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New Light on Chinese enterprises in Africa: Findings from a recent survey of Chinese Firms in Kampala, the capital of Uganda


  • Meine Pieter van Dijk

    (Professor at Maastricht School of Management)

  • Ward Warmerdam

    (PhD student at ISS of EUR)


In this paper five issues will be analyzed. In the first place that no separation is made between providing Chinese aid, developing trade relations with China and starting investment activities in Africa. Secondly, is it true that the Chinese government helps Chinese entrepreneurs to get started in Africa. In the third place it is often suggested that Chinese entrepreneurs start after a Chinese aid project or construction job. Another issue is the presence of Chinese traders: what is the role of Chinese whole sale or retail traders in Africa and why are these entrepreneurs so successful? Finally we will look at employment and environmental issues in which Chinese entrepreneurs are said to be involved. Based on interviews of 42 Chinese enterprises in Uganda evidence is presented concerning what types of enterprises moved into Uganda and for which reason? We will analyze to what extent Chinese enterprises employ Chinese workers and Ugandan managers. What motivates these Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Uganda and how do they deal with the challenges such as labour and environmental legislation? Which problems do they face? The relations between Uganda and China are influenced by the influx of Chinese enterprises in Uganda and the issues this raises. African countries are sensitive to the issue of Chinese companies competing with African firms. Many African countries question whether Chinese (small) traders are necessary to sell Chinese products in Africa. To what extent are 'wholesale' shops in Uganda in fact involved in retail business and how does Uganda react to this? The analysis challenges some of the generalizations concerning China's presence in Africa. We conclude that Uganda is becoming increasingly proactive in its relationship and tries to increase the contribution of Chinese enterprises to the Ugandan economy, while defining the terms on which Chinese citizens can come to work in Uganda.

Suggested Citation

  • Meine Pieter van Dijk & Ward Warmerdam, 2012. "New Light on Chinese enterprises in Africa: Findings from a recent survey of Chinese Firms in Kampala, the capital of Uganda," Working Papers 2012/53, Maastricht School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:msm:wpaper:2012/53

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Giles Mohan & May Tan-Mullins, 2009. "Chinese Migrants in Africa as New Agents of Development? An Analytical Framework," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 21(4), pages 588-605, September.
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