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Data: Chinese Contracts and Workers in Africa

data: 
Chinese Contracts and workers in africa


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To access China-Africa labor and contracts data, click here

To access anecdotes on Chinese workers in Africa, click here.

Anecdotes & Data

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It is widely believed that Chinese companies refuse to hire Africans and bring in all their own workers. The real story is more complicated. We have not yet seen a case of a Chinese company in Africa hiring no local workers at all, but the percentage of Chinese and Africans varies widely. Many factors affect this: local labor laws, the work permit regime, enforcement of work permits, the availability of skilled labor and its cost. In Angola, for example, emerging from decades of civil war, skilled and literate workers are scarce and expensive. Here, Chinese firms find it pays to import workers from China. Below we provide official numbers on annual number of Chinese workers in African countries, as well as the annual Chinese contract turnover by country. We have also supplied a growing list of anecdotes where we found information about the proportion of Chinese and Africans working on any given project, and the extent to which African managers and skilled labor are present.

CARI Data Overview

The number of Chinese workers in Africa by the end of 2014 is just over 252,000 according to official Chinese sources. This number represents a slight increase comparing to 2012, but lower than both 2011 and 2012. This number includes both labor for services and for contracted projects. In 2014, the top 5 countries with Chinese workers are Angola, Algeria, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, and Nigeria. These 5 countries are responsible for more than 60% of all Chinese workers in Africa at the end of 2014; Angola alone accounts for more than 20%.

In 2014, the value of turnover fulfilled contracted projects totaled US$53 billion. The top 5 countries are Ethiopia, Angola, Algeria, Nigeria, and the Republic of Congo. Ethiopia accounts for roughly 12.9% of Africa’s 2014 turnover fulfilled contracts. Except for a slowdown in 2011, the value of turnover fulfilled of contracted projects has been steadily increasing since 2000.

Existing Data

Official Sources

            Several Chinese government sources report figures of Chinese labor abroad and Chinese contract values fulfilled abroad, but all sources report the same numbers. These sources include the China Statistical Yearbooks, the official website of the National Bureau of Statistics, the China Annual Bulletin of Statistics of Contracted Projects, Labor Cooperation with Foreign Countries, and the Almanac of China’s Foreign Economic Relations and Trade. All sources have matching figures, the difference being the range of years covered. The labor data for 2010 was not available in any of the government sources.

Other Efforts

 There is currently no public database that CARI is aware of that reports on similar figures. 

Why CARI Data?

CARI has compiled the labor and contract figures from all of the above Chinese government sources to cover as many years as possible. The figures are converted to millions of US$.