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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

                                                                                  Copyright © 2012 International Development Options

                                                                                                                 All Rights Reserved                 



Volume Six                                                                                            Winter-Spring 2011                                                                      Numbers 3-4.





Honita Cowaloosur*

University of St. Andrews


Published online: February 10, 2017


At FOCAC 2006 Summit, China announced the exportation of its domestically successful Special Economic Zone (SEZ) model to Africa, in the spirit of ‘cooperation and mutual development’. This article evaluates the impact this endeavor on Africa’s advancement. The article argues that while China’s aid-trade strategy already secures resource and market access, SEZs diverge towards the acquisition of land and presence. They promise China with an organized affirmation of its long-term presence in African countries. On the other hand, it promises Africa with development, technology, foreign exchange, employment and domestic linkages. However, recent upheavals across these seven SEZs in Africa question the ability of China to deliver. The Mauritian experience particularly highlights the faltering contributive development capacity of Chinese SEZs in Africa, as areas of investments clash with national objectives and instigate social, political, economic and environmental disharmony. Despite this improbability of high domestic capital accumulation through Chinese SEZs, what make them so appealing to Africa? This paper proposes two conceptual frameworks from which Chinese SEZs in Africa can be understood: (1) Spatial Diffusion Approach versus Spatial Infusion Approach; and (2) SEZs as Africa’s BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) to development programs.


*Honita Cowaloosur is a PhD student in International Relations at the University of St Andrews. She researches Chinese Special Economic Zones in Africa. She has a Masters in International Relations from London School of Economics and Political Science and previously worked at the Ministry of Finance in Mauritius.

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