Belt, Road and Science

One of the less known aspects of the Chinese-led Belt Road Initiative is its plans for joint scientific centres between China and various African countries. The Joint Sino-African Research Centre between the Chinese Academy of Science and Jomo Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first of a number of envisaged centres. The Kenya centre is expected to serve as the headquarters for several other such centres ranging from Guinea to Madagascar. Most of these centres will focus on biological and agricultural research. 

As part of the programme, China is hosting thousands of African college and postgraduate students. In 2016, 62,000 African students were in China. Only France has a larger number of African students. 

Microsoft, in a private initiative, confirmed its plans to spend $ 100 million to set up software development centres in Africa. Its first centres will open up in Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya, later this year and will initially employ 100 full-time developers. The centres will work on artificial intelligence, machine learning and mixed reality innovation. The US technology giant launched two data centres in South Africa this year with Amazon Web Services planning to open up a centre in Africa next year. Huawei, the controversial Chinese telecom hardware giant, announced plans to set up two such centres in Africa. 

Chinese investments fuel growth in African science

Microsoft is making a $100 million bet on African developers

May 30, 2019

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About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhury

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta Aspen Centre

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri writes on political, security, and economic issues. He previously wrote for the Statesman and the Telegraph in Calcutta. He served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Indian government from 2011-2015. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the Asia Society Global Council, the Aspen Institute Italia, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Mont Pelerin Society. Pramit is also a senior associate of Rhodium Group, New York City, advisor to the Bower Group Asia in India, a member of the Council on Emerging Markets, Washington, DC, and a delegate for the Confederation of Indian Industry-Aspen Strategy Group Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue and the Ananta Aspen Strategic Dialogues with Japan, China and Israel. Born in 1964, he has visited over fifty countries on five continents. Mr. Pal Chaudhuri is a history graduate from Cornell University.