Feature: Chinese investors’ enthusiasm toward Africa undiminished despite Ebola outbreak
|English.news.cn 2014-08-16 16:39:07|
LAGOS, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) — Nigeria, a magical land that raises the biggest population in Africa and boasts the continent’s biggest economy, is like a magnet that keeps attracting Chinese investors.
Even the current rampant outbreak of Ebola virus could not dampen the enthusiasm of Chinese entrepreneurs, who keep coming into the country to build bridges, establish factories and farms, bringing changes to the country and the life of people living there.
Before the coming of Chinese company StarTimes, Nigerians living in big cities like Lagos could receive only six or seven channels on their TVs. For residents living in remote areas of the country, the number is even fewer.
The NTA-Star TV network, a joint venture established by StarTimes and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), helped to make a change to the situation.
The company first helped to popularize the use of Set-Top Box (STB), which sharply decreased the license fee of Nigeria’s satellite TV services, making it more affordable to common families in the African nation.
The increase of audiences, in turn, spurred the development of Nigeria’s local TV industry, with new TV stations keeping mushrooming. Currently, The NTA-Star alone owns 25 local TV channels.
Not only its programs are localized, but the employees of NTA-Star are also nearly all locals. Among the over 1,000 employees in NTA-Star, only more than 50 are Chinese, and the others are all Nigerians.
Now the NTA-Star TV network has covered most areas in Nigeria, and is expected to expand to cover 90 percent of the country by the end of 2015. About half of the country’s TV viewers are now using NTA-Star’s STB.
In face of the Ebola outbreak, NTA-star has reduced the frequency of its business trips and distributed drugs and protection equipment to its employees, but the company kept normal its dispatch of the technical support vehicles.
“The Nigerian people are simple, honest and nice. They are passionate and positive,” said Shi Hongbing, who has been in Nigeria for over 10 years and is now leading a Chinese construction enterprise in the country.
But Nigeria’s weak infrastructure and health system do put the country under big pressure in fighting Ebola, said the managing director of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
The CCECC, a top international construction firm, has more than 100 projects under construction in Nigeria and employed about 30,000 local workers, said Shi.
Those projects include construction of roads, bridges, railways and airports, all of which serve as infrastructure build-up to help improve the country’s transportation system.
In response to the Ebola epidemic, the CCECC has formed an emergency team, which took a series of measures to prevent the disease from spreading, such as making emergency response plans, timely update of the latest information on the epidemic to all of its employees, and requiring temperature checks on company entry-exit.
Though Nigeria is faced with challenges posed by the Ebola epidemic, all CCECC’s projects are under normal operation, Shi said.