Research Work­shop: The Mak­ing of Belt and Road Initiative Pro­jects in African States

The Chinese government defines the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in functional terms, supporting any international project with the potential to become part of the BRI. There is no concrete definition of the kind of cooperative engagement there should be, leading to many possibilities, encouraging interested stakeholders worldwide to justify how their projects can be part of the BRI and thus obtain Chinese investments or loans. In this research workshop, we problematize the concept that the Chinese state is the most important variable, if not the only, in explaining the success of BRI projects. Therefore, a bottom-up approach that examines the motives, actions, and resources of potential stakeholders in various BRI targeted states is crucial. Presenters will share their studies of the consternation of domestic institutions, policy and/or business networks, and the efforts of political and business entrepreneurs in African states to link up their policy priorities with the BRI.

Time: Friday March 26, 2 pm-3:40 pm Helsinki Time (12:00 noon UK Time, 7 am New York Time, 8 pm Beijing Time)

Format: TEAM OR ZOOM (to be shared 1 week before the event)

Rules for participation

This workshop is open ONLY for senior and junior researchers who wish to actively participate and give constructive feedbacks to the presenters so that they can improve their current research. There is no open registration to the public. The presenters themselves will share the meeting link carefully with people whom they think can participate and offer constructive feedback.

Presenters MUST send JULIE CHEN the draft paper before Thursday 18 March. This will give other presenters time to read so that they can make constructive comments in the workshop.


14:00-14:10 Introduction: The Making of Belt and Road Initiative Projects in African States: Local Actors, Interests, and Policy Link-Ups (Julie Yu-Wen Chen, University of Helsinki)

14:10-14:20 Actors, Agency and Localization: The Making of an African Belt and Road Initiative
(Obert Hodzi, University of Liverpool)

14:20-14:30 Discussing Obert Hodzi’s paper

14:30-14:40 Adaptive Governance along Chinese-Financed BRI Railroad Megaprojects in East Africa (Maria Adele Carrai, New York University Shanghai & William Yuen YEE, Columbia University)

14:40-14:50 Discussing Marie Adele Carrai’s paper

14:50-15:00 Road from Rhetorical to Practical Appealing: A Case Study on Egypt’s Governmental Response to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) from the Domestic Politics (Ye YUAN, Tsinghua University; Junzhe SHEN, China Development Bank Shenzhen Branch)

15:00-15:10 Discussion Yuan and Shen’s paper

15:10-15:20 Negotiating the Belt and Road Initiative in Eastern Africa: the Polymorphy of African Agency in Infrastructure Development (Frangton Chiyemura, Open University, UK; Elisa Gambino, University of Edinburgh & Tim Zajontz, University of Edinburgh & University of Stellenbosch, South Africa)

15:20-15:30 Discussing Elisa, Frangton and Tim’s paper

15:30-15:40 Open discussion among presenters and conclusion