In Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, Chinese companies are building huge industrial parks where thousands of Ethiopians work for very low wages.
You have to see it to believe it. Forty kilometers south-east of the capital, Addis Ababa, the town of Dukem is one of the many examples of China, which is infiltrating everywhere on the African continent, but more particularly on its east coast, along the Indian Ocean. Massive acquisitions of major infrastructure projects (dams, highways, bridges and railways) were followed. But in the town of Dukem, China is trying what Europe or the United States has done in Asia in recent decades.
An average pay of $ 36 per month
The entrance to the industrial park in Dukem is guarded by Chinese in black outfit. On an area of 40 hectares, Chinese companies have been able to set up factories of all kinds, such as a huge shoe factory where, behind thousands of sewing machines, young Ethiopian women are supervised by Chinese female foremen. Clothing manufacturer Huajian signed with the brands such as Guess or Calvin Klein. Its business plan signals an export drive from Ethiopia to earn the company $4 billion over ten years.
In the prefabricated buildings that serve as the lobby of the industrial park, the director, Jiao Yongshun, explains that these facilities were paid by the companies but that it is a free zone: no taxes for eight to ten years, customs services on the spot and one-stop shop of the Ethiopian administration, proximity to the port of Djibouti to then ship the finished products. “Everyone wins,” he says. Chinese companies are thus getting closer to their customers by paying their African workers much cheaper than Chinese employees, whose hourly wages have tripled in the last ten years.
According to recent official statistics, the average pay of an Ethiopian worker is $36 a month. Employees of industrial parks where the two flags of China and Ethiopia flutter side by side are supported for their technical training and for their accommodation by the Chinese investor.