CHINESE WORKERS IN NIGERIAN MINES

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nigeria's mining industry is a sector on the verge of a boom. The current administration has been propositioned by various countries and mining companies seeking to take advantage of the nation's ample natural resources such as gold, precious and semi-precious gemstones, metals and ores. Like in many other African countries, China has made many inroads in Nigeria's mining industry.


http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/wow/0atogethergether.jpg
It appears that Chinese companies not only manage/control certain mining interests in Nigeria, but Chinese citizens are also working in these mines. A recent news report indicated that two Chinese workers got into a fight resulting in the death of one of them.

First off, let there be no confusion. This piece is not anti-China or Chinese by any measure. China's policy of exporting citizens to live and work in many of the countries where China has invested is a sound policy for China's future and growing population. However, what is good for China is not necessarily good for Nigeria, hence, it is imperative for Nigeria to enter into agreements with China very carefully.

There is little reason to have Chinese workers in Nigerian mines. Nigerians themselves are not only quite capable of working in their national mines, they are also in need of steady employment, something that the mining sector can provide. Furthermore, the presence of Chinese workers in other parts of the African continent has led to serious conflicts because this imported labor deprives citizens of work opportunities. Such tensions should not be encouraged by agreements that favor China and its citizens but disadvantage local labor.

There is also the issue of reciprocity. It must also be remembered that it is hard for Nigerians to go to China, work and live there. Considering this reality, any future agreements between Nigeria and China should make it easier for Nigerian businessmen and women to not only get to China, but open their own businesses in mainland China.

China's growing economy means that it is almost impossible for any country to not interact with it. One can only hope that a nation Nigeria will make sure that its dealings with China and Chinese businesses benefit not just a few, but many Nigerians.

* The picture above is not specific to Nigeria but used merely as illustration for this piece.


From the Archives:
- Who Will Develop Nigeria?
- Who Will Develop Nigeria Pt. 2
- Could Coal Be A Power Solution For Nigeria
- Nigeria Is Full Of Gas


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Omo Oba said...

I am glad someone has brought light to this issue. I was so astounded when I went back home in august and saw how this new form of colonization...what i call a 2nd colonization. There is this huge hotel in Lekki - oriental hotel, imagine they had the chinese flag flying and not a single flag that smelled of green, white, green. As in, they no recognize at all o! And men, we really just have to learn from our past history and be very very careful.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ omo Oba: thanks so much fro stopping by. I have heard about that hotel and other areas where there is a large concentration of Chinese workers and immigrants. It remains unclear to me how it works for Nigeria to consent to foreign labor on its shores.

Hope all is well.

Mogaji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mogaji said...

Foreign relations is not a particularly strong suit for the Nigerian government. Let's face it we have even bigger more immediate issues, not that I don't see how this would further complicate things. Countries have mutual arrangements on these issues like visas and stays for workers or students. I'm not sure we have that international savvy for negotiation.

Azazel said...

As u said, if they are going to bring workers to naija.. Nigerians should be able to go to china also. But will our politicians do this? Nope.
China really does have an aggressive economic policy.

Parakeet said...

This is a balanced article...workers emigrating to other regions to work is almost inevitable but as you said, it has to be of mutual benefits to countries involved. Perhaps it's time the Nigerian government started training schemes to get more jobless people into industries like this.

Rose said...

Hmmmn, Interesting, I think if the Chinese have found wonderful prospects here, the Nigerian Government should propose terms that would benefit both parties in the long run! We are getting there, Hopefully...

Anonymous said...

It's really unfair that they keep using us but for where?? Yar'adua would never hear word! lolzz

joicee said...

Not trying start anything but I hope we will look and learn from what the influx of chinese workers in other african countries ie Angola have caused...

Anonymous said...

Its a shame that Nigerian leaders continues to fail us even in simple things like trade agreement with other Country only for us to end with the short end of the stick. This is all because our so called leaders goes to the table with what they can get out of the negotiation for themselves as to what will benefit the whole nation. A country like Nigeria with the population of 140 million and still counting, one of our attribute is cheap labour is now signing agreement with china on trade agreement and consented to having china bring in their own cheap labour to come and do what nigerians can do. what shame could be more than that.
I will keep saying it over and over again Our leaders needs to be shot

Doja 2.0 said...

