The Guardian newspaper this week reveals that China has committed $75bn (£48bn) on aid and development projects in Africa in the past decade. US researcher group, AidData, launched the largest public database of Chinese development finance in Africa, detailing almost 1,700 projects in 50 countries between 2000 and 2011.
The data, which challenges what has for years been the dominant story – Beijing’s unrelenting quest for natural resources – is likely to fuel ongoing debate over China’s motives in Africa.
There are few mining projects in the database and, while transport, storage and energy initiatives account for some of the largest sums, the data also reveals how China has put hundreds of millions of dollars towards health, education and cultural projects.
Whatever the motive behind, China is still playing an important role in closing funding gaps in Africa. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on part of the database that shows the Chinese government’s aid and development projects towards Eritrea in the past decade.
|1) 200,000 lines fixed telecom network rehabilitation project||$30.8m||In 2005, ZTE agreed to a 200,000 line fixed telecom network rehabilitation project for 18 months. The project cost $21.45 million and was funded by the Export-Import Bank of China. The scope of the project includes PSTN fixed network switching equipment, CDMA wireless equipment, intelligent network, voice mailboxes, client service center, router, ADSL and others. The status of the project is uncertain.|
|2) Interest-free loan for hospital||$17.0m||On May 31, 2003, Chinese ambassador Chen Zhanfu handed the keys to the Orotta hospital over to President Isayas Afewerki at inauguration ceremony in Asmara. The ceremony was attended by Saleh Meky, the Eritrean Minister of Health. At 200-beds and covering 10,000 sq metres, the fully-equipped Orotta hospital is the largest in Eritrea. It was funded by a $10,000,000 interest-free loan.|
|3) $3m Grant (needs to be double-checked; might be duplicate)||$5.0m||On June 15, 2003, Eritrean Economic Advisor Woldai Futur and China’s Vice Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Zhou Keren signed an agreement for a $3m grant.|
|4) $3m Debt Cancellation||$5.0m||On June 15, 2003, Eritrean Economic Advisor Woldai Futur and China’s Vice Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Zhou Keren signed a $3m debt cancellation agreement. This relieved Eritrea’s obligation to repay a soft loan received in 1994 for agricultural machinery.|
|5) $2.4m Grant||$4.0m||On January 9, 2002, Eritrean Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Sayyid Abdallah and Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan signed a $2.4 million grant for economic and technical projects.|
|6) $2m aid||$3.2m||On May 6, 2003, Eritrean Economic Advisor Dr. Woldai Futur and Chinese Ambassador to Eritrea Chen Zhanfu signed a $2 million aid agreement for use in economic and technical sectors.|
|7) 2k tonne of donation of Maize||—||On March 28, 2003, Eritrea received a 2,000 metric ton donation of maize from the Chinese government to combat the drought. The Chinese ambassador to Eritrea passed the donation to the director of macropolicy and international cooperation, Dr Woldai Fitur. The head of the Grain Board, Ms Hiwot Zemikael, also attended the handing over ceremony|
|8) Demining training groups||—||From 2001 to 2003, China sent two groups of experts to Eritrea for training and on site instruction on demining. 60 Eritrean deminers were trained, who cleared at least 103,000 sq meters of minefields and removed at least 587 mines and other unexploded ordnance|
|9) 1.8m dollars development agreement||$2.7m||On June 1, 2004, Eritrean Foreign Minister Ali Sayyid Abdallah and Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing held talks in China on bilateral and international issues, culminating in a CNY 15M development assistance agreement.|
|10) $23m loan for telecommunications development||$31.0m||In Asmara on April 11, 2006, Eritrean National Development Minister Woldai Futur and China’s ambassador to Eritrea Ju Zian signed a $23 million preferential loan agreement funded by the Export-Import Bank of China to build infrastructure for fixed and mobile telephones. The project is expected to take 1.5 years. The project will improve Eritrea’s current communication network, establish fixed telephone network coverage in major cities, extend CDMA basic wireless coverage for the entire country, including islands, and increase the telecommunications usage density from the current 1.5% to 6.5%.|
|11) Electronic media equipment||—||In October 2006, the Chinese Embassy to Eritrea extended different electronic media equipment to the Eritrean Ministry of Information. Mr. Asmelash Abraha, Director General of TV in the Ministry, said the equipment would help in the day-to-day activities of the Ministry.|
|12) Gedem Cement Factory||$107.7m||On August 15, 2006, President Isayas Afewerki held talks with a Chinese delegation from the Export-Import Bank of China headed by VP Zhu Hongjie. The Chinese delegation was expected to observe the site and conduct a study on ways of extending a loan for the establishment of a cement factory in Gedem, Eritrea. The $80 million cement factory was completed in 2011, financed by Chinese preferential loans.|
|13) Donation of de-mining equipment||—||The Chinese government and the Mine Action Service of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations are co-sponsoring another training workshop on de-mining technology from May to June 2000, with trainees from Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Rwanda.|
|14) College of Arts and Social Science Expansion||—||On July 24, 2007, Eritrea announced that it had signed two economic agreements with China on expanding the Red Sea state’s universities and unspecified technical cooperation. The agreements included programs to expand the College of Arts and Social Science currently under construction in Adi-Keyih. The College was inaugurated on June 11, 2010.|
|15) $60m loan||$71.6m||In 2007, China Import-Export Bank agreed to lend $60 million to Eritrea to buy 40% of the Bisha gold mine from Canada’s Nevsun Resources|
|16) 500 million yuan ($67.36 million) soft loan||$78.4m||In 2006, China Import-Export Bank signed a CNY 500 million soft loan with Eritrea. The status of the loan is uncertain.|
|17) Chinese Medical Team Provides Health Service in Awgaro||—||In 2008, an eight-member Chinese medical team provided health services in Awgaro. The head of the Awgaro health center, Mr Girmai Measho, stated that the Chinese doctors gave efficient medical treatment to patients from different areas of Laelai-Gash sub-zone.|
|18) $6m loan, cooperation agreement||$5.6m||On September 4, 2010, Eritrea and China concluded a $6 million interest-free loan agreement. The loan was planned for Eritrea’s food security development. Mr Berhane Abrehe, minister of finance, signed the agreement on the Eritrean government side, and deputy foreign minister, Zhai Jun, on the side of the government of the PRC.The status of the loan is uncertain.|
|19) Mine-Sweeping Equipment and Training||—||On November 12, 2001, China donated mine-sweeping equipment to Eritrea. Chinese Ambassador to Eritrea Chen Zhanfu, Eritrean officials and Chinese military experts were present at the ceremony. Officials from the Chinese embassy said that Chinese military experts will conduct personnel training for Eritrea and go on a fact-finding mission to learn about landmine conditions in the country. The status of the equipment is uncertain. STAFF_NOTES: Projects involving military contribution for a humanitarian purpose such as de-mining equipment have been categorized as ODA-like. This is part of the Peacekeeping section of the OECD categorization. Other military contributions of development and humanitarian assistance will be similarly categorized as ODA-like.|
|20) Training for new leather technology||—||In June 2008, the Chinese government paid for the students from 36 countries, including Kenya, to come to Beijing to learn how to turn cattle hides into finished leather using the latest technology. The countries participating include Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and more from South America and Asia. China’s Ministry of Commerce funded students’ flights, accommodation, month-long training course and visits to local tanneries. The training was going to go for one month. The amount is unknown.|
|21) Educational and Medical Services||—||In 2007, Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi called on a group of 100 Africa-bound experts and volunteers to provide good service to their African hosts. 26 volunteers were sent to work in education and medical services in Mauritius, Tunisia, and Eritrea.The status of the workers is uncertain. STAFF_NOTES: This project was left ODA-like since the Vice-Premier made an announcement for the volunteers. There is no information on which organization or government sponsored the volunteer program, but the government’s approval of it creates a logical argument for ODA-like.|