Since China’s opening up decades ago, coupled with its miraculous economic transformation, it has attracted a wave of foreign expats and migrants from all over the world. This influx is however dominated by Africans who have made Guangzhou, capital of the coastal Guangdong Province their home.
Most of these African migrants are traders who are looking to increase their living standards by capitalizing on China’s economic success. According to the city’s Entry and Exit department, Guangzhou has about 120,000 permanent foreign residents of which an estimated 16,000 are Africans. Most Africans are located in districts including Dengfeng, Kuangquan, Taojin, Baiyun, Xinshi and Yuexiu.
In a report published by Southern Metropolis Daily, a local newspaper in Guangzhou, 20 percent of African traders in the city earned more than the average income of locals employed in white-collar jobs. The newspaper in Guangzhou interviewed 204 people from more than 50 African nations. Of the 165 interviewees who revealed their monthly income, 37 said they earn more than 30,000 yuan a month doing business in the southern city. The figure is higher than the average income of local white-collar workers.
Okechuku 38, a Nigerian trader describes his story as one from grass to grace. According to him, he had a hard time securing a Chinese Visa in 2009 when he decided to seek greener pastures in abroad. He said he came to China under the pretence of studying but took the opportunity to venture into trade when he realized the opportunities available. With a minimum start-up capital of $5,000 he said he has made good for himself earning not less than $7,000 every month. He has a Chinese wife who is expecting their baby.
Relating his daily activities, he said he is mainly involved in buying and selling. “I have a boutique in my country. I buy affordable clothes from wholesalers here in China and ship them home. I also buy electronic gadgets, mostly latest mobile phones and tablets computers which have seen high demand back home”, he said.