Industry that straddles the line between the formal and informal. African entrepreneurs run business associations, logistics companies, consulting services, hotels, restaurants, and in some cases their own factories in China. Academics describe this flow of goods and people as a kind of “second economy,” or “globalization from below,” directed by individuals in developing countries with limited resources rather than multinational companies.
Small shops and traders sell prayer mats, compasses that indicate the direction of Mecca, fake gold jewelry styled after the elaborate necklaces and bracelets favored by Somali women, and Somali wedding dresses, called dirac.
Critics say Chinese goods are being dumped on African countries to the detriment of local industry and African shoppers. Chinese textiles have been blamed for the decline of the local garment industry in Kenya, South Africa, and elsewhere. In April, hundreds of Ugandans protested in Kampala calling on Chinese traders to leave.