What kinds of Chinese ‘Geese’ are flying to Africa? Evidence from Chinese Manufacturing Firms

Image: Flickr, International Labor Organization
Image: Flickr, International Labor Organization

This paper provides preliminary analysis of the nature of Chinese manufacturing investments in Africa, focusing predominantly on four countries — Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania —but also including examples as illustrations from other countries, when appropriate.

Drawing on fieldwork conducted between 2014 and 2016, the paper explores the varieties of existing Chinese manufacturing investment and the sectors into which Chinese companies are investing. We demonstrate in this paper that Chinese manufacturing investment in Africa is indeed expanding rapidly, yet the official data on investment approvals, both in China and in African countries, significantly overstates the actual number of investments in operation. Several investors do fit the model of
Akamatsu’s “flying geese”: large firms seeking new locations for production as part of global networks and value chains. However, we also identified three other kinds of “geese”: large, strategic, local market-seeking geese; raw material-seeking geese; and small geese travelling together in flocks. The different kinds of firms offer different kinds of development opportunities and challenges for structural transformation in Africa.

1 Aug 2018