New Data on Chinese Loans in Africa

Eastern Promises: New Data on Chinese Loans in Africa, 2000 to 2014
Deborah Bräutigam et Jyhjong Hwang
CARI, Working Paper n° 4, Avril 2016


Chinese loan finance is often misunderstood in Africa. In this paper, we provide an overview of a new database on Chinese loans and describe our research methodology for collecting this data. We report on the scale of these loans, their African recipients, and the sectors where borrowers are investing this finance. The paper compares our findings with other efforts to estimate Chinese development finance. We also explain the Chinese system of securing risky loans with escrow accounts filled by exports and off-take arrangements. Chinese loans remain at a lower scale than is often believed. Our estimate suggests that Chinese financiers have provided US$86.3 billion to African governments and state-owned enterprises between 2000 and 2014. However, we warn that debt levels are rising, the Chinese are unlikely to cancel these debts, and we express concern that African governments may not be able to absorb the sharply increased pledges made by Chinese leaders in December 2015.

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