Business / Economy

Firms pitch in to boost Africa's human capital

By Cheng Guangjin (China Daily) Updated: 2012-07-21 11:28

Chinese companies are helping to train high-end business talent for Africa, as the lack of such professionals has become a bottleneck for increased China-Africa business cooperation.

According to a recent report by People's Daily, 31 students from Angola received their bachelor's degrees in July from Changsha University of Science and Technology in Hunan province.

When they return to Angola, they will be vital to the country's efforts to improve infrastructure, said Wen Gang, general manager of China Road & Bridge Corp, which sponsored the tuition and living expenses for the students during their five-year study in China.

The company also sponsored 112 students from Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo to study in China in the last two years, the report said.

Dacheng Law Offices is in talks with universities and companies that have business in Africa to sponsor a training program for professionals, said Xiao Jinquan, a senior partner at the law firm, at the Second China-Africa People's Forum earlier this month.

Applicants for the training program, which will last between one and one-and-a-half years in China, must be recent university graduates or students in their last year of study in African countries, said Xiao.

"After finishing the training program, students will have the language ability, business and legal knowledge and experience to deal with Chinese companies," Xiao said.

"They will become the backbone of Chinese-African business," Xiao added.

The cost of training each student is estimated to be about $15,700 and will be covered by Chinese sponsors, according to Xiao.

Founded in 1992, Dacheng Law Offices has represented a few Chinese multinational companies in Africa.

"During our work there, we deeply felt the urgent need for high-level business talent in Africa, which has been an obstacle for Chinese companies to invest in Africa," said Xiao.

Despite the obstacles, Chinese investment and trade with African countries have been growing rapidly, and China has made commitments on many occasions to invest in human capital in Africa to promote economic growth.

During the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2009 in Egypt, Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to train 20,000 professionals of various fields for Africa by the end of 2012.

Total cumulative Chinese investment in Africa reached $45 billion as of June, of which more than $15 billion is direct investment.

More than 2,000 Chinese companies have operations in 50 countries in Africa, and local hires account for more than 85 percent of their workforce.

China has been Africa's top trading partner for the last three consecutive years. Trade between China and Africa in 2011 totaled $166.3 billion, an increase of 83 percent from 2009.

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