Emerging Powers in Africa Initiative

Meeting between Indian and African media representatives during journalist tour in New Delhi

Established in 2008, the Emerging Powers in Africa Initiative is a platform that promotes debate and knowledge through an African civil society dialogue. Aimed at understanding the comparative impact and engagement of emerging powers in Africa on issues of social justice, the principal objectives of the Initiative are:

  • To nurture an African perspective on the emerging powers in Africa
  • To enable research to be undertaken on the political, social, economic and cultural effects of emerging actors’ engagement with Africa
  • To develop informed discussion and advocacy in Africa and the developing South on the emerging actors in Africa
  • To develop communication and cooperation between policy makers, academics, media and activists in Africa on emerging actors’ engagement with Africa

By developing appropriate capacity building initiatives for African CSOs and establishing a platform for the exchange of knowledge and experiences, the Initiative promotes a deeper understanding of the relative influence and impact of emerging actors’ footprints on the continent, in comparison with other established actors at a national, regional and continental level. As a result, more informed discussions are facilitated to improve policy analysis and advance policy interventions.

Briefings, reports, and book publications are commissioned to inform African actors across the continent and others outside Africa on contemporary issues related to the effects of emerging actors in Africa. The commissioned research endeavours to enhance the capacity of African scholars and researchers to provide an African perspective of emerging actors in Africa.

2011/12 Research Grants:

Background to the EMP Research Grants:

The Emerging Actors in Africa initiative seeks to promote knowledge and evidence based research to inform an African perspective as well as build capacity amongst African civil society organisation’s and counterparts on the activities and impact of the emerging actors in Africa.

Through knowledge sharing, the programme looks to develop a strategic and constructive dialogue that will build a constituency of collaboration and joint initiatives between CSO’s from African and those like-minded actors from these countries.

This is the third in a series of research grants that have resulted in: the commissioning of Six research projects that enabled micro studies to be conducted on the socio-economic impact of China on the DRC, the environmental implications of Chinese investments in Cameroon, and the growing Chinese Diaspora in South Africa. Three of the studies entailed broad macro-economic investigations on China’s behavior in Kenya vis-à-vis India and the EU, the overall trade impact of Chinese commodities on African markets and the footprint of Chinese companies in Ethiopia. Four research grants on the comparative perspective of other actors vis-à-vis China in Africa.

Research team I:

Yoon Jung Park, PhD (Rhodes University), Tu Huynh, PhD (Rhodes University), Pragna Rugunanan (University of Johannesburg)

Research title:

Chinese and Indian Women Migrants in South Africa: A preliminary and comparative examination of globalization, mobility, economic engagement & choice


China and India are two of principal emerging actors, both globally and in Africa. Our study would compare female migrants from these two countries in South Africa, the largest recipient nation of Chinese migration flows to the continent. Nearly all of the focus of both media and scholarly works on “South-South” linkages has been on the international political economy aspects of these relations; migration flows that often come in tandem with flows of trade, aid & development assistance, and investment have received much less attention (Park and Tu 2010: 208). Migration studies in South Africa have tended to focus on flows from other African countries, with very little attention paid to sending countries in Asia (Park and Rugunanan 2009). This study, while small, focused, and preliminary would be amongst the first to comparatively examine two migration streams from “South” countries into Africa.

Research team II:

Joseph Onjala (PhD), Mediatrix Tuju and Eric Manga

Research title:

A Comparative In-depth analysis of China and India Trade with Kenya:

An Evaluation of the Implementation of FOCAC Plan of Action 2009


Numerous studies have been conducted across the world to examine the impact of China’s engagement with Africa. The global discourse on China-Africa relations is currently subsumed in stylized facts on the nature of the relationship.  On the other hand, nearly all of the analyses in these studies have not been aligned to the FOCAC commitments which have provided a framework for China’s engagement with Africa. So far, the monitoring of the FOCAC process is largely driven by China. This oversight has not been China’s fault, but rather the result of a lack of an African counterpart to the China-based FOCAC Follow-up Secretariat. There is growing consensus that despite the much publicized FOCAC process in these engagements, there is no emphatic follow-up mechanism by African scholars to assess the specific impact of these activities and to ensure that they have enough in-country support to effectively undertake the FOCAC programs. Ahead of the FOCAC Summit in 2012, the proposed research is intended to fill the above gap by evaluating the implementation, impact and challenges of FOCAC 2009 as it applies to trading engagement between China and Kenya. Furthermore, the research is also intended to include a comprehensive and comparative analysis of trading between India and China with Kenya

