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Chinese Technologies and pro-poor industrialisation in Sub Saharan Africa: The case of furniture manufacturing in Kenya

Richmond Atta-Ankomah

No 2015-15, Globelics Working Paper Series from Globelics - Global Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation, and Competence Building Systems, Aalborg University, Department of Business and Management

Abstract: Despite very rapid growth, absolute poverty levels in sub Saharan Africa (SSA) have remained high. Kenya’s economic performance reflects these wider trends with a relatively high growth, but high levels of poverty and unemployment. These adverse developmental trends are associated with the fact that industrialisation and agricultural mechanisation efforts in SSA economies have largely relied on imported technologies from advanced economies, many of which are unsuited to African factor endowments. This trend is, however, being reversed such that advanced countries are becoming less important as sources of technology for SSA economies while other developing countries, particularly China, are becoming more important sources. Through a case study of Kenya’s furniture industry, this paper seeks to assess whether technologies from China and the developing indigenous capital goods sector in Kenya may help address the development impasse. Drawing on detailed research with more than 100 furniture manufacturers in four clusters and spanning the formal and informal sectors, the paper compares the operating characteristics of Chinese machines, advanced country machines as well as the locally manufactured machines. The findings indicate that Chinese and Kenyan technologies appear more amenable for pro-poor industrialisation and development of SSA economies than those from advanced countries.

Keywords: China; trade; technology transfer; pro-poor industrialisation; Kenya and SSA (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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