BROOKINGS - Wednesday, July 11, 2018
When it comes to Africa, it is no secret that the United States and China have very different philosophies. China adopts a more state-led approach, with state-owned enterprises and policy banks spearheading Africa’s infrastructure development. The U.S. is more willing to let private companies and the market take the lead on commercial development, while the U.S. government itself puts more emphasis on the continent’s capacity building and governance challenges. A long-standing question has been whether these two powerhouses could join forces and cooperate to advance Africa’s development. Such discussions have happened between the two governments. In 2014, it was reported that Obama’s signature Power Africa initiative was considering partnership with China on improving electricity in Africa. Around the same time, China reportedly approached the U.S. on collaboration on the ambitious Inga-3 hydropower projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, years have gone by without much progress on these speculations due to multiple considerations, especially political, economic, and reputational.