In The Dragon's Gift, I made the argument that the Chinese approach to funding aid projects employs a high degree of financial control. As one African official told me: "with the Chinese, you never see the money." This has drawbacks for ownership, but is likely to mean that corruption and embezzlement is lower with Chinese aid, and the promised projects actually get built. Maintenance of course is another issue, something I also addressed in the book.
A school in Tanzania credit: Worldcrunch.org
Over the past six years, the Chinese government has been fulfilling a commitment to build 100 (or so) primary schools across Africa. My (so far minimal) anecdotal research in two countries on this has turned up an interesting phenomenon: at least one school out of the typical three built in a given country has been located in the home town of the country's leader. The schools are also typically of a much higher, gold-plated standard, something that is a showpiece, but difficult to sustain.[view whole blog post ]