A comprehensive tool that tracks Chinese development finance was released April 29th by AidData, a partnership between Brigham Young University, the College of William and Mary, and fellow OpenGov Hub tenant, Development Gateway. Released at the Center for Global Development, the online database platform tracks development finance flows to the continent from 2000-2011. Check a video of the presentation here.
“Our goal is to provide a stronger empirical foundation for analysis of the nature, distribution, and impact of China's overseas development finance activities in Africa,” said Stephen Davenport, Co-Executive Director of AidData and Senior Director of Innovation and Partnerships at Development Gateway.
“The BRIC countries are rapidly expanding their grant and overseas lending activities, especially China,” Davenport said, “but nobody has been able to convince China to participate in the emerging transparency regime for global development finance. They say they are transparent with their recipients – and that they don’t see a need to go any further.”
As of May 3, 2013, the platform tracked 1,442 non-investment projects valued at $74.11 billion, with 70% of those projects marked as underway or completed. The report was compiled using AidData’s new media-based data collection methodology, which leverages media report, public government records, and case study research to track individual projects funded by the Chinese government, but the methodology does not come without limitations.
“We know that the methodology is not perfect, but we think it's a very good initial point of departure. If nothing else, it will instigate a discussion of how Chinese development finance data should be collected, vetted, and curated,” he added, “This information is otherwise incredibly difficult to access, so the dataset will add value and generate interest at many levels.”
The online platform at china.aiddata.org enables users to quickly filter, manipulate, and visualize the data. The dataset also serves as a crowdsourcing tool. Users can contribute to the project-level data by providing additional information about specific projects, such as media reports, documents, videos, and photographs, as well as suggest new projects which were previously unidentified.
AidData’s vision is to improve and apply this methodology to track international development finance from other countries that do not participate in official reporting systems.
“The goal is to move beyond the traditional sources of development finance,” Davenport added. “We want to go deeper into the BRIC countries and see how they are financing development around the world.”