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Social and Political Impacts of South-South Migration: A Comparative Analysis of Chinese Migrant Integration in West Africa


Giles Mohan, DDEM, Open University
Ben Lampert, DDEM, Open University
Alan Woodley, IET, Open University


ESRC Open Competition

Summary and aims

China's impact on Africa has been discussed in terms of promoting 'bad' governance and/or signalling a new phase of 'imperialism'. Yet underlying these political and economic relationships is a profound social change in the shape of Chinese migration to countries where economic opportunities are greatest. Nobody knows the extent of this migration and analysis is based on wild speculation. This lack of research encourages political propaganda by some African elites seeking to demonise what they see as an 'imperial' presence. Hence, this research will be the first to systematically analyse the patterns and processes of Chinese migration to West Africa and the factors determining the responses to the Chinese by ordinary Africans.

These issues will be addressed through comparative analysis of Nigeria and Ghana. These countries offer different types of relationship between Chinese migration and African society. Broadly speaking Nigeria has a bigger Chinese population than Ghana and its economy is driven by oil extraction. Moreover the different nature of the two states may influence the degree of openness to outsiders and the Gulf of Guinea's oil reserves make it one of Africa's economic hotspots, which will bring in more Chinese.


Mohan, G. and Tan-Mullins, M. (2009) Chinese migrants in Africa as new agents of development? An analytical framework, European Journal of Development Research, 21, 4. 588-605.


Giles Mohan