African press review 4 September 2018

China's seduction of Africa continues but "vanity projects" are off the menu. Towards an agreement over the enormous new dam on the river Nile. And an escape from the slums by "toe sucking"?


Along with other African papers, BusinessDay in South Africa reports on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing.

Speaking at a business forum ahead of the start of a once-every-three-years summit, Chinese President Xi Jinpeng said: "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects but in places where they count the most … Inadequate infrastructure is believed to be the biggest bottleneck to Africa’s development." Which will come as a disappointment to some of his guests.

Chinese officials are quoted as saying this year's summit will strengthen Africa’s role in Xi’s Belt and Road initiative to link China by sea and land through an infrastructure network modelled on the old Silk Road with south-east and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

China has denied engaging in "debt trap" diplomacy, says BusinessDay, but Xi is likely to use the gathering of African leaders to offer a new round of financing, following a pledge of 60bn dollars (52 billion euros) at the last summit three years ago in SA.

Every African country is represented at the business forum apart from eSwatini, breakaway Taiwan’s last ally on the continent, which has so far rejected China’s overtures to ditch Taipei and recognise Beijing.

In a related story, the paper reports that "The South African government and the Bank of China have entered into a trade agreement in which the Chinese will make investments to the tune of 1.1 billion dollars in special economic zones and industrial parks in SA.

It says this is one of several deals that were struck between the two countries as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first state visit to China.

Towards an agreement on the river Nile

Evidently the Beijing summit is an opportunity for some serious networking.

The Egypt Independent reports that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the Chinese capital, where they discussed the status of the GERD.

GERD is " the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam" on the Blue Nile - one of the major sources of the water for the Nile downstream.

It is the biggest hydro-electric project in Africa costing around 4,7 billion dollars.

"Ethiopians see it as is a great national project and a means of overcoming poverty," say the Independent. "Egypt feared the dam will affect its access to Nile water."

Did the two leaders find a win-win solution?

The paper doesn't tell us, saying only that "the two sides aimed to reach an agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to guarantee Egypt’s water rights and protect Ethiopia’s rights to further their development."

The dam is reported to be 66 percent built but no completion date has been given. Once it's ready, the reservoir will need between five and 15 years to fill with water.

Time enough for an agreement? Perhaps.

How to escape a Nairobi slum

In Kenya the Standard revisits a story that's attracted a lot of attention.

It's about Bridget Achieng, a Kenyan entrepreneur and socialite who revealed in a BBC interview that it's not easy to get to the top.

Achieng, who grew up in Nairobi's Kibera slums, said she always craved the good life..

“The ghetto is about survival of the fittest," she's quoted as saying. The turning point was when a friend told her she had a nice body and she could make it big as a model or socialite.

"Once her photos started doing rounds on social media, tycoons from all over the world contacted her and some were willing to part with 10,000 dollars just to be with her," says the Standard.

"You are asked to do crazy things . . . You are told to suck toes, to do what . . . I don’t want to scare people,” she said.

If you want a million bucks, you will have to do something that is worth a million bucks.

The interview caused a storm of comments, the paper say, and Achieng hit out at BBC for portraying her as a prostitute.

The Standard tells readers the BBC blamed inaccurate coverage in the local media, noting that she runs a jewellery business and leads a charitable foundation.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning