there was initial confusion as the Chinese ambassador claimed that the Chinese company would not be deterred as a result of insecurity, but the company had actually already left, even leaving behind all their equipment. The CEO of Southwest Energy is indeed correct, the Chinese company ZPEB was hired as a sub-contractor to do the seismic survey. The attack was understood to be targeted at a company perceived to be directly related to the Ethiopian government, rather than out of any particular anti-Chinese sentiment. It was also expressed that its possible that ZPEB would have been directed to stay by the Chinese government (with the view to accessing future exploration and production investments) had it not been widely believed that there wasn't actually any oil to discover. An alternative view is that the Chinese companies themselves may not act in accordance with government directives if the situation is viewed to be too insecure. The Chinese manager of the company working on the glass factory said although his company also had a construction and exploration branch, he would not allow them to work in the Ogaden region due to high levels of insecurity.

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  5. Both the West and Chinese; their interest is the same in africa. They are their for their national interest. However, africa is better with chinese rathan the west. For decades, the west have stealing african resources by corrupting african potical leaders. They both say africa is poor and yet they knocking on africa's doors just to take resources,end of story. Although, the chinese are better than the west. At least they help built infrastructure which the west never did.

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