DOUALA & KAMPALA (May 16, 2016) – In recent decades, China has positioned itself as one of the most important economic and trade partners of Africa. In fact, Chinese foreign direct investment in Africa has not only accelerated significantly in volume but also expanded in terms of source and sector coverage, with both private and state-owned investments covering transport, energy, mining, agriculture and forestry, among other sectors. Despite the importance of China in the economic and commercial areas of Africa, media reports related to those investments remain weak both in China and in African countries.
GEI Program Officers ZHANG Jingwei (second from right), and REN Peng (center, back row) with training participants in Cameroon – GEI 2016
In an effort to generate more interest among African journalists to investigate Chinese-linked investments and disseminate reliable and objective information, two media training workshops were held in Douala, Cameroon and Kampala, Uganda. In total, the workshops engaged up to 40 journalists from Cameroonian and Ugandan print and electronic media houses.
The workshop in Cameroon was co-organized by the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Network for Environment and Sustainable Development in Central Africa (NESDA -CA). The Uganda workshop was organized by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE). This series of workshops was facilitated within the framework of the “China-Africa Forest Governance” project, supervised by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) with the financial support of the Department for International Development of United Kingdom (DFID).
Global Environmental Institute (GEI) Program Officers Mr. REN Peng and Ms. ZHANG Jingwei were invited to present on the Chinese overseas investments and firms classifications and characteristics as well as the projects’ environmental and social impacts. They also discussed the implications for research approaches and possible techniques for accessing and collecting information from Chinese companies on their investments abroad. Finally, Mr. REN and Ms ZHANG shared experience interacting with Chinese companies to serve as case studies for the journalists for how to effectively engage with the corporations. The case studies stressed how to gather information to produce effective and objective reporting on the companies’ investments.
Along with GEI program officers, two Chinese journalists, Ms WANG Lin from China Business News, and Mr. YUAN Qing from Xinhua News Agency, were also invited to share their hands-on experiences of reporting on Chinese investment overseas in the workshops. Both workshops were very successful and well received by journalists from the two countries.
Journalists were especially enthusiastic about Chinese investments and how to build a long term relationship and trust with the Chinese investors.
In fact, during the Uganda workshop, the Minister of State for Economic Planning and Monitoring in the Office of the President, Hon. Henry Banyenzaki gave a keynote speech on opportunities and challenges for investing in Uganda.
Minister of State for Economic Planning and Monitoring in the Office of the President, Hon. Henry Banyenzaki – GEI 2016
The Minister mentioned that the training event was timely and much needed given Uganda’s good relationship with China. He encouraged journalists to have exchange visits and share more information and experiences with Chinese journalists and emphasized the need to develop the capacity of Ugandan journalists to report on China issues and Chinese journalists to report on Uganda issues.
To enhance understanding of the China-Africa trade and generate a long-term focus on China’s overseas investment in Africa, GEI invited Chinese senior reporters to Africa to gain a first-hand in-depth exposure to the field.
In 2015, two separate articles on China-Africa trade were published: “Here comes China’s Gold Rush” in Phoenix Weekly and “The Congo (DRC) Election Hurts Chinese Businesses” in South Reviews.
A second stage of this project with new reporters will occur in 2016. Since Africa’s industry is growing, GEI believes monitoring industry activity will be increasingly crucial, and hopes to invite African journalists to come and report on Chinese companies and investments in the future.