Buhari Off To China Next Week

President Muhammadu Buhari will start a state visit to China from April 11 till 15.

A major highlight of the visit will likely be signing a $2billion loan deal with China that will finance Nigeria’s badly-needed infrastructure projects.

“I can’t tell you how much until the day the loan will be signed,” his spokesman, Femi Adesina said in an interview with Reuters.

“Both countries will also be signing some bilateral agreements to strengthen their relationship, that is all I can say now”, he added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had earlier said in Beijing that Buhari would visit China to sign “cooperation agreements” and attend a business forum. He gave no details.

China Seeks More Oil From Nigeria

Zao LingXiang, economic and commercial counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, on Sunday said his country seeks more crude oil exports from Nigeria in spite of the recent changes in oil prices.

LingXiang said this in an interview with NAN in Abuja on Sunday.

The total amount of export to China was only about one million barrels in 2015, estimated at about 1.3 per cent of Nigerian annual oil export.

“In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter whether Iran comes back or not; Chinese companies want to import more crude oil from Nigeria,” he said.

He said current trade volume between both countries stood at $14.94 billion in 2014, making Nigeria third largest trade partner of China in Africa.

The economic counsellor added that Nigeria’s trade figure was 8.3 per cent of China’s total trade volume with Africa and 42 per cent of the total trade volume between China and Africa.

He said China also sought to explore other areas of cooperation with Nigeria which he noted would be of benefit to both parties.

“China is the largest developing country in the world and Nigeria is the largest developing country in Africa and both countries have complementary advantages in natural and human resources, funds and markets,” he said.

“Right now, the Nigerian government is trying to diversify its economy which is fully in line with the 10 China-Africa cooperation plans announced at the summit on China-Africa trade in Johannesburg in 2015.

“There are great potential for cooperation between China and Nigeria in the fields of industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure construction, financial services, trade and investment facilitation, among others.”

He added that both countries had made “remarkable achievements” in the areas of infrastructure cooperation.

He said the coming visit of President Muhammad Buhari to China in April would facilitate the implementation of agreements reached at the 2015 China-African summit in Johannesburg.

LingXiang added that the president’s visit would also deepen cooperation between both countries.

He explained that the total investment volume between China and Africa exceeded $100 billion in 2015 in spite of the decline in imports from Africa, saying Africa remained China’s largest trade partner despite recent changes in the country’s economy.

“The amount in import from Africa to China declined but did not decline remarkably,” he said.

“Moreover, the economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa is not only about trade but technical cooperation as well.

“China’s total investment volume in Africa last year increased by 100 times more in a short span of 10 years, which shows that cooperation between both parties is moving to a new level.”

Are China And Brazil Transforming African Agriculture?

China and Brazil are set to increase their influence in Africa, with the recently launched New Development Bank opening offices in Johannesburg this month and preparing to issue its first loans in April. New research on China and Brazil in African Agriculture published in acclaimed journal, World Development, reveals that the picture on the ground is far more complex and more contested than generic policy statements about South-South cooperation or win-win partnerships would have us believe.

Agriculture, which employs 65 percent of Africa’s labour force and accounts for 32 percent of gross domestic product, presents a major area of engagement for both China and Brazil with the continent.  Additionally, both countries may claim to be particularly well positioned to help African countries develop their agriculture sector.

China offers win-win partnerships with unparalleled pragmatism that is much welcomed as an alternative to the increasingly obsolete aid industry. Brazil offers tropical technology that is claimed to be well suited to Africa’s similar soil-climate characteristics and an approach to the cooperation exchange that is arguably more horizontal.

But despite being often clustered together as leaders of the South-South paradigm, China and Brazil are quite different, both in rhetoric and in practice.

World Development Special Issue on China and Brazil in African Agriculture digs behind South-South Cooperation rhetoric

Edited by Ian Scoones, Kojo Amanor, Arilson Favareto and Qi Gubo, this special open access collection digs behind the rhetoric of South-South cooperation and win-win relations to reveal the reality of South-South encounters.

At its launch, co-editor Professor Scoones noted that policy ideas and technology travel from China and Brazil to Africa in the context of South-South relations. They do not end up the way they were first designed though but get transformed and reconstituted through negotiation and mutual learning.

The eight articles in this open access collection looked at cases of Chinese and Brazilian engagements in four African countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – as well as the origins of Chinese and Brazilian agricultural policies, technology and capital by looking at the two countries’ domestic contexts.

They reveal a rich mix of engagements, including:

  • agricultural investments by private and state owned enterprises
  • tri-lateral development cooperation efforts
  • technological adaptation initiatives
  • training programmes
  • ‘under-the-radar’ involvement in agriculture by Chinese migrants.

