China's Second Continent
How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa
Howard W. French, 2014, Bvtn Lib 325.251 FRE
Travels in Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Mali, Namibia, and Angola. One paragraph about Botswana and South Africa.
HWF = author Howard W. French, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, former Washington Post and New York Times.
Big Chinese companies (mostly state owned) are giving loans to African countries to pay for infrastructure (lots of stadiums, hospitals, bridges, dams, and some poorly constructed roads) built by Chinese companies with a few local helpers. Payback in resources. HWF is concerned that the infrastructure doesn't reach ordinary citizens climb out of poverty.
Many Chinese individual entrepreneurs moved in to start smelters, farms, restaurants, hotels, etc. Lots of small scale illegal extraction, forests and gold. HWF talks to the big successes, not much to the Chinese street vendors. Displacing local, Lebanese, and Indian merchants. Lots of inexpensive knockoffs, such as Kinte cloth.
p109 "I was soon talking at a restaurant with Tiawan Gongloe, a man I had known as a human rights advocate during the worst of the war years. He had recently served in the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as labor minister. He told me that governance in Liberia was better now than it had been for four decades. For the first time in memory, he said, people felt safe to voice their opinions, and publish virtually whatever they wished to. Ordinary people were hopeful for the first time in a generation.
I expressed a more pessimistic view. Others had told me the new government had settled into many of the bad old habits of the past, doling out spoils among the small and insular old elite, most of whom traced their ancestry to the freed American slaves. People spoke of rampant corruption, and about the government's ponderousness in administrative matters."
What others? Which people? This may be true, or not, but where's the quotes, citations, data? I am curious how Liberia is really doing, one of the reasons I borrowed this book. Second hand opinions are not data.
p117 In rural Gabarnga in Liberia, the Chinese built a storage facility and rest house for their researchers, stripped to the bare concrete walls by local thieves.
The young people HWF observes are copying American street fashion.
In general, HWF is looking for problems, and finds them. By other accounts, Africa is improving, but this book shows little of that.
HWF connects to the internet at many hotels and restaurants. I wonder how they connect, and what the reliability and bandwidth is like?