Africa In Their Words

Published 24 March 2012

This study is perhaps the first to investigate and compare the perceptions and experiences of Chinese traders in a systematic way, across several African countries. The Brenthurst Foundation conducted nearly 200 in-depth interviews with Chinese traders in five countries in Southern Africa – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia and Angola – between April 2011 and February 2012. Their stories reveal a wealth of detail and insight that is not captured in the wider ‘China in Africa’ narrative that has become so prominent in discussions about the continent.

This survey paints a bleak picture of the place of Chinese traders within African societies. Important shifts are underway across the region, if not the continent, which do not auger well for Chinese–African relations, at least on the African street.

Yet this study also sheds light on the values and mind-set that have enabled Chinese traders in Africa to succeed commercially where many others have failed or feared to tread.

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