The continent is searching for its own path to economic take-off
非洲大陆正在寻找自己的经济腾飞之路

【双语】会盛开吗?Will it bloom?-书迷号 shumihao.com

Another example is horticulture. In normal times, more than 400 tonnes of cut flowers are flown out of Nairobi every day, on average. In Ziway, an Ethiopian town, kilometre-long greenhouses sprawl like aircraft hangars beside the dust and donkey carts. Roses grow for transport to the Netherlands. Covid-19 has thrown many of these firms into crisis. But when travel and trade bounce back, so will opportunities.

另一个例子是园艺。正常情况下,平均每天有400多吨切花从内罗毕空运出境。在埃塞俄比亚的小镇济瓦伊(Ziway),一座座一公里长的温室像飞机库一样排列着,旁边停着垃圾车和驴车。这里种植的玫瑰要运往荷兰。疫情导致许多这类公司陷入危机。但等到旅行和贸易恢复之日,机会也会再来。

This is not classic manufacturing, but it is not subsistence farming either. Economists at UNU-WIDER, a research institute, talk of these as “industries without smokestacks”. They include tourism and call centres. Africa’s diversity means there will be many routes to success.

这不是典型的制造业,但也不是自给自足的农业。研究机构联合国世界发展经济学研究院(UNU-WIDER)的经济学家把这些称为“无烟囱产业”。它包括旅游业和呼叫中心。非洲的多样性意味着成功之路不止一条。

Six years ago Roger Lee decided to open a new factory. As the boss of TAL Apparel, a clothing firm in Hong Kong, he already ran operations from China to Indonesia. In Ethiopia he found a supportive government, duty-free access to American markets and wages that were a tenth of what he paid in China. So he rented a shed at a new industrial park in Hawassa.

六年前,李震之决定开设一家新工厂。他是联业集团的老板,这家香港服装公司的工厂已经遍及从中国到印度尼西亚等地。在埃塞俄比亚,他发现政府支持外资企业,从这里产品可以免税进入美国市场,且工资水平是他在中国大陆所付的十分之一。于是,他在哈瓦萨(Hawassa)的一个新工业园区里租了一间厂房。

If Asian-style manufacturing is to take off anywhere in Africa, it might be in Ethiopia, which has some of the lowest wages in the world. Clothing firms like TAL employed 27,000 people in Hawassa before the covid crisis. One Asian factory-owner says the city reminds him of a Bangladeshi port when his uncles opened shop there three decades ago.

如果亚洲式的制造业能在非洲哪个国家腾飞,那可能就是埃塞俄比亚了,那里的一些工资在世界最低之列。在新冠危机爆发之前,联业集团等服装公司在哈瓦萨雇用了2.7万名员工。一位亚洲工厂的老板说,这座城市让他想起了30年前孟加拉国的一个港口,当时自己的几个叔叔在那里刚刚开设了工厂。

Yet Hawassa is an experiment, and much could still go wrong. Ethnic riots have caused shutdowns. Workers rarely meet production targets. Most are young women from the countryside. “They don’t have the mindset for working in a factory,” sighs a manager. Bosses show “no mercy”, says one 19-year-old, rushing from her shift to night class at a local college. It is hard to get time off for sickness or to sit an exam. Workers’ pay does not stretch far and rents are high, so they sleep four to a room.

不过,哈瓦萨只是一个实验,可能出问题的地方还有很多。种族骚乱曾导致停工。工人很少能达到生产目标。大多数工人是年轻的农村妇女。“他们没有在工厂工作的心态。”一位经理感叹道。一名下了班赶着去上当地大学夜校的19岁女工说,老板可“不会留情”。无论是休病假还是去考试,都很难请到假。工人的工资不太够用,租金又高,所以四个人睡一个房间。

The low wages that pull in investors also push workers away. In its first year of operation, attrition rates at the industrial park were roughly 100%. Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago and Stefan Dercon of the University of Oxford tracked new hires in Ethiopian factories and commercial farms. A third quit within three months, and 77% within a year.

低工资引来了投资者,却赶走了工人。在投入运营的第一年,工业园区的员工流失率差不多是百分之百。芝加哥大学的克里斯·布拉特曼(Chris Blattman)和牛津大学的斯特凡·德尔康(Stefan Dercon)追踪了埃塞俄比亚工厂和商业农场新员工的情况。有三分之一的员工在三个月内辞职,77%在一年内辞职。

The Ethiopian experience points to the paradoxes at the heart of Africa’s transformation. While economists worry about jobless millions, factory bosses struggle to find pliant labour. Workers arrive late and quit at harvest time. Contracts are hard to enforce. Markets gum up.

埃塞俄比亚的经历显现出非洲转型的核心矛盾。一方面经济学家担心数百万人没有工作,另一方面工厂老板们却在苦苦寻找听话的劳动力。工人经常迟到,到了农作物收割季节就会辞职。合同难以执行。市场一片混乱。

None of this would surprise a visitor from 18th-century Lancashire or 1990s Guangdong. In societies set to agrarian rhythms, the transition to industrial capitalism is a profound social rupture. It carries new notions of law, time and discipline, and creates new kinds of people: commercial farmers, docile workers, methodical managers. It means loss as well as gain. It should be no surprise when many people are indifferent or hostile to change.

十八世纪的兰开夏郡或二十世纪90年代的广东省的人们若看到这情景,不会感到惊讶。在习惯了农耕节奏的社会中,向工业资本主义的过渡是一次深刻的社会断裂。它带来法律、时间和纪律的新观念,并创造了新型的人:商业农民、服从管束的工人、按部就班的管理者。这既会带来损失,也会带来收益。许多人对变化无动于衷或抗拒抵触,也就不足为奇了。

The same hesitation is found in some African leaders, long cushioned by aid and oil money. “The urgency for economic transformation is not making them lose any sleep,” says Abebe Shimeles of the African Economic Research Consortium. Yet demographic destiny is pushing the continent towards a reckoning. Some 15m-20m young Africans are entering the workforce each year. Without good jobs, many may take their grievances to the streets.

在一些非洲领导人身上也能看到同样的犹豫。长期以来他们以援助和石油收入做后盾。“经济转型的紧迫性丝毫没有让他们睡不着觉。”非洲经济研究联合会(African Economic Research Consortium)的阿贝贝·希梅利斯(Abebe Shimeles)说。不过,人口结构趋势正在推动非洲认清形势。每年大约有1500万至2000万的非洲年轻人加入劳动力大军。没有好的就业机会,很多人可能会上街抗议。

Some economists such as Dani Rodrik at Harvard University argue that automation, competition and shifting demand are closing the door to countries wanting to copy Asia’s miracle. Yet not everyone needs a factory job. Many Africans will move from subsistence farms to commercial ones, or from living alongside a game reserve to guiding tourists around one. Economic transformation, of a distinctively African kind, is a prize worth chasing. ■

哈佛大学的丹尼·罗德里克(Dani Rodrik)等一些经济学家认为,自动化、竞争和需求变化使得大门正在对那些想要复制亚洲奇迹的国家关闭。然而,并不是每个人都需要一份工厂的活计。许多非洲人将从自给自足农场转向商业农场,或者从与野生动物保护区为邻转向在保护区周围为游客做向导。独具非洲特色的经济转型值得奋力追求。