Visualizing aid flows to Africa

The World Bank has announced an updated version of its global project map which includes its complete portfolio of projects for the first time.  Of course I had to check out the Africa section.  I definitely didn’t expect Nigeria to be the single biggest recipient of Bank aid, given that it’s currently the largest economy south of the Sahara.  Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique round out the top five.

World Bank - Africa

The AFDB also publishes geocoded data on its projects, along with an interactive map. It’s not quite as attractive as the Bank’s, but does give a more precise breakdown of project locations.  With the exception of South Africa and Somalia, projects appear to basically be distributed in accordance with population density (only logical, of course).

AFDB Africa

Finally, AidData also publishes geocoded datasets and has a useful maps portal, with both interactive and static maps.  The visualization is a bit less intuitive when the interactive map is zoomed out to cover the whole continent – note that the bubble for 1606 projects in Mozambique is the same size as that for 161 projects in South Africa – but ultimately this is the single best source of data on aid flows, as it incorporates the WB and AFDB data as well as data from other donors when available.

aid data africa

2 thoughts on “Visualizing aid flows to Africa

  1. I wonder how this would look re-scaled so the circles were equivalent to population sizes? Or rather, what if you showed the first map with the bubbles of aid flow sizes next to a similar map with bubbles for population sizes. I bet they’d look similar?


    1. I think some of the countries would look similar – population certainly explains the surprisingly large amount of aid to Nigeria. But then there’s Ethiopia, the second largest country, receiving less aid than countries like Ghana which are a third as populous. I like the idea of aid per capita a lot as a general metric, though – it would really facilitate these cross country comparisons. Maybe I’ll make that map someday if I have time.


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