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What Does ‘African Agency’ Actually Look Like? We’ll See…

Chinese and Senegal led a discussion on the first day of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation conference in Dakar of the Senior Officials Meeting. Image via @wupeng_MFAChina.

The moral panic in Uganda about a possible Chinese seizure of the Entebbe airport as a result of a loan default is a rare example of a trend that’s both trivial and serious. In the former sense, the panic is based on misreporting. The loan is still in its grace period, so there’s been no default. And even if Uganda defaults, the clause at issue won’t lead to the loss of the airport anyway. However, the controversy also points to a much wider issue: a fundamental lack of trust between African leaders and their constituencies.

Many African societies are extremely cynical about politics, frequently with good reason. In South Africa, where I live, scandals like those affecting the power utility Eskom have fostered the assumption that politicians aren’t either corrupt or incompetent: they both at all times.

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