Africa

The pattern discerned through much of this chapter, of uneven responses, is also true of responses to HIV and AIDS, which has come to be seen as a core test of corporate social responsibility in the region. While this may seem to be a labour relations issue, since companies are usually responding to employees who are affected by the virus, it is usually seen as a CSR issue because some companies do offer support programmes for people beyond the workplace. Responses range from total indifference to significant concern expressed in elaborate policies and programmes.

The 2007 Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) is one of the main frameworks for Africa-European Union (EU) relations. It was intended to end the unbalanced donor-recipient relationship typical of past relations between Africa and the EU, and to be a truly diverse and people-focused initiative, where civil society had a key place alongside institutions and member governments.

Despite the qualifications expressed in the previous paragraph, the relationship between China and the countries researched here has repeatedly been presented as a development partnership, not a commercial arrangement.

(Read the full artilce here or download it below) - By Rakiya Omaar, Director of African Rights - When the Association of African Prosecutors (APA) met in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, in August 2011, John Bosco Siboyintore, the head of Rwanda’s Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit, was blunt and direct. He told the large gathering of justice officials from Africa that they lagged far behind their counterparts in Europe and North America in investigating and prosecuting Rwandan genocide suspects who live openly, and in large numbers, in their midst.

The intense interest and huge hype generated by the search for a successor to Moreno Ocampo as the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by state parties, powerful non-member states and international justice actors is telling.

On March 8th, all 14 African nations on UNESCO’s current executive board voted to approve a prize sponsored by Teodoro Obiang, president of Equatorial Guinea. They did so under the guise of 'African solidarity' - in the process dismissing a host of prominent African voices, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Graça Machel, and many others, who had publicly urged UNESCO to abandon the misguided and inappropriate prize.

The patterns identified thus far are serious indictments of some Chinese companies’ approach to labour relations in the region. But, as we indicated at the outset, other patterns are discernible too – those in which Chinese companies show at least as much respect for worker rights as other firms.

Do Chinese enterprises contribute to the societies in which they extract resources? According to independent researchers Chinese companies generally do not promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes in Africa, but are increasingly interested in these programmes and the positive impact they could have on corporate image. Our research revealed a familiar pattern: the companies insist that they are contributing to society, their critics respond that they are not putting back anything like that which they take out. But this is hardly unique to Chinese companies.

What is the scale of Chinese investment in Africa generally and in the countries we have studied? What form does it take? This chapter will set the scene for the analysis that follows by discussing the scale and nature of Chinese investment.

Data Deficits

Before discussing the details, however, it is necessary to note that the picture offered here is incomplete because data on China’s role is, for a variety of reasons, unreliable.

China’s relationship with Africa in general and Southern Africa in particular, is more complicated than it might seem.

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