Research team III:

Frederico Congolo and Tcheizi Mutemba

Research title:

A Comparative Study of China and Brazil Investment Practices in the Mozambican Extractive Industries, and its Environmental and Social Impact


Both Brazil and China are targeting Mozambique for  energy and strategic reasons. For instance, the Asian Sentinel reported in June 2011 that the Wuhan Iron and Steel, a Chinese group operating in Mozambique has a US$1 billion project in the coal-mining sector. Brazilian mining giant Vale also competes for Mozambican coal. Since 2009, Vale invested US$1.3 billion in coal mines in the central provinces of Zambezia and Tete, so far exceeding Chinese and Indian investments. Since 2009, Brazilian steel giant CSN invested US$179 million in a joint venture with Australian mining giant Rio Tinto in steel-processing plants. These figures illustrate the expansion of the extractive industries and growing foreign direct investment in coal projects. However the potential  benefits delivered from the attraction of  foreign investment groups  are also  challenging for Mozambique, considering that the resulting economic growth must be generally reflected in the national development plan and especially in the opening/promotion of new domestic companies. Although Brazil and China appear as the emerging  partners with crescent foreign direct investment and interests in the Mozambican extractive industries, they have adopted different strategies . This study seek to conduct an empirical and comparative analysis of the Brazil and China growing investment experiences in the Mozambican extractive-industries.

Research team IV:

Prof. K. Mathews, Mr. Gedion Gamora and Firehwot Semtayehu              

Research title:

A Comparative Analysis of China’s and India’s Foreign Aid to Ethiopia


In recent years the politics of aid has been an overarching issue in Africa’s development debate while the G8 and the Western donors are stumbling to find practical ways to ensure that aid is being effectively used to promote sustainable development across the continent. Subtle changes are beginning to show with the increasing and deepening footprint of China and India across the continent. Much of the debate focuses around whether China and India disburse their aid effectively and what implications this has for existing Western donors in Africa. This is obviously motivated by the fact that China and India are non-DAC donors and somehow represent a challenge to the status quo. It may also be noted that compared to the traditional western donors, China’s and India’s aid to African countries still remains a small fraction of that of the DAC and multilateral donors who remain Africa’s main development partners.  However, it is expected that in the near future China will surpass US and Japan in economic assistance to Africa. As the trend in 2009 and 2010 indicate Chinese and India’s aid to Ethiopia is increasing rapidly. This study  undertakes a comprehensive analysis of Chinese and Indian foreign Aid to Ethiopia vis-à-vis other donors. The central argument of the study is the aid practices of China and India differ in some important and inter-related respects both from one another and from the traditional western donors. Meanwhile, both China and India have valuable contributions to make towards Ethiopia’s development in the spirit of South-South cooperation, which needs to be understood in the context of the changing global development assistance architecture. This project provides policy makers, business people, academia, Non Governmental Organizations and others with interest in the study of comparative African perspectives on China and India and other emerging powers in Africa with a wide range of well-considered analytical and policy perspectives.

Journalists tour to the African Union Summit:

The journalist tour is designed to provide an opportunity for 5 representatives of African media outlets as well as those from India, China and Brazil to attend the African Union (AU) Summit. The activities implemented during the tour will be geared towards meeting the following objectives:

  • Increase reporting in the African media and internationally on substantive issues during and around the AU summit and its outcomes;

  • Stimulate interest amongst foreign media to increase the level of reporting on African politics and the work of the African Union in future, and the role of the African Union plays in the development of political ties between Africa and their countries;

  • Enhance understanding amongst journalists of the work of civil society organisation’s that engage the AU.

This activity will be implemented with the partnership of the Fahamu’s AU Monitor Programme. Fahamu will also use the opportunity to disseminate policy briefs to the AU representatives, as well as CSO activities and individuals during the Summit as part of its advocacy work and knowledge dissemination of emerging powers engagement in Africa. Participants will develop their own articles as part of the coverage of the Summit proceedings for their publications. The articles will also be disseminated via Pambazuka News. 

See call here