Africa's Structural Transformation Challenge and the Role of Agriculture: Is China a Player? A Review of Chinese Initiatives in Rural Africa

Published date01 March 2015
AuthorWard Anseeuw,Jean‐Jacques Gabas,Bruno Losch
Date01 March 2015
World Food Policy - Volume 2, Number 1 - Spring 2015
This paper positions itself at
the crossroads of three major
observations related to Africa’s
structural transformation challenge.
Firstly, over the last years African
economies have been praised for their
robust growth rates which oer positive
perspectives for economic development
and private investment and suggest a
process of catching-up with the rest of
the world. However, the quality of this
growth is a growing issue because it has
a very limited impact on poverty and
does not translate so far in a progressive
structural transformation of African
Secondly, the role of agriculture
with regards the continent’s structural
transformation is to be considered.
For many countries with an important
rural population and where agriculture
continues to count in major aggregates
and livelihoods, rural and agricultural
transformation is of course central to this
agenda. More globally, it is also viewed
as a necessary step to answer the food
security challenge of a 9-plus billion
people world expected in 2050 and to
e objective of this paper is to discuss Africa’s structural transformation, its food
and employment challenges, in light of renewed dynamics, more particularly
China’s involvement in the continent’s agricultural sector. Data is scarce and
oen very contradictory, but what becomes evident is that Chinas role in
agriculture in Africa, and particularly related to the land grab phenomenon,
is not as signicant as initially put to the fore. China promotes an uncertain
“aid, business, and trade” model where the “business and trade” components
seem to increasingly take the lead and which are oen disconnected from the
characteristics of the African context. As such, the paper, besides highlighting
the lasting importance of the rural sector for food security and poverty
alleviation in a context of Africa’s limited economic diversication, it suggests
possible stronger Chinese contribution to the policy debate through experience
sharing and dialogue within Africa and at the global level.
Keywords: Africa, China, structural transformation, agriculture, employment.
Ward Anseeuw, A Jean-Jacques GabasB and Bruno LoschB
Africa’s Structural Transformation Challenge and the
Role of Agriculture: Is China a Player?
A Review of Chinese Initiatives in Rural Africa
A Ward Anseeuw is a researcher at the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique
pour le Développement (Cirad), ArtDev research unit, seconded to the University of Pretoria.
B Jean-Jacques Gabas and Bruno Losch are researchers at Cirad, ArtDev research unit.

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