South-South Migration and Sino-African Small Traders: A Comparative Study of Chinese in Senegal and Africans in China
China is today also becoming an important economic migration destination. Immigrants in China are from different continents and have settled for various reasons: study, work, business or trade. China’s economic boom, trade liberalisation and modernisation have attracted many African migrants. The growing presence of African traders in China’s ‘city markets’ and Chinese traders in African cities change global trade and migration patterns. If large number of Africans regularly travel to China (due to better connectivity between Chinese and major African cities), some have decided to immigrate to Guangzhou and Yiwu for trade and business purposes, thus adding to the traditional migration pattern a dimension – from almost exclusively South-North to also South-South. This paper is centred on a comparative analysis of Sino-African traders in Senegal and China. The purpose of the study is to see how migration patterns have expanded from South-North to South-South (particularly in the case of Sino-African relations) that today is the mainstream of international migration. It explores the composition, background, profile, business organisation and networks of Chinese traders in Africa (Senegal) and African traders (including traders from North Africa) in China (Yiwu).
Drawing on interviews, group discussion and participant observation in Yiwu, China, and Dakar, Senegal, it shows that there are increasing flows of Chinese traders in Senegal and African traders in China related to the growing relations between China and African countries during the past decades. They contribute to boosting Sino-African trade volume and are part of South-South trade and migration phenomenon. Through their trade activities, they contribute to socio-economic development in their home and host country.
Keywords: South-South cooperation, trade, migration, China, Africa, small traders, trade networks, socio-economic development