Africa, the next factory of the world

Book Presentation Irene Yuan Sun

We – ECOTEC – had the honor to assist Harvard Business Review Publishing and the Global Peter Drucker Forum to organize the presentation of the book

The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment is reshaping Africa“ by Irene Yuan Sun,

in Vienna on Wednesday, 15 November 2017.

Some 70 people gathered at the Viennese Rathaus and listened to the eloquent young Chinese-American author, who grew up in China until she was six, then emigrated to the US, went to school until she graduated at Harvard College, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Kennedy School.

Today, Irene Yuan Sun co-leads McKinsey & Company’s research and client work on Africa-China business and economic development. At the interface between Chinese and African economic realities, she had the unique opportunity to visit some 50 Chinese factories in Lesotho, Nigeria, Kenya and other African countries.

Her book discusses how Chinese entrepreneurs – together with African partners and workers – are building in Africa what they learnt to build in China: A global manufacturing powerhouse. This new phenomenon gives rise to the tantalizing possibility of an industrial revolution in Africa that could lift hundreds of millions out of poverty.

The African industrialization through Chinese entrepreneurs …

… that is the theses put forward by Irene Sun.

What a surprise for Europeans. We are used to criticize the Chinese involvement in Africa as too greedy, too much looking on its own interests, too much exploiting natural resources, plus local people, violating human rights, sending cheap plastic products, and so on.

The reality is very different. Without Chinese interventions, no „Africa rising“ would have happened. First, Chinese began to build infrastructures in African countries on a massive scale.  Where European had discussed for years or even decades, China just started to build roads, railways, airports, buildings, even urban public transport infrastructures. We heavily criticized the quality. Instead of seeing that they were building what Africans wanted and needed, while we were not.

And now this.

For decades politics incentivised European companies to invest in African countries. Almost no one went. Instead, we criticized African countries for not providing enough physical and institutional infrastructures.

Different development model

But Chinese entrepreneurs invested nevertheless. They seem to follow a different development model. If they see an opportunity, they just go for it. More than 10.000 Chinese companies are already doing business in African countries, more than 1000 have built factories.

Whereas our model seems to be that we firstly need almost perfect conditions – from infrastructure to rule of law, from democracy to „good governance“ – then we would go.

Guess, who is changing the world?


 

 

Organizers of the book presentation:

Irene Yuan Sun


 

The event was organized in the course of the 9th Global Peter Drucker Forum, which took place on November 16th and 17th, 2017.

Global Peter Drucker Forum

 

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