Kevin Yin wrote a comprehensive report that covers Chinese Investment in Housing in Africa in 2019 that can be found here. The report extensively covers all aspects of Chinese investment in housing from types of lenders, leading developers and investors, as well as covers case studies and what can be learned from them.
One challenge in the creation of this report was the data availability. The report notes that data available on Chinese Investment is imprecise due to the “fickle nature of contracts, the privacy of large Chinese entities and the incentives against reporting deals that have failed after the fact,” thus it becomes hard to measure them, their impact and effectiveness. The report uses data from private consultants by the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance (CAHF), Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI), the China Global Investment Tracker run by American Enterprise Institute, and a report by McKinsey & Company on Chinese involvement in Africa from 2017.
AidData, a research lab at William & Mary University, aims to tackle this issue of imprecise Chinese investment data with their Global Chinese Development Finance Dataset. The research lab uses satellite observation to measure changes over time in many locations as well as household surveys to establish a reliable counterfactual for measuring the impact of these projects (as opposed to randomized control trials which are the traditional method of measuring impact). The data set captures 13,427 development projects worth US $843 billion financed by more than 300 Chinese government institutions and state-owned entities across 165 countries in every major region of the world from 2000-2017 and implemented between 2000 and 2021.
The original report states that “investment in affordable residential property is minimal compared to overall investment,” which remains true. However, through this data set, we were able to find 24 projects pertaining to affordable housing in Africa. You can check out a summary of the available data here.
The information on these projects are quite limited and at times also incredibly vague. However, the database generally provides a brief summary, states the players involved as well as details the amount of the loan for these projects. Some of the most recent affordable housing projects in the data set were initiated in 2012 in the Republic of the Congo, Cabo Verde, and Namibia. China signed a seemingly concessional loan of US $51 million with Cabo Verde for a social housing project. Lended by the Export Import Bank of China, the loan has a 2 percent interest rate and a maturity of 20 years. In the Republic of Congo, a social housing project was signed for close to US$ 70 million. This was part of a larger project and series of loans for a telecommunications project and a road initiative near the border with Gabon. The last recent project was between China and Namibia for a feasibility study on a social housing project, which will be aided by the Chinese government. It is unclear if there will be any monetary aid for this project, as there is no value for the loan or monetary aid provided on the database.
Overall, AidData is an interesting source that is much needed due to the sparseness of detailed transparent data on Chinese activity in Africa. While most data and research captures Chinese participating in Africa holistically and less by particular sector, this data set allows us to see different projects in different sectors with as much specifics available.
Yin, K. (2019). CHINESE INVESTMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICAN HOUSING
(Accessed 13 June 2022).
AidData. Chinese Development Finance (2022) https://www.aiddata.org/cdfp (Accessed 13 June 2022).
CAHF Yearbook Country Profiles: