by: Vivien Foster, William Butterfield, Chuan Chen, Nataliya Pushak
In recent years, a number of emerging economies has begun to play a
growing role in the finance of infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Their combined resource flows are now comparable in scale to
traditional Official Development Assistance from Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries or to capital
from private investors. These non-OECD financiers include China, India,
and the Gulf States, with China the largest player by far.
Despite the importance of Chinese infrastructure finance in Africa,
relatively little is known about the overall value and destination of
financing. The authors of Building Bridges quantify the
magnitude of financial flows from China by collating public information
from a wide range of Chinese language sources. From these data, they
document the geographic distribution of resources, the types of
infrastructure involved, the size and financing terms of the projects,
and the methods through which finance is being provided.
The growth of China and other non-OECD players as important
financiers represents an encouraging trend for Africa, given the
magnitude of its infrastructure deficit. The investments made by these
nations are unprecedented both in scale and in their focus on
large-scale infrastructure projects. With new actors and new approaches
to financing, there is a learning process ahead for borrowers and
financiers, both new and old. Building Bridges summarizes the
issues involved in this learning curve, including developing the
national capacity to negotiate complex and innovative deals, and to
enforce appropriate environmental and social standards for project
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