China’s presence in Africa is, beyond dispute, large in both trade and what can be called official finance to Africa. But how large, exactly? A new database from the College of William and Mary brings additional resources to help answer the question. AidData's Chinese Official Finance to Africa Dataset, Version 1.0 compiles media reports on 1,673 Chinese-backed projects across 51 African countries from 2000 to 2011 and offers a new tool set for researchers, policymakers, journalists, and civil-society organizations working to understand China’s growing role in Africa.
This paper describes the new database, its key findings, and its possible applications and limitations of the data, which is being made publicly available for the first time. The paper also discusses the challenges of quantifying Chinese development activities, introduces AidData’s Media-Based Data Collection (MBDC) methodology, provides an overview of Chinese development finance in Africa as tracked by this new database, and closes with discussion of plans to improve and expand the database.