By S.U. Thoronka……
According to documents made available to Global Times by the Chinese Embassy in Freetown, it is apparent that Chinese businessmen have established over 2,000 enterprises in Africa and Sierra Leone is no exception.
Most of these enterprises are profitable and law-abiding to certain extent. They have provided job opportunities for local people and contributed greatly to help increase local revenues and improve livelihood. It has been noted that when China emerged as an economic giant sometime in the 20th Century, Western countries became worried that China might be a threat, especially when Sino-African Cooperation deepened and broadened. It was also noted that some Western media exaggerated cases where local workers got low pay at smaller Chinese owned businesses, with poor working conditions. “With China’s fast development Africans have higher expectations of China”.
Africans are of the opinion that as China is now the second largest economy in the world and begins to offer help to Europe, it should give them more aid. If it fails to do so, they would think China is no longer as generous as it was before, therefore Chinese enterprises should make Africans aware that all enterprises are profit oriented and only win-win cooperation is sustainable.
Another observation expressed in the document which many Chinese investors have not adapted to is the change in cooperation partners. It states that China- Africa Cooperation used to maintain at government to government level, but that currently non-governmental organization s are playing a greater role. It was further observed that in Africa, opposition parties, NGOs and trade unions are becoming more active than before. But that some Chinese investors still value their relationship with local governments more than relationship with local society and their employees, to an extent that many Chinese managers don’t feel like communicating with their African workers. They rely on “just do as you are told as I’m your boss” coupled with their inability to speak local language even though many have been there for years. In the document it was observed that this attitude of theirs prevented them from getting familiar with local cultures, customs and religious, which in turn lead to misunderstanding, contradictions and even conflicts. It has been observed that some Chinese enterprises are not familiar with local laws and regulations and African people’s way of thinking. And that some also ignore the differences in culture, customs and religion while at the same time Africans cannot get used to Chinese companies’ strict management style or the fast pace and stressful working method. In as much as there are Chinese enterprises doing well in African, some blindly pursue instant profit and pay insufficient attention to working conditions and welfare, spoiling the overall image of Chinese enterprises.
Comparatively, however, Chinese are more competitive as their investments are attached to no political condition and are based on equality and mutual benefits.