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Dr Philippe Asanzi

Home country: Congo

Year of enrolment: 2010

Graduation date: December 2013

Department: Political science

Supervisor: Prof Scarlett Cornellisen

Dissertation title: The role and behaviour of Chinese agricultural enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa: Case studies of Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo

 

Abstract: This study aims to understand the motivations underlying the activities of Chinese agricultural enterprises operating on the African continent as well as the way in which institutional contexts – the physical and legal environments – shape their behaviours and/or modes of entry into local industries. Understanding the strategic motives of Chinese agricultural enterprises operating in Africa as well as the extent to which they implement those motives on the ground and the way in which they respond to local laws is crucial for assessing the medium- to long-term impacts of their activities on the welfare of African populations and forests. This dissertation relies on Dunning‟s eclectic paradigm to understand the motivations informing the activities of Chinese agricultural enterprises as well as on new institutional theory to study the behaviours and/or modes of entry of Chinese agricultural enterprises into local industries. This research is based on two case studies: Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As far as data collection is concerned, it relied on secondary sources of data such as scholarly articles and books; official documents and legislation; and newspaper articles. This study also drew on primary sources of data, which consisted of documents obtained during the fieldwork such as contracts between Chinese agricultural enterprises and African governments, official documents from Chinese agricultural enterprises as well as semi-structured interviews. Thirty-two semi-structured interviews were conducted with various stakeholders – including managers of Chinese agricultural enterprises, employees of these enterprises, farmers, officials from ministries of agriculture and researchers – in Mozambique and the DRC between April to June 2011. The data collected were analysed with the help of the qualitative analysis software: atlas.ti. The preliminary results collected and analysed in this study suggest that the motivations of Chinese agricultural enterprises operating in Mozambique and the DRC are: 1) to acquire farmlands in order to grow food crops and sell them mainly in local markets; 2) to supply agricultural commodities – cash and food crops – for Chinese markets; and 3) to provide agricultural aid by introducing new varieties of crops imported from China and offering training to farmers, students and technicians. However, the provision of agricultural aid is a secondary motivation of Chinese agricultural enterprises. The motivations informing the activities of Chinese agricultural enterprises operating in Mozambique and the DRC are globally consistent with China‟s foreign policy as these enterprises primarily aim to better position themselves in local markets and to access agricultural commodities for the benefit of Chinese markets. Furthermore, the preliminary results of this study also indicate that the institutional contexts in Mozambique and the DRC appear to affect the behaviours and/or modes of entry of Chinese agricultural enterprises into local industries. As such, the poor provision of infrastructure in rural areas appears to delay further investments by Chinese agricultural enterprises. Also, the complex process of gaining access to land and the weak regulatory capacity in the monitoring and implementation of the land laws appear to hinder investments by Chinese agricultural enterprises and in some instances lead to the cancellation of investments. In the specific case of the DRC, the weak enforcement of land titles appears to discourage further investments. The unfavourable institutional context depicted above has prompted Chinese agricultural enterprises operating in the DRC to adopt new models of business revolving around less risky or smaller agricultural projects.

Click here to download the full dissertation: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85606