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The Graphic Truth — US vs. China: Who invests more in Africa?

Line chart showing net FDI flows from the US and China to Africa since 2003.
Luisa Vieira

Twenty years ago, the US was the largest single outside investor in Africa, by a huge margin. How times have changed. After peaking in 2009, American foreign direct investment — an ownership stake in a company or project made by an investor, company, or government from another country — was overtaken by China, now the biggest source of FDI on the continent. In recent years the US has narrowed the gap some, particularly as Beijing has become both warier of the bad optics of so-called “debt-trap diplomacy” and more focused on its own economic challenges at home. Here we look at net FDI flows from the US and China to Africa since 2003.

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