How China and Brazil are investing in Africa

After the economic slow-down, inflation and recession – and perhaps, some most pessimistic might say, the eminent down-fall of BRICS, all eyes turn to Africa as the new best thing regarding investments. Brazil and China have already been investing heavily in Africa, but how and where these two countries are investing in the African continent are strikingly different.

China has been investing in infrastructural development such as, building highways in Tanzania, financing electricity projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and constructing whole towns in Angola. Most recently, Ethiopia made the headlines as the first African Sub-Saharan country to have a metro system (photo). At Addis Ababa the light-railway system was funded by China and it will be run for the next five years by the Shenzhen Metro Group and China Railway Engineering Corporation. Chinese money is also paying for a new full-sized railway in Ethiopia, connecting Addis Ababa to Djibouti, which opened in the beginning of 2018, as well as new lines in Kenya and Nigeria.

However, Chinese companies are still learning about the African industry. According to  the Chinese commerce ministry, it is estimated that 65% of Chinese foreign direct investments make a loss; compared with a 50% international norm. Anyway, in the price-sensitive African market, any investment of this kind is always welcome.

Angola and Mozambique

The “golden age” of Brazil’s South-South cooperation that marked Lula’s years in power is over, as suggested by researcher Laura Waisbich at a recent conference – from 2003 to 2010 Lula led an unprecedented shift in the country’s foreign policy towards the global South.

Angola and Mozambique have been the two countries where Brazil has been cooperating the most, due to their natural resources and for being Portuguese speaking countries. The Brazilian industry of engineering and construction, represented mainly by  Norberto Odebrecht, Andrade Gutierrez, Camargo Corrêa, Queiroz Galvão and EMSA also have expanded its presence in Angola and Mozambique.

Brazil and Mozambique have been working together to train a generation of new African scientists dedicated to local health issues for almost a decade. The International Cooperation Program for Postgraduate Studies in Health Sciences is the result of a partnership between Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and the National Institute of Health of Mozambique (INS).

The profile of the students are varied but most have been working with public health in different provinces and in 2017, 14 new students got their masters through the initiative.

The growing interest in Africa can also be explained by Brazil’s ambition to obtain a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. This is one of Brazilian diplomacy’s top priorities for reasons of both prestige and principle. Brazil is therefore counting on the support of Africa. Africa is becoming a space that can multiply Brazil’s power.

Main photo: Addis Ababa metro

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