Tuesday, November 20, 2012

China, the UK, and Africa: Tripartite Cooperation?

Every few months, I have another meeting with a donor agency or an NGO that is interested in developing joint activities with China, in Africa.

It's not easy, I tell them. The World Bank has had an MOU with China Eximbank since 2007 and has still to develop a single joint project. The UK has been trying since perhaps 2006 to do something with a Chinese partner in Africa.

Now, it seems the British may have finally gotten close to the promised land of tripartite cooperation. Jin Zhu at China Daily reported from the second Africa-Britain-China Conference on Agriculture and Fisheries in Beijing on Monday, November 12, that the UK is going to put up the money ($15.9 million) while the Chinese will contribute experts. "[t]he program will facilitate the transfer of agricultural technology to low-income countries in Africa and Asia. Pilot projects will be first established in Malawi and Uganda."

I'll be following this to track what transpires. Several key people in DFID have worked hard and patiently, for years, to make this happen. We'll see whether it results in anything very useful.

hat tip to China Africa News
photo: Ploughing a field in Shangdong province, eastern China. Photograph: Wu Hong/EPA


Ward Warmerdam said...

Dear Deborah, firstly let me say how much I appreciate your blog as a wonderful source of information and insights into Sino-African affairs.
I recently read a short article, more like a work report, by Yuan Yuegui in Shanxi Water Resources about a tripartite project that the Chinese government did with the UN and Nigeria. It was an irrigation and water management project implemented/coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture in accordance with an agreement between the Chinese and Nigerian governments and the UNFAO. See the link to the article in CNKI (http://mall.cnki.net/magazine/article/SXLS200802040.htm) and an earlier shorter report on the Shanxi Water Resource Department website (http://www.sxwater.gov.cn/home/details.asp?articleid=1610&flage=1). While tripartite cooperation with the WB and the national governments of traditional donors might still be lacking, tripartite cooperation with a recipient and a UN agency is not unprecedented. In fact, I believe that China feels more comfortable working with the UN and has done so on numerous occasions. This new agriculture and fisheries initiative with DFID might set new precedent of working with the agencies of national governments. Interestingly, the current Chinese agricultural aid project in Uganda is an aquaculture demonstration center being implemented by a private enterprise called Huaqiao Fenghuang Fisheries part of the Huaqiao Fenghuang Group. I have often heard that state-owned enterprises implement Chinese aid projects, this is the first time I heard that private enterprises could also secure tenders. Have you seen this in other parts of Africa?

Anonymous said...

Reading the comment from Mr. Ward Warmerdam above and the article regarding the possible tripartite between China, Britain and Africa - personally I do not see a bright future for a tripartite between a western nation (UK included) and China and Africa to be workable.

It is mainly due to the suspicions of the Western countries towards China (and everything that China is doing in Africa).

The project as outlined by your article might end up to be a "fishing expedition" - that is, a test case from UK to "fish out" what the "true aim" of the Chinese in Africa.

Thus, it's a project that has carried no blessing from the West, and I'm afraid to say, it will most probably failed, or "DOA".

Deborah Brautigam said...

Ward, just came across this again and apologies for not responding earlier. Yes, there is no requirement that companies winning tenders be state-owned. Several of the Chinese companies undertaking the government-supported overseas trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa are also private. Some of those involved in the ATDCs are a mix, like Yuan Longping High Tech.