A Chinese shopkeeper selling inexpensive jewelry in the Centenaire neighborhood of Dakar, Senegal. More than 200 Chinese-owned shops line the Boulevard du Général de Gaulle, which slices through the neighborhood. Photo Credit: Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Chinese Merchants Thrive in Senegal, Where People ‘Needed Stuff’

Article in The New York Times
24 May, 2017

Through sheer grit, migration contributes to prosperity. Everywhere.

“Fresh out of college and frustrated by the paucity of job prospects at home, Cao Qihan, 23, did what generations of ambitious Chinese had done before him: He rolled the dice and ventured to a far-off, utterly unfamiliar land, where people speak languages he doesn’t understand…

“This is how life is for us,” said Zhu Haoming, 58, a brash, fast-talking man with an easy smile. “We have to leave home to make a living. If you find a good place, you end up pulling in your friends, even if it’s on the other side of the world.”

For Senegalese, the arrival of Chinese wholesalers has been a mixed blessing. The low-end merchandise they import sustains countless peddlers, many of whom fan out into the countryside and even to other countries in West Africa. Less pleased are the Senegalese traders who used to travel to China to buy the same goods but have been squeezed out…

But expressions of gratitude are more common, a sentiment bolstered by the cornucopia of Chinese-backed projects that have improved life in this dog-eared, traffic-clogged city. There are miles of new and refurbished roads, a sumptuous national theater and clusters of gleaming exercise equipment that draw multitudes of fitness-crazed Senegalese to a seaside promenade at dusk”

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