Foreign aid as foreign policy tool: competition of projects aid allocation to Kenya between Japan and China

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Post-graduate student, Department of Theory and History of International relations; Lecturer Assistant, RUDN University
Affiliation: People’s Friendship University of Russia
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Occupation: Head, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, RUDN University; Associate Lecturer, World Economy Department, MGIMO University, MFA of Russia
RUDN University
MGIMO University, MFA of Russia
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 12

The concept of recipient foreign aid countries that seems so deceptively simple is undergoing tremendous evolution as the international development cooperation scene is also evolving. This change is exemplified by the inclusion of some global South countries as some of the new emerging donors. As the new emerging donors abandon some of the classical foreign aid approaches and instead include approaches like aid with low conditionality and respect of sovereignty in their model, they are successfully challenging the traditional donors in development cooperation with developing countries. Following the assumption that foreign aid is a tool for foreign policy, this article attempts to reconceptualise the donor-recipient country relationships by focusing on a traditional donor country, Japan, and an emerging global South donor country, China. It argues, using Kenya as a case study, that Japan and China in pursuit of their aid foreign policy engendered the competition of development cooperation projects in Kenya, thereby increasing Kenya’s bargaining power. This is evidenced by how Kenya sometimes designs tenders for infrastructure projects in order to gain maximum leverage. We conclude after several analyses and observations of Kenya’s annual debt management report that even though Japan had a head start to China in its foreign aid allocation to Kenya, over the years China has managed to surpass it to become Kenya’s leading external creditor. However, to both countries Kenya is of key strategic importance in East Africa, so Japan has been trying to change its aid foreign policy to compete with China by developing counter measures and as a result of this recently there has been a slightly upward trajectory in its foreign aid allocation to Kenya.

KeywordsForeign Aid, Foreign Policy, Competition, Development Cooperation. Emerging Donors, Recipient Countries, Kenya, China, Japan
AcknowledgmentThe article was prepared within the framework of the scientific project of Russian Humanitarian Scientific Fund – Chinese Academy of Social Sciences No 17-27-21002 "Russian and Chinese assistance to Asian and African countries: comparative analysis and coordination prospects".
Publication date13.12.2019
Number of characters23154
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