African China impression: want to make it in China
Tag: Africa, export, study, China
Summary: China's booming economy has been luring an increasing number of Africans to its shores in recent years, most of Africans eager to export goods from the world's second-largest economy back into their…
China has stepped up its engagement with Africa in recent years, scouring the resource-rich continent in its bid to access natural resources and forge new trade routes. But the Asian powerhouse is also emerging as an attractive business destination for Africans.
China's booming economy has been luring an increasing number of Africans to its shores in recent years, most of them eager to export goods from the world's second-largest economy back into their continent.
"I found out there are a lot of opportunities of doing business," says Nigerian shop owner CJ Cajetan, who moved to Guangzhou two years ago as a student but decided to stay in China and try his luck as a clothes seller.
Cajetan is one of the tens of thousands of Africans who've gone to live and work in Guangzhou, a manufacturing city located on the Pearl River in southern China.
This strong new trading community builds on a growing business engagement between the two sides. Already Africa's largest trade partner, China's economic cooperation with the continent has shot up in recent times. Two-way trade between the two surged to a record $114.8 billion in 2010, according to Chinese authorities.
Linking aid, trade and investment, Beijing's business model in Africa involves building extensive infrastructure projects in the continent and granting loans in exchange for access to natural resources, trade opportunities and expansion into new markets.
But the burgeoning relationship between the two has also seen a number of African companies trying to get a foothold in the Chinese market, hoping to tap the country's growth and expanding middle class.
South African drinks giant SABMiller has been working for years with a local Chinese brewer and now produces China's biggest selling beer. Such success can be achieved by more African companies as their nations gain a firmer footing, according to consultant Kobus van der Wath.
"China is very open for business for us," says van der Wath, founder of Beijing Axis, a China-focused international advisory firm. "China's repositioning itself continuously for the new Africa that's emerging. We're very well received. We don't come with baggage," he adds.
But despite the growing opportunities, many Africans in China still feel the overall relationship is far from a two-way street. China's repositioning itself continuously for the new Africa that's emerging. We're very well received..
Others say that navigating potential pitfalls, like protecting intellectual property, can also be a challenge in China.
"If people bring things into China to get them manufactured here, I think keeping that technology secret, as it were, will be very, very difficult," says Graham Hughes, a South African factory manager based near Beijing.
The Chinese government says it's fighting to protect intellectual property rights. It also says it welcomes foreigners to work and live in China and says its visa policies have been applauded.
Beijing has also been sponsoring programs at Chinese universities to encourage young Africans to come to the country to study.