From a high of US$ 24.9 billion in 2016, Chinese lending plummeted to around US$ 9 billion for African countries in 2018. Around 62,600 workers returned to China between 2015 and 2018. Tens of thousands of Chinese workers who emigrated to Africa have returned to China.
Two consultancy firms have confirmed the change of China’s approach to Africa in the recent years. The global company Oxford China International Consultancy (OCIC) and Beijing-based Development Reimagined have both done their research.
The research shows that some Chinese workers have remained in Africa after changing their residence status. Most of them have become traders. The firms found that the overall number declined from over 263,000 to roughly 201,000.
The data is supported by the China Africa Research Initiative at John Hopkins University. The research found out that China lent a total of US$ 148 billion to about 50 African states. The lending took place between 2000 and 2018. From a high point of US$ 24.9 billion, Beijing’s lending dropped to around US$ 9 billion in 2018.
The return of workers to China is basically due to the growing demands of African governments to employ local staff. That includes the projects financed by China.
In Angola for instance, Chinese workers went from 44,000 in 2015 to 27,000 in 2018. Angola also saw the sharpest drop in loans from China from US$ 19.3 billion to US$ 80 million.
A 2019 study by the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London also shed some light on the issue. The study found that in Angola, 75 per cent of jobs at Chinese firms went to locals. Ethiopia had the highest ratios with 90 per cent of jobs at Chinese firms going to the locals.
Algeria hosts the largest number of Chinese workers. They however went from 91,000 to 60,000 in the recent years.