A friend sent a link to a recent article discussing the evacuation of Chinese businessmen from the Kariakoo suburb in Tanzania. The article says that they were given 30 days to leave. What’s curious about this article is the timing and the location. Why this particular suburb and why now? The government intervened, stating, according to the article that it will not “tolerate people who came to the country from abroad as investors only to end up as vendors or shoe-shiners, undertakings which can be carried out by locals.”
The article lacks important detailed information, but it seems curious that the government is singling out the Chinese, as opposed to other traders. When I traveled to Tanzania and Zanzibar, I noticed that there was a huge influx of African traders from all over, mostly purchasing products from local markets to re-sell in their home countries. Many of the Zambians I encountered on the way to Tanzania raved about the cheap prices of Tanzanian products. I remember one Luvale woman telling me that she went to Tanzania every three weeks to buy products for the hair salon she was opening up in Chingola.
I’m not sure about the demographics of Kariakoo suburb, but in Dar es Salaam, it was teeming with traders from all over the world, from Lebanese to Filipinos to of course, the Chinese. That’s why it’s strange that the Chinese are the ones targeted, according to this article, which hints at “fake products” brought over by the Chinese and elaborates on the problem of competition in locally-established niches. It’s a good sign when the government steps in to provide protectionist measures to secure local jobs. It seems in this case, the elephant in the room is the collapse of this particular market — its woefully neglected conditions and its inability to compete with other local wholesale markets. I doubt asking Chinese businessmen to leave will solve these more pressing issues.