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Chinese Technologies and pro-poor industrialisation in Sub Saharan Africa: The case of furniture manufacturing in Kenya


  • Richmond Atta-Ankomah


Despite very rapid growth, absolute poverty levels in sub Saharan Africa (SSA) have remained high. Kenya’s economic performance reflects these wider trends with a relatively high growth, but high levels of poverty and unemployment. These adverse developmental trends are associated with the fact that industrialisation and agricultural mechanisation efforts in SSA economies have largely relied on imported technologies from advanced economies, many of which are unsuited to African factor endowments. This trend is, however, being reversed such that advanced countries are becoming less important as sources of technology for SSA economies while other developing countries, particularly China, are becoming more important sources. Through a case study of Kenya’s furniture industry, this paper seeks to assess whether technologies from China and the developing indigenous capital goods sector in Kenya may help address the development impasse. Drawing on detailed research with more than 100 furniture manufacturers in four clusters and spanning the formal and informal sectors, the paper compares the operating characteristics of Chinese machines, advanced country machines as well as the locally manufactured machines. The findings indicate that Chinese and Kenyan technologies appear more amenable for pro-poor industrialisation and development of SSA economies than those from advanced countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Richmond Atta-Ankomah, 2015. "Chinese Technologies and pro-poor industrialisation in Sub Saharan Africa: The case of furniture manufacturing in Kenya," Globelics Working Paper Series 2015-15, Globelics - Global Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation, and Competence Building Systems, Aalborg University, Department of Business and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:glowps:2015-15

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shaohua Chen & Martin Ravallion, 2013. "More Relatively-Poor People in a Less Absolutely-Poor World," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59(1), pages 1-28, March.
    2. World Bank, 2011. "World Development Indicators 2011," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2315.
    3. Morawetz, David, 1974. "Employment Implications of Industrialisation in Developing Countries: A Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 84(335), pages 491-542, September.
    4. Jonathan Munemo, 2013. "Examining Imports of Capital Goods From China as a Channel for Technology Transfer and Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of African Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(2), pages 106-116, August.
    5. repec:wbk:wbpubs:27344 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Edwards, Lawrence & Jenkins, Rhys, 2014. "The margins of export competition: A new approach to evaluating the impact of China on South African exports to Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 36(S1), pages 132-150.
    7. World Bank, 2013. "World Development Indicators 2013," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13191.
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