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Asian Drivers


The social and political impacts of South-South migration:

A comparative analysis of Chinese migrant integration in West Africa

Project aims

China's impact on Africa has been discussed at the broad geo-political scales of aid, large-scale investment, trade and diplomacy, with much concern expressed about the implications for governance in Africa and even fears of a new phase of 'imperialism';. Yet underlying these wider political and economic relationships is a profound social change at the local level in the shape of Chinese migration to countries where economic opportunities are greatest. This inflow of people, finances and goods could have positive effects on African development but as yet nobody knows the extent of this migration and analysis is based on wild speculation.

Hence, this ESRC-funded research (RES 062-23-1893) will

  • Analyse the patterns, processes and outcomes of Chinese migration to West Africa
  • Understand the responses of African governments to these migrants
  • Assess the factors determining the responses to the Chinese by ordinary Africans
  • Contribute to more informed policy and public debate on these issues

The research involves comparative analysis of Nigeria and Ghana where we focus on key sectors of the economy: oil, infrastructure, trading and manufacturing. Broadly speaking Nigeria has a bigger Chinese population than Ghana and its economy is driven by oil extraction. We will conduct qualitative research with Chinese associations and businesses in order to analyse their motivations, experiences and organisation. To gauge official African responses we will conduct semi-structured interviews with African policy makers and to understand popular perceptions of the Chinese we will conduct attitude surveys. For more details read the project flyer.

Project Updates

Read: Mohan, Giles and Tan-Mullins, May (2009). Chinese migrants in Africa as new agents of development? An analytical framework. European Journal of Development Research, 21(4), pp. 588–605.