GCI Colloquium: Railpolitik – Drivers and Challenges of Chinese Financed African Railways

Yunnan Chen, a PhD Candidate at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, presented as part of the Global Policy Development Center’s GCI Research Colloquium. Her talk, titled “Railpolitik: Drivers and Challenges of Chinese Financed African Railways,” provided a case study concerning the construction of the first electrified railroad in Ethiopia. Chen presents a comparative study between the construction of railroads funded by Turkish and Chinese contractors. She discussed the advantages and limits found within both construction projects and the implications for Ethiopia’s future development.

Chen maintains that the bilateral political relationship with China has been a huge advantage for African countries financing projects due to the flexibility and leniency found in those partnerships. However, Chen also acknowledges that Ethiopia has faced challenges when confronting the lack of accountability in pressuring Chinese contractors. In comparison, Turkish contractors, according to Chen, offered more of a role of Ethiopian agency in technological transfers and capacity building on similar projects.

The Global China Research Colloquium takes place at the Global Development Policy Center, located at 53 Bay State Road, from 2:30pm – 4:00pm on Mondays. You can view our Fall 2019 schedule here. Please rsvp to gdp@bu.edu to attend.

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