15/08/2007

Vers un « nouveau modèle » de contrat international d’aide au développement ?

f83008f461822a6f3ed00d0bc2374bdd.jpgChina, seeking resources, brings deep pockets to Africa

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

KOUDJIWAI, Chad : The small plane flew in low over a scorched, peppercorn scrubland, following a broad, muddy river that was all elbows on its run to the southeast.

The first hint of humanity came with the appearance of an immense grid for seismic testing, laboriously traced through the brush. Finally, a lonely, hulking steel drilling platform popped into view.

Chad is as geographically isolated as places come in Africa . It is also among the continent's poorest and least stable countries, the scene of recurrent civil wars and foreign invasions since it gained independence from France in 1960.

None of that has put off the Chinese, though. In January, they bought the rights to a vast exploration zone that surrounds this rural village, making the baked wilderness here, without roads, electricity or telephones, the latest frontier for their thirsty oil industry and increasingly global ambitions.

The same is happening in one African country after another. In large oil-exporting countries like Angola and Nigeria, China is building or fixing railroads, and landing giant exploration contracts in Congo and Guinea .

In mineral-rich countries that had been all but abandoned by foreign investors because of unrest and corruption, Chinese companies are reviving output of cobalt and bauxite. China has even become the new mover and shaker in agricultural countries like Ivory Coast, once the crown jewel in France 's postcolonial African empire, where Chinese companies are building a new capital, in Yamoussoukro, paid for by Chinese loans.

Surging Chinese interest in this continent has helped bring about what many Africans believe is the most important moment since the end of the cold war, when democracy was spreading in Africa and Western nations spoke of a "peace dividend" that might ease African poverty.

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