The Politics of Foreign Aid: A Study of China-Zambia Economic Relations

Praise A. Ayinla & Sheriff F. Folarin


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted globally in September 2015 are set to measure development and progress in countries until 2030. China, second to the United States in the global development agenda, by its relations with Africa and Zambia, particularly in the provision of foreign aid currently plays an important role in the development of Zambia’s economy. The large amount of foreign aid provided by China has led to assertions that Zambia is being put in a debt burden, especially as China holds 28 percent of Zambia’s external debt. Zambia’s debt burden stands at 60 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 21 percent in 2011 and its debt stock was USD9.37 billion in 2018. Zambia was one of the beneficiaries of debt forgiveness in 2005. The weight of its debt however led to the International Monetary Fund in August 2018, classifying Zambia as a high-risk low-income country having debt distress and inability to service its debt. This study in examining China-Zambia economic relations, explores the impact of Chinese aid on Zambia’s economic development. It investigates the role of this aid in the fulfillment of the SDGs and Zambia’s Vision 2030 of being “a prosperous middle-income nation”. The study adopts Dependency Theory of Raul Prebisch as the theoretical framework of analysis. This explains the economic relations of states and the development of the third world by the interactions between states with inequality being a key feature of these interactions. The paper concludes by providing policy options to salvage the Zambia’s economy and improve on the standard of living of its citizens.

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