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Visitor Submit: Desert Mirage: Reality-checking China in Namibia

Mark Harris

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This visitor put up is by Jyhjong Hwang, the Senior Analysis Assistant on the China-Africa Analysis Initiative at Johns Hopkins SAIS.


On Sunday, The New York Occasions Journal revealed a particularly well-written article by Brook Larmer, a human curiosity story on the Chinese language in Africa, with a concentrate on Namibia. The title, “Is China the World’s New Colonial Energy?,” piqued our curiosity. This title may need regarded unique in 2005, however why did the NYT use this title in 2017?! 

Time for the China-Africa Analysis Initiative at Johns Hopkins SAIS (SAIS-CARI) to fact-check.

“A $60 billion Chinese language infrastructure fund established in 2016?”  CARI says: “No means.”

First off, the article states: “Final 12 months, China established a brand new $60 billion fund to finance infrastructure initiatives in Africa, largely with Chinese language lending.Nothing like this exists. The article could possibly be referring to the mixed “pledges” made by China in the course of the December 2015 Discussion board on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa. That is how FOCAC formally described the pledges: “Of the full 60 billion , 5 billion is obtainable as help free of charge and interest-free loans, 35 billion of concessional loans and export credit, with elevated choice; 5 billion of funding augmentation into the China-Africa Improvement Fund and Particular Loans for Improvement of Small and Medium Enterprises in Africa, respectively, and the preliminary 10 billion for basis of the China-Africa Capability Cooperation Fund [for industrial investment].”[i]Thus, the US$60 billion doesn’t represent a single fund and it isn’t centered on infrastructure. It features a host of monetary devices, together with loans, grants and investments.


“Chinese language loans have saddled Namibia’s financial system with debt.” CARI says: “No.”

The article additionally states that “infrastructure is welcome, however as initiatives made doable by loans — financed by the Chinese language — they’ve saddled the financial system with debt.”  Of Namibia’s US$6.24 billion exterior debt inventory (for extra on this see Tutorial Appendix under), how a lot of it may be attributed to China? CARI’s database on Chinese language loans to Africa signifies that between 2000 and Might 2017 all Chinese language loans from the Chinese language authorities and from Chinese language corporations to Namibia totaled US$729 million, about 12 % of Namibia’s complete exterior debt inventory. It’s a little bit of a stretch to say that Namibia’s financial system is “saddled” with Chinese language loans.

Main Loans from China to Namibia (US$707 million)


  • US$250 million Preferential Export Purchaser’s Credit score (PEBC) from China Eximbank for Namibia to buy locomotives and practice carriages from China (2005)
  • US$100 million PEBC from China Eximbank for Namibia to buy customs X-ray scanners from China (2007)
  • US$135 million Concessional Mortgage from China Eximbank to improve the MR67 and DR3602 roads (2012)
  • US$222 million Business Mortgage supplied by the Chinese language firm Swakop Uranium to the Namibian state-owned firm Epangelo to buy a 10 % stake within the Husab Uranium Mine (2012)

The NYT article does hedge with the next:

“Is China the savior for creating nations, the one world energy investing of their future — or is that this the daybreak of a brand new colonial period? The query itself, nevertheless, is deceptive. In Namibia, as in a lot of the remainder of the world, the narratives stay uncomfortably facet by facet, not possible to disentangle.”

We at CARI agree. A lot that we advocate placing this paragraph up entrance and ensuring grandiose statements are 1) researched, and a couple of) in context.

Tutorial Appendix: Extra on Namibia’s complete debt:

“Chinese language loans have saddled Namibia’s financial system with debt.” CARI says: “It’s not China.”

The article states that “as sluggish development and different overseas loans pushed Namibia’s debt to over 40 % of its G.D.P., the federal government suspended all new mortgage tenders.” In response to the IMF’s 2016 Article IV reported revealed in December 2016, Namibia’s 2016 projected exterior debt is about US$6.29 billion: “In 2015, Namibia’s gross exterior debt elevated as the general public sector returned to the worldwide market. The inventory of public and publicly assured (PPG) exterior debt (together with SOEs) elevated by 6 % of GDP, reaching 15.6 % of GDP at end- 2015, attributable to new rand-denominated issuances within the JSE and the November 2015 Eurobond […] The exterior debt-to-GDP ratio is predicted to rise from 51 % in 2015 to about 60½ % of GDP in 2016.”[ii]The IMF is referring to a US$750 million ten-year Eurobond issued in 2015, and rand-denominated bonds that had been first made out there on the Johannesburg Inventory Change in 2012 and have since issued R1,550 million (about US$115 million) price of bonds on the time of the IMF report.[iii]Thus, the current improve in Namibia’s exterior debt is generally attributable to their issuance of sovereign bonds, not as a result of they borrowed extra loans from bilateral or multilateral companions.





