BEIJING– Headlines all over the world this week are trumpeting the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Africa. Xi praised Africa’s economic growth and reaffirmed China’s pledge of $20 billion in loans to Africa over the next three years. He also signed an agreement to build a major port and industrial zone in Tanzania, which officials say could cost up to $10 billion.
In response to persistent fears that China is re-colonizing Africa (critics often point to mineral projects by China in Africa.), Chinese leaders staunchly defend their role there. And African leaders, obviously, are embracing China and, of course, China’s money.
China Daily reports that trade with Africa “has swelled over the past decade from about $10 billion in 2000 to $198.4 billion in 2012.” China has been Africa's largest trading partner since 2009.
With that backdrop, I often find myself talking about Africa during my company visits in China.
The African market is much closer and more accessible to many Chinese fabless companies than we think, thanks to a number of whitebox vendors in China who have the wherewithal to ship their non-branded products anywhere in the world.
One company, however, is working on its Africa strategy much more methodically than the rest of the crowd--Spreadtrum Communications (Shanghai).
France Telecom (whose cellular operator division is known as Orange) has a big presence in Africa.