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Seminar: China in Africa: Building access to resources?

Tinbergen Institute

A popular narrative about China-Africa relations emphasizes access to strategic mineral resources as a key objective of Chinese involvement in sub-Saharan Africa. Is this characterization consistent with the actual pattern of Chinese investment and foreign aid? To explore this question, we first investigate the characteristics of African mines in which China-based firms have ownership stakes. We find that Chinese ownership is much more likely for mines containing minerals intensively imported by China and mines with ‘critical’ minerals. We then consider the market access implications of road, rail and port projects financed with Chinese government funding.

Outside South Africa, China-funded infrastructure improvements tend to reduce the projected cost of shipping to the nearest port by more for mines with minerals intensively imported by China, mines producing ‘critical’ minerals and mines with Chinese ownership. We do not observe the same patterns for infrastructure projects funded by the World Bank. Joint paper with Samuel Marden.


  • Jason Garred (University of Ottawa)


Gustav Mahlerplein 117,
1082 MS Amsterdam