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July 13, 2015

China-Africa news: BRICS bank launches, protests against Chinese imports, African footballers in China, France, foreign aid reforms

The BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa - signed a deal to form a development bank, the New Development Bank, at a summit in Russia. The bank is expected to be operational by the end of this year. It will be headquartered in Shanghai, and will commence operations with $100 billion in reserve capital to be used to finance infrastructure in developing countries.

China will contribute $41 billion to the capital pool of the bank, while Brazil, India and Russia will contribute $18 billion each. South Africa will contribute the remaining $5 billion.

South Africa nominated Leslie Maasdorp as vice president of the bank and Tito Mboweni as non-executive director to the board of the bank. Maasdorp has worked with Merill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, while Mboweni is a former governor of South Africa's Reserve Bank.

African companies falling short for World Bank projects. There are many facets to China's expanding presence in Africa: trade between the two has grown tremendously, China has stepped up its courting of African governments as never before, and more people are moving between the two in search of opportunity. Additionally, as revealed by a recently released Brooking's report, Chinese and Indian companies are beating African companies on their own turf for World Bank-funded infrastructure projects. In 1995 only 14% of the civil works contracts in sub-Saharan Africa went to East Asian countries: in 2013 that figure was at 42%, reports Quartz.

The most popular post on our Facebook page over the last two weeks: should the United States be worried about 'China in Africa'? (It is an interview of Howard French, one of the foremost experts of China's presence in Africa and America's engagement - or lack of - on the continent.)

America to help Africa fight poaching. American intelligence agencies are considering assisting African countries fight wildlife poaching. This was revealed to Bloomberg by the national intelligence manager for Africa in the office of the US’ Director of National Intelligence. The collaboration would involve sharing "information, analysis and possibly tactical lessons" used by American intelligence agents with African governments, especially since the poaching networks in Africa resemble the terrorist networks the Americans contend with.

Three African players move to the Chinese football league. Two months ago we told you of a Zambian footballer, Jacob Mulenga, flourishing in China. Mulenga told BBC that China has unlimited funds for football, and said he would like to see more of his African compatriots moving to the Middle Kingdom. From the look of things, they listened. Mulenga has over the past two weeks been joined by Senegal's Demba Ba, Mali's Mohammed Sissoko, and Ghana's Asamoah Gyan, who signed for Shanghai Shenua (Ba & Sissoko) and Shanghai (Gyan) in the Chinese Super League.  Chinese top clubs are splurging "millions of dollars on high-profile players such as Demba Ba," according to BBC.

The South Africans making it in China. Twelve South Africans living and working in China are the focus of a recently released documentary series by China Radio International. The 12 series are being broadcast in South Africa and China. The subjects of the series include a student, a vlogger, and the founder of a "green tourism project," among others. 2015 is the "Year of China" in South Africa – a cultural diplomacy initiative that grew out of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s State visit to South Africa in 2014 – and the series were made in commemoration of that fact.

A climate change quarrel between the BICS and rich countries. In 2010 the worlds developed countries committed to raise $100 billion a year until 2020 to help poorer nations combat the effects of climate change as well as reduce their emissions. However, according to the World Bank, the commitments are short by $70 billion. Brazil, India, China, and South Africa called out the rich countries over this failure at a meeting held in New York between the four "to close ranks as talks on the climate deal head into crucial months before a Paris conference in December."

In a related development, China announced that its greenhouse gas emissions will peak by around 2030. China emits 25% of the world's greenhouse gases, and has asserted its right to burn fossil fuels to grow its economy, just like rich countries did as they developed their economies.

Nairobi's three-day China Trade Week attracted over 150 Chinese companies. Organisers of the exhibition included the Kenya Investment Authority, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

Naspers shift away from China. South Africa's Naspers is Africa's biggest company by market valuation mainly owing to its 34% stake in Chinese internet operator, Tencent. Naspers’ CEO told Bloomberg that it is paying more attention to India, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey for mergers and acquisitions and shifting away from China and Russia, where it made its most valuable investments.

China will introduce reforms to its foreign aid policies and systems this year. Brookings explains the various shifts and forces behind this move, and how Africa might be affected.

South Africa and China sign currency agreement. South Africa's Reserve Bank and the People's Bank of China signed an agreement to “co-ordinate and co-operate on the supervision‚ oversight and clearing of renminbi in South Africa" and to also "exchange information in order to facilitate the continuous improvement and development of bilateral trade.” The People's Bank of China appointed the Bank of China to clear renminbi transactions in South Africa.

More protests against Chinese textiles. This time in Zimbabwe, where local producers want a complete ban on imports of polyester knitted fabric and finished blankets from China. The Zimbabwe Textile Manufacturers Association says the cheap imports are making it impossible for local producers to compete.

First "private African bank owned by Chinese investors" opens in Tanzania. China Commercial Bank (CCBank) launched trial operations in Dar es Salaam. Its CEO is a Chinese citizen who was working in Canada before taking up the position.

New power and money allies with a grey-haired colonist. China and France agreed to "work together on infrastructure and energy projects and introduce "new forms of co-contracting, co-production and co-financing"" in emerging economies, especially in Africa. According to a French official: "The Chinese have financial power, we have the know-how." The plan is contained in an agreement signed between China's Premier, Li Keqiang, and France's Prime Minister, Manuel Valls.

The best universities in the BRICS. QS released rankings comparing the top 200 universities in the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. China has seven universities in the top ten, while Brazil, Russia, and India each have one. South Africa has 11 institutions in the rankings, eight of which are in the top 100.

Kenyan cement manufacturers protest Chinese imports. Kenya cement producers accused China Road & Bridge Corp., which is constructing a $3.8 billion railway in the country, of reneging on an agreement to use locally manufactured cement. CRBC has imported at least 7,000 metric tons of cement this year, according to data from the Kenya Ports Authority. The manufacturers say they upgraded their factories to produce the high grade cement required for the project on the understanding that CRBC would buy the cement.

Botswana cuts retail licences for Chinese traders. "Retail is a preserve for Batswana and it is an area where we believe Batswana should have a higher percentage because we are seeking jobs and employment for Batswana," Botswana's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, said while explaining why the government had reduced the number of retail licences given to Chinese nationals. She also faulted Chinese contractors for failed projects. Venson-Moitoi recently returned from a trip to China.

What does the common Angolan think of the country's close ties with China? A plunge in global oil prices sent Angola's president running to Beijing for help. Angola got more loans - probably to be repaid with oil, which accounts for 97% of Angola's export revenue - adding to the $20 billion it has borrowed from China since 2002. Reuters has man-on-the-street reactions to the relationship: it "humiliates Angolans," benefits "them [the Chinese] and the president" but not the common man, and, in reaction to the Chinese state and private companies operating in Angola, "always the Chinese will be the master and the Angolan the helper."

South African tyre manufacturers rise up against... Chinese imports. The manufacturers say cheap tyre imports from China are not only undercutting them, but are also substandard. It is not the first time the manufacturers are complaining: a prior complaint was dismissed by the government, which had its good relationship with China to nurture.

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