There has been a flood of content recently on both Local and International media praising the activities of China in Ethiopia. The Chinese appears to have 'taken over' the Manufacturing and Industrial sectors in Ethiopia and what the media is focusing on is why the Chinese should be appreciated for 'employing Ethiopians' to work in this factories?
An article by Jenni Marsh, published today on the Cable News Network (CNN) is perhaps one of the most 'detailed' piece that 'exposes' the activities of Chinese Corporations in Ethiopia; but like the others, it focused on the 'positive' impact of China in Ethiopia and how they are changing the narratives of locals in Ethiopia and Africa. How true?
In her article titled "EMPLOYED BY CHINA", and rightly so (Pun intended), she started by saying that asking the all important question when she wrote:
"It’s often assumed that the Chinese in Africa ‘bring their own’ and don’t hire locals. In Ethiopia, that’s not the case - but will it lift the country out of poverty?"
Why should Ethiopia or Africa in general be grateful to China? For opening factories that exploit our systems and take advantage of cheap labour where workers are treated in the worst conditions possible and paid peanuts? Should Africa bow down and lick the boots of the Chinese who collaborate with the corrupt African leaders to gamble our future.
In Marsh's article, she said "Businessmen like Zhang are seen as the country’s ticket out of poverty." The question is 'By who?' What stops the government of Ethiopia and/or wealthy Ethiopian entrepreneurs from opening factories that can employ people en-mass? What were the agreements with these Chinese before these factories were established, apart from the obvious financial gains from producing sub-standard products with cheap labour, what do they stand to gain and what were the details of their secret deals with the African governments?
According to Marsh's article, Zhang Huarong, a Chinese entrepreneur whom she described as a "self-made textile tycoon from Jiangxi province [who] became one of the first Chinese entrepreneurs to heed the call of Ethiopia’s then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to open a factory in his country", said “In China, no one wants to make shoes anymore.” Seeing this, I asked myself, "Isn't this one of the real reasons why this 'self-made' Chinese entrepreneur moved to Africa and not his vision of "21st-century manufacturing missionary whose goal is to create more than 100,000 jobs in the poorest parts of Africa" which the media is currently propagating.
Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that didn't experience Colonialism, but it appears their Colonialism has just began and it is the Chinese who are calling the shots - how sad! It is no longer news that to gain promotions in these factories (from the rank of casual worker), the Africans must learn to speak Chinese. This was confirmed in Marsh's article when she wrote:
"Getachew has taught himself to speak Chinese to give himself 'unique' employment skills.
“I tried to find out everything I could about China on the internet, when I saw Asian people, I just tried to speak to them,” he says.
Also, the poor wages paid to these workers come to question. Have we asked ourselves why these Chinese Corporations are trooping to Ethiopia? Well, the answer is simple! In Ethiopia, Chinese Corporations and other business owners can pay workers 'what ever they like' because unlike 90% of International Labour Organization member states, Ethiopia has no minimum wage. The international poverty line is about $57 a month. Workers at the Factory which Marsh used as a case study in her article are paid only 1,200 birr ($44) a month plus overtime. Can you imagine that?
This is modern age colonialism and this is also confirmed by a video trending online on You Tube posted by Vocativ which shows over 6, 000 factory workers singing a Chinese Communist Anthem in Ethiopia before commencement of work.
Why Should Ethiopia and Africa in General be 'Grateful' To China?
Africa, O' Africa.....not Again!
No doubt Emperor Haile Selassie and Kwame Nkrumah will be turning in their graves.
I rest my case!