One mountain, two tigers

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I’ve recently celebrated my first anniversary of working in China, and I can wholeheartedly say it has been fantastic so far. In particular I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by supportive and enthusiastic colleagues. To be very honest, I had worried about a challenge summed up well by a Chinese saying that “two tigers cannot live on one mountain”. When I joined UNDP China I knew I would be working alongside deputy country director Patrick Haverman (another regular blogger on this website) and there was potential for confusion about our roles. We needed to make sure we complemented and added value to each other. Of course, it took a while to work out, but it seems to be going well so far.

This same saying about one mountain and two tigers has been on my mind recently when thinking about the new financial institutions that China and other emerging economies have recently created – the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Let me explain.

In every official discussion or media report about the NDB and AIIB, they are always set out as intended to be complimentary to existing institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, and the Asian and African development banks and so on.

But like me, while it’s all well and good saying this, is it really happening in practice? The fact is, when I joined UNDP a year ago, I had a fairly defined portfolio, and through trial and error Patrick and I have worked out where working together on problems really makes sense and doesn’t. Is there such a strong foundation, a territory for the NDB and AIIB to roam slightly separately?

Here’s an example, brought to my attention when Donald Kaberuka, former president of the African Development Bank, visited the UNDP China office recently.

Dr Kaberuka said he thinks a special role for the AIIB and NDB should be financing large regional projects. Indeed, such projects are badly needed. In Africa for example, the Grand INGA dam project – which would be larger than China’s huge Three Gorges Project, providing clean energy for hundreds of people – has been little more than a dream since the 1970s. But why? Regional projects like INGA suffer from many complex problems, but one major problem is getting the finance to work. When an organisation like the African Development Bank or World Bank is trying to finance a project, they don’t just have to look at the financial credibility of the project itself, they also have to look at the income classification of the country or countries the project will be in. But the latter kind of classification is uneven.

As an example, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria are next to each other, and could arguably benefit from a regional project. However, Togo and Benin are classified as Low Income Economies, while Nigeria and Ghana are lower Middle Income Countries. As is explained in this blog post this means that the two groups of countries are eligible for different types of finance at different interest rates from existing banks like World Bank. This makes regional projects difficult – as it is more complex to blend all the different types of finance.

But why are these classifications used in the existing banks anyway? Well, existing banks get a lot of their money from developed countries, who have a historic target for giving 0.7% of their GNI to a particular list of the poorest (i.e. lowest income) countries in the world. This list is based on these classifications and reviewed every three years. The existing banks use the list – and therefore the income classifications – to ensure the finance they get from the developed countries to spend meets this target.

The great news is that the NDB and AIIB are brand new, and the money they have to lend is from countries like China. Countries like China don’t have to meet the 0.7% GNI target, and therefore don’t have to use the “list”. This means they – and the new banks – can avoid the complications created by income classification all together. This may make it easier for the new banks to make regional projects a reality and an area of specialization. It could help them become complementary in practice and not just rhetoric.

This is just one idea that has come up for how – to go back to the Chinese phrase – several financial “tigers” could roam on one mountain to deliver development. But there are many other ideas that have been shared and will continue to arise over the coming months. The key will be for the new banks to continue consulting far and wide, and test out different approaches – just like Patrick and I did at the UNDP China office. Indeed, they can come to UNDP for such ideas, as we have a very wide network of country offices who are eager to help.

I’m hoping that in one more years’ time, as I approach my second anniversary at UNDP China, more and more tigers will continue to roam on the development mountain.

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EDMOND BOSILONG

Research Analyst

Edmond is a research analyst who is passionate about sustainable development, innovation, and the environment. Passionate about climate financing, he firmly believe there is a more reliable system to promote equality, growth, and welfare in societies without affecting the ecosystem. Through his skills, knowledge and experienced gained over 7 years, he wants to make an impact in the world of development. Edmond holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Korea Development Institute and a BA Degree (Honors) in Business from University of Derby.

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Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.

LEAH LYNCH

Deputy Director

Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.

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China-Africa Policy Analyst

Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.

JUDITH MWAI

Research Analyst

Judith is a Research and Policy Analyst, where she specialises in Africa-China relations, international development, and diplomacy. During her time at Development Reimagined, Judith has co-authored several articles published in The Diplomat on debt and China-Barbados relations and was quoted by China Daily in a piece on Women Rights in China. Previously, Judith worked as a research analyst for an Advocate and Commissioner and Oats office in Kenya.

OVIGWE EGUEGU

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Ovigwe specialises in geopolitics with particular reference to Africa in a changing Global Order. He is adept at critically analysing the politics of contemporary development processes and providing insight into the geopolitical interests that influence them. His work includes research, publications, tailored briefings and advising on global and regional trends, and issues at the nexus of geopolitics and development. Ovigwe appears frequently in media around the world such as Al Jazeera, TRT World, SABC, CGTN, BBC Radio, and other platforms.

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Jing leads China-African health and agriculture cooperation research at Development Reimagined, having managed our FOCAC Policy Analysis and Advocacy project. She is also the co-author of “China-Africa Health Cooperation under FOCAC Umbrella”, in which she analysed China’s commitments around health cooperation since the first FOCAC summit and deepdived into four African countries’ health overview, challenges and cooperation with China as cases studies. Before DR, Jing worked at GIZ Cambodia on M&E of a disability advocacy project. She also worked as a translator with Chinese medical team in Benin.

PATRICK ANAM

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Patrick is an International Trade Policy and Trade Law Expert with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes trade law, trade policy analysis and regional integration. He is currently engaged with Development Reimagined as a Senior Trade Analyst and was the lead author of Development Reimagined's recent Report on Africa-China Relations titled "From China-Africa to Africa- China: A Blue Print for a Green and Inclusive Continent-Wide Strategy Towards China." and “Reimaging FOCAC Going Forward.” Patrick has previously consulted for the East African Community, UNECA and for the Kenya Ministry of Trade.

ROSIE FLOWERS

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Rosemary is our Senior Policy Analyst. She is a skilled policy analyst and has previously worked as a UK civil servant. She is studying Human Rights at Birkbeck, University of London with a research focus on international law in the context of health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Project Manager and Africa-China Communication Assistant

Jade is a Project Manager for Development Reimagined’s flagship project Africa Unconstrained, which focuses on financing needs and debt vulnerabilities of African countries. Her research focuses on China-Africa development finance alongside debt vulnerabilities, infrastructure needs and South-South cooperation. She has worked with a breadth of stakeholders from China, Africa and the wider international community, including governments, private sector, NGOs and civil society. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including The Africa Report, The China-Africa Project, The Diplomat and more. Jade holds a Master’s in China and Globalisation studies from King’s College London.

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Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.

Rosie is also alumni of the School of International Studies at Peking University in Beijing where she is also an editor at the Peking Africa Think Tank. PATT is led by a diverse group of scholars who specialise in African Studies within the context of Sino-Africa relations.

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Lauren has lived in six countries from the Americas to Europe and Asia and speaks both French and Spanish proficiently. At Development Reimagined, Lauren’s research focuses on climate action both in the Asia-Pacific and in Africa, and how countries are using tools such as SDGs and Covid-19 action to build a more climate-resilient future. She holds a Masters in International Relations from Leiden University.

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Chensi Li is a research analyst. She has previously worked for local NGOs in Nigeria and Cameroon and think-tanks in China.  Her research areas include Sino-African relations, African foreign affairs, public diplomacy, state-building and national governance.

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Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion

HANNAH RYDER

Founder and CEO

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.