In light of the continued spotlight on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), criticism of Chinese-funded and -constructed “white elephant” projects, and “debt trap” controversies, this panel of experts will share their research and insights on new Chinese equity investment in African infrastructure projects in exchange for both the construction contracts and post-construction operation, a model known in the Chinese industry as “integrated investment, construction, and operation” (IICO). They will use comparative analysis of BRI Chinese-funded infrastructure projects in Kenya and Uganda to illustrate how this works in practice. Through this discussion the panelists will offer an insider perspective on governance, the financing of infrastructure, and Africa’s response to the changing landscape of external actors.
This event was jointly sponsored by the Africa-China Initiative, the African Studies Program, and the Asian Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service and the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University.
Hong Zhang is a China Public Policy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ash Center of Harvard Kennedy School. Zhang’s current research has two streams. One focuses on the political economy of China’s global development engagements, specifically the Chinese developmental state’s infrastructural power as embodied by its “national champion” enterprises in the construction sector. The other looks at China’s developmental statecraft, which uses development planning for coordinating its policy agenda domestically as well as internationally. Zhang co-edits the People’s Map of Global China and the Made in China Journal.
Lahra Smith (moderator) is an associate professor and director for the African Studies Program at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Her research explores African politics, migration and refugees, and citizenship and equality. She is the author of Making Citizens in Africa: Ethnicity, Gender and National Identity in Ethiopia (2013). Smith teaches courses on migration, women and politics, and theory and policy in Africa. She has taught and conducted research in refugee camps in East and Southern Africa, and she has ongoing research on civic education programs in Kenya, particularly focused on the role of teachers as active agents of citizen creation.