January 13, 2019

Competing Against Chinese Loans, U.S. Companies Face Long Odds in Africa

Featuring Abigail Grace

Source: The New York Times

Journalist Edward Wong

Growing up in suburban Ohio, Rajakumari Jandhyala never imagined she would end up in the oil business, much less on the front line of America’s global competition with China. She spent two decades as a policy adviser on Africa, most recently as an aid official in the Obama administration.

But in 2016, she heard about a call for proposals to build an oil refinery in Uganda that could be the largest in East Africa, and she put together a bid. She landed an investor in Kenya. She recruited oil and gas executives from General Electric. An Italian contractor joined the group of companies that formed a consortium, too.

The main problem was the big advantages enjoyed by the competition: two Chinese energy companies, one of them a state oil giant with Beijing’s support.

China is aggressively seeking investments and contracts around the world, and perhaps nowhere is this more visible than Africa, where Chinese companies have won contracts to build dams, roads, stadiums, airports and railways. In country after country, governments have borrowed heavily from China to pay for these projects.

Read the full article and more in The New York Times.

Authors

  • Abigail Grace

    Former Research Associate, Asia-Pacific Security Program

    Abigail Grace is a former Research Associate in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for New American Security (CNAS). Her work focused on U.S. strategic competitio...