China seeks Africa joint ventures

By Barney Jopson in Sharm el-Sheikh
The Financial Times
November 9, 2009

China’s state-backed Africa investment fund is seeking to break new ground by pushing Chinese companies to build infrastructure through joint ventures with African governments, according to a senior executive.

In a rare interview, Zhou Chao, a managing director of the multi-billion-dollar China-Africa Development Fund (CADFund), told the Financial Times that “we encourage” public-private partnerships as a means of fixing Africa’s infrastructure bottlenecks.

Chinese companies working as contractors have dominated the construction of African roads, railways and power stations in recent years, but public-private partnerships (PPPs) would be a more stable and longer-term form of engagement. PPPs have become popular among governments in Europe and Latin America as a means of developing new infrastructure quickly and at a low cost.

Investment deals linked to China’s hunt for oil and minerals have led to a proliferation of China-Africa business ties and binding the fortunes of its companies more closely to local governments would help China counter criticism it is exploiting Africa.

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