Chinese foreign direct investment and structural transformation in Africa

Project overview

Project lead: Deborah Brautigam, Johns Hopkins University

Start date: 1 January 2015

End date: 31 January 2019

Project webpage

Research Council project page

For the past decade, sub-Saharan Africa has seen growth, yet this is not the same as structural transformation.  China’s development path since 1980 provides an example of how a government focused on modernisation can use foreign capital and technology to assist in the reduction of poverty and economic transformation in manufacturing and agriculture. In Africa, China is largely seen as a competitor for local firms, primarily through imports. Whilst this competition can be devastating in some countries and some sectors, growing Chinese investment in African manufacturing and contract farming can also offer opportunities for joint ventures with local firms, training, and diffusion of more productive technologies.

This project focuses on Chinese engagement in Africa and investigates its potential for enhancing structural transformation through direct training, technology dissemination, backward and forward linkages, subcontracting and personnel transfers. It includes four components; data collection and mapping; field-based scoping studies; comparative analytical narrative case studies; and new survey research.

The research will offer a robust basis for analysis of the current and future possibilities for technology transfer in China’s African investment, and guidelines for governments and development partners to derive maximum benefit from these opportunities.