Fletcher in the News

China-led initiatives help Africa: Chris Alden (F87, F93)

Chris Alden believes China has proved a catalyst to development in Africa by smashing the Western donor stranglehold on the continent.

The 53-year-old American academic, who is one of the leading global experts on the China-Africa relationship, says the world's second-largest economy's straightforward approach to investment without any ideological ties has proved a breath of fresh air.

"China has reinvigorated the debate on development and brought practical real experience to the continent, and demonstrated they can transform themselves not in six generations or even one generation, but now," he says.

Alden, the author of the highly-acclaimed book China in Africa, was speaking in his office in Houghton Street in London, where he is a reader at the department of international relations at the London School of Economics.

He says China's involvement in Africa since the middle part of the last decade has shown up the failure of the post-1980s so-called Washington Consensus that development in Africa needed to be led by the private sector.

China's aid and investment in infrastructure over the past decade on the other hand, he argues, has secured tangible results. …

… Although based mainly in London, Alden spends one week in every five in Johannesburg and Pretoria where he runs a program at the South African Institute for International Affairs. His wife is South African.

Alden was born in Teheran to a British father and American mother but was educated in the United States after the age of 11.

He read history at Reed College in Portland Oregon before moving to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, where he began his Africa specialization, doing an MA on post-colonial Mozambique and a PhD on then South African president P.W. Botha's security state.

Read the full piece