(AFRICANGLOBE) In recent years, China’s economic presence in Africa has led to a heated debate, some of it well-informed and some of it not, about the nature of Chinese involvement and its implications for the continent.
The debate is partially motivated by the rapid growth of China’s economic presence in Africa: for example, Chinese investment in Africa grew from USD 210 million in 2000 to 3.17 billion in 2011. Aid is an important policy instrument for China among its various engagements with Africa, and indeed Africa has been a top recipient of Chinese aid: by the end of 2009 it had received 45.7 percent of the RMB 256.29 billion cumulative foreign aid of China. This aid to Africa has raised many questions, such as its composition, its goal and nature.
What Constitutes China’s Aid?
Officially, China provides eight types of foreign aid: complete projects, goods and materials, technical cooperation, human resource development cooperation, medical assistance, emergency humanitarian aid, volunteer programs, and debt relief. China’s aid to Africa covers a wide array of fields, such as agriculture, education, transportation, energy, communications, and health. According to Chinese scholars, since 1956, China has provided almost 900 aid projects to African countries, including assistance supporting textile factories, hydropower stations, stadiums, hospitals, and schools.
Official development assistance is defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as concessional funding given to developing countries and to multilateral institutions primarily for the purpose of promoting welfare and economic development in the recipient country. China is not a member of OECD and does not follow its definition or practice on development aid. The bulk of Chinese financing in Africa falls under the category of development finance, but not aid. This fact is privately acknowledged by Chinese government analysts, although Chinese literature constantly blurs the distinction between the two categories. Read more…