These days, the involvement and investment of Asian countries in Africa’s development is widely acknowledged. It has become a hotly debated topic, with many questioning whether all Asian aid and investment in Africa is benefitting the continent in a sustainable manner.
But while there is a general consensus that the role of Asian organizations in driving Africa's development is growing, there is little publicly available data to understand this growth. Opacity of aid and investment flows, especially from the heavyweight Chinese economy, makes it difficult to analyze the phenomenon. Many organizations are working to plug this data gap: McKinsey’s recently released report on Chinese-African economic ties draws on hundreds of boots-on-the-ground observations and interviews with business leaders; and AidData’s carefully crafted methodology for tracking aid flows from less transparent donors has allowed it to produce a large dataset on Chinese development financing flows.
As part of our AfDB Contractor Insights series, Devex can shine light on one aspect of this phenomenon: the growing success of Asian firms in winning African Development Bank contract awards. While AfDB projects constitute only a portion of development activity in Africa, the market for AfDB contracts might serve as microcosm of African development, through which we can observe Asia’s growing presence on the continent.
With 16 years’ worth of AfDB contract awards data, we explore how Asian firms — and Chinese firms, in particular — are making their presence felt in their work with the bank.