Alexa Tovar

Date of Award

Winter 2-1-2019

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Susan Berger, Ph.D.


In recent years, China has emerged as a large infrastructure investor in the African continent, which has incited controversy among the international community in regards to the impact that these investments could have. A part of the literature on Chinese investments in infrastructure in Africa argues that these investments are adverse to the environment, local employment, and the dissemination of technology. This thesis contributes to this debate by exploring the question: what are some of the effects of Chinese infrastructure investments in Africa in terms of the environment and use of local natural resources, local hiring, and technology transfers? The analysis of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway in Ethiopia and Djibouti and the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line in Nigeria as case studies shows that, to this date, these projects (1) do not seem to have had negative effects on the environment, and, in fact, have the potential to make a positive environmental impact by reducing land use and air pollution, (2) do not appear to have exploited local natural resources, (3) employed African workers during their construction, operations, and maintenance, and (4) fostered technology transfers by training local workers and planning to hand back operations to locals. Based on this analysis, this thesis argues for the importance of case-by-case evaluations and a more nuanced understanding of Chinese infrastructure investments in Africa.