[i] “60 billion USD: China-Africa Cooperation Goals Excessive”. Discussion board on China-Africa Cooperation.  January 13, 2016. http://www.focac.org/eng/zfgx/t1331126.htm



[ii]Namibia 2016 Article IV Session – press launch; employees report; and assertion by the chief director for Namibia. IMF Nation Report No. 16/373. Worldwide Financial Fund, December 2016. http://www.imf.org/exterior/pubs/ft/scr/2016/cr16373.pdf.



[iii] “First Namibian authorities Bond lists on JSE”, Press Launch, Johannesburg Inventory Change, November 19, 2012. http://ir.jse.co.za/phoenix.zhtml?c=198120&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1762774



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China's FOCAC Monetary Package deal for Africa 2018

Mark Harris

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We in the end have the long-awaited 2018 Chinese language monetary pledges in enhance of FOCAC (Discussion board on China-Africa cooperation). Even supposing Chinese language president Xi Jinping spun the numbers to come back to $60 billion (the similar because the 2015 pledges in Johannesburg), the Chinese language state handiest appears to be placing $50 billion of its personal cash at stake, whilst encouraging Chinese language corporations to give a contribution the remaining.
China pledged:

  • US$20 billion in new credit score strains
  • US$15 billion in international help: grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans. 
  • US$10 billion for a different fund for building financing  
  • US$five billion for a different fund for financing imports from Africa.

(Those two latter budget are not going to be loan-based however main points haven’t begun to be launched.)

Listed here are a couple of fast issues of research.

This can be a extra concessional bundle than that introduced in 2015. Chinese language international help tools (grants, interest-free loans, and concessional loans) have jumped to $15 billion.

The whole pledge of loans and grants has declined from $40 billion in 2015 to $35 billion in 2018

Pledges of Chinese language interest-bearing loans peaked in 2015 and are actually beginning to decline. The primary pledge of Chinese language loans used to be in 2009 (US$five billion). In 2009, the mortgage pledge doubled to US$10 billion, and in 2012 it used to be US$20 billion. At Johannesburg in 2012, the Chinese language pledged a complete US$35 billion in interest-bearing loans of quite a lot of sorts, and every other $five billion in grants and interest-free loans ($40 billion in overall). Now, we’re backtrack to $20 billion in what glance to be extra industrial credit score strains and export credit, whilst the concessional loans had been folded into the remainder of the international help tools.

Debt reduction insurance policies have no longer modified. Debt reduction is (as all the time) restricted to interest-free Chinese language govt loans maturing on the finish of the 12 months. Those international help loans are a long-standing and slightly modest a part of Chinese language finance in Africa. Since 2006, late interest-free loans had been frequently cancelled. In 2018 those debt reduction methods are once more, as same old, restricted to the “least evolved nations, closely indebted and deficient nations, landlocked growing nations and small island growing nations that experience diplomatic members of the family with China.” 


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    Beijing's FOCAC Commitments: A "Actual Tale" Primer

    Mark Harris

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    As Beijing will get able to welcome dozens of African leaders to the Beijing Summit of the Discussion board on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC 2018) in September, many shall be questioning whether or not or no longer China has lived as much as the 2015 FOCAC commitments made in Johannesburg.  FOCAC pledges have took place each three years since 2000 and I’ve been inspecting them since 2006. As we get ready for research of this new spherical, this “Actual Tale” FOCAC Primer must lend a hand.

    I. The FOCAC cooperation plans are in most cases funded via other, particular tools, and other Chinese language financiers. The $60 bn pledged on the FOCAC in Johannesburg in 2015 used to be no longer all “reliable overseas help” and it used to be no longer all “loans.”

    Let’s take a look at the precise language in Xi Jinping’s 2015 speech on the Johannesburg FOCAC Summit:

    To verify the a success implementation of those ten cooperation plans, China makes a decision to offer a complete of US$60 billion of investment beef up. It comprises US$five billion of grant and zero-interest loans; US$35 billion of loans of concessional nature on extra favorable phrases and export credit score line; an building up of US$five billion to the China-Africa Building Fund and the Particular Mortgage for the Building of African SMEs respectively; and the China-Africa Fund for Manufacturing Capability Cooperation with an preliminary contribution of US$10 billion.

