Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

10 March 2014

Ethiopia: Treading a New Path - Chinese Companies Eye Booming Ethiopia

analysis

Chinese labour is cheap, sure - but Ethiopian labour is even cheaper. As margins get tighter at home, Chinese companies are looking further afield, and many are settling on Ethiopia as an attractive alternative for their factories and plants. By ELISSA JOBSON in Addis Ababa.

At 6.45am the first bus halts outside the main gates of the Eastern Industry Zone. The doors clang open. Bleary-eyed young men and women begin to emerge and brace against the chill morning air. A second, then a third and fourth bus arrives from the nearby dormitories, disgorging more and more workers dressed in the turquoise polo shirts that employees are required to wear on the shop floor at Huajian, one of China's largest footwear manufacturers.

Each member of staff pauses briefly at the factory door and presses an identity tag against the electronic sensor that records their clocking-in time. Minutes later small groups of employees begin to assemble inside and outside the main buildings. Lines are formed, calisthenic drills executed and chants recited before workers march briskly to their stations and begin their duties.

These scenes, played out in thousands of factories across China each day, seem more than a little incongruous here in...

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