PB 14/35 - Localization of Chinese Investments in Africa

Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong

Date of Publication: 
December 2014

Misconceptions abound about almost every aspect of the Chinese presence in Africa, but the most widespread and persistent myth is that most Chinese firms in Africa, out of ignorance, ethnocentricity or venality, refuse to employ or interact with Africans and ignore local laws and customs. Empirically, our book-length study of Chinese enterprise localization in Africa employs descriptive statistics and interview data to ascertain the degree to which Chinese firms in Africa have Africanized their workforces and engaged in other forms of localization. Chinese managers in Africa view localization as consonant with their interests and seek to deepen it as circumstances permit. In so far as comparative data exists for non-Chinese foreign investors in Africa -- and there is much less data from those firms than from their Chinese counterparts -- the rate of workforce localization is by no means consistently higher for non-Chinese firms than for Chinese companies.

View Policy Brief: DPRU PB 14/35