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Data: Chinese Workers in Africa

Chinese workers in africa

To access China-Africa labor data by country, click here.

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

1. Chinese Labor data overview 

The number of Chinese workers in Africa by the end of 2016 is 227,407 according to official Chinese sources. The number represents a slight increase compared to 2013, but lower than both 2015 and 2014. This number includes labor for both services and contracted projects and is reported by Chinese contractors. It does not include informal migrants such as traders and shopkeepers. In 2016, the top 5 countries with Chinese workers are Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Kenya. These 5 countries account for 65% of all Chinese workers in Africa at the end of 2016; Algeria alone accounts for 40%.


2. CARI Labor data compilation?

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

3. Existing Data

3.1 Official Sources

Several Chinese government sources report figures of Chinese labor 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, and the Almanac of China’s Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, as well as the Almanac of China's Foreign Economic Relations and Trade. All sources have matching figures, the difference being the range of years covered. 

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

4. CAri worker data anecdotes

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.