Knockoff Shoes Come At High Price for Tanzanian Workers

D.L. Chandler December 01, 2015
Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

In nearly every major American city, merchants sell a variety of goods that are cheap replicas of originally high-priced items. Cities, such as New York; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles feature entire areas where these vendors thrive, but few realize these knock-off purchases are coming at a high price to some laborers in Africa.

SEE ALSO: New Tanzanian President Rejects Business as Usual, Cancels Independence Day Celebration

The knock-off shoes, purses, and clothing is usually thought to be coming from China or some other Asian country.

But these days, some of these goods are being made in factories owned by China in Africa.

The billion-dollar industry of counterfeit merchandise might provide new economic opportunities for the poor, but China’s investment and launching of these factories might have hidden consequences.

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Since 2003, China has invested at least 70 percent of its foreign direct investment into African nations. Back home, China has been universally applauded for reversing the story of hardship in its own nation as a result of its historic economic growth, which has lifted 500 million people out of poverty. And abroad, China is also responsible for helping to change the narrative throughout Africa with the roads, hospitals, schools, and manufacturing jobs that Chinese investment has created.

This past August, China and the East African nation of Tanzania signed a deal called the China Africa Development Fund. The agreement promises to allow more than 100 Chinese investors to invest directly in Tanzania’s manufacturing industry, purportedly creating jobs and dismantling poverty. And though many in Tanzania are eager to see the nation jump-start its economy, China’s labor practices have raised some serious red flags.

The reporter who wrote the story was invited to see the inside of a Chinese-owned factory just outside Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam this summer, and what she discovered was an up-close view of a counterfeit shoe sweatshop, where fake Nikes and Adidas (pictured) were made.

Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher



Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

\ Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

Adding to the labor atrocities were accounts from workers that many are forced to work overtime but aren’t paid beyond their 8-hour shifts, even though it is required by Tanzanian law. Some workers appeared to be underage (pictured top), and there were also claims of pay disparities between men and women, with the maximum pay totaling just $2.25 per day.

Read the rest of this harrowing tale here.

SEE ALSO: Tanzanian Women Look To Take Power in Elections

Last Edited by:iboateng Updated: June 19, 2018


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