China doing enough to create jobs in Africa?

(By Peter Eigen, Special to CNN) China- Africa trade is growing and affecting both China and Africa. Chinese investments have created jobs in Africa and created vacancies in Africa which were not there earlier.


Many Africa recruitment agencies are getting assignments from Chinese run companies to find candidates looking for a career in Africa and to fill vacancies in Africa. But is this booming relationship good or bad for Africa?


China is accused of not creating enough jobs in Africa for the locals and not doing enough to transfer skills and technology. And when Africans are employed, working conditions are sometimes substandard.


Critics accuse China of being self- centred and exploiting and stealing Africa’s precious mineral resources. China’s supporters say that it is strictly neutral and business-oriented and contributing to Africa’s economic growth, both in terms of trade and with building infrastructure.


But some 90 percent of Sino-African trade is still based around natural resources – oil, ores, and minerals. First, oil and mining do not employ many people and they do not necessarily create many jobs in Africa.


The crushing competition from Chinese sellers in local African markets means job loss for the locals. So what else could Africa and China do so that Africa benefits more from its growing relationship with China?


African countries could diversify their economies as much as possible away from supplying unprocessed natural resources to China. This will make them less dependent on the vagaries of both the Chinese economy and the ups and downs of global commodity prices. African nations should also prepare for the day when they no longer have natural resources to sell.


African countries need to focus on skill development for the local workforce, encourage Chinese investment into more labour intensive sectors and make way for creation of more jobs in Africa. No jobs in Africa for the growing workforce is likely to create a large and growing population of frustrated, jobless youth.


There is hope! Rising Chinese wages in the manufacturing sector may lead Chinese manufacturers to export jobs to African countries where labour prices are lower. Chinese companies have created jobs and exports in countries like Zambia and Ethiopia.


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