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Comparing maps of China’s loans and investments in Africa

China’s involvement in Africa, and in particular its loans and aid, have often been seen as a way to acquire resources at a low cost. New data on Chinese loans to Africa by John Hopkins University could shed more light on this (as outlined in a recent article on African Arguments). In this post, I compare maps of China’s loans and investments in Africa.

Chinese loans to African governments and state-owned enterprises since 2000, according to the China-Africa Research initiative at John Hopkins University.

We can compare this data with the investment from China, as a proxy for the extraction of resources. I am not sure how accurate the data of FDI in Africa from China is. But here’s the map.

FDI from China in Africa

Looking broadly at where China provides loans and where it invests, this connection between loans and investments is far from obvious. Where China does not provide (substantial) loans like in Libya, Algeria and Central African Republic, it does not invest either, according to the data at hand.

However, there does not appear to be clear link between the amounts of loans and the investment by China in the other countries. For example, Angola received, by far, the most loans from China since 2000, whereas it’s in the middle of the range for Chinese investments.

There is a number of possible reasons for that. It could be either because the data is not reliable, or because the loans are not closely related to investments. For example, Angola might not have required substantial investment, (e.g. for oil drilling). Or the data might be inaccurate.

This is a very “quick and dirty” analysis, but it indicates that, so far, the aggregate data available on Chinese investments and loans raises more questions than it answers.