Journal Article

Aid to Africa: Helpful or Harmful?

Date Published

Jun 1, 2014


Bradley C. Parks, Austin M. Strange



Parks, B.C. & Strange, A.M. (2014). Aid to Africa: Helpful or Harmful? China Economic Quarterly, 29-33.


The best available data thus suggest that Western governments and China are taking very different tacks in Africa. In terms of official government financing, China provides considerably more support than do Western counterparts for the “hardware” of economic development.  The range of its true aid or ODA activities appears to be quite similar to that of Western aid programs. The high proportion of Beijing’s assistance that takes the form of OOFlike flows does open China to the critique that its interest in the continent is driven more by commercial than by altruistic motives, and that negative unintended consequences may follow. Of course, official financing is only one component of China’s footprint in Africa. AidData does not yet systematically track other financial flows from China, such as state-sponsored and private foreign direct investment and joint venture projects, which may very well be an important part of the overall story of how China is shaping development outcomes in Africa. Additional data collection and analysis will be needed to draw firmer general conclusions about China’s development impact in Africa.

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