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Sourcing From China: How Chinese Firms Are Benefiting From Kenyan Contracts

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African workers in Chinese companies PHOTO|COURTESY

Chinese companies in Kenya are increasingly hiring more locals, a new report has shown.

The Kenya China Economic and Trade Association (KCETA) said last year alone, its affiliate member enterprises created more than 50,000 jobs for locals, up from 42,000 in 2016.

The report indicates that there are 106 Chinese companies operating in Kenya, with nearly 95 percent of their workforce being Kenyan. “Having chosen to take root in Kenya, many Chinese enterprises are continuing with their localisation drive…”read the report.

Chinese companies, both private and State-owned, have been increasingly eyeing Africa for investment opportunities.

Most of the jobs created by Chinese firms are in the manufacturing and service sectors, which account for 62 percent of the total number of these firms in Kenya.

The report does not indicate whether the workers were casual labourers or contract workers. Almost all positions with no special skill requirement were filled with locally recruited employees. The presence of Chinese companies in Kenya has been proven to test labour laws over concerns over Chinese labour practices often viewed as unfair.

Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ababu Namwamba commended the firms and urged them to take advantage of the conducive environment to grow even as he challenged the same to observe ethical business practices.

Some of the Chinese firms come with racist attitudes and slavery work ethic. Just recently in a video that went viral, Liu Jiaqi, a Chinese national, was deported by the Kenyan immigration for racial slurs against his Kenyan colleagues.

Cheap labour on the continent is fueled by the high rate of unemployment. Cheap labour is nothing new in Chinese work environments. When this is brought to African countries where Africans are overworked and paid peanuts, the government must step up and do something about it.

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Apart from taking loans from the Chinese,  The Kenyan government and labour union have more work to do about how their people are treated under employment by the Chinese firms.


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