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The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment Is Reshaping Africa

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  36 reviews

A Best Business Book of 2017 -- The Financial Times

China is now the biggest foreign player in Africa.

It's Africa's largest trade partner, the largest infrastructure financier, and the fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment. Chinese entrepreneurs are flooding into the continent, investing in long-term assets such as factories and heavy equipment.


Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Quintin Zimmermann
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Irene Sun seeks to challenge our perceptions of China exploiting Africa’s natural resources for its own industrial needs. To do so, she draws upon her one-on-one interviews with Chinese businessmen, sometimes over a cup of quaint Chinese tea, in Nigeria, Lesotho, Kenya and Ethiopia and taking a gracious tour of their factories.

The danger of this anecdotal evidence is that it is collected in an informal, arbitrary manner and relies heavily on personal testimony that is by its very nature unreliab
Clare O'Beara
Fascinating reading about societies and development economics in one book.
A Chinese girl who sat in a car for the first time aged six, and was later reared in America, visited hundreds of Chinese run factories across Africa. Some are manufacturing for export. Some are manufacturing ceramic tiles for the wealthier African needs. These factories are not all wonderful places to work. But by seeking an extra two percent profit on their investment, the owners are providing jobs. These manufacturing
Toyin A
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Usually when I read books that aim to discuss Africa as the next continent in line for whatever, I roll my eyes. Many of the well meaning writers who embark on such expedition sit in their Western bubble and think what worked for Europe or North America should work in Africa.
Irene's book is refreshingly different. Not only has she researched the economic history of major African Industralised countries, she has lived in a few and visited many other for research purposes. She truly has a global
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really interesting book about how Chinese businessmen are building factories in Africa. In the process, the businessmen are getting rich and Africa is being developed. Sun claims that this was the route through which China developed and she explains why this is likely to work for Africa as well. It's an interesting book and I learned a lot. One thing Sun does not discuss is the environmental impact of all of this industrialization on a region that is already experiencing the hardest edges of cli ...more
As a book, it's a good initiative, for its optimistic portrayal of one giant country's business ventures in one giant continent but my problems with the book are aplenty: the author uses Nigeria and Africa's economics almost interchangeably - Nigeria is a a country, Africa is a continent. The experience of a part cannot and is not the experience and reality of the whole. After half of the book has gone through Chinese textile businessmen in Nigeria and their local workers (even though no definit ...more
Consuelo Murgia
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it

This is my first NetGalley review and I’m really excited about it! This website gives you the chance to apply for reading ebooks for free before they are published so that publishers and authors can receive early feedbacks. I applied for The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment Is Reshaping Africa by Irene Yuan Sun and I was really delighted to find out that my request had been accepted!

I chose this book because I had already h
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was curious about China’s influence in Africa, so decided to read the book. The interviews with Chinese factory owners are well written and interesting. The book’s key conclusion, however, is shallow and not well researched. The author claims that the industrialization leads to prosperity citing the examples of Great Britain, Japan and South Korea. She doesn’t explain, however, why industrialization of Soviet Union back in 1930 didn’t lead to prosperity. Moreover, it caused great suffering and ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

I requested this book because I found the topic intriguing. After reading the book, I still find the topic intriguing, yet I feel that the author could have done more to illustrate all sides of the development. I am going to follow along with the progress mentioned in this book to see if the title comes to fruition, or if China will continue to profit from the endeavor with minimal positive impact for Africans.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-ebook
This was such and enjoyable read and a fascinating book.

I’ve come to realize recently that for me, when it comes to learning new things there is a certain value to sticking with what you know. In the case of this book, I was already quite familiar with manufacturing (industrial and consumer) with China and Chinese manufacturing, but I know practically nothing about Africa (even broadly as a continent, let alone individual countries). Based on the knowledge that I already have, I found that Iren
Bondi Bilala
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I admire Sun’s writing style in that she relies on informal interviews to tell a story. Sun tried to remain unbiased but failed in some places as she almost painted China as Africa’s knight in shining armor. There are some opinions opened to disagreement when she made a point about China being Africa’s best chances for development and not Western development programs.

She starts the book with a personal experience of how she thought she could make a difference in Africa through education. However
Tosin Adeoti
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Yesterday night, I finished Irene's Sun's "The Next Factory of the World - How Chinese Investment is Reshaping Africa".

It is a book about how the Chinese are working alongside African businessmen, climbers, dreamers and every day citizen to change the economic landscape of the continent. It's a book of hope on how Africa can benefit from the recent success of China in creating enduring factories for the benefit of Africa and the world.

Unlike what a lot of people think, an overwhelming number of
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a series of profiles on various characters that are involved with the progression of industrialization in various African countries, spurred on by Chinese entrepreneurs.

There are a couple key points the author wants to make:

1. Industrialization in east Asia has been a chain reaction, with Japanese factory workers becoming factory owners in Taiwan, workers in Taiwan becoming owners in China, and now former factory workers in China opening factories in Africa. In each step the worker
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Basic premise:
• Chinese factories in Africa will create broad-based prosperity for Africans and usher in the next phase of global growth for a large swath of the Chinese economy. Per the flying geese theory, a wave of Japanese entrepreneurs spawned a wave of Taiwanese entrepreneurs, who spawned a wave of Chinese ones, and it is the Chinese entrepreneurs that will spawn the wave of African entrepreneurs. Africa has the potential to become China’s successor as the next Factory of the World. Racis
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is no secret that manufacturing in China is no longer the cheap utopia that many once found it to be. China is also experiencing pressures and internal economic effects and in the future it may need to change. China has been extending its ‘territorial reach’ and Africa is an area of great interest for it, with a lot of Chinese investment taking place, both official and private. Africa may be the next (Chinese) factory space for the world.

