Monday, 3 March 2014


In recent years in Zambia there has been much debate about the pros and cons of Chinese investment and the Sino-Zambian economic partnerships that have been established. Much construction and infrastructure work has been undertaken that has helped to grow the Zambian economy. Locally we have had a Government Boarding School built and the much improved Sesheke-Senanga Road opened. However, there have also been some concerns expressed about institutionalised corruption, human rights violations, poor management style and cultural insensitivity. However, these failings are not the sole prerogative of Chinese companies and their expatriates. It would be equally instructive to see the results of a similar private poll of the employees at Mopani, KCM Konkola or Associated British Food’s Zambia Sugar. 

A recent survey has been conducted and the results published by the Ethics Institute of South Africa (EthicsSA)  about the perception of Africans of the impact of Chinese business on the continent and their perception of Chinese business’ behaviour. The data is based on a sample of 1056 people mainly in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. 5% were Zambian.

Those sampled were asked about:

(i)              their reputation,

(ii)            the quality of products and services

(iii)          social responsibility

(iv)          economic responsibility

(v)            environmental responsibility

(vi)          employment practices

The table below shows that the responses were generally negative and there is much work needed to be done to turn this about and change this

Negative perception
Positive perception
Quality of Products/services
Environmental responsibility
Economic responsibility
Social responsibility
Employment practices

Unsurprisingly the report recommends that Chinese firms need to work hard, especially on improving the quality of goods and services, and on their responsibilities as environmentally and socially aware employers. To do this, increased engagement in mutual understanding is required. This is a two way process as African partners and leaders in business and politics must be ethical and responsible too if adherence to these principles is to work, and the ordinary African citizen is to benefit from the investment and exploitation of the continent’s resources.  China’s growing presence and its rapidly developing importance as a trading partner gave rise to all sorts of theories, insinuations and half-truths of their motives for doing so. This report gives some solid facts and data to help in developing Sino-African partnerships at various levels. The full report is available at:

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