China–Africa Co-operation Beyond Extractive Industries: The Case of Chinese Agricultural Assistance in West Africa

Image: Flickr, Nga Tran

Traditionally focused on extractive industries, China’s co-operation with Africa is moving towards greater diversification, as African economies themselves diversify and new needs and opportunities arise across the continent.

West Africa is a case in point, with China providing new forms of economic assistance to many countries in the sub-region. This is especially the case with agriculture; a key sector in West Africa that involves both food security and economic growth challenges. As emphasised at the 2006 summit of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Beijing means to offer assistance to Africa that differs from the type of aid provided by Western countries. It seeks to implement a model of South–South co-operation advocating mutual gains and the exchange of best practices. In this regard, West Africa could learn a lot from China, which has built a strong domestic agricultural sector in the last two decades and developed it more rapidly than any other sector. This policy insights paper offers an overview of the main trends in and obstacles to China–West African engagement in the agricultural sector, and places them in the context of West Africa’s emerging needs.

Authors: Emanuele Santi & Maxime Weigert