China recently established a military base in Djibouti. Little is known about the base except that it may have capacity to house up to 10 000 troops. The military base has attracted much international attention, with little understanding of either Djibouti or China’s motives.

‘Once upon a time several routes led from China to central Asia and to Europe. It was called the Silk Road. People put things on camels and crossed the desert to trade with other people. Then later, ships travelled through Southeast Asia to Africa and they would bring things back to China, like giraffes.

‘A few years ago China’s President Xi Jinping proposed making new routes like the old routes. But even bigger. It’s called the Belt and Road Initiative.’


In January 2011, even before the ‘Africa rising’ narrative captured the popular imagination, the Institute for Security Studies wrote extensively about the continent’s growth prospects in a monograph titled African Futures 2050.


In 2013, China proposed the joint building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, also known as the Belt and Road. The Belt and Road is a proposal for economic cooperation along key routes similar to the ancient silk road. The ancient silk road developed over time and was used to transport goods and ideas over land and maritime trade routes from Asia to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It promoted trade and cultural exchanges, leading to prosperity and development for countries along the Belt and Road.


Christine Lagarde is clearly a diplomat in addition to being the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). After meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja this week, she scoffed at suggestions that she had come to negotiate an IMF loan for the country, hit by a major revenue shortfall caused by plummeting oil prices.




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