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Africa’s economic transformation: the role of Chinese investment

Research reports

Written by Linda Calabrese

Hero image description: Textile factory workers, Ethiopia, 2019 Image credit:© Davide Scalenghe Image license:© Davide Scalenghe

Since the early 2000s, China’s presence in Africa has increased dramatically in terms of trade, investment and infrastructure financing. This raised expectations about the potential for Chinese engagement with Africa to reinvigorate economic growth in the continent, but also questions about the potential challenges that could arise. Research by the DFID–ESRC Growth Research Programme (DEGRP) took place in this context, looking to address issues and questions around China–Africa development relations and their impact on African economies and livelihoods.

This synthesis report uses evidence from DEGRP research and beyond to assess whether and how Chinese trade, investment and finance contributed to economic growth in Africa. The authors examine a significant body of evidence produced under DEGRP, framing it in the context of the wider literature. China’s engagement in Africa is analysed through the lens of economic transformation, considering increases of productivity within sectors as well as movement of resources between sectors.

Linda Calabrese and Xiaoyang Tang