South African retailers are driving commercial development in Africa. As they expand so does the need for retail and office space in cities such as Lagos, Ghana, Nairobi, Maputo and others. "If you look at Lagos and Ghana the buildings around these cities are old and derelict and were built in the 1960s," Mr Mackintosh said.What happened to the Chinese? Although a lot of people comment that the Chinese are "everywhere" in the retail sectors in Africa, I see a lot of small-scale Chinese activity and a lot of large-scale South African activity. Look at Arcades, Manda Hill, or another of the new malls cropping up in Lusaka, Zambia, for example. You can get a cappuccino at Mugg and Bean, groceries at Shoprite or more upscale food at Woolworths, appliances at Game, clothes at Truworths or Uzzi, have lunch at Ocean Basket, and did I mention the South African banks: Standard Chartered, FNB, Stanbic, and so on. If all that shopping tires you out, you can take a room at South African-owned Protea Hotel.
Chinese cities have the fanciest of malls, just as South African cities do. But while the South African companies that invest in Zambia's retail sector come from the prominent side of South African retail, that doesn't seem to be the case for the Chinese. Why not?