The Chinese workers who have been busy for months laying paving stones in front of the white marble senate building in Libreville, Gabon, have finished. But another job awaits them across the road, with the construction of a media centre commissioned by President Omar Bongo.
Thousands of kilometres to the northwest, in Nigeria, their compatriots are equally busy. Last month Chinese representatives paid more than $2bn for a substantial share of one of Nigeria's offshore oilfields. In Mauritania the Chinese are prospecting for oil and gas. In Sudan they are operating a petrochemical plant. In Zimbabwe they have taken a controlling interest in a mobile phone operator. They are building roads in Rwanda and Kenya, rehabilitating farms in Tanzania, modernising Angola's railways, investing in forestry in Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique.