Beyond China: The AfDB's Asian contractors

Devex investigates the growing role of Asian contractors in the market for African Development Bank opportunities. Learn more with our interactive Tableau dashboards.

Over the past 10 years, Asia has rapidly become the biggest source of contractors for the African Development Bank, winning contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The lion’s share of these contracts have gone to firms from China, which alone have won $6.2 billion of AfDB funding since the year 2000, as explored in the previous part of Devex’s AfDB Contractor Insights series.

But China is not the only Asian country that sees opportunity in Africa. India, Japan, and South Korea are increasingly pivoting toward Africa for opportunities, both through the AfDB and through other means. Between 2000 and 2016, Indian firms won $1.06 billion in awards for 201 contracts; Japanese firms won $650 million for 227 contracts; and South Korean firms won $241 million for 19 contracts.

While these amounts look small compared to China’s earnings, which were distributed across 556 awards, they should not be discounted. Japan and South Korea, as more developed countries, are increasingly engaging Africa through diplomatic and bilateral channels, and there is reason to believe their firms will take a greater interest in Africa in the future. Indian firms, meanwhile, won more AfDB contracts than firms from many African countries, and have a strong, increasingly localized presence across the continent.

The role of Asian companies and countries in African development is not monopolized by China. The 2017 annual AfDB meetings were held in New Delhi, India, and next year’s are set to be hosted by Busan, South Korea. Here, Devex analyzes 16 years of AfDB contract awards data to look at how the role of these Asian countries in the bank’s work has evolved. Who’s winning contracts, and what for?

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About the author

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    Matthew Wolf

    Matthew Wolf works with Devex's Development Data team in Barcelona, helping improve our coverage of and insight into development work and funding around the world. He draws on work experience with Thomson Reuters in Africa, MENA and Latin America, where he helped uncover, pursue and win opportunities with local governments and donor agencies. He is interested in data-driven solutions to development challenges.