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Can Chinese Investment Be a Catalyst for African Industrialization?

By Deborah Brautigam

Introduction

Chinas growing economic ties have generated considerable interest among analysts of development in Africa. Unease with Chinas expanded presence on the continent is reflected in comments such as that made in 2006 by Trevor Ncube, a Zimbabwean newspaper publisher living in South Africa: They are all over the place. If the British were our masters yesterday, the Chinese have come and taken their place. Newspaper headlines focus on the costs and benefits of Chinas investment in Africas extractive industries: petroleum, copper, timber, platinum, and iron, or on Chinas contribution to the arms trade and the supply of inexpensive consumer goods that offer tough competition for African manufacturers. Yet there is another possibility: might the increased Chinese presence play a positive role by providing a model for lower-tech industrial development, stimulating the spin-off of manufacturing, or acting to jump start local investment?

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Bio: Deborah Brautigam is Associate Professor at American University in Washington, D.C. She has also held faculty appointments at Columbia University in New York and Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, and has been a visiting fellow at the University of Mauritius, the University of Liberia, Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, and the Christian Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway. She is the author of Chinese Aid and African Development (1998) and Aid Dependence and Governance (2000), and co-editor of Capacity and Consent: Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries) and some two dozen articles and book chapters on foreign aid, the political economy of development, and the politics of economic policy. Professor Brautigam holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and has been a recipient of a Fulbright Senior Regional Research Award for Africa, and a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Grant, and has been awarded fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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Globalization Research Center - Africa