These diverse experiences challenge simplistic narratives of either “South–South” collaboration or “neo-imperial” expansion of “rising powers”.

Research reveals no singlular Brazilian or Chinese model

There is therefore no singular Brazilian or Chinese model but engagements in Africa reflect struggles back home in Brazil and in China that meet other struggles when they land in diverse African countries.

These are struggles for power and resources as well as battles between competing visions on agriculture and development. They are local struggles but they are also global struggles that need to be situated against the geopolitics of aid and international development and the changing global configurations of capital.

Three papers from the collection were briefly discussed at the recent Contested Agronomies conference, hosted at IDS. One looked at the case of China’s Agricultural Technological Demonstration Centres and two focused on Brazilian cooperation programmes symbolising the agribusiness-versus-family farming dualism in Brazilian agriculture.

A closer look at China’s Agricultural Technological Demonstration Centres

The Chinese demonstration centres were presented by Xiuli Xu, professor at theChina Agricultural University, as an example of a top-down policy being implemented at the grassroots.

The 23 centres found in Africa were established by Chinese companies from different provinces in China, with support from their government. The Chinese government emphasises state-business relations and the need to ensure long-term financial “sustainability” of these centres for technical cooperation. The companies in turn hope to develop a potential market for their seeds, machinery and other technology in Africa. In the meantime, they operate as ‘aid workers’ interacting with local communities and learning about the trade of cooperation.

Brazil’s cooperation programmes reflect agribusiness-versus-family farming dualism in its own agriculture

The Brazil story revealed contestations beyond the agrarian dualism formulation.

Family farming is disputed in Brazil and this is reflected in the practice of More Food International, one of Brazil’s flagship cooperation programmes in Africa analysed by one of the papers.

Lídia Cabral, one of the authors, noted that the programme has so far been mainly about selling Brazilian farming machinery and tractors in particular and that the policy advocacy thrust of the programme – of reproducing a family farming-based development trajectory – got lost in translation. African governments are attracted by a modernisation ideal where family farming is at best a transitional mode into mechanised commercial farming.

The other Brazilian case-study presented, focused on ProSAVANA in Mozambique, discussed the role played by imagined landscapes of the Brazilian Cerrado and the Mozambican Savannah both in the promotion and contestation of the programme.

Alex Shankland, co-author of the paper, highlighted that the contestation of ProSAVANA has been at the centre of the making of Brazilian cooperation. It has produced spill over effects to other Brazilian programmes and raised questions about Brazil’s South-South narrative and its solidarity and horizontality claims.

Useful lessons from Braziliand and Chinese enagements in African agriculture

There are many useful lessons to be learnt from the Brazilian and Chinese engagements in African agriculture for other countries. For example, a key feature is the role of state-business relations in driving and shaping engagements that provides valuable insight for agencies such as DFID (the UK’s Department for International Development) which has an interest in the role of the private sector, and in public-private partnerships.

But as suggested by this research, these relations have to be understood as part of competing interests, power dynamics and conflicting ideas about development, locally and globally, and should not be treated as anodyne win-win solutions.

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Obafemi Martins To Double His Pay In China

Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins, popularly called Obagoal, will enjoy one of his biggest pay days when he joins Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua as he will pocket twice what he was earning at MLS side Seattle Sounders.

The 31-year-old striker was on $3 million at Seattle Sounders, making him the second highest earner at the MLS club behind US international Clint Dempsey, but half of that was dedicated to tax.

“Martins will earn between 3 and 4 million US dollars in China and this will be free of any taxes,” a source specially disclosed.

It was further gathered that the former Newcastle United star has agreed a year’s deal with Shanghai Shenhua with an option for another year.

The club had finished sixth last season in the Chinese Super League last season.

27 Officials Penalised In China For Wrongful Execution

At least 27 Chinese officials have been penalised for the wrongful execution of a teenager, state news agency Xinhua said.

Huugjilt was 18 when he was convicted of the rape and murder of a woman in a factory’s public toilet in 1996.

A serial rapist confessed to the crime in 2005 and Huugjilt was formally exonerated in 2014.

Acquittals are extremely rare in China and it is even rarer for convictions to be overturned.

26 officials were given “administrative penalties, including admonitions and record of demerit”, Xinhua said citing an official statement on Sunday.

Feng Zhiming, the other penalised official, was suspected of other crimes related to his job and was being investigated, according to the report.

The murder happened during an anti-crime drive and detectives in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region admitted being under pressure to secure a conviction.

The use of force to get confessions is thought to be widespread in the country, the BBC reports.

Huugjilt’s parents were given 30,000 yuan ($4850; £3080) as an expression of the court’s sympathy, when the conviction was overturned.