Thursday, July 26, 2018

More Bad Data on Chinese Finance in Africa

It is hard to collect data on China's development finance in Africa. That's why we curate a carefully constructed, painstakingly researched database on Chinese loans. We have data project by project, sector by sector. Researchers and policy-makers consult us regularly for more detailed reports on different aspects of Chinese loans. We publish reports on this data and related fielddwork: for example, our first working paper was on Chinese finance for hydropower projects and we have several others on Chinese finance for wind farms in Ethiopia and hydropower in Cameroon.

That's why it's frustrating to read in The Guardian about a new report by an advocacy group that claims that in Africa 
China gave the most to the energy sector, providing $5bn a year, 88% of which was spent on fossil fuels. It did not appear to finance any renewable projects on the continent. Nearly three-quarters of the money supported oil and gas extraction, and another 13% supported coal-fired power generation.
This simply isn't true. Between 2000 and 2015, the Chinese provided almost $10 bn in hydropower finance in Africa, and nearly $1.5 bn in solar, wind, and geothermal power. We only show $2.2 bn in coal-fired power, and $1.9 bn in gas-fired power plants during this period. In the power sector, African governments are borrowing far more for non-fossil fuel energy projects.

Hydropower has its own critics, of course. But it doesn't qualify as a fossil fuel.

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