Sunday, December 21, 2008
The global slowdown has prompted a Nigerian cement company to postpone plans to buy $3.3bn (£2.1bn, €2.3bn) in plant building and materials from a Chinese contractor in a sign that China’s burgeoning trade with Africa may be starting to soften. Dangote Group signed a deal with Sinoma International Engineering, the Chinese construction company, in February to build a series of plants needed to fulfil its goal of overtaking France’s Lafarge to become Africa’s largest cement maker.
The deal was one of the biggest struck between an African and a Chinese company, symbolising Chinese businesses’ progress in carving a foothold in African markets long dominated by European rivals. Africa-China trade was estimated at $55bn in 2006. But Aliko Dangote, founder of the Dangote Group trading and manufacturing empire, has postponed most of the projects in part because the global crisis has clouded the outlook for the construction sector.
Young, agitated Darfurians in Hamidiya Camp in West Darfur are making peace negotiations even more tangled, writes the NYTimes:
The youths are known collectively as the “shabab,” the Arabic word for young men. And they have become a vehemently pro-rebel political force in the camps for the 2.7 million people displaced by years of war between the Arab-dominated Sudanese government and rebels in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Increasingly angry and outspoken about their uncertain fate, the generation that came of age in the camps is challenging the traditional sheiks, upending the age-old authority structure of their tribal society and complicating efforts to achieve peace.
“They are much more extreme than the sheiks,” said the United Nations official who related the episode of the frightened sheik, speaking anonymously to avoid jeopardizing his own acceptance among the shabab. “And they are hotheaded.”