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Three of the six Chinese super trawlers that were denied fishing permits by the Liberian government docked in Monrovia. Photo via Environmental Justice Foundation.

After months of deliberations, Liberia’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) announced last week that it would deny permits to six Chinese super-trawlers to fish in its territorial waters. The trawlers arrived earlier this year and immediately sparked widespread concern that their ability to catch 12,000 metric tons of fish would wipe out the country’s yearly sustainable catch, jeopardizing both the maritime ecosystem and the livelihoods of coastal populations.

NaFAA Director-General Emma Metieh Glassco granting licenses for these Chinese trawlers would have been a “breach of international protocols.” …


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Iron ore, tantalum, cobalt, coltan, and a handful of other strategically important minerals and elements are at the center of an increasingly heated battle for the control of global supply chains among the world’s largest economies.

Leaders in Europe and the United States have worried for years about China’s growing dominance in the extraction and processing of certain vital raw materials like cobalt and tantalum. Reserves of these metals, which are important to many high-tech sectors, are located in the global south, most notably in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. …


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French President Emmanuel Macron and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta speaking a technology conference in Paris. Photo via State House (Kenya).

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta looked like he had a great time in France last week. After all, the weather in Paris this time of year is absolutely lovely and this being his first trip out of the country since the COVID-19 outbreak, he was able to get away from the increasingly nasty fight that he’s having with his own deputy president, William Ruto, who’s vying for his job in the next election.

The food, the weather, and the break from Nairobi’s intense politics are all wonderful but those seemed to pale in comparison to the sheer joy that both President Kenyatta and his host, President Emmanuel Macron took in signing large infrastructure financing deals that they both claim will pioneer a new era of development finance in Africa. …


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China appears to be launching a significant expansion of its distant water fishing fleet around the world and most notably in Africa.

Six supertrawlers are already docked in Liberia and three new vessels are now on their way to Morocco to join dozens, if not hundreds of other ships that have been operating in a legal grey area in West Africa. National governments in the region will have to become more assertive in pushing back against the Chinese or else risk their already diminished maritime resources become further decimated.

But if the past few years are anything to go by, there’s good reason to be concerned. …


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A farmer riding a donkey leaves his crops at an area of farms in the outskirts of Sokoto, Sokoto State, Nigeria on April 22, 2019. Luis TATO / AFP

When you think of endangered African animals threatened by poachers, donkeys typically do not come to mind. But the Nigerian government wants to change that by classifying the donkey as an animal that potentially faces “extinction” unless something is done soon.

Donkeys in Nigeria and across Africa are being stolen, or poached, at an alarming rate. The animals are slaughtered for their skins which are then used as a key ingredient to make ejiao (阿胶), a traditional Chinese medicine. …


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It’s been almost three months since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed issued one of the first calls for emergency debt relief for Africa. Back in March, when the prime minister posted his appeal to the G20 on Twitter, COVID-19 had not yet arrived in Africa and economies across the continent were still largely holding up.

Now, the situation looks very different.

Some countries are grappling with tens of thousands of COVID-19 infections, lockdowns have brought large swathes of the African economy to a standstill and treasuries across the continent are struggling to balance the need to finance expensive new public health programs while at the same time continue to pay down the nearly half a trillion dollars in debt that African countries collectively owe. …


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The Zimbabwean government announced last month that construction of the new $3 billion Sengwa coal power plant will proceed after years of negotiation.

The new 2,800-megawatt plant will be a joint effort between Zimbabwe’s Rio Energy and a consortium of Chinese state-owned enterprises led by the Wuhan-based infrastructure contracting giant China Gezhouba Group.

Gezhouba will be the lead contractor and will also be responsible for raising additional capital. Separately, Power China will build a 250km water pipeline for the plant along with transmission lines. …


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Africans in Guangzhou who were reportedly forced onto the streets after evicted temporarily from their homes and hotels.

Perceptions over what led to the crisis in Guangzhou back in early April remain starkly divided among Chinese and African stakeholders. Chinese officials vehemently deny that Africans were specifically targeted for additional health COVID-19 health screenings (“epidemic prevention” in the Chinese parlance), forcibly evicted from their residences and subject to discrimination. Authorities insist that foreigners, including Africans, are treated just like everyone else and what happened in Guangzhou was the result of “misunderstanding” as part of a broader effort to contain the spread of the deadly virus in the southern Chinese city.

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For the most part, Chinese public opinion seems to agree with the government’s explanation of the situation. …


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Economic conditions in a number of African countries are worsening by the day. Lockdowns and a plummet in global commodity prices brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to severe economic repercussions across the continent.

At the same, Africa’s estimated $400 billion of debt is weighing on policymakers’ ability to devote more resources to combat the worsening public health crisis in their countries.

The Beijing-based consultancy Development Reimagined reports that African governments have already budgeted close to $38 billion to contain the outbreak. …


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Less than one week after alarming videos, photos and accounts of African migrants being forced out of their homes and hotels in the southern China city of Guangzhou, the story has been “sorted out” in the eyes of many African leaders.

Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, declared as much this week in a Twitter post after meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhou Pingjian. Similarly, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama convened a press conference earlier this week, also with Ambassador Zhou, to explain that he was satisfied with the Chinese government’s explanation over what happened.

The African Union and a number of African politicians across the continent echoed similar sentiments: as far as they are concerned, the issue over the purported maltreatment of African migrants in Guangzhou is now settled. …

About

Eric Olander 欧瑞克

Managing Editor of The China Africa Project

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