French and Chinese Business Cooperation in Africa

Image: Flickr, Kevin Chung
Image: Flickr, Kevin Chung

When I first landed in Brazzaville’s Maya-Maya Airport in 2011, the Congolese colleague who welcomed me delightedly shared that ‘it was the Chinese who built the airport.’

I was not surprised because at that time everyone thought Chinese companies had already superseded French companies in the whole of French-speaking Africa. Shortly afterwards I found out that the ‘Chinese’ had not built the airport at all. Instead, a subsidiary of Weihai International Economic and Technical Cooperative Company (WIETC), supervised by a French engineering firm (BCEOM), had only built a new terminal building. In fact, a French company, Vinci, built the technically more complex portions like runways and taxiways. SOCOTEC, a French engineering firm, was contracted as consulting engineers to supervise the project. Upon completion in 2010 and in partnership with the Congolese government and other Congolese shareholders, another French company, Egis, was ultimately appointed to manage the Maya-Maya Airport.

1 Jan 2020