Old Africa hand poised to set up an Africa Center in China’s famed port city
When the foreign investment bug bit him, Simon Shen went about choosing his destination abroad with the methodicalness of a scientist undertaking a new experiment that though risky could yield gold.
It was in the 1990s and the consumer goods trader from Xiamen, a major port city in southeast China, was worried by his falling exports. He was selling shoes and clothing manufactured in China to Eastern Europe, but the market there plummeted.
“The market stopped developing and the currencies were falling,” the 50-year-old said, the golden tan of his recent African sojourn marred by frowns of recollection. “I realized it was better to look at other places.”
Unlike Europe, Africa, following the end of colonization, was looking up as an investment destination in urgent need of infrastructure. So in 1995, Shen went on a reconnaissance binge, visiting four African countries he had shortlisted: Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa. and my roots are there but my business is based in Africa,” he said.