Monday, May 2, 2016

New Signs of Chinese Efforts to Improve Labor Relations in Africa?

Tanzanians working on Chinese-built road (2011) photo: DB
May 1 is International Labor Day almost everywhere except the USA. Today I noticed media reports from several African countries such as Uganda and Tanzania that local Chinese Chambers of Commerce were giving awards for the best workers in Chinese companies, and to Chinese companies for being the best employers. Chinese ambassadors spoke at several of these award ceremonies.

Interesting to see that Chinese embassies are urging Chinese employers to do more to train their African workforce, investing in their skill development; boost incomes (pay higher wages?); and deliver benefits in accordance with local laws.

Although some African countries (South Africa, Mauritius, possibly others) have longstanding Chinese Chambers of Commerce, I noticed around 2006 and 2007 that Chinese embassies were pushing leading state-owned enterprises in African countries to take on the role of heads of these Chambers and to use them as ways to help socialize Chinese companies into local laws and regulations. The evolving role of these business associations would be an interesting research topic.


Kai Xue said...

Do you think the Chinese population in Africa is on the decline?

Working class wages are still rising quickly in China. The average monthly wage in 2015 for a migrant worker was 3,072 yuan ($473). Migrant worker wage increases in 2014 and 2013 were particularly impressive with gains of 9.8 percent and 13.9 percent in 2013 respectively.

I think this has surely slowed down new arrivals and attracted Chinese residents in Africa to re-settle in China.

However, I have noticed in places like Ethiopia, the population has jumped a lot in the last few years (maybe tripling).

Deborah Brautigam said...

I doubt it is on the decline -- the labor export data (see our website: shows 305,665 total Chinese workers in Africa in 2010; we don't have a figure for 2011, then 280,545 for 2012; 243,922 for 2013; 252,059 for 2014. But most of the decline here came from projects in Libya collapsing.