This was a fascinating, well-researched and carefully p
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a remarkably thoughtful, well-written, nuanced account of the most promising economic force that will define the next generation of manufacturing. It effectively narrates the phenomenon of Chinese private investment in the African continent with a combination of data, on-the ground interviews and economic development theory. From textile plants in Lesotho to industrial complexes in Nigeria, the author manages to color in the dark crevices of forgotten links in the global supply chai ...more
David Mihalyi
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
An interesting account on a hot but under-researched topic. I really enjoyed the insight from field work and interviews with workers and owners of factories across the continent. It gave an eye opening account on the range of Chinese businesses in Africa, their story, their business models and operational difficulties. But though they are clearly significant, it needs more proving than what the book does to demonstrate that these factories will be one of the leading forces transforming the conti ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting look into Chinese investment in Africa, featuring some individual stories of Chinese factory owners and also profiles of certain market --- textiles in Nigeria, pharmaceuticals in Kenya, foreign exports from Lesotho, among others.

Good primer and thoughts into industrialization and the emerging role of China, though it can be a little skewed in some areas, ignoring aspects of exploitation and disproportionate benefits for local workers. It is addressed moreso through an almost ethnogr
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Superb! Irene Sun worked with me on a Centre for Economic Policy Research (UK) grant on Chinese manufacturing investment in Africa. I am delighted that this initial Nigeria research fed into Irene's curiosity about Chinese factories in Africa, and loved getting her updates about other countries she visited for this work. Her fascinating stories and analysis are now available to everyone in her new Harvard Business School press book. Irene is an astoundingly talented person: as a writer, communic ...more
Dave Redford
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the past quarter century, China has gone from generating 2% of global GDP output to 25%. Chinese entrepreneurs are now transferring these skills and investing in factories in Africa. According to the author, over the next decade 8 out of the 10 fastest-growing economies are projected to be on the African continent. The book convincingly makes the case that, from the English Industrial Revolution onwards, prosperity has always followed the building of factories, and what Africa needs is an ups ...more
Belinda Cheng
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A contrarian approach to Chinese investment in Africa that I have never encountered before in popular news channels. While I think the author's arguments do, at times, neglect to openly address the harm of Chinese factory management and practices in Africa, I understand that is not her prerogative.

Nonetheless, I found this to be a very informative and educational read. I think she brought up very valid points that were appropriately substantiated. Will be interesting to see how her predictions
Eric Chuhao
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is an eye opener with ample stories of Chinese manufacturing entrepreneurship in Africa. The author approaches this topic with personal experiences and anecdotes which nicely contrasts with the way Western think tanks deal with Chinese expansion in the continent. And it's the merit of this book. Nevertheless, the diary-like writing style makes the book lighter than the title and the cover suggests, which, to some extent, is quite disappointing. ...more
Larson Cole
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Irene Yuan Sun's personal story and detailed testimonies from 'The Next Factory' makes me want to go to Africa. I don't yet know how to impact communities positively, but this novel planted the seed of curiosity and challenged my established understanding of aid and economic intervention. I need to believe I can do anything I set my mind to, and this book shifted my mile high goals in a 'half-glass-full' lens. ...more
David Wunderlich
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this book very interesting since I knew little of industrialization specifics of either China or Africa. There's a lot of wisdom in it, especially in the way it contrasts the good intentions of Western NGOs and charities that try elaborate bank-shot ideas for raising the continent up with the Chinese-African businesses and partnerships that are just going about building up economies the old fashioned way of building and running factories. ...more
Eddie Choo
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
An even handed optimistic view of China

The author gives a good view about the history of China’s developments in Africa. This is a well-considered view - it works as a description if China’s entrepreneurs up to this point in history in 2017.
Marcus Goncalves
What a fascinating read! This book was well-researched and carefully presented, providing a total look at the situation-to-date, noting how Chinese companies have been establishing a foothold in Africa.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An easy to read text with lots of interesting stories to prove the broader trends trying to be communicated. The author was also great at not overstating her findings or extrapolating them in an unjustifiable manner.
Nils Lehr
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book giving a new perspective on development in general and on Chinese private investments in Africa in particular.

As an economist, i definitely feel that the book has expanded my horizon on potential fruitful avenues for development.
Simon Semelin
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not much new. Mostly the fact that China has put their focus on making a mark in Africa and juice the profits thy can. And the African countries are willing to accept this and reject some collab with EU which sets higher demands etc.
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Riveting read in the beginning and puts ones mind in a place of brainstorming through the different issues in Africa and how those issues can be resolved. Nonetheless, I did not finish it. Feedback is that I desired to see and hear more practical ways rather than stories of what people have done.
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great historical and economic perspective of what will become the next manufacturing powerhouse for the globe.
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