Accepted paper:

Chinese overseas oil investments and African growth: Motives, mechanisms and outcomes


Giles Mohan (The Open University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at African agency in negotiating deals with Chinese investors and aid.

Paper long abstract:

After decades of being regarded as 'basket cases' some African economies are experiencing growth rates that are among the fastest in the world. Much of this growth is based on the export of commodities, like oil, to China and other emerging economies. Driving this export trade is Chinese national oil companies' (NOCs) growing involvement in African countries' oil sectors. While we hypothesise that the Chinese do things 'differently' to other oil investors in Africa we do not know whether the different corporate strategies of the leading Chinese NOCs and the specificities of African political economies they engage with generates unique forms of development, and if so in whose interests? The paper sets out an analytical framework for assessing these outcomes and argues that there is no single business or partnership model defining the modus operandi of Chinese NOCs in Africa. We challenge the discourse in which China and African actors are treated as monolithic units, and view the relationship between them as mutually driven. We track the historical and institutional evolution of Chinese energy firms, their internationalisation motives and strategies, and how the nature and success of their engagement in Africa's energy sector is influenced by the specificities of the political contexts of their host nations.

panel P69
Political ecology of rising China (roundtable format)