The New York Times quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on Chinese investment in Tanzania:

Lack of infrastructure and landlocked markets are “two of the most significant obstacles” to sustained economic growth across Africa, so the construction of the hub is “welcome news,” J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center of the Atlantic Council, a research institute, said in an email. According to a study by the center, he said, transport costs are 63 percent higher in Africa than in other developing regions.


Nevertheless, Mr. Pham warned, plans for the logistics hub appear to favor China’s interests.

According to the Yiwu-Africa International Investment Corporation, the Chinese partner in the project with the Tanzanian Export Processing Zones Authority, the new hub will have five zones: a commodity exhibition area, a warehouse, a technical training center, a support services area and an import-export processing zone.

The Tanzanian authorities have said that the distribution facilities for Chinese imports will be built first, and facilities for the export of Tanzanian goods will be constructed later.

The question, Mr. Pham said, is “How much later?”

“It seems that in this ‘win-win’ deal, one side potentially wins first and the other will have to wait in hopes that it will get as much in terms of attention and resources,” he said.

But China, as the financial backer, has the upper hand and so can dictate the schedule, Mr. Pham added. “It’s the ‘golden rule’ of ‘He who has the gold makes the rules.’ ”

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