The Changing Landscape in Aid Relationships in Africa:
Can China’s Engagement Make a Difference to African Development?

80 kr

Authors: Machiko Nissanke and Marie Söderberg

UI Papers 2011/2



This paper examines potential effects of China’s new “offensive” on African development through the lens of the changing landscape of aid relationships in Africa. After discussing domestic imperatives behind China’s drive for deeper engagements with Africa, we present the model of “economic cooperation” as practised by Japan in Asia through a trinity of aid, investment and trade. It is this model that is most clearly visible in the modality of China’s aid, though operational details differ significantly between Japanese aid and Chinese aid. We also discuss why Japan itself has not followed this modality so much in its engagement with African countries as elsewhere. The paper then presents a critical review of the discourse of African economic development examined through an analysis of the aid relationships with the traditional donors. From this specific perspective, we examine the scale and modality of China’s economic cooperation and its potential impacts on African development. We suggest that Chinese engagement has an important potential to fillsome critical gaps left by traditional donors, but it is also presenting new challenges and problems for African policymakers and stakeholders. As concluding remarks, we discuss the potential opportunities and challenges African countries face as a result of China’s decisive entry as a new partner for economic development and the dynamically evolving economic interface between China and Africa.



Machiko Nissanke is Professor of Economics at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She previously worked at University of Oxford, Birkbeck College, University College London, and was Research Fellow of Nuffield College and the Overseas Development Institute, UK. She has published numerous books and journal articles on financial and international economics and served many international organisations as adviser and coordinator of research programmes.
Marie Söderberg, is the Director of the European Institute of Japanese Studies at Stockholm School of Economics. She is also a Professor of Japanese Studies at Stockholm University and Chairman of the Board of the Centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies at Lund University. She has published on Japanese Influences in Asia, Japan China and Japan-North Korea relations. A central focus of her research is Japanese foreign aid policy on which she over the years have done numerous studies of various aspects.