China’s growing economic presence in Africa is the subject of great curiosity and even concern, particularly in Western media and policymaking settings What has driven this phenomena, what objectives does it reflect, and where is it headed? The focus of this curiosity is primarily Sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of this activity is concentrated. Here we suggest that repeated claims that suggest China’s dominant position with regard to Africa’s foreign trade and investment flows is largely unfounded and exaggerated. For now the influence continues to be marginal relative to both current investment and trade flows involving Africa, and even smaller when it comes to China’s investment outflows and overall trade. However, if present trends continue, China’s investment and trade flows could surpass Africa’s principal donor communities (World Bank and the IMF) and its principal trading partners (OECD) over the coming years. Trade between China and Africa is expanding at rates in the order of 30% per year, while FDI inflows to Africa from China are growing at similar rates. The African Development Bank now has its annual meetings not in Africa, but in Shanghai. The elevation of mean growth rates in Sub-Saharan Africa from around 4.5% to 6–6.5% in the last two years can in part be linked to the growing Chinese presence on the continent. Chinese enterprises are centrally involved in Africa in extractive industries, textiles and apparel, infrastructure, finance, and services. Seemingly, everywhere one looks in Africa, one now finds growing Chinese activity. This chapter attempts to document this phenomenon and explore the factors which underlie it.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL
Besada, H, Wang, Y. (Yang), & Whalley, J. (John). (2011). China's growing economic activity in Africa. In China's Integration into the World Economy (pp. 221–254). doi:10.1142/9789814304795_0009