    To elaborate:

    • China Building Financial institution (business)
      • chargeable for $five bn for the CAD-Fund: that is fairness funding. This pledge represents best an building up within the fund. It isn’t assured to be dispensed over three years (see level four beneath). 
      • additionally chargeable for the rise of $five bn for the “Particular Loans for the Building of African SMEs”. Allotted through the years, most certainly greater than three years.
    • Ministry of Finance/Ministry of Trade (concessional)
      • $five bn for grants and zero-interest loans. Those are administered at once via the Ministry of Trade. They must all be dispensed via now.
    • China Eximbank (combined)
      • $35 bn of concessional overseas help loans and preferential export credit AND export credit score strains. Concessional loans and preferential export credit are best supplied via China Eximbank. The inclusion of “export credit score line” used to be new for FOCAC pledges.  This is able to sign business fee strains of credit score (which China Eximbank additionally supplies) or it might imply the inclusion of China Building Financial institution. All must be dispensed via now.
      • $10 bn for the China-Africa Fund for Manufacturing Capability Cooperation. This may be an funding fund and is run via China Eximbank and SAFE (the State Management of International Trade, in command of China’s overseas reserves). Allotted through the years.


    II. Why would it not be a mistake to suppose that every one Chinese language loans to Africa are a part of the FOCAC pledges?

    On the China-Africa Analysis Initiative (CARI) at SAIS, we observe all Chinese language loans in Africa. The 2 coverage banks — China Eximbank and China Building Financial institution supply maximum of them. However we now see China’s business banks — ICBC, Financial institution of China, and many others. — making business loans in Africa.

    Our CARI database suggests that previously, best China Eximbank’s preferential and concessional loans have been incorporated as a part of FOCAC’s normal pledges. As an example, our CARI database mortgage totals for 2013-2015, the ultimate FOCAC duration, come to over $42.five bn — together with providers credit, ICBC, CDB, and many others. However the FOCAC pledge for that duration used to be best $20 bn. So best about part of that might be particular to FOCAC and mirror the success of Chinese language pledges.

    Certainly, a snappy take a look at the loans via lender presentations that all over that duration, China Eximbank dedicated or dispensed $26.four bn out of that general. They’re the principle participant for China’s loans in FOCAC. Given China Building Financial institution’s extra business orientation, that is virtually without a doubt going to proceed.


    III. Some FOCAC commitments are open-ended in period of time and can roll out over greater than three years.

    As one Chinese language diplomat advised me in 2015, imposing those pledges will cross “perhaps past three years and even longer.”

    As an example, on the 2006 FOCAC Summit, Beijing pledged to lend a hand arrange three to five business and financial cooperation zones in Africa. As our analysis confirmed, this pledge used to be no longer concluded till 2012.  The initiative used to be led via Chinese language firms, no longer Beijing. Negotiating, securing land for the zones, promoting them: all of it took excess of three years.

    CARI shall be publishing extra analyses within the lead as much as FOCAC right here on our weblog and on our web page. Keep tuned!


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    Extra Unhealthy Knowledge on Chinese language Finance in Africa

    Mark Harris

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    It’s laborious to gather information on China’s building finance in Africa. That is why we curate a sparsely built, painstakingly researched database on Chinese language loans. We have now information undertaking by means of undertaking, sector by means of sector. Researchers and policy-makers seek the advice of us incessantly for extra detailed studies on other facets of Chinese language loans. We post studies in this information and similar fielddwork: as an example, our first operating paper used to be on Chinese language finance for hydropower initiatives and we have now a number of others on Chinese language finance for wind farms in Ethiopia and hydropower in Cameroon.

    That is why it is irritating to learn in The Mum or dad a few new record by means of an advocacy crew that says that during Africa 

    China gave essentially the most to the power sector, offering $5bn a 12 months, 88% of which used to be spent on fossil fuels. It didn’t seem to finance any renewable initiatives at the continent. Just about three-quarters of the cash supported oil and fuel extraction, and some other 13% supported coal-fired energy era.

    This merely is not true. Between 2000 and 2015, the Chinese language equipped virtually $10 bn in hydropower finance in Africa, and just about $1.five bn in sun, wind, and geothermal energy. We simplest display $2.2 bn in coal-fired energy, and $1.nine bn in gas-fired energy vegetation all over this era. Within the energy sector, African governments are borrowing way more for non-fossil gas power initiatives.

    Hydropower has its personal critics, after all. But it surely does not qualify as a fossil gas.


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