A Chinese company’s first venture abroad creates jobs and brings technology to Sudan
WU Yongke still remembers the excitement local people showed when he announced the opening of a plant, his company’s first overseas facility in North Africa’s Sudan, one year ago.
Wu is the CEO of Shijiazhuang Jason Building Materials Import and Export Trading Co. Ltd. Founded in 1992, his company is a major plasterboard manufacturer located in north China’s Hebei Province, a world away from Africa. But with the Belt and Road Initiative picking up steam, his company decided to jump on the bandwagon and test international waters with the launch of a Sudan-based branch in December 2015.
But of all the countries out there, why choose Sudan? After extensive market research, the company found that gypsum boards imported from China were used almost everywhere in the country, whether it’s public buildings, shops or markets.
This is how Sudan Jason Building was born in 2015 in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. But opening a first overseas factory was not a walk in the park, remembers Wu. “The procedures were quite cumbersome and we had to call on a specialized lawyer to help us deal with the formalities and discuss details with local authorities,” he said.
On the bright side, the company benefits from a tax exemption on imported machinery, and enjoys a lower tariff rate for the raw materials it brings from China.
According to Wu, its Khartoum plasterboard plant is the only one of its kind in Sudan. Today, it produces almost 3 million square meters of plasterboard per year, supplying up to two thirds of the local demand, and, to a lesser extent, the regional market.