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China-Africa news: China’s foreign minister visits Ebola-hit countries, StarTimes leads in E Africa, less Chinese tourists in S Africa

Trailblazers 2015 - CoverWe have the first collection of articles written by our project’s grant recipients up on our blog. The 17 articles feature some of the best reporting produced by African and Chinese journalists from 2009 to 2014. For information on how to obtain a print copy of Trailblazers 2015 – the collection’s name – please contact the project coordinator at africa-china@journalism.co.za.

Mozambique’s largest lender. Chinese funding to Mozambique increased by 160% between 2012 and 2014, according to a report by the Portuguese Investment Bank. This has seen China overtake Portugal as Mozambique’s largest creditor. A new loan worth $400 million from China to Mozambique was announced last week; the loan will finance the construction of a 600-kilometre power transmission line.

China’s Foreign Minister visits Ebola-hit countries. Wang Yi was this week slated to visit the three West African countries worst hit by an Ebola virus outbreak, according to China’s Foreign Ministry. China contributed more than $120 million to fighting the outbreak.

The red carpet was laid for Mr Wang Yi days before his arrival, with Liberia’s Foreign Minister, Augustine Ngafuan, calling China “one of Liberia’s truest friends” for its assistance during the Ebola outbreak. Mr Ngafuan was speaking at a ‘welcoming dinner’ for a 20-member Chinese business delegation.

A red star takes over the East’s TV. StarTimes, a privately-owned Chinese pay-TV provider, has overtaken South Africa’s MultiChoice as the biggest pay-TV provider in East Africa. StarTimes commands 39% of total market share in the region, in comparison to MultiChoice’s 38%. Despite having a lock on premium content, MultiChoice offers its services at far higher prices than StarTimes which probably explains the rise of the Chinese provider.

Switzerland seizes Tanzanian ivory. Custom officials in Switzerland seized 262 kilograms of ivory – worth $400,000 on the black market – destined for China from Tanzania. The contraband also included a kilo of lion teeth and claws.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government pledged $2 million to Zimbabwe to assist in fighting poaching. The announcement “came after Zimbabwe’s wildlife became the focus of global attention with the killing of Cecil the lion, a well-known animal among tourists, by an American trophy hunter,” according to AFP.

Drop in Chinese tourists to South Africa. Tourist arrivals from China to South Africa declined by 38% in the first three months of this year, according to South Africa’s statistics office. However, Statistics South Africa says it is not sure whether the drop is because of China’s economy or last year’s Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The tourism industry in South Africa is also up in arms over new stringent visa regulations, which it says have played a part in keeping away tourists. Tourist arrivals dropped by 5.9% in the first quarter of 2015.

Africa prefers Washington over Beijing. China might be Africa’s largest trading partner, but the United States of America is still the darling of most of sub-Saharan Africa. A Gallup poll in 11 African countries found that “many Africans are still more likely to approve of U.S. than of Chinese leadership.” Favourable attitudes towards American leadership are however declining faster in the surveyed countries compared to the decline in attitudes towards Chinese leadership.

China’s largest airline started flying directly to Nairobi this week. China Southern Airlines’ flight from Guangzhou to the Kenyan capital is its second direct route to an African destination after its Shenzhen-Port Louis (Mauritius) route introduced last year.

Chinese lenders finance Zambia power project. A 300MW coal-fired power plant in Zambia, part of a project aimed at reducing power shortages in the country, is “the first private project in sub-Saharan Africa for which the Chinese portion of the financing is to be covered by China’s state-owned export credit insurance agency Sinosure.” Chinese lenders are providing $300 million to construct the project, while Western banks are providing $65 million; South African banks are providing $150 million. An Indian company owns 65% of the project.

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