Researching the politics of development



China in Africa: Impacts and prospects for accountable development

Working paper 12

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Giles Mohan


China is the major ‘new’ player in Africa and impacts on development and politics in numerous ways. The paper sets out an analytical framework which identifies the channels through which China engages with African development and the role the African state plays in mediating these interactions. We then apply this framework to three case studies that are emblematic of differing African state types. Analysis shows that China impacts on African development in multiple ways that go well beyond aid. A feature of this engagement is inter-elite brokerage which tends to bypass domestic channels of accountability and so undermines good governance. That said, in most cases it delivers much needed infrastructure which benefits wider society. Crucially, as civil and political society in Africa has started to contest this elitism we are seeing slightly more transparent attempts to negotiate the relationship. It concludes with an outline of emerging trends and future research themes for the short- to medium–term.