China’s interest in Africa has received attention in recent years. At the state level, the Chinese government’s investments, largely in infrastructure, are visible across the continent. The response from academia, the media, and citizens has been mixed. On the one hand, there are real fears that China is becoming the new imperialist power, and cries of new colonization are quite common. On the other hand, African governments argue that China’s investments are necessary for their own economic agendas, arguing that China is less intrusive and demanding than the west in its relations to foreign governments.
This debate has been particularly heated in Ghana in the last few years, and visible through a number of key high-profile cases. There is the ongoing Galamsey issue in which Chinese individuals have been accused of illegally participating in, there was the protest of oil mine workers that their Chinese bosses were refusing to train them and instead bringing in their own technicians, the broader issue of Chinese labor on construction projects, the alleged discovery of an illegal Chinese port in the Volta region, and most dramatically, the public outcry on the Ghanaian government’s sale of 20% of Ghana’s bauxite to China. Chinese technology in these events play a central role, as they do more broadly in China’s investments in infrastructure and most recently, headquarters for ECOWAS and the AU.
At the same time, Ghanaian trading with Chinese individuals and businesses appears to be on the rise. Through platforms like AliExpress and through more formal distribution agreements, consumer goods and electronics made in China are imported daily and resale of these has boosted individual entrepreneurs. Tecno and Huawei’s market prominence, challenging that of Samsung and Apple speaks to the business interests in Ghana. Our own research shows increased interest in sourcing of production inputs from China, from electronic components to large scale manufacturing equipment. Away from direct intervention, individual Chinese and Ghanaians continue to engage in direct business transactions through the ease of electronic tools.
This workshop (by-invitation only) will bring together individuals from the business and technology sectors as well as academia, to explore the various ways that China-Ghana relations are evolving around and through technology.
Our goals are two-fold: First, to map out the social and material connections between the two countries, and second, to uncover emerging networks focused primarily on engagements through technology (e.g. e-commerce), innovation (e.g. making & prototyping), and tech transfers (e.g. training programs).
The workshop will be structured as a roundtable discussion and mapping project, with the envisioned outcome being a collaboratively produced publication, either physical or virtual (web) that shows existing partnerships and potential for future connections.
We invite participants to bring artifacts that represent their relationship between China and Ghana. This could be anything from prototypes, products, maps, documents, images, photos, devices, etc.
The workshop is being organized by Dr. Seyram Avle and Prof. Silvia Lindtner from the University of Michigan, in collaboration with Prof. Lloyd Amoah from the University of Ghana. Support for the workshop is provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), through Prof. Lindtner and Avle’s research project on transnational ties between China’s tech industry, Silicon Valley, and an emerging market like Ghana.
Venue: Impact Hub, Accra
Date: Friday, May 11, 2018
Time: 8:30am – 4:30pm
8:30am-9:00am Breakfast and Introductions
9:00am – 12:15pm: Morning Session
- 9:00 – 9:15am: Opening Remarks
- 9:15am-10:30am: Panel 1: Africa-China Technology Production & Partnerships
- Vicky Xie (Global Cooperation Director, SZOIL)
- Desmond Koney (Engineer & Maker-Entrepreneur)
- Kojo Djan Jnr (Digital Marketing & PR Manager, Tecno Ghana)
- Leon Liu (West African Marketing Director, iFlux)
- Moderator: Dr. Seyram Avle, (University of Michigan)
10:30 – 10:45am Break
- 10:45am – 12:15pm: Panel 2: Sino-Ghana Relations at Scale
- Gifty Aguadze (CEO, Primus Travel & Tours)
- Ferdinand Abodakpi (CEO, Ferddy Fans)
- Amb. Anani Demuyakor (Sino-African Consultancy Ltd & Former Ghana Ambassador to China)
- David Li (Founder and Director, SZOIL).
- Dr. Silvia Lindtner (University of Michigan)
- Dr. Lloyd Amoah (University of Ghana)
12:15 – 1:15pm Lunch
1:15pm – 4:30pm: Afternoon Session
- 1:15pm – 2:30pm: Mapping Connections & Object Matters
- 2:30pm- 4:00pm: Zine Making
- 4:00pm Wrap up