Confucious and Culture

A Development Reimagined’s study assessed the soft power of various countries in Africa by looking at their “most visible, and sometimes controversial, public diplomacy tool, their cultural institutes." The study merged both major institutions like Alliance Francaise centres with smaller language training points.

The study toted up over 600 such institutes in Africa, noting this was less than 14 percent of the total number of such institutes worldwide.

Their distribution was also concentrated. The 10 largest African countries received over 60 per cent of the institutes, double the proportion of their population. Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt had the most such centres. An outlier was the strife-ridden Democratic Republic of the Congo. Though the fourth most populous African state it had as many cultural institutes as tiny Mauritius. Morocco, on the other hand, punched above its weight. As cities went, Cairo, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Cape Town were home to an unusually high number of such institutes.

France had far and above the largest number of cultural institutes in Africa – a total of 204. The United States followed with 176 and China came in number three with 78. The Chinese number was noteworthy because of its recent entry into this field. But a high proportion, nearly 40 per cent, of its institutes were Confucius Classrooms which are often a few rooms embedded in a local school or university. India trailed at the end of the list with five Indian cultural institutes in Africa, the same as Belgium.


September 25, 2018

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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.