Category: China-India-Africa

Conference: being a social democrat in Africa

Martin Ziguélé, former Prime Minister of the Central African Republic, took part in the Bridge Tank’s conversation about being social democrat in Africa. He discussed with Joël Ruet and Stéphane Gompertz, former French Ambassador to Austria and Ethiopia and Africa Director at the Quai d’Orsay, about various subjects, including social justice, public finances, COVID-19 and Russia. Martin Ziguélé highlighted his political and financial experiences and how these would be an advantage to run for the presidency. He also underlined how important the fight against corruption was to him. He also mentioned the need for his country to develop and invest in education, especially after higher education, as well as secure the possession of fire weapons. Martin Ziguélé also called for more communication between African states, so that the voices of smaller or less economically developed countries can still be heard. He eventually called for the respect of the rule limiting the number of presidential mandates in other African states. This talk took place on the 17th of November 2020.

Exchanges and proposals on industry with the Chinese Embassy in Paris

On June 11th, Joel Ruet exchanged views on the international situation with the Chinese ambassador in Paris and French personalities including former ministers Hubert Védrine and François Loos, former Elysée diplomatic advisers Maurice Gourdault-Montagne and Jean-David Levitte, experts Emmanuel Dupuy, Barthelemy Courmont and General Jean-Bernard Pinatel.

Several speakers pointed out that the United States has a position on the substance that will be sustainable even if the form would change with the eventual election of Mr. Biden.

François Loos and Joel Ruet jointly mentioned the persistent difficulties in framing a bilateral China-EU investment treaty, as well as the need to re-industrialise. The Bridge Tank stressed the need for a territorial approach for France that is outside the Anglo Saxon framework focused on “all trade” but also goes in the direction of framing practices between the EU and China.

Ruet stressed that industrial discussions remain at the end of the cycle despite optimistic bilateral statements, recalling with other participants that the 17+1 dialogue must also be brought closer to the EU in order to prepare for the China-EU Summit in Leipzig.

On Africa and the “Pangolin effect”

Issue Brief, by our Board Member, Mamadou Lamine Diallo, former Head of Political Cabinet to the President of the Commission of the African Union.

Diallo sets out directions for African leaders framing their destiny, in contrast with China’s vision for the Continent, with the backdrop of a note by the French Foreign Affairs, wary on Africa’s answer to the Covid19 that created heated debates. Diallo, on the contrary, uses this “usual forecast exercise” to stimulate African leaders boldness.

The Bridge Tank’s 2020 Davos – Highlights

As each year, Davos is too hectic to come into a post. Here are, beyond our own organized “Innovation Lunch”, some highlights.

We started with a TV interview on this year’s theme on sustainable environment at the 50th World Economic Forum – . The Davos forum of course lags behind on the environment but, despite “We will not save the planet only with companies, but we will not save the planet without companies”.

As last year, The Bridge Tank participated in the 4th Davos Forum on the Silk Roads, / Belt and Road Initiative. A discussion on how to move “from the old globalization that benefits some, to a new globalization focused on the belt and the road that benefits everyone and is of high quality”. Who said Davos is not political ?

On more economic found, the idea was to debate “More international public goods (open to all) than private goods (for shareholders)”.

Last but not least glimpse of this year, we enjoyed the Davos “Open” Forum through an amazing keynote speaker and player: Yo Yo MA.

Unlocking Finance: The Key Factor for Investment on Green Projects in Africa

A significant change in how investors approach green projects is underway. The fight against climate change requires and will require increases in the amount of capital being devoted to green projects. This underlines the importance of mobilizing financial actors from the private sector. Their awareness of this need and on the opportunities these investment give into re-defining the business, is already, for some of them, becoming a reality.

We now have the opportunity to move towards a “decarbonization“ of investment portfolios. For investment to match climate change mitigation goals, we will need concrete moves towards decarbonizing portfolios. The good news is that certain tools exist that can help make green projects more attractive to investors. This policy brief argues for renewed emphasis and action on these points to significantly boost investment. In other words, Africa is open for business.

Read More …

Research Paper: One Belt One Road and the Reconfiguration of EU-China Relations

At the 2017 Davos Economic Forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized the merits of globalization and called for more effective measures and structural reforms to establish equitable governance and build new growth models. The “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) initiative has been accelerated with the Chinese presidency of the G20 in 2016 and advocates more inclusive regional cooperation and offers ambitious plans to further tighten connections across the Eurasian and North African continents.

This paper highlights the reconfiguration of EU- China relations and explains the evolution of the trading flows between the two actors under the “One Belt One Road” initiative.

Click here to Download the research paper.

Policy Brief: Transfers of Knowledge & Technology : the ultimate Development Challenge and key role of Entreprises

Technology transfer, coupled with the formation of knowledge, has long been an objective targeted by development policies. Issues related to climate and environmental transitions have reinforced the perception of the importance of technology transfer from the North to the South as a means to clean development. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol is the main tool of climate finance. Implemented in 2005, it aims to orchestrate this transfer of clean technologies. Criticized for its ineffectiveness, its mitigated success is above all a reminder of a truth that has been known for a long time: the technological absorption capacities of territories are more important than the technologies themselves. A strategy of development through technological diffusion cannot therefore ignore the support given to local economies and their enterprises – the support for the development of the market and probably also the support for the development of intellectual property regimes that underpin knowledge transfer to developing economies.

These last two points are necessary to articulate a healthy relationship between international technology-providing companies and local recipient companies and in build a framework that aids in appropriating, adapting and disseminating them … a necessary condition for the success of “technological seeding”.

