Nicole Mawazo lives in Ngoyo and has built up a successful business by combining farming with operating a small restaurant. Forced to look after herself and her brothers after Rwandan or Ugandan soldiers killed her parents, Nicole began producing ‘Kindingi’, a home-made, highly alcoholic, corn-banana brew, which she sold to artisanal miners. Eventually, she saved up enough to start farming and running a restaurant. “This has provided well for us,” she explained proudly, adding that her husband contributes almost nothing to the family.

What is the scale of Chinese investment in Africa generally and in the countries we have studied? What form does it take? This chapter will set the scene for the analysis that follows by discussing the scale and nature of Chinese investment.

Data Deficits

Before discussing the details, however, it is necessary to note that the picture offered here is incomplete because data on China’s role is, for a variety of reasons, unreliable.

Gold mining has a particularly destructive impact on children, who can earn US$50 per month from gold mining. For children whose families regularly teeter on the brink of starvation the choice is simple. “Going to school is a waste of time for them,” said Lillian, a teacher. “Gold is too tempting. 10-year-olds threaten me with physical violence if I ask them to return to school.” Although it is widely understood that the law forbids children working as miners, police controls are sporadic and almost always unsuccessful.

Chinese investment in the mining sector in the DRC can be divided into three phases: the phase of artisanal mining, of smelters or semi-industrial mining, and of industrial mining.

During the early 1990s, direct trade relations between China and South Africa were initiated, and within a relatively short period of time, two-way trade increased significantly. The volume of trade in 1991 was only US$14 million, but by 1997 this had grown to over US$1,5 billion.

China is the prime consumer of several resources which Zimbabwe has in abundance, and investment trends in 2009 and 2010 show the high Chinese appetite for local mineral resources. China is ranked fourth in terms of the size of mining investment approved by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) in 2009, after British Virgin Islands (BVI), Mauritius, and South Africa.

With the invasions of the first Arab and Belgian conquerors and colonialists, traditional Congolese land management and governance systems were severely disrupted. The new systems imposed by European administrators may well be one of the ‘most important means by which African economies were rendered structurally dependent on external economies and markets’.

The new face of artisanal gold mining in Congo

In 2011, the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) launched a regional monitoring effort to assess the physical, social and economic security risks, as well as the socio-economic, humanitarian and commercial conditions, faced by artisanal gold-mining communities in the provinces of North and South Kivu, Maniema and Orientale in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The research sought to answer two fundamental questions that have been asked for many years:

The capture of Goma by M23 rebel forces is the latest demonstration of the ineffectiveness of the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its army (the FARDC). Whatever the political machinations behind the military’s most recent capitulation may be, the overarching themes are the longstanding institutional and governance weaknesses of Congo’s central authorities – weaknesses that the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) has highlighted multiple times in its reports and analyses.

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