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Publications: Policy Briefs




Working papers



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SAIS-CARI Policy Briefs

Photo: Tang Xiaoyang

Photo: Tang Xiaoyang

The Impact of Chinese Investment on Skill Development and Technology Transfer in Zambia and Malawi’s Cotton Sector

By: Tang Xiaoyang (Policy Brief 02/2019)

This paper by Tang Xiaoyang looks into China-Africa Cotton (CAC), one of the first Chinese cotton firms to enter the African market. The study analyzes China-Africa Cotton’s operations in Zambia to investigate the impact on the technological development of the local cotton sector. As a new player in the arena, CAC has business models and a management style that differ from those of previous foreign investors in the region. Within six years, CAC has grown from a sole ginnery into a firm with tens of thousands of contracted outgrowers, and is now a comprehensive multinational business with an integrated value chain.

Photo: Meng and Nyantakyi

Photo: Meng and Nyantakyi

Local Skill Development from China’s Engagement in Africa: Comparative Evidence from the Construction Sector in Ghana

By: Qingwei Meng and Eugene Bempong Nyantakyi (Policy Brief 01/2019)

This paper by Qingwei Meng and Eugene Bempong Nyantakyi explores local skill development from China’s engagement in Africa. Over the past decade, Chinese enterprises have made significant progress in developing new business ventures in Africa. There is ongoing debate whether these Chinese enterprises contribute to local skill development in their host countries. The authors use survey data from the construction sector in Ghana to examine the heterogeneity in skill transfer to local workers in Chinese enterprises, other foreign and local enterprises, and the challenges faced by firms in local skill development. The results show that both Chinese and other foreign owned enterprises contribute positively to local skill development through the provision of general and specific training. However, Chinese enterprises have a higher propensity to provide short-term general training to local workers than those of other foreign enterprises. The authors identify low technical education quality, low employee retention rate, short project time frame, and communication and cultural barriers as key challenges that distort incentives for skill-upgrading in the construction sector. Foreign governments and host country stakeholders could strengthen bilateral cooperation in technical and vocational education to mitigate these structural challenges.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Comparing the Determinants of Western and Chinese Development Finance Flows to Africa

By: David Landry (Policy Brief 29/2018)

This paper by David G. Landry explores whether various institutional indicators among African countries impact their development finance from China and Western countries differently. This research is the first to explicitly compare the determinants of the value of Chinese and Western development finance received by other countries. These papers find that bilateral trade relations and UN voting alignment have a stronger impact on China’s development finance than that of Western countries. They also find that institutional quality plays a much stronger role in predicting Western development finance than that of China, as China appears to disregard institutional quality in its allocation of development finance.

Photo: Hang Zhou

Photo: Hang Zhou

China-Britain-Uganda: Trilateral Development Cooperation in Agriculture

By: Hang Zhou (Policy Brief 28/2018)

Trilateral development cooperation is believed to reflect aid’s changing geographies while helping to forge new, more equitable partnerships. Chinese engagement in trilateral development cooperation has so far received limited attention, and this paper by Hang Zhou seeks to fill the gap. By drawing on field research from one of China’s first trilateral projects with traditional donors in Africa—a Ugandan cassava project co-initiated with Britain—this paper details key coordination challenges from the project implementation phase. More importantly, it also critically examines two often-claimed “advantages" of trilateral development cooperation: its contribution to more horizontal development partnerships and its role in providing recipient countries with more suitable technical assistance.

Photo: Ding Fei

Photo: Ding Fei

Work, Employment, and Training through Africa-China Cooperation Zones: Evidence from the Eastern Industrial Zone in Ethiopia

By: Ding Fei (Policy Brief 27/2018)

This paper by Ding Fei investigates the developmental impacts of Ethiopia’s Eastern Industrial Zone (EIZ) through a cross-company and cross-sector analysis of local worker experiences of working for, training with, and learning from resident companies. It highlights both similarities and differences in Chinese companies’ management strategies and training provisions, which are contingent upon industry sector, scale of production, and market conditions. While sixty percent of the surveyed local workers did receive training of varying quality and length, they were not satisfied with the training provision and promotion opportunities in current companies. The paper argues for concrete and targeted policy implementation by the Ethiopian government to enforce skills transfer by foreign investors, building of linkages between companies and local training institutions, and organizing zone-wide skills sessions.

Photo: Janet Eom

Photo: Janet Eom

Chinese manufacturing moves to Rwanda: A study of training at C&H Garments

By: Janet Eom (Policy Brief 26/2018)

As a small, landlocked country with few natural resources, Rwanda has focused on becoming a knowledge-intensive business and technology hub rather than a labor-intensive manufacturing base. But in 2015, a Chinese garment manufacturing firm, C&H Garments, began operations in Kigali. This paper by Janet Eom finds that the Rwandan government’s shift towards creating jobs in the manufacturing sector, and implementation of requirements for training and hiring local workers, have been key to negotiating an agreement with C&H Garments that supports technology transfer to Rwandans. In the process, this case demonstrates how African governments can require foreign investors to implement skills transfer programs to facilitate structural transformation. However, the C&H factory has also faced obstacles, including cultural and linguistic differences; this paper suggests the exchange of African managers between countries may help. Finally, this study holds significance given that the Rwandan government’s desire to boost local manufacturing capacity has been at the center of recent trade tensions between Rwanda and the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Photo: Wang, Lu, Allen

Photo: Wang, Lu, Allen

The East Africa Shift in Textile and Apparel Manufacturing: China-Africa Strategies and AGOA’s Influence

By: Weiyi Wang, Jinghao Lu, and Wilmot Allen (Policy Brief 25/2018)

With rapidly rising labor costs and tightening environmental policy, the global textile and apparel industry is expected to shift its center away from China. In fact, Chinese entrepreneurs have long started looking for opportunities in the African continent in the face of fierce domestic competition. What are the opportunities and challenges facing Chinese investment in the textile and apparel sectors in Africa? How can Africa capitalize on the preferential trade provisions of AGOA to boost these sectors? Drawing from field research and literature review, this policy brief by Weiyi Wang, Jinghao Lu, and Wilmot Allen examines the strategies of leading textile and apparel firms and makes recommendations for supporting more of the value chain shift into East Africa. 

Photo : Shutterstock

Photo : Shutterstock

What kinds of Chinese "Geese" are flying to Africa? Evidence from Chinese manufacturing firms

By: Deborah Brautigam, Tang Xiaoyang, and Ying Xia (Policy Brief 24/2018)

In a thoroughly researched piece, Brautigam, Tang, and Xia offer a preliminary analysis of the nature of Chinese manufacturing investments in Africa, focusing predominantly on four countries -- Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania.  Drawing on fieldwork conducted between 2014 and 2016, they explore the varieties of existing Chinese manufacturing investment and the sectors into which Chinese companies are investing. 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. While several investors fit the model of Akamatsu’s “flying geese” (large firms seeking new locations for production as part of global networks and value chains), the authors also identified three other kinds of “geese”: large, strategic, local market-seeking geese; raw material-seeking geese; and small geese traveling together in flocks. The different kinds of firms offer different kinds of development opportunities and challenges for structural transformation in Africa.