Fletcher in the News

Chinese Aid to Africa is "Less Complicated": Deborah Brautigam (F83, F87)

Academic predicts development story of Africa over next century will be more patchy than in Asia

Deborah Brautigam (F83) says Africa is unlikely to follow the same growth path as China and the Asian tiger economies.

The American academic, who is one of the world's leading experts on the China-Africa relationship, says many African leaders, despite some of their countries experiencing more than 20 percent growth in recent years, do not have the same focus on economic development.

"There isn't any country in Africa that has the same kind of leadership as China where there is such a focus on development.

"There might have been a few places that have come close such as Ethiopia under Meles  Zenawi (prime minister until his death in August) and also currently Rwanda, but very few."

Brautigam was speaking at her home in Washington, where she took up the position in July as director of the International Development Program at Johns Hopkins University.

She is the author of one of the seminal works on the China-Africa relationship, The Dragon's Gift: the Real Story of China in Africa, which was first published in 2009 and in Chinese this year.

She also runs a blog, chinaafricarealstory.com, which often gets 1,000 page hits a day and has had a total of 461,000.

She says it is difficult to generalize as to how Africa will eventually develop but she does not believe it will be so manufacturing-led as in China and many parts of Asia.

"There are 54 countries in Africa so you can't really say there is one model for Africa," she says….

…"They were colonized by the Belgians who put nothing into the country. When they reached independence they had barely any college graduates or any infrastructure."

Brautigam, who is originally from Wisconsin, studied Chinese at the Yale-in-China Program in Hong Kong in the late 1970s and then at Taiwan Normal University in Taipei.

She then went to do a master's degree and a doctorate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, before pursuing an academic career.

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