We investigate the question whether firms in the manufacturing sector in Africa are credit constrained. The fact that few firms obtain credit is not sufficient to prove constraints, since certain firms may not have a demand for credit while others may be refused credit as part of profit maximising behaviour by banks. To investigate this question, we use direct evidence on whether firms had a demand of credit and whether their demand was satisfied in the formal credit market, based on panel data on firms in the manufacturing sector from six African countries. More than half the firms in the sample had no demand for credit. Of those firms with a demand for credit, only a quarter obtained a formal sector loan. In line with expectations, our analysis suggests that banks allocate credit on the basis of expected profits. However, controlling for credit demand, outstanding debt is positively related with obtaining further lending while micro or small firms are less likely to get a loan than large firms. The latter effect is strong and present in the regression, despite including several variables typically referred to as explaining why small or ‘informal’ firms do not get credit. The role of outstanding debt is likely to be a reflection of inefficiency in credit markets, while the fact that size matters is consistent with a bias as well, although we cannot totally exclude that they reflect transactions costs on the part of banks. Finally, we could not detect any differences between countries in the effects of these factors in the credit allocation rule, although financial deepening is found to explain most of the country-specific fixed effects, shifting the probability of obtaining credit across the firm distribution.