A Chinese man watches over a roadworks project in Kinshasa, the capital of DR Congo. All photos were taken by our Observer Kevin Diakimuntu Kedika.
Xi Jinping, China’s new president, has chosen to visit to Africa as part of his first foreign tour – and for good reason. With more than 2,000 businesses operating on the continent and making more than 36 billion dollars a year, China has in just a few years become Africa’s number one business partner. From Togo to the Democratic Republic of Congo, our African Observers employed by Chinese companies told us about their jobs.
On August 4, a Chinese official from a carbon mine in southern Zambia was killed by miners
who rebelled against salaries they considered to be too low. The Zambian workers demanded that the mine owners bring their pay up to the minimum wage level set by the government. Two years earlier, at the same mine, concerns over wages and security had already led to a violent confrontation in which two officials from Collum Coal mine opened fire on striking miners, injuring several of them.
Throughout Africa, more and more protests against Chinese companies
have been held in the past few years, whether to demand better salaries or to denounce the detrimental effect that the Chinese competition has had on African-owned businesses. (At African markets, Chinese products are sold at much lower prices than local products).
Trade between China and Africa has grown ten-fold over the past decade.
Originally seeking raw materials, Chinese businesses seized the opportunity to invest heavily in Africa’s poor infrastructure while taking advantage of cheap local labour. In China, the minimum wage is approximately 100 to 180 euros per month
, depending on the region. In Africa, workers’ salaries vary from country to country, but for manual labour, they are generally less than 100 euros per month.
If you work for a Chinese firm and would like to share your experience, please post your comments at the bottom of the page.