Jul 20, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

It's no secret that there's a relationship between China and Africa. 

For many young Africans, China's economic success and economic opportunities hold great allure--and with it the challenge of learning the language. 

Last month, African Arguments profiled several young African entrepreneurs learning Chinese n their path to success.

Zimbabwe's Entrepreneur of the Year, 26-year-old Daniel Magandiri wanted to manufacture solar panels to address the nation's electricity shortage. He said, "China is the hub of manufacturing, so I knew I had to learn from them. If you buy something in the US or in the UK, it’s made in China. Every country in the world looks east."

After he contacted the Chinese embassy in Harare, he got invited to attend a three0month program in China for young entrepreneurs. When he returned, he knew he'd be working with Chinese business partners, and enrolled in the Confucious Institute at the University of Zimbabwe to learn Mandarin. 

Students at the school echo Magandiri's sentiments.

One says, "More people speak Chinese than any other language; if I can speak to the majority of the world’s people, I can support or disagree neatly with more people."

Another says, "Considering Zimbabwe is now trading immensely with China, knowing their language will break down communication barriers when conducting business."

In Tanzania, there's a similar sense, and China has noticed. The Confucious Institue Headquarters, Hanban has deployed teachers there, too. According to African Arguments, a Tanzanian Education Ministry official said, "If you learn Chinese language and culture well, you will also acquire the technological knowledge and skills of the Chinese who are very successful in this area."

Chinese schools in Africa aren't the only pathway, either. Zambian Terana Nyumba traveled to China to learn Chinese and said, "You have Zambian households where people say ‘Go and get a job with the Chinese. It started as hype, but imagination eventually became reality.”

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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