I guess it would be unfair to suggest that Nigeria should not have foreign worker given the fact that Nigerians work in other countries too, however whenever I hear the words China and Nigeria in the same sentence alarm bells start going off in my head!

9ja_Kuti said...

we outsource our jobs to china... in quite a few of the chinese owned nail salons around this zone. you are sure to have an all chinese staff. could this be the case with the mines in nigeria?

Sugabelly said...

I would say something about this since it has been worrying me for some time now, but somebody will undoubtedly come here, read my comments with an "angry voice" playing in their heads and call me a racist.

so why fucking bother?

Abimbola said...

it's a pity we have so much resources (natural, human, economic, agriculture, solid minerals etc.) lying waste untapped, unused, unproductive. yet ALL we look up to for resource is oil which people are dying for unecessarily. a section of the country produces, a section reaps and squanders wealth from that one resource. YET every inch of this blessed country is so rich that we don't have to continue to live in the current state of abject poverty we are in now...
isn't this so sad???

Omo Oba said...

I just read this on BBC. thot i'd share: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8314534.stm

Hafsat said...

Hello Omo Oba. Thanks for an interesting article and for the link to the BBC one. A friend sent me the link to your site, perhaps because I was living in Beijing until 2 months ago and because i just started a company facilitating business btw China and Africa. While in China, I did a masters degree in International Development because i wanted to learn the Chinese and East Asian perspective on this.

Like many of the comments, the courses emphasize the need for a strong state. But, they also point out the need for investment. According to UNCTAD, traditional investment into Africa declined through the 80s and 90s, from 25% of all investment in developing countries in the early 1970s, down to a low of 5% by the late 1990s. If we spend all our time demonizing China, we would be missing the essential truth that the investment from China (and India and any other source) is a necessary element in our bid to develop.

Of course investment is not sufficient. How the investment is managed matters; terms must be properly negotiated in order to come out ahead but the Chinese cannot be expected to negotiate terms for us. They can negotiate terms that protect their interests. We have to negotiate terms that protect ours. We should take responsibility for our situation.

Last thing: there are many concrete things we can do to promote our ability to engage effectively with the Chinese. For example, the next meeting between China's govt and the govts of Africa's countries takes place next month in Egypt. The meeting takes place every two or three years and is a time for discussion about cooperation between China and Africa. We should ensure that our govt is adequately prepared for this meeting with information about the challenges so it can be raised at that forum. Also, the Chinese govt committed at the last meeting in 2006 to sponsor African students to attend Chinese universities. This is ongoing and the scholars are chosen by the African states. We should raise awareness about this opportunity so students who are qualified and interested can apply. And then there is the preferential trade access that China has granted most African countries but this is not be used by our producers and manufacturers. Why? We should look into it and address the obstacles.

Fundamentally, we need to educate ourselves so we can take advantage of what opportunities exist.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ omo oba: Thanks so much for the BBC link

@ Hafsat: Thanks for sharing your insight

@ everyone: thank you for taking the time to swing by and join the conversation. I am working on a follow up post on Nigeria-Sino relations and hope you will come on back to share your insight. It will be up on Monday, October 26th.

Thanks!

eccentricyoruba said...

it seems the Nigerian government will never have the best interests for its citizens at heart. i do see Chinese interest as a double-edged sword, if i am using that term correctly. anyway China offers opportunity but only if African leaders will for once put the interests of their citizens at the forefront. i personally do not blame China as their government is doing what it can for its people. this whole thing seriously saddens me and it i don't know why i just keep on remembering what happened with Chinese mine workers in Zambia.

Naijadude said...

This is quite disturbing while reading it. I remembered watching a clip of Ruff n Tumble boss complaining about the same thing. The question is what is the government of the people doing to watch for the exploitation? I read a report saying the Chinese govt showed interest in buying 6 billion barrels of oil that 3 companies(Shell, Exxon and Chevron) used to manage and enrich the Nigerian populace all by themselves, and we watch a repeat of this happening? Wow, NigerDelta will never be this same.

I hope the government sees the prospective danger in these oppressive actions and find way not to make it happen!!

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