Old Africa hand poised to set up an Africa Cen­ter in China’s famed port city

ChinAfrica - - Business - By Sudeshna Sarkar

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.

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