Chinese partners urged to back mining projects and public works in Guinea-Bissau

25 October 2010

Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, 25 Oct – Mine exploration projects and public works construction in Guina-Bissau may soon count the participation of Chinese companies, which have been urged to back the respective enterprises, the Africa Monitor newsletter reports.

Such involvement should lead to lower Angolan direct participation in those projects and the consequent entry of Chinese partners, who have already shown interest and would also bring in more “technical and financial capacity”, indicates the same source.

The Chinese mining company Chinalco is one of the region’s most active in the search for bauxite, a basic raw material for aluminium production, and is even disputing concessions with Brazil’s Vale in neighbouring Guinea-Conakry.

At stake are the exploitation of bauxite from Boe, an extension of the Boke deposits in Guinea-Conakry, and construction of the port of Buba – projects requiring estimated investments of US$600 million.

According to Africa Monitor, the company Bauxite Angola’s capital is currently 90 percent Angolan-held, with the remaining 10 percent in the hands of Guinea-Bissauan public and private investors.

Asprebras, a consortium joining Brazil’s Odebrecht and Angolan companies, is in charge of building the Buba port and respective road and rail connections.

The two projects were launched in 2007 but have fallen behind schedule, partly due to the economic and financial crisis’s impact on Angola, which has had to support the investments.

The unstable situation of Guinea-Bissau has weighed on the decision to go ahead with the projects. More financial and organisational capacity is also deemed necessary.

The only work accomplished to date has been preparations for construction of the new road, the newsletter reports.

The reassessment of Angola’s participation in the projects follows the replacement of the coordinator for business and economic relations between Angola and Guinea-Bissau.

The post is now occupied by Carlos Feijo, in place of former Angolan public works minister Higino Carneiro.

China is a historic partner of Guinea-Bissau and has been increasing its cooperation with the Bissauan authorities.

Early this year Beijing donated to Guinea-Bissau more than US$1 million to equip the government palace, which is being built by Chinese cooperation in Bissau.

Guinea-Bissauan Foreign Minister Adelino Mano Queta said on the occasion that he hoped to sign more cooperation agreements between Bissau and Beijing “before the end of the year”.

Agreement had been reached previously for China to provide US$8 million in financing to build a residence for Chinese and Guinea-Bissauan doctors at the military hospital under construction in Bissau. (macauhub)