President Akufo Addo and his administration are confronted with the growing certainty that the promised US$2 billion Chinese Sinohydro money may never materialise as pressure mounts on China to shed high-risk projects in Africa.
Whatsup News can confirm that in February 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the China Development Bank (CDB) jointly issued a “Notice on the COVID-19 Pandemic Situation and Development of Financial Services in Supporting the High Quality Joint-Construction of the Belt and Road”. The notice state that China has decided to serve “high-quality” projects that do not exert negative socio-environmental impact on beneficiary countries.
The controversial Sinohydro deal is an agreement for China to Ghana some US$2 billion in return for the Ghanaians government sacrificing the massive Atewa forest reserve with rare flora and fauna for Chinese bauxite mining.
Already, several civil society groups, communities along the Atewa Forest, global environmental icons such as Hollywood’s Leonardo di Caprio among others have condemned the Akufo Addo administration and the Akyem Abuakwa traditional authority led by the Okyehene for agreeing to allow China to devastate one of Ghana’s major green belts with bauxite mining operations.
On April 29, 2020, a group of 260 global environmental organisations wrote an extensive petition to the Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan and the Chinese Communist Party to strike out over 59 projects worldwide due to the massive negative environmental impacts of the projects. The Atewa Forest bauxite mining project is on top of the list.
“Atewa Range Forest is an upland forest ecosystem and one of Ghana’s last remaining intact forests, serving as an important source of water for over five million Ghanaians. It is also home to several endemic and critically endangered species such as the White-naped Mangabey and Afia Birago Puddle Frog. Any habitat loss may cause their extinction. The location of the proposed bauxite mining will remove critical forest ecosystems serving crucial watershed protection functions and likely pollute this vital water source with toxic heavy metals,” the collective group of global environmental organisations and pressure
According to them, these projects contain “major environmental, social, biodiversity, or climate risks prior to the onset of COVID-19.”
Today May 1, 2020, Chinese-born Minxin Pei a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and a non-resident senior fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States wrote in the Nikkei Asian Review that China-funded projects in Africa looks bleak following the devastating effects of Covid-19.
“As the prices of oil, copper and minerals found in Africa have plunged in the global economic meltdown, the prospects for China-funded projects look bleak. China is facing growing pressure to forgive the tens of billions of dollars of loans it has made to African countries since the early 2000s. The mistreatment of African residents in China during the outbreak has fuelled cries of racism and prompted diplomatic protests against Beijing,” Professor Pei wrote.
“In retrospect, the unravelling of China’s Africa project should not come as a surprise. Beijing’s strategy has been based on flawed assumptions and was executed at the wrong moment. Chinese leaders see Africa mainly as a source of natural resources. For unknown reasons, the Chinese government believed that, as an equity holder and creditor, it could better ensure secure access to critical raw materials there.”