Chinese BRI projects face repression in Africa from environmentalists and civil society groups

Several projects supported by China in Africa under the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative are facing negative reactions from the local environment and civil society groups.

Uganda and Tanzania gave the green light last week to build an oil pipeline between the two countries, even as environmentalists demanded its demolition, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP). .

The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. is a major investor in the project and the oilfield it serves. According to the SCMP, green groups, including BankTrack, the African Institute for Energy Governance and 350 Africa, said that “the extraction sites and the pipeline pose environmental and social risks to the protected areas of wildlife, water sources and communities across Uganda and Tanzania ”. The 1,445 km pipeline is intended to transport heated crude oil from Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.

Activists and environmentalists in Africa claim that BRI projects are having a negative impact on the continent’s ecosystems.

In Guinea, China is considering investing in a massive deposit of high-grade iron ore in the Simandou Mountains. The project would help Beijing reduce its dependence on Australian imports amid tensions with Canberra, but critics say it will destroy livelihoods as well, according to the SCMP report.

In Ghana, a $ 2 billion bauxite infrastructure deal with Chinese state-owned Sinohydro Corp has sparked anger. In 2019, a Kenyan court ordered a halt to construction of a $ 2 billion coal-fired power plant after critics alleged it would endanger a Unesco World Heritage site.

In the not so distant past, the Tanzanian authorities opposed the Chinese request to completely cede the port of Bagamoyo to China, after Sri Lanka’s experience with Hambantota.

At the same time, Ethiopia’s recent decision to open up its telecommunications market has lost a Chinese-backed bid for a mobile license to a US-backed consortium, according to a SCMP report.

A consortium backed by the US International Development Finance Corporation and the British sovereign investment fund CDC Group and led by the British Vodafone, the Kenyan Safaricom, the South African Vodacom and the Japanese Sumitomo Corporation won the deal after offering 850 million US dollars to obtain a 15-year license in Africa. second largest country.

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