in: International Journal of Afrasian Studies 1 (2022), 57- 78
By studying the expansion of Chinese telecommunications companies abroad, with a particular focus on Africa in our case study, the paper aims to explore the relationship (i.e. partnership or/and competition) between African and Chinese telecommunications companies in Africa. While competition between Chinese telecommunications companies and their foreign counterparts in overseas markets exists and is strongly discussed, increasingly, multinational companies (including Chinese multinational companies) in various sectors of their business activities partner to develop common projects and achieve common objectives. Such partnerships, in the case of Chinese telecommunications companies, are driven by various factors, for example, access to a host country’s telecommunications network, increase in market share, access to a more diversified distribution channel, cobranding, development of technical and managerial expertise. The partnerships enable Chinese telecommunications companies to tap into African telecommunications companies’ comparative and competitive advantages while operating across the continent. Due to the strict requirement by China’s government for full Chinese ownership and leadership in China’s key economic sectors, foreign companies are restricted from solely and freely operating in the Chinese market. In sectors such as telecommunications, railways, finance, aerospace, among others, for foreign companies which operate in China, partnering with Chinese state-owned enterprises becomes compulsory. The research is partly based on qualitative interviews conducted with employees and managers at Huawei and ZTE in South Africa and Senegal between 2012 and 2015 alongside the author’s numerous observations on the engagement between African and Chinese telecom companies in the South African and Senegalese telecom markets.