To win mining licenses worth billions of dollars, a Chinese oil trade company promised poor African countries infrastructure to help develop their land.
But now reports are leaking that China Sonagol, also known as China International Fund, failed to meet their obligations after gaining access to Africa’s mines and oil fields, reports the Stabile centre for Investigative Reporting at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
CIF was formed in 2004 and quickly became a key player in the African trade markets. In the past few years, they’ve promised more than $18 billion of investments to African countries.
“African elites are using complex offshore structures to cut themselves a personal slice of resource deals with Asian entrepreneurs,” Judith Poultney, an analyst at Global Witness, told The centre for Public Integrity. “And like the old scramble for Africa by the West, it is the ordinary African citizen who loses out.”
In fact, Zimbabwe is still waiting on infrastructure that they’ve exchanged with gold; Guinea hasn’t received the 100 public buses that were promised to them within 45 days of signing a 2009 contract.
A 2008 WikiLeaks cable from the Embassy Luanda, Angola said that “work on all three railroad projects came to a halt [in 2007]; and the international airport project stalled in the design stage.” The cable also reported that Angolan President Jose Eduardo do Santos “publicly criticised the quality of Chinese-built public works.”
The Economist reported a few months ago that contracts may have “indirectly helped sustain violent conflicts” in Zimbabwe and Guinea.
In 2009, the Guinean military opened fire on a protest which resulted in 150 people dead and 1,200 injured. Twelve days later, CIF signed a formal contract with Guinea that gave them the rights to negotiate oil-production contracts in the Gulf of Guinea in return for $7 to $9 billion in housing, transport and public utilities.
“There was something seriously wrong,” Abdoulaye Yero Baldé, current vice-governor of the Guinean Central Bank, told The centre for Public Integrity. “The government had just raped women and killed innocent civilians, all investors were going away and yet this group stayed and signed. It’s hard to know what’s truly in it for Guinea in this contract.”
In the aftermath of Guinea’s bloodshed, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The Chinese government has nothing to do with its business operations, nor does it have knowledge of the specifics.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.