Guinea-Bissau is facing the budgetary impact of a suspension of aid by cooperation partners and, like Mozambique, is looking to China as an alternative source of foreign capital through investments, focusing on raising funds in Macau.
Despite being one of the most politically unstable Portuguese-speaking countries, Guinea-Bissau currently has some of the highest economic growth forecasts – 4.8 percent in 2016 and 5 percent in 2017 – and also has some of the best opportunities, since, in addition to its need for infrastructure and its untapped resources (such as bauxite), is part of the regional West African market.
Agriculture is the main source of income, cashew nut production in particular, and this is also one of the investment opportunities that has been identified.
The Africa Intelligence Monitor newsletter reported that a recent Chinese technical study confirmed the country’s suitability for large-scale rice production. Guinea-Bissau currently imports around 200,000 tons of rice per year to supply its domestic market.
The study, to which Macauhub had access, according to the same source, “also points to the prior need for a restoration of floodplains (bolanhas) suitable for growing rice, most of which have lain fallow in recent years or entirely abandoned.
The Chinese ambassador in Bissau, Wang Hua, has noted the excellent climate and soil in Guinea-Bissau to produce and supply its population and restated China’s support to achieve this objective.
“There is a lot of work to be done for Guinea-Bissau to reach its food independence and solve the hunger problem in the country,” he said in May, during a visit to the interior of the country.
The Guinean new prime minister, Baciro Dja, received the Chinese ambassador last week, a few weeks after he took office, and the ambassador confirmed China’s participation in the next China-Africa economic summit due to be held in Beijing this year.
In April, Guinea-Bissau hosted the “Meeting of Businesspeople for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese Speaking Countries” for the first time, alongside which it was announced that China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) will build among other facilities, the new Bissau International Airport, expand the old terminal, build the Pikil fishing port in northeastern Guinea-Bissau, the deepwater port at Buba, in the south, as well as roads, bridges and social housing.
Recently, China offered Guinea-Bissau 250 solar street lights to be installed in several neighborhoods and main roads in Bissau.
The country was the subject of a seminar organised last week by the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM), together with the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macau).
The Guinean representative at Forum Macau, Malam Becker Camará, said that Macau can help with the internationalisation of products from Guinea-Bissau while the director of IPIM, Gloria Ung, said “Chinese companies can use Guinea-Bissau as a platform and base for developing cooperation and development with other countries in West Africa, in order to access regional markets.” (macauhub/CN/GW/MO)