Understanding the Structural Sources of Chinese International Contractors’ Market Power in Africa

Image: Flickr, David Coggins
Image: Flickr, David Coggins

In recent years, over 500 Chinese contracting companies have been active in Africa. As a group, they enjoy a dominant position in the African market.

Based on the revenues of the world’s 250 largest international contractors, Chinese companies’ market share reached 61.9 percent in 2019, up from only a modest 10 percent in 2002. In some countries such as Tanzania, the market share of Chinese companies has recently reached over 80 percent. China’s phenomenal rise in international contracting has been fueled by its state-backed finance. However, data suggests that China’s international lending is only a small part of the story. Based on SAIS—CARI’s China-Africa loan and contracts datasets, the ratio of infrastructure-related loans to contract turnover was lower than 30 percent in the majority of the years between 2002 and 2018.

1 Jan 2021