Our recommendations are based on a logic spontaneously implemented by the countries that have been most effective in capturing the CDM “manna”: China, India and Brazil have been able to orchestrate their markets and, through generous offers in kind, to free themselves from the stakes blocking intellectual property elsewhere.

Read more in french. 

France Might Miss The Great African Transformation

No French diplomat was present at the launching of the African Union “2016 Transition Report” in New York on September 21st. Is it because it is an internal matter of the African Union, or is it symptomatic of a French disregard for the  transformation of the continent ? In either case, it appears that it is one of the many signs that France stands idle by as Africa undergoes many changes. Read Joel Ruet’s analysis on this matter in this OpEd published in Jeune Afrique

Ambitious mobility targets and industrial policy for India

India is ambitious. In order to reduce its CO2 emissions and to respond to urban air pollution issues, it announces, through the voices of its ministers of transport and energy, unprecedented green transition targets in the mobility sector: 22,5% biofuel and 100% electric vehicles by 2030. However, the measures that are supposed to ensure those ambitions seem to be weak, especially biofuels. The incorporation of biofuel ethanol, produced from sugar cane, also serves as a policy for reviving the sugar cane industry and energy independence; A program inspired by Brazil but whose example shows that it requires a coordinated industrial policy among the various sectors concerned. However, the weakness of the measures proposed by the Indian State is compounded by the difficulties of the domestic sugar cane industry and the demands of the domestic automotive industry, which is reluctant to invest in new production lines dedicated to ethanol vehicles.

The EV development program, although still unclear, looks to be better equipped politically and budgetary. However, it is not clear whether it is backed by a domestic industry development strategy or whether it is based on imports.

The green transition for countries in technological and industrial transition such as India cannot be based on the diffusion of imported technologies. Necessarily costly and requiring deep and sustained investment over the long term, it can only be sustainable if it is also the opportunity to accelerate and confirm a technological catch up that has already been well initiated in a specific field. The aim is to coordinate industrial policies with the climate and environmental objectives announced. Finally, new technologies complement one another and require, in order to be effectively deployed, a transversal, visionary industrial policy. The Indian market allows it, industry requires support but does public policy take the necessary measures?

Key points

The Indian objectives for transition to a low-carbon mobility are ambitious but for the moment the measures announced by the government to achieve them are weak.

India’s ability to achieve its objectives requires a more calibrated industrial policy.


India draws inspiration from Brazil for its ambitions in biofuels

Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, told the Indian press that the blending rate for ethanol is expected to increase to 22.5% and that for biodiesel to 15% by 2030. A transition motivated by the objective of reducing urban air pollution but also and above all supporting the sugar cane industry and strengthening India’s energy security. The Minister refers to a strategy of broad diversification of the markets of the agricultural industry towards electricity and bioplastics; Similar to the one that has proved its worth in Brazil and which is inspiring for the minister.

Indeed, in this field, the current Indian context is comparable to that of Brazil in the 1970s, when excess sugar cane production was detrimental to the economic health of the sugar sector, the ethanol-fuel sector was created to absorb these surpluses. This has helped to stabilize sugar prices and stimulate the cane sector economy but also to secure the country’s energy supply. As for India, Brazil’s oil import bill was a strong argument in the government’s decision to support such a transition. However, the strategy implemented by India to achieve these objectives differs from that of Brazil. India prohibits the use of food raw materials for energy production; Ethanol is produced from molasses, the ultimate residue in the different cane sugar production cycles, which does not allow it to serve as an economic regulator of the sector. Beyond this tactical difference, Brazil supported its program on a substantive industrial that has allowed objectives to be achieved. The measures mainly targeted the two industries providing upstream and downstream ethanol value chains: agribusiness and automotive. Through these two industries, the Brazilian government has ensured the dissemination of alternative fuel production and consumption technologies, it has financed the establishment of an alternative technological system to the conventional and dominant system of petroleum. This program is necessary for India if it wants to achieve its objectives, and which is also an opportunity of a technological disruption for a more economic and environmental competitiveness. These two industrial pillars of any agrofuel development program face challenges in India that are not yet resolved by the government’s strategy. 

India’s industrial strategy questions itself,

Concerning the automotive industry, the government encourages manufacturers to produce “ethanol-compatible” models. Specifically, it is either to modify gasoline models so that they can continue to run efficiently with a fuel mix more charged with ethanol, up to 85 or 95%, or to produce models compatible with 100% ethanol fuel, such as the famous flex-fuel engine sold in Brazil. 

If some industrialists follow – the Volkswagen group, which is very present in Brazil, and should manufacture the first flex-fuel models adapted to the Indian market – representatives of national manufacturers express the reluctance of domestic manufacturers. According to them, the country’s manufacturers do not have the means to invest in new production lines dedicated to flex-fuel motors, they express their fears about competition from foreign manufacturers based in Brazil, more experienced on this technology. Finally, they do not believe in the capacity of the Indian ethanol-fuel industry to produce the volumes needed to create a profitable market. The Brazilian government has twice been faced with similar reticence from car manufacturers; To convince them, in addition to an ethanol vehicle sales subsidy program, he had to commit to taking agro-industry sufficient measures to ensure production and availability at the ethanol fuel pump. Indian carmakers do not believe in the take-off of a domestic fuel ethanol industry. This industry exists but fuel ethanol prices are not attractive enough and most of the locally produced ethanol is sold to the chemical industries. 

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