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Policy Roundtable: How Chinese Money is Transforming Africa: It’s Not What You Think

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Policy Roundtable: How Chinese Money is Transforming Africa: It’s Not What You Think

  • Johns Hopkins SAIS – Nitze Building 1740 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest Washington, DC, 20036 United States (map)

This event was part of China-Africa Week at SAIS.

Watch the panel here:

China – Africa Week at SAIS culminated in the launch of CARI’s database on Chinese loans in Africa, followed by a policy roundtable that discussed the wider implication of Chinese development finance in Africa. The panel consisted of Deborah Brautigam, Director of CARI, and Professor and Director of the International Development Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS; Oral Williams, Deputy Division Chief of the Africa Department at the International Monetary Fund; Scott Morris, Senior Fellow of Director of Rethinking US Development Policy at the Center for Global Development; Daniel Runde, Director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Jyhjong Hwang, Senior Research Assistant at Johns Hopkins SAIS China-Africa Research Institute. The panel was moderated by David Dollar, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. The roundtable was followed by Q&A with the audience.

The panel began with a keynote presentation by Deborah Brautigam on CARI's database on Chinese loans in Africa in the past 15 years. The database presentation covered aggregate statistics, sector and country specific ranking and breakdowns, as well as different types of loan suppliers and instruments. David Dollar then opened the discussion with questions on the prevailing negative reaction from the West on Chinese involvement in Africa, possible U.S.-China soft power competition, differences between Chinese and Western financier's engagement practices in Africa, the impact of Chinese economic slowdown on Africa, the problem of African debt sustainability, as well as how CARI's database differentiates between Chinese loans and investments in Africa.

The panel then opened for questions and discussion with the audience. Many of these questions involve Chinese financiers’ practices in Africa: What are the terms for Chinese preferential loans? How has Chinese assistance met African governments' stated needs? Have the Chinese been investing in the long term in Africa? How have the Chinese contributed in terms of technical assistance and knowledge transfer in Africa? Have environmental and social regulations been observed? Why do we seem to read so much about anti-Chinese sentiment in Africa when public opinion surveys find that opinions are generally positive?

Other questions focused on the Chinese financiers: Why haven’t Chinese government agencies been forthcoming with publicizing their data? There were also questions on CARI database' practices, such as future plans of publicizing the database and what African sources were used in the research. A representative from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce was present in the audience and responded to some relevant queries.


David Dollar, Senior Fellow, John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution.

Keynote Speaker
Deborah Brautigam, Bernard L. Schwartz Professor in International Political Economy, Professor of International Development and Comparative Politics, Director of International Development Program and China-Africa Research Initiative, Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Oral Williams, Deputy Division Chief, Africa Department, International Monetary Fund. Dr. Williams leads missions to Malawi and has previous experience as mission chief for Oman and Burundi.

Scott Morris, Senior Fellow, Director of Rethinking US Development Policy, Center for Global Development.

Daniel Runde, Director of the Project on Prosperity and Development, William A. Schreyer Chair in Global Analysis, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Jyhjong Hwang, Senior Research Assistant, China-Africa Research Initiative, Johns Hopkins SAIS.