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Report: China's aid beneficial to Africa

Updated: 2013-05-14 02:03
( China Daily)

When Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian-born economist, wrote in her book Dead Aid that traditional aid from Western donors had largely failed African countries, fostering dependency, encouraging corruption and perpetuating poor governance and poverty, she said China provided another approach and gave Africans the ability to choose their own way to develop. But how large and how effective is Chinese aid to Africa?

AidData, a partnership of the College of William and Mary, Brigham Young University and Development Gateway, has compiled a database on China's aid to Africa over the past decade.

According to the new database, China's official aid to Africa reached $75 billion between 2000 and 2011, with the establishment of 1,673 Chinese-backed or -financed projects in 50 African countries.

Critics of China's aid to Africa have claimed that it goes only to countries with rich natural resources in exchange for commercial advantages.

But according to China's Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection, compiled by the AidData partners, "China's activities spread all over the African continent".

Regarding sectoral distribution, the paper finds that "China is active in almost all sectors", with healthcare, debt reduction and education being the main fields of activity. China's official development assistance at this stage is still behind that of the United States, but the report said that "Chinese activities as a financier of development activities are increasing and are today roughly comparable with the size of activities provided by the US".

The database has been compiled from thousands of media reports on China's aid or aid projects in Africa between 2000 and 2011.

In the meantime, the online platform has also been established to share statistics on Chinese aid to Africa.

Although this method faces challenges from various sources, such as Deborah Brautigam, author of Dragon's Gift, raising doubts about the credibility and reliability of media reports on such issues, most analysts cannot doubt that China's aid to Africa is efficient and comes with no strings attached.

In 2011, China released its first white paper on overseas aid, in which it reiterated its aid principles put forward by then-premier Zhou Enlai in the 1960s, including insisting on no-strings-attached aid and fostering a relationship based on mutual respect and benefit to achieved common development.

Former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade wrote in The Financial Times in 2008 that "China's approach to our needs is simply better adapted than the slow and sometimes patronizing post-colonial approach of European investors, donor organizations and non-governmental organizations.

"With direct aid, credit lines and reasonable contracts, China has helped African nations build infrastructure projects in record time — bridges, roads, schools, hospitals, dams, legislative buildings, stadiums and airports," he said in the article.

Kenya's former prime minister Raila Odinga earlier this month also expressed his "frustration" while dealing with the lengthy bureaucratic procedures of the World Bank and the IMF.

"If you are in charge of making decisions, you get very frustrated," he said during a keynote address at the annual The Times CEO Africa summit.

"If you deal with the Chinese, they will come, you negotiate and these negotiations are not endless. You discuss and agree," he added.