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Does China’s economic engagement in Africa offer opportunities for Human Capital development in Africa?

Tampere University
LocationTampere University, Paavo Koli auditorium of the Pinni A Building, Kanslerinrinne 1.
Date6.3.2020 10.00–14.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
Motolani Agbebi
China has made significant inroads into the African economy. Today China is Africa’s largest trade partner and its foreign direct investment flows in Africa is steadily increasing and surpassing that of the US since 2014. The increase in China’s economic engagement in Africa has spurred intense scrutiny from academic, policy circles and the global media. One of the main concerns has been the implications of and potential for Chinese investments to add value to African industrialization and human capital development.

In this dissertation, Motolani Agbebi set out to analyse Chinese economic engagement in Africa and its implications for Human capital development in Africa. Specifically, the study examines China’s presence in Africa as a basis for understanding the engagement and what it means for Africa’s development trajectory. Furthermore, the study investigates how Chinese economic engagement might contribute to human capital development and the role of African governments in leveraging the engagement for human capital development.

Her findings show that the China–Africa engagement signifies a growing interdependency between China and African countries, driven by their strategic interests and objectives. The engagement is economically pragmatic, offering African countries an alternative in their choice of development partners. While the engagement presents opportunities for Africa to realise economic gains that foster development, it poses challenges in steering the engagement in a direction that is beneficial for Africa.

Conversely, Chinese enterprises operating in Africa are well placed to contribute to human capital development through employment generation, skill building, technology and knowledge transfer as they operate and invest in Africa. To be sure, these opportunities vary across sectors and countries. However, African governments can leverage Chinese investments for human capital development through local content policies and strategies for active collaboration with Chinese enterprises.

This study contributes to the understanding of the China–Africa economic engagement and provides case-based empirical evidence on the possible implications for HCD in Africa.

Motolani Agbebi is currently working as a university instructor at the faculty of management and business, Tampere University, Finland.

The doctoral dissertation of MSc Motolani Agbebi in Administrative science titled China-Africa Economic Engagement: Implications for Human Capital Development in Africa will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University at 12 o’clock on 6 March 2020, in Paavo Koli auditorium of the Pinni A Building, Kanslerinrinne 1, Tampere, Finland. The opponent in the defence is Dr Christopher Rees, University of Manchester, UK and the custos is Professor Elias Pekkola, Tampere University, Finland.

The dissertation is available online at

Photo: Jonne Renvall