Senegal, A Chinese Economic Colony?

Let me get this out of the way:

Yes, this report comes from Al Jazeera, deal with it.

I wanted to get that out of the way in case someone thinks that the source of the video is supposed to mean something. It doesn’t. It’s a good report on something that I think is relevant.

What about the Chinese in Dakar?

The video looks at the effect that a large influx of Chinese immigrants is having on Dakar, Senegal. The locals are claiming that Senegal is being made into an economic colony of China, and they are none too pleased.

The locals feel that their way of doing business is being threatened by the Chinese and their “cheaper, faster, more” mentality.

I see something completely different. I see a nimble competitor coming in to a market and satisfying the customer’s needs better than the local businesses had been.

One thing that strikes me, is the difference in perception between the Chinese and the Senegalese business people. The Chinese see Senegal as a land of opportunity, where the water is clean, the fish are plentiful etc. The Senegalese business people, see poverty and recession.

There’s a point where a Senegalese business man points out that he sells quality shoes, imported from Italy, that last forever. Whereas the Chinese shoe stores sell cheap Chinese made shoes that don’t last. I think he’s missing the point.

Yes, quality is important, but repeat buyers are more important. Consumers may only buy 1 pair of good shoes a year, but they’ll buy 5 or 6 pairs of cheap “utilitarian” shoes every year.

What do you think?

Are the Chinese destroying the local Senegalese economy, or are they just better at selling what consumers want to buy?


Rafael is an aviation geek, a consumer advocate, a dad, a multiple personality blogger, a photographer, politically opinionated, a videographer and many other things as well.

2 thoughts on “Senegal, A Chinese Economic Colony?

  • September 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Dear Al Jazeera

    I was impressed by the above report and I am sad for the way the Chinese are killing local initiatives in Senegal. This problem is basically the lack of government protection which is provided under the WTO agreement.

    In the absence of the above, local merchants may have to take more aggressive measures (though legal) on their own. In this regard, I would like to propose a business cooperation to Mr. Khadim Mbangu, the local merchant interviewed in this video report and who owns a ladies shoe retail shop. According to your report he is also the head of the local UNACOIS-JAPPO. I have written to the Senegal Trade point asking them for his address, but they have not responded to my letter. I am now writing to you in the hope that you might be able to send me his contact address, preferably his telephone number, name of his shop and name of the street where his shop is seated.

    Thank you.

  • September 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Hi There,

    I’m not Al Jazeera, so I won’t be able to help you contact this guy. Good luck with your endeavors!


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