This is the second stop in the series focusing on the experience of Chinese Africans. It started with a little lady playing on the sidewalk of one of the central arteries of Brazzaville, the capital city of the Republic of Congo. She represents what the Chinese immigration across Africa has become in recent years: a quiet steady influx of families and children.
In this episode we push Rewind and Pause on who and what started this era-defining phenomenon: male professionals in the construction sector. They too, like the little lady, are shifting from temporary work visas to long-term – even permanent – stays as there are more and bigger Made-By-China infrastructure projects across the Continent from roads, bridges, dams, malls to hospitals, schools, public buildings, private houses.
The gentleman portrayed here manages a construction project in the centre of Brazzaville. The site is situated at 5-7 minutes walk from the monumental statue of Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, the French explorer who founded the city in 1883.
Generally speaking, the presence of an entire all-Chinese hierarchy on a site from entry-level and technical teams (electricians, operators, ironworkers) to senior level personnel (engineers, project managers, architects) is indicative of the size of the project. This one is massive.
The place used to host a giant outdoor swimming pool used by the personnel of the French colonial administration decades ago. It bore the name of Anne Marie Javouhey, an illustrious French nun.
Tomorrow there will stand what the Project Manager called with ample gestures “grand hotel“. That’s Brazzaville’s journey in 70+ years: a one-way ticket from a past conceived, built, named, visited by France (the Brazzaville Conference in 1944 is the sole grand event that the Général de Gaulle attended on the African soil) to a future that China is shaping and building today.
As far as I can see, today’s Chinese-built Brazzaville, Abidjan, Alger, Accra or Nairobi do not integrate Chinese architecture and design. There is not yet Chinese content inside these Made-By-China hotels, malls, airports, schools and hospitals.
For toys, homewares, clothing, household appliances; African consumers mostly purchase Made-In-China. But given their strong relationship with France or the UK encompassing everything from the official language, education to modern culture and products, consumers still want the European quality and excellence in many other product categories. Pharma, air transport, packaged food are a few examples.
Will Western companies see and seize these opportunities? Or will China, India, Brazil or even South Africa, Morocco – thanks to their rising industries and the growing intra-African trade – increase their share in consumers’ spend?
Today I have released the article “Millennials: What the Most Difficult Consumers Want” on linkedin. It takes my research about Millennials shopping in greater scope, depth and breadth. An introduction to this topic was the four-part series “What’s the Colour of Confidence” a few weeks ago.
Millennials are the generation of people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. They are the most powerful economic force in Africa. Estimated at roughly 420 million or over 35% of the population, they are trendsetters, makers of reputations, disruptors of shopping patterns, influencers of all other generations. No trust in advertising. They break the rules.
Retailers and marketers compete for their attention and a share of their wallets.
The new piece is: 7 shopping trends and habits, around 50 interviews, 4 months on the field, 3 very different mega-cities, and various recommendations that retailers and marketers of all sizes can implement today as part of their customer engagement and customer experience strategies.
Visit linkedin, read the article, connect with my profile. Most importantly continue to visit gainxperience.com and leave your comment on articles, photos, anything. It’s much appreciated.