AidData is releasing a new database that captures China's development finance activities in Africa. The website, china.aiddata.org, and the database will go live today at 4:00 PM EST in conjunction with a public event at the Center for Global Development(CGD) in Washington, D.C.
This database will provide a foundation for researchers, policymakers, journalists, and civil society organizations to analyze the distribution and impact of Chinese development finance to the region. The database contains nearly 1,700 official finance projects in 50 African countries, totaling over $70 billion in reported financial commitments.
The dataset uses a media-based data collection methodology developed by AidData, which helps synthesize and standardize vast amount of project-specific information contained in thousands of English and Chinese language media reports. A new report, China’s Development Finance to Africa: AMedia-Based Approach to Data Collection, describes the development and application of the methodology, which will be released in conjunction with the database.
AidData's new methodology has proven to be a promising way to track development finance activity – especially for countries that do not regularly participate in existing information reporting systems, such as the OECD's Creditor Reporting System, the International Aid Transparency Initiative, and country-specific Aid Management Platforms. For example, the Government of Malawi maintains a database of all incoming aid flows and lists only two Chinese-funded projects. AidData’s methodology uncovered an additional 14 Chinese projects over the same time period, worth an extra $163 million. As such, the methodology and database helps paint a clearer picture of the development finance landscape in the region.
In addition to dataset and the methodology, AidData created an online platform at china.aiddata.orgthat is accessible to journalists, researchers, policymakers, development practitioners, and the general public. The online interface not only makes it possible to filter, manipulate, and visualize the data, but also provides tools that enable users to vet and help improve the data. To enhance the accuracy of project-level data, the china.aiddata.orgplatform allows users to provide additional information about specific projects, such as media reports, documents, videos, and photographs.
The next phase of the project, for which we are seeking partners, will involve, among other efforts, assigning latitude and longitude coordinates to the project-level data. Geocoded data will make it easier to visualize and analyze the spatial distribution of Chinese development finance activities.