|Local people are key to firms' success in Africa|
Updated: 2011-12-09 08:10
By Li Zhibiao (
Over the past decade, outflow of Chinese companies and investments have spread across the world. As the ties between
During the decade,
Thanks to the Chinese companies,
Many other African countries share
In the meantime, as Chinese companies entered African market, concerns and problems in their daily business operation and management also surfaced. They fall under the following three categories:
First, operating in African countries, Chinese companies have concerns about security for their employees and assets. During the recent years, violent incidents, such as robberies targeting Chinese companies in African countries, have been widely reported by media worldwide. In June 2009, a group of armed bandits robbed a Chinese construction company at its hydropower plant construction site. Seven Chinese employees were injured, and all cash and some assets of the company were taken away. As a result, the project was halted.
Second, some Chinese companies may get involved in disputes with local community. A number of Chinese companies have projects in remote areas and it is difficult for them to seek immediate help from the local government.
In 2008, a crowd of local people gathered at a construction site of a Chinese railway construction company, asking for work opportunities. Pressured by the situation, the company hired them. But after the company fired some of those who were slack in their work, they began making troubles at the construction site. The company eventually had to seek government protection.
Finally, some companies have complaints about governments of African countries. In
Numerous Chinese companies in different African countries share these three kinds of problems. But to some extent, these problems were caused by the fact that many Chinese companies do not quite understand local culture or customs, particularly the legal system. In fact, most of the African countries have a comprehensive and sophisticated legal system. And African people are also very keen on defending their own rights within the legal framework.
In addition, Chinese companies should also pay more attention to issues such as environment protection and social responsibility, when they intended to invest in the local market. Some companies prefer working with high-ranking government officials and refuse to understand the local community. This kind of practice is quite dangerous, particularly in the African continent where the political situation is comparatively unstable.
We should remember that no company can achieve overseas development without support from local people. And one of the most effective approaches is to participate in the local community and perform your share of social responsibility.
The author is a researcher at the