AidData - Tracking Chinese Development Finance to Africa

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"Over the last decade, assistance from non-Western governments has expanded both in absolute terms and as a share of global development finance. Donors outside of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) have significantly increased the level of competition in the development finance market and given developing countries the opportunity to “shop around” for the most attractive sources of external support. However, many of these new actors have effectively opted out of the global development finance reporting regime. Therefore, while we know that countries like Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, and Venezuela collectively provide tens of billions of dollars of overseas development finance each year, we don’t know very much about where this money is going.

AidData has developed a media-based data collection (MBDC) methodology to systematically collect open-source information about development finance flows from suppliers that do not publish their own project-level data.

Our first initiative to apply the MBDC methodology tracks Chinese development finance to African countries from 2000-2011. In 2012 and early 2013, we used these methods to create a detailed project-level database of official Chinese development finance flows to Africa from 2000 to 2011. This database includes more than 1700 pledged, initiated, and completed projects, worth nearly $75.39 billion.

In collaboration with the Center for Global Development (CGD), we also published a working paper that uses these data to address some of the major policy debates about the drivers of China’s development finance activities in Africa. One of the motivations for this paper was to establish that the application of a media-based data collection methodology is in fact a viable way to gather project-level aid information from donors who are unable or unwilling to disclose their data.

AidData has also carried out media-based data collection pilot projects for Saudi Arabian and Venezuelan development finance. In the future, AidData plans to refine its methods and expand the application of its methodology to other donors and regions. In 2013, AidData will also geocode all of China’s development finance activities in Africa to shed light on the sub-national distribution and impact of Chinese development finance."

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