Who's in charge of Sino-African resource politics? Situating African state agency in Ghana
Oxford University Press (OUP) for Royal African Society
Reason for embargo
Currently under an indefinite embargo pending open access publication by OUP
Recent literature on Sino-African resource politics has emphasized the agency of African elites in relation to Chinese capital and state agencies. Yet, whether African elites have gained agency over the structure of African economies remains questionable. This paper identifies the scope and nature of Ghanaian agency in bilateral and multilateral partnerships since the discovery of oil in 2007. By analysing the negotiation and implementation of Chinese and US investments in Ghanaian energy markets, the paper locates the limits to African agency within the social and material context of transnational extractive industries. The conclusions contrast with more favourable accounts of African agency in Sino-African resource relations, and question how agency in Sino-African relations has been understood in analysis to date. First, although the agency of Ghanaian elites has shaped the outcomes of recent bilateral investments, African agency has been exercised primarily in brokering external sources of finance and in relation to domestic institutions and political factions. Second, although Chinese investment has shifted the aid modalities and the relative power of Ghana’s traditional development partners, international finance institutions and US agencies have maintained influence over macro-economic governance and sectoral policy, respectively. As such, the scope of Ghanaian agency in relation to external finance and bilateral and multilateral relations has been narrow and market orthodoxies of development have remained dominant.
The research presented in this paper was funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentship, ES/J500057/1. Fieldwork was also supported by travel grants from King’s College London Department of Geography and School of Social Science and Public Policy.
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