Epistemic Considerations on the Studying of Chinese Financing Infrastructural Projects in Africa

Debora Valentina Malito, David E. Kiwuwa

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


Sino-African relations along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have become hotly debated. The limited official documentation available and general knowledge gap on Chinese overseas lending raise methodological problems. At the same time, the academic discussion interpreting the BRI as an instrument of Chinese grand strategy often relies upon Eurocentric assumptions that do not pay attention to wider policy context, implications, and agencies at play. This chapter dwells upon a series of epistemic challenges, questioning how we can better approach the study of China's development finance in Africa. In particular, it focuses on the challenges and contestations surrounding Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) loan. Departing from some of the arguments raised by the debt-trap diplomacy narrative, we advance three epistemic clarifications on: the expansion of China's financing and investment capacity; the nature of the SGR's financing; the economic and operational conditionalities attached to the loan. By focusing on the cargo directive needed to make the SGR profitable, and the loan repayable, this chapter helps us to make visible the implications that conditionalities play on the feasibility of the project itself, but also the mechanisms and interactions among a variety of actors in adapting global financing conditions to domestic political dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe China Question: Contestations and Adaptations
EditorsDragan Pavlićević, Nicole Talmacs
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer Nature Singapore
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-981-16-9105-8
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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