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How Chinese Traders Both Help and Hurt Local Merchants in Ghana

It’s well documented that a lot of people in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa resent the growing Chinese migrant presence, both in terms of the people who come and the Chinese way of doing business that is often culturally out of sync with local customs.

Those perceptions, however, can be misleading.

While an influx of Chinese business people in places like Accra have brought new, intense competition for local merchants and suppliers, they’ve also helped to lower prices for consumers. Other merchants, who buy wholesale, appreciate the new competition from Chinese traders because prices are also lower for them as well. And landlords in Accra’s Central Business District aren’t complaining either about the arrival of the Chinese given that rents have gone up.

“Within the same trading, Chinese merchants sell in big quantities to Ghanaians with shops and to hawkers. The Ghanaian shop owner in a ‘collaborative’ relationship with the Chinese thus also faces competition from hawkers as they all have access to the same source of goods — the Chinese.” — Researchers Kwaku Dankwah and Marko Valenta

Kwaku Dankwah, a Ph.D. candidate in the department politics and international relations at the University of Adelaide in Australia, studies the impact of the growing presence of Chinese merchants in Ghana and the reactions this new immigrant group provokes from consumers and business owners. Together with Marko Valenta from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, he co-wrote a paper on the subject: “Chinese entrepreneurial migrants in Ghana: socioeconomic impacts and Ghanaian trader attitudes.”

Kwaku joins Eric and Cobus to discuss why the Chinese merchant presence in Accra’s Central Business District is both reviled and welcomed, sometimes even by the same people.

Show Notes:

About Kwaku O. Dankwah:

Kwaku is a PhD candidate (International Relations) and Academic Staff member (tutoring Comparative Politics with a focus on USA, China, India, Japan, Russia and EU) at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Adelaide (UoA), Australia. His research project deploys a comparative approach in exploring constructions of China in two sub-Saharan Africa countries. He is an experienced Teaching/Research Assistant with an extensive intercontinental profile (his academic travels have taken him to all continents except Latin America) and trades on the Australian, New York and Ghana Stock Exchanges. Kwaku holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Ghana (UG).

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