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February 22, 2016

China-Africa news: Kenya arms, Nigeria’s collapsed security deal, Zimbabwe’s elephants

The Wits China-Africa Reporting Project is seeking applications from journalists to participate in a collaborative investigation and workshop focused on current Africa-China industrialisation initiatives in Africa. The initiative aims to probe the social and environmental impact of industrialisation on the African continent. The Project will bring a group of selected journalists to Johannesburg to attend a short workshop at Wits Journalism in May 2016, and will then issue the journalists with reporting grants to produce investigative features.

The latest article in our series examining how Africa is reported in the Chinese press looks at several commendatory accounts of Chinese people working in Africa published in January and February. There’s intrepid Fan who encountered some culture shock in Algeria and Angola but did pretty well for himself in Africa, doctor Ma and his sojourn in Angola endlessly treating gunshot victims, Little Dong in Cameroon who trained some of his African colleagues to do a special New Year broadcast, and others.

Kenya bought arms worth $77 million from China in 2015, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The deals put China - which is financing and building several infrastructure projects in Kenya - among the largest supplier of arms to the East African country.

Nigeria is investigating ZTE for failing to install a security communications network. A Parliamentary committee is investigating why a 2010 $470 million deal intended to improve anti-terror surveillance in Abuja and Lagos was shuttered with little to show for the sums paid. Both sides are being blamed: ZTE for substandard work, and the Nigerian government for sloppiness and corruption.

Zimbabwe’s elephant sales to China are financing conservation efforts. A wildlife official told Bloomberg that the Southern Africa country received $1 million from the trade in 2015. It is also looking for new wildlife markets in South East Asia to close the gap created by US bans on Zimbabwe trophy and ivory trade.

There is so much breathless reporting on Chinese investment in Africa. So says John Hopkins University's Professor Deborah Brautigam, who blames it on ignorance about the challenges of investment in Africa among reporters and researchers. A mining project undergoes several expensive stages, and what the media usually reports as Chinese investment in African mines is often still at the exploratory stage.

Why there are few Chinese tourists in some African countries. The tourism industry in some African countries - in this case Uganda - is still oriented towards Europe and America despite the growing number of outbound Chinese tourists. There has been no effort in appealing or reaching to the Chinese market, with little research on its tastes and preferences.

Liberia receives military equipment from China. The donation, worth $3 million, includes 20 trucks, two graders, 10 000 uniforms and 40 tents.

The Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network is receiving paper abstracts for its fourth conference. The conference aims "to bring together a small group of scholars who have been engaged in empirical research and whose work focuses on the people-related aspects of China-Africa engagements from across the world." This year's conference, to be held in Nairobi 18-20 August 2016, will focus on media, communications, and related issues of representation, perception and images. Paper abstracts are due on 29 February.

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