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China-Africa news: African currencies and the Yuan, China’s influence on African cities, Chinese investment

SA China OfficialsThe Wits China-Africa Reporting Project is collaborating with the African Communication Research Centre at the Communication University of China (CUC) in Beijing for an African Journalist Reporting Tour to China 2015. African journalists from across the continent are invited to apply for the Reporting Tour, which is scheduled for 28 October to 7 November 2015. Five African journalists will be selected for the Tour, for which the China-Africa Reporting Project will provide airfares, accommodation, and other related expenses. See more here for how to apply.

The SAIS China Africa Research Initiative (SAIS-CARI) at John Hopkins University is “seeking one or two part-time pre-doctoral research fellows, who will work primarily on collection, cleaning and analysis of Chinese finance and investment data across Africa. The successful candidates should have knowledge of China and be able to read Chinese. Knowledge of Stata, Excel, and econometrics are required. The candidate should hold a Master’s degree and be currently enrolled in a doctoral program, with ABD status.”

Brookings published a paper on Chinese investment in Africa. The paper uses “China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)’s database on all Chinese firms that invested in Africa between 1998 and 2012,” which gives “a more accurate picture of what small- and medium-sized private Chinese firms are doing in Africa.” It has several interesting findings.

China’s weakened Yuan and African currencies. China’s decision to weaken its currency has set of depreciations in several economies; Kazakhstan’s currency fell 22% on Thursday after it abandoned control of its exchange rate. African countries with weakened currencies that could follow China and Kazakhstan in devaluing their currencies include Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, and Zambia.

The geography of China in Africa. Quartz Africa’s Lily Kuo spoke to a Dutch journalist and architect who began visiting Africa in 2013 to “document and investigate whether China’s model of urbanism can work in Africa.” One says their investigation’s most interesting insight is that “the world is globalizing much faster than many people think, with Western influence drastically changing and international relationships radically shifting.”

The ANC-CPC romance. South Africa’s ruling party has something going on with the Communist Party of China. So much that last year there were reports that the Communist Party of China was asked to help fund a ‘political school’ the African National Congress was planning to build. The ANC’s head of research visited China recently together with other party members for a ‘study tour.’ Writing about the lessons he had learned in China, he said it has five “opposition parties” that are constructive and actively help China’s ruling party to govern unlike South Africa’s “rowdy, noisy and disagreeable opposition.” That claim has been fact checked and found to be false.

The ANC is really into China. South African government officials visited China more than any other country in the last financial year.

99 problems but Mandarin is not one of them. The decision by South Africa’s government to introduce the teaching of Mandarin in public schools has kicked off a storm in the country. A teacher’s union labelled the move as neo-colonialism by China. The Mail and Guardian called for the rethinking of such claims: there are problems in the relationship between China and South Africa, but the Chinese language is not one of them.

Nigeria did not divert Chinese loan. Nigeria’s former Economy and Finance Minister disputed allegations that the administration she served had diverted a $1 billion loan from Nigeria. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said China-Exim Bank did not fund the project for which it is claimed money was diverted from, and that projects funded by the Chinese government are usually overseen by the Chinese firms contracted to execute them.

The difficulty of getting a visa to China from Nairobi. Chinese visitors to Kenya get visas on arrival. What about Kenyans visiting China? They have to apply for a visa to enter China from Nairobi before travelling. And, there are either many Kenyans who want to travel to China, or something is wrong at the Chinese embassy in Nairobi: Daily Nation had a story about the long queues of frustrated visa-seekers at the Chinese embassy in Nairobi. They are not about to get lucky: the embassy says appointments are fully booked till 30 September.

China donates anti-poaching equipment to Zimbabwe. It is the latest African country to receive anti-poaching equipment – worth $2.3 million – from China. China’s ambassador to Zimbabwe said the donation is from a $10 million fund set up by China’s president to finance the conservation of endangered wildlife in Africa. In July China donated equipment worth $1.3 million to Tanzania to fund conservation efforts.

From Hunan, and very spicy. Kenya has Chinese restaurants, and one of them made the news in March for all the wrong reasons. Still, a company in China is exporting frozen ready-made Chinese meals to Nairobi.

How ivory gets to China from Central Africa. National Geographic asked a taxidermist to make two fake elephant tusks with embedded GPS tracking devices so they could track the route of smuggled ivory from the Central African Republic. The deadly Lord’s Resistance Army was revealed to be a part of the smuggling chain, before the tusks found their way to China.

 

 

 

Raymond Mpubani

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