China has recently become economically strong enough to significantly increase its presence as a donor of overseas development aid (ODA), a situation evoking both fear and interest among established aid actors. China’s aid policy has been criticised for overtly supporting Chinese energy strategies and diplomatic goals. Its disbursement modalities risk undermining African capacity development and governance. China has even been implicated in ‘the new scramble for Africa’s resources’. On the other hand, its Africa policy claims an ethos of solidarity and respect with developing countries, and provides all-round packages that combine investment with aid.
This paper provides an overview of China’s ODA to Africa for civil society organisations (CSOs). Its scope spans Chinese aid, investment, trade and diplomatic ties, as the three are closely linked. In as far as CSOs – and development NGOs especially – work within the ‘aid chain’, changes to the aid landscape have implications for the ways in which NGOs function.