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February 13, 2023

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: Reporting grants on U.S and Chinese Engagements in Africa

The Africa-China Reporting Project, in collaboration with the African Centre for the Study of the United States, are calling journalists and researchers to apply for reporting grants to produce media reports or research papers, drawing comparisons of China and US approaches in Africa, in various areas of engagement detailed below.

Following the the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, a number of commitments were made towards the African continent.  The commitments include[i]:

  • People-to-people ties
  • Global Governance and Diplomatic Engagement
  • Trade, Investment, and Inclusive Economic Growth
  • Technology and Innovation
  • Health
  • Food Security
  • Climate Change
  • Democracy and Governance

Comparatively, the FOCAC had an even more extensive action plan pledging cooperation in the following areas[ii]:

  • Political Cooperation: high-level visits and international cooperation.
  • Economic cooperation: agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, digital economy, and trade.
  • Social Development: health, education, and poverty reduction.
  • Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges: media, culture, academia, youth and women.
  • Peace and Security Cooperation: military, law enforcement, anti-corruption, and immigration.
  • Green Development: climate response, maritime, energy.

Applicants are expected to investigate and report on the outcomes of the projects and investments form the commitments towards communities in Africa, and the impact of their implementation or current developments.  Journalists and/or researchers are to report on what the United States and China are doing in Africa, and bring the local perspectives to show how the lives of the people on the ground are affected, and engage the responses from African communities.  The investigation can take the format of a comparative analysis of what both the US and China are developing coincidently in a particular region or country. The investigation can also focus solely on the investments or project by the US or China in its engagements with Africa.  Investigations must ultimately bring in a comparative element in terms of either the past relations which China and the US had within the African community, or on the current engagements, and/or the competition between the US and China in Africa. Applicants can focus their investigations on any areas of engagement, which can include, but not limited to:

  • public health,
  • food security,
  • climate crisis response,
  • peace and security,
  • democracy and human rights,
  • economic development,
  • infrastructure investments,
  • farming and agriculture,
  • mining and energy,
  • education and digital technology,
  • public relations and diplomacy

Background

The United States of America convened its second African Leaders Summit in December 2022, eight years since the first such event was convened in August 2014. Although the Joe Biden Administration strenuously denied countering China (and Russia) as a central motivation for the Summit, observers have not been convinced. For instance, Chinese engagements have multiplied over the years with the volume of trade reaching $254 billion in 2020 constituting a four-times factor compared to the value of U.S. trade with Africa. Other trade and investments data show that China has remained Africa’s leading trade and investment partner since overtaking the U.S. in 2009 on this front. From a political perspective, China has maintained a steady level of engagement with Africa while U.S.-Africa relations keep swinging between periods of heightened engagements and periods of low-level engagements. Against this summarized background, the U.S. has sought to make a more robust comeback to the continent in step with its vaunted global leadership. As a means of re-engaging with the continent, the December 2022 Summit is seen as borrowing a leaf from the Chinese playbook. Compared to the inconsistencies of U.S. engagement in Africa, China has maintained the practice of convening triennial Forum on China Africa Cooperation summits since the inaugural event in 2000.

Notably, it will take time before the outcomes of the implementation of U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit action plans are available given that the Summit happened in December 2022. However, some of the U.S. investments and engagements in some of the sectors have been underway for many years. A review of such investments and engagements against the new action plans will suffice. Similarly, the outcomes of the digital technology aspects of the last FOCAC Summit held in Dakar, Senegal in 2021 will only be fully known from official sources in the next couple of months. Thus fieldwork on existing projects and investments would be more feasible.    

How to apply

Applications must be sent to ACRPapplications@gmail.com titled: Application: US and China Engagements in Africaby no later than Wednesday, 5 April 2023 and should contain the following (only documents in MS Word or PDF formats will be accepted):

  • Applicant CV
  • Brief proposal outlining: (a) The story to be investigated with clear headline and explanation of why the story is significant and timely, b) The investigation proposed; the authors’ short bio, the region/countries and/or issues/developments being comparatively explored, c) The investigation methodology: how you will conduct the investigation and reporting (reporting trips, potential interviewees, etc.), (d) The proposed publication platform (documentary, print, online, research paper etc.), (e) An itemized budget totaling no more than US$1,500
  • List of previously published and relevant reporting/research
  • Applicants need to have a valid passport, in order for the grant funds to be processed accordingly if their application becomes successful

Successful applicants will be notified after the closing date.

Please send any queries to ACRPcontact@gmail.com


[i] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/12/15/u-s-africa-leaders-summit-strengthening-partnerships-to-meet-shared-priorities/

[ii] See https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjdt_665385/2649_665393/202112/t20211202_10461183.html

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