Monday, November 08, 2021

UK versus China in Africa

 Britain is to pour hundreds of millions of pounds into developing African port infrastructure in a bid to win a "battle for economic influence" against China and other authoritarian states.

CDC Group, the Foreign Office's investment arm, will jointly underwrite a £1.25 billion plan to expand three ports in Egypt, Senegal and Somaliland, the unrecognised breakaway province of Somalia, in what a government source described as a direct challenge to "malign actors" in Africa.

Lizz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, said the projects would provide "reliable and honest investment in developing countries" and opportunities for British business.

It comes after US President Joe Biden called for a Western-led alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative, China's sprawling overseas infrastructure building program.

CDC said it would provide about £515 million ($720 million) to upgrade and expand three ports of Sokhna on the Red Sea, Dakar on the Atlantic, and Berbera on the Gulf of Aden in Somaliland, it said. The remaining £710 million ($1billion) will be invested by the Dubai-based logistics group DP World as part of what the companies called a "long-term partnership to accelerate Africa’s long-term trade potential".

CDC and DP World said the investments would generate 138,000 jobs and indirectly support 5 million more in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Both areas are theatres of intense geo-strategic competition, with Western governments competing for influence with China, Russia, and Middle Eastern powers including the United Arab Emirates and Turkey to provide investment and security assistance. The announcement comes four months after Britain endorsed an American call to invest in developing countries in response to "strategic competition from China".

A Foreign Office source said: "The Foreign Secretary believes more infrastructure investment into developing countries will help counter authoritarian regimes. Ultimately she thinks we need to win the battle for economic influence and sees infrastructure investment as a key part of that plan along with closer trade and tech ties. We need to give more countries the option of closer economic links with democracies so they aren’t driven into the arms of malign actors. We want to work with like-minded parterres to take that ambition forwards."

Britain to invest in African ports as part of Western response to China (

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