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Commodity Supercycle Blues

The editorial board of Financial Times published an op-ed yesterday announcing a new commodities supercycle. They argued that the global pivot towards climate-friendlier technologies like electric vehicles is pushing demand for metals like cobalt, lithium and palladium (used in catalytic converters.) In addition, the Biden administration’s new commitments ...

General Stephen Townsend’s Comments on China Are Not Helping the U.S. Cause in Africa

The top commander for U.S. forces in Africa (AFRICOM), General Stephen Townsend, thought it would be a good idea to re-surface the old trope that China is looking to build a new military outpost in Africa, this time on the West Coast.

The Winding Road of the COVID Crisis

One of the pandemic’s many challenges is how it outflanks our attempts to impose narratives on it. Humans are storytelling creatures – we use narrative to make sense of chaos and to prioritize threats. Each new phase of the pandemic scrambles the stories we used to make ...

When It Comes to Deforestation, There’s Plenty of Blame to Go Around

The NGO collective Forests and Finance released a new study today showing that investments by Chinese banks make it the world’s second-largest funder of projects linked to tropical deforestation.   Analyzing data from financial databases and company publications, the study found that between 2016 and 2020, Chinese ...

COVID and the Emerging Global Landscape

This week saw a small, but notable indicator in my corner of the global COVID landscape. South Africa announced that it will import 10 million doses each of China’s Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines. South Africa is hardly the first country in the Global South to ...

Analysis from Cobus van Staden

Commodity Supercycle Blues

The editorial board of Financial Times published an op-ed yesterday announcing a new commodities supercycle. They argued that the global pivot towards climate-friendlier technologies like electric vehicles is pushing demand for metals like cobalt, lithium and palladium (used in catalytic converters.) In addition, the Biden administration’s new commitments to building infrastructure at home (and possibly abroad) will further boost demand for steel, with iron ore futures hitting record prices in Singapore this week.Where FT ...

China’s Role in “Decolonizing” Healthcare in Africa

I still remember the day I arrived in the quiet city of Natitingou, North-West Benin, after the 7000-mile journey from my hometown in China. I was to be a translator in a Chinese medical team deployed to the local hospital. Over the 13 months ...

Tech Digest: How Chinese, Kenyan, and Swedish Music Streaming Apps Are All Battling Out in Africa

2021 has been a big year for music streaming in Africa. Global streaming giants are flocking to the African market with Swedish music streaming provider Spotify announcing a sweeping expansion to 40 new countries on the continent. As Spotify attempts to expand its reach in Africa, ...

G7 Countries Are Going to Learn That Challenging China on Infrastructure is a Lot Easier Said Than Done

When I moved to Vietnam in 2012, Japan had just broken ground on the country's first subway system in the southern commercial hub of Saigon. Back then, there was a lot of excitement around ambitious plans to build half a dozen lines within a decade.

How Can China Support Vaccine Deployment in Zimbabwe?

Notorious for its hyperinflation, and its status as the 10th most fragile country on the Fragile States Index, Zimbabwe is perhaps one of the last countries you would have expected to be proactive in vaccination rollout. Yet, not only was ...

What the U.S. Apparently Doesn’t Understand About China-Africa Ties

So, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony held a virtual ‘tour’ of Africa on Tuesday with the leaders of Nigeria and Kenya on Tuesday. That it was called a ‘tour’ and not a Zoom or Skype shows everything that was wrong with ...

Antony Blinken Revealed He Doesn’t Really Know Much About What China’s Doing in Africa

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed yesterday that when it comes to understanding the dynamics of China's engagement in Africa, he really doesn't know very much. When a young person floated him a softball question about how the U.S. plans ...

Quad Queries

I’ve wondered in the past whether ‘the Quad’ – the alliance among the United States, Japan, Australia and India dedicated as a counterweight to China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region – has taken on such prominence simply because the word is so fun to say. Quad quad ...

If You Aren’t Terrified About What’s Happening in India, You Should Be

Watching the calamity unfold in India from here in Vietnam feels like staring at a category 5 typhoon that's barreling straight at you. There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. With 350,000 infections a day, which is probably just a fraction ...

Q&A: China Likely to See the Cut in UK Aid Spending as Both an Opportunity and a Loss

The British government's decision to slash its overseas aid budget from $21.3 billion in 2020 to $13.8 billion this year is prompting heightened anxiety within the U.S. and European development communities that the move will provide a new opening for China to expand its influence in Africa ...

Q&A: How the Chinese Private Sector Can Help Develop Pharmaceutical Production Capacity in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp relief  the highly unsustainable fact that African countries together import over 70% of all pharmaceutical and medical products. Yet, 34 out of 55 African countries have some level of pharmaceutical production, with countries offering an array of incentives ...
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