Print

Friday, 04 March 2016

China’s role in Africa’s water sector: mapping the terrain I 2016

Since the launch of its ‘go out’ policy in 1999, China has positioned itself not only as Africa’s largest trade partner but also as its largest investor. In the water sector, Chinese companies and banks are now the biggest builders and financiers of global hydropower dams. Moreover, China has increasingly begun to implement other water-related projects, including the construction of water treatment stations and water supply projects across Africa. Chinese companies’ competitive advantage to win tenders, largely due to the financial and political support of Beijing’s institutions (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank), China Development Bank), plays an important role in increasing China’s footprint in Africa. However, the social and environmental implications of this increasing infrastructure development have been noticed. Given that many dams built by Chinese companies are constructed without reference to international environmental and social standards, ecological processes can suffer long-term damage, which has an additional effect on local communities. This paper will give a general overview of Chinese investments in Africa’s water sector, looking into the modes of engagement as well as discussing the potential pitfalls and benefits of Chinese investments in the water sector and what regional impacts these may have.

Source: The Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS)