In this article, the author explores whether the growing presence of Chinese
financial assistance is decreasing the bargaining power of traditional donors vis-àvis
African governments. The article relies on data from an original survey of
high-ranking donor officials working in multiple African countries, as well as
case-studies of Chinese engagement in three diverse African country contexts:
Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania. It finds that claims of a ‘silent revolution’ in
development cooperation due to China’s increased involvement in the region
are overstated. Among donor officials, there is far from consensus that China is
decreasing the bargaining power of their agency. On the contrary, evidence from
Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda suggests that traditional development aid continues
to play an important role and that, in practice, China rarely directly competes
with traditional donors. There are, however, two important caveats to this claim.
First, when China and traditional donors do directly compete—for example,
on infrastructure projects—many recipient governments prefer assistance from
China. Second, given China’s interest in expanding markets and acquiring natural
resources, countries receiving higher amounts of Chinese official finance are likely
to have lower rates of aid dependence. As a result, financing from China is likely
to be correlated with a decline in the bargaining power of traditional donors, even
if it is not causing such a decline.
Is China eroding the bargaining power of traditional donors in Africa?
pdf | 191.01 KB