|Chinese factory in Tanzania
Yet during a town hall with young African leaders, the President invoked a similar sentiment in his remark that "I want to make sure that as countries come to Africa, that it’s benefiting Africans. ... If there’s going to be manufacturing taking place of raw materials, locate some of those plants here in Africa."
Well ... I wish whoever prepped him for this trip had at least tried to get an accurate picture. Two chapters of my book cover China's many manufacturing investments across Africa. I've since followed up with fieldwork on Chinese factories in the (raw material) leather processing sector in Ethiopia and several articles about the special economic zones -- focused on manufacturing -- being built by Chinese companies in Africa.
A recent guest post by SAIS student Yuan Li on this blog provides another example. In South Africa, the country where President Obama made this comment, the China Africa Development Fund has seven projects: two are in mining, and five are in manufacturing.
|Chinese textile factory in Tanzania. Photos: D. Brautigam
Yes, despite concerns about costs and competitiveness, manufacturing is going to be vital for Africa's future employmet generation. So, President Obama: what is the US going to do to catch up to China here?
* Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, "China-Africa Trade and Economic Relationship Annual Report 2012." I don't think this is available online yet. I was given a copy last month by the Chinese embassy in Lusaka.