International Development Planning Review

Queuing up for Africa: the geoeconomics of Africa's growth and the politics of African agency

International Development Planning Review (2015), 37, (1), 45–52.

Abstract

In analysing Africa's development it is important to consider the complex global-local dynamics at play and the necessity of getting underneath representations of the continent in order to better understand its social change. Taking these concerns into recent work on China's engagement with Africa, I argue that the focus on Chinese power tends to occlude the role of African agency in these relationships. I demonstrate this through the case of a gas plant in Ghana that is financed by Chinese loans secured against oil sales that is being built by one of China's main national oil companies. The wider developmental benefits, however, are limited and deals such as this are brokered at the elite level which means that ‘ordinary’ Africans gain relatively little from these major projects. As such, while African agency is evident it is confined to elites connected to the state.

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Author details

Mohan, Giles