Thursday, November 9, 2023 - 10:00am to 12:00pm
Via Zoom

Register here

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Professor Istvan Tarrosy, Ph.D., Dr. habil. University of Pécs and University of Florida

Abstracts of the talks:
The Political Economy of China’s Globalizing Railways – and their Arrival in Africa
Tim Zajontz will sketch the historical development of China’s own railway sector and document the centrality of railways in the current spatial reorganization and expansion of the Chinese economy under the banner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He will problematize three contradictions that have arisen in the context of Chinese railway projects in Africa. First, the question to what extent Africa’s railway renaissance is ‘owned’ by Africans. The author argues that certain knowledge-transfer and capacity-building measures have ensured a degree of local ownership of Chinese rail projects. Yet, just as other foreign commercial actors, Chinese firms have little interest in technology transfers to the extent that would enable African construction firms and manufacturers to join the very markets these firms are keen to exploit. Second, the state-orchestrated incentivization of overseas rail projects has resulted in cut-throat competition among Chinese firms in African markets, which, in turn, has fueled corrupt practices to win contracts. Zajontz suggests that intra-Chinese competition is likely to remain stiff in Africa, as loan financing from Chinese policy banks has been restricted. Simultaneously, competition with other foreign firms will intensify. Lastly, it is shown that Chinese railway loans have caused political controversies across the continent and have become increasingly risky. To keep up demand for Chinese construction firms and railway manufacturers despite unsustainable debt levels, sovereign railway loans will likely make way for more public-private partnerships in the coming decade of Africa’s railway renaissance.
Another Chapter of China’s Railway Investment and Egypt’s Position within

Chinese Foreign Policy: the Cairo LRT
For numerous years, China has been engaged in the development of infrastructure within various African nations. The ongoing implementation of a light railway train project in Egypt serves as another noteworthy episode in this narrative. The $1.24 billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, constructed by a consortium from China and funded by Chinese loans, offers an efficient means of transportation for around 5 million residents in Cairo. The LRT connects the Eastern part of the city with newly developed urban areas and the New Administrative Capital. Furthermore, the succeeding phases of the project aim to enhance the commuting service provided by the LRT. Zoltán Vörös’ presentation provides an overview of the Egyptian and African background, as well as an analysis of the project within the framework of regional and international agreements. The project in question, along with the Chinese involvement, has gained further relevance considering the recent announcement on the expansion of BRICS and the broader global power shifts taking place.