Rethinking African Agency within China-Africa Relations through the Lens of Policy Transfer: A Framework for Analysis

Oscar M. Otele *


This article begins by exposing the inadequacy of the current usage of the concept of African agency within the literature on China-Africa relations, and proposes an alternative definition. It is argued that by taking the concept of African agency for granted, and analyzing it in terms of the control or manoeuvrability, this discourse does not help much in understanding the dynamics of engagement between China and Africa. In light of the recent empirical evidence of the transferability of international development programmes from East Asia Models (including China) to Africa, instead, we could begin by treating the notion of the African agency as an evolving policy practice. African agency could then be analyzed by looking at how the lesson- drawing feeds into the initial stages of policy loop of African development programmes so as to understand the dynamics between China and African countries. To the extent that acquiring Chinese development finance is negotiated, we could begin examining these dynamics through policy setting and implementation using the proposed conceptual framework.


 * Lecturer, University of Nairobi, E-mail:

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