AFRICA: Chinese sovereign lending to Africa fell below US$1.0 billion last year — the lowest level in nearly two decades, according to data from Boston University’s Global China Initiative.
Africa has been a focus of President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 to recreate the ancient Silk Road and extend China’s geopolitical and economic influence through a global infrastructure development push. Boston University’s Chinese Loans to Africa Database estimates that Chinese lenders provided US$ 170 billion to Africa from 2000 to 2022. But lending has declined sharply since a 2016 peak. Just seven loans worth US$1.22 billion were signed in 2021.
Nine loans totalling US$994 million were agreed last year, marking the lowest level of Chinese lending since 2004. Beijing will host its third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation next month to mark the tenth anniversary of the flagship initiative, with some 90 countries expected to attend. The China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China — the two institutions behind most of the lending to Africa — have been redeployed to support the domestic economy, while much of the overseas lending that remains is going to markets closer to home.
The Boston University analysis found that certain trends (fewer loans over US$500 million and more focus on social and environmental impacts) appeared to reflect China’s stated push towards a more high-quality, greener Belt and Road Initiative. (Reuters)