Africa Focus: Sino-Africa infrastructure cooperation: not just jobs, but chances to change life
NAIROBI, March 29 (Xinhua) -- After two years of searching, Sharif Mutunga finally got a laborer job for Kenya's ongoing standard gauge railway project constructed by a Chinese firm.
"The pay is better compared to similar works elsewhere," he said. "The job has changed my perspective on life and I am optimistic that my future will be bright".
He is one of the 8,000 Kenyans who have been employed at different sections of the 472-kilometer railway that will run from the coastal town of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi.
The project, believed to be one of the largest infrastructure projects in Kenya's history and with an estimated cost of 3.8 billion U.S. dollars, will need more than 30,000 Kenyan employees at its peak, said China Roads and Bridge Corporation, builder of the railway.
Along with cheap consumer goods, mega infrastructure projects and exotic food, China has also brought to the continent what many Africans want most: jobs.
Statistics by the end of 2013 show that there are more than 100, 000 Africans working in over 2,500 Chinese companies that are doing business in Africa, covering finance, telecommunication, energy, manufacturing and agriculture.
According to a Reuters report in 2010, the Chinese founded Imboulou Hydroelectric dam hired 2,000 Congolese out of its total 2,400 workers, while China's state-owned Sinohydro said last year its Grand Poubara dam project in Gabon has 1,000 workers, with 700 Africans.
A survey by the China Africa Business Council in 2013 showed its 193 member companies in Africa had over 34,000 local employees comparing to 6,400 Chinese workers, an average ratio of 2 Chinese to every 10 African workers.
China-Africa trade had expanded 10 times to more than 210 billion dollars in 2013. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the figure is expected to reach 400 billion by 2020. More jobs will be created to meet the needs of this fast-growing trade.
After years of operating in Africa, Chinese companies has also found themselves in need of more educated local staff, such as engineers, technicians and managers.
Eovis Kagiha had also got a job at the railway project four years after college graduation, but he is a safety officer, with a salary sufficient "to make a comfortable living".
He hoped to apply what he has learnt from the Chinese work ethic to start his own firm in the future, like thousands of Africans who had grown rich with skills learnt from working with Chinese.
China is also expected to promote cooperation with Africa on labor-intensive industries to help the growth and prosperity of "Made in Africa" and make investment the pivot of a closer, more inclusive and sustainable China-Africa economic and trade relationship.
This trend, with the Chinese-supported industry zones in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zambia and Mauritius will help Africa create more employment opportunities urgently needed by its youth.