I’m much more of an expert in the business field, and when it comes to commerce, I can say that the Chinese are winning because they deserve it.

The Chinese are winning in Africa because they handle uncertainty well, get their hands dirty, demonstrate remarkable tenacity, and adapt their economic model locally. These are common traits among most successful entrepreneurs in Africa, regardless of their origin.

Vimal Shah closely observed the eagerness of the Chinese to tackle uncertainty head-on. He describes his experience of raising funds in Beijing and New York:

“In my opinion, the biggest problem in Africa is capital formation. There’s an abundance of entrepreneurs, people who think well, with ideas that can work, but they don’t have access to capital. I went to Wall Street once to raise funds, and here’s what I was told: ‘If you want 1 billion dollars, you can raise it in a week for a viable project in the United States. But as soon as you mention Africa and a billion in the same sentence, it’s going to take you years.’ China comes to us and says, ‘Okay, no problem, we’re here. We have funds. Let’s do things together.’ That’s what Africa needs.”

In addition to capital, African business leaders often see the Chinese bringing energy and responsiveness to the projects they undertake. “In Africa, we’ve suffered from the fact that the West only funds based on yesterday’s demand,” says James Mwangi. “We need to be able to build based on future demand. Westerners struggle with that.”

Anticipating demand drives much of the most significant development projects in Africa. Infrastructure projects, in particular, are essential for African growth and must be undertaken based on future (and uncertain) demand. Yet few Western companies have been willing to embrace this level of uncertainty.

The Chinese, however, are ready. Between 2001 and 2010, the World Bank estimates that approximately $35 billion was invested by official Chinese entities to finance projects…

This text is an excerpt from the book “These Businesses That Succeed in Africa” written by Jonathan Berman.

We invite you to read the following article “GOOD GOVERNANCE FOR YOUR BUSINESS“.

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