Chinese built road project workers in Angola

We assessed the effects and dynamics of firms in three specific areas: employment creation, working conditions and skill development of local workers (i.e. workers from the countries receiving these firms). Our project is centred around individual worker-level interviews as they enable us to develop a dynamic and comparative picture of the employment conditions of African workers in these settings. For example, the workers interviewed were asked about their previous employment so that comparisons could be drawn with their current conditions. We conducted both quantitative surveys and qualitatively focused in-depth interviews. The former were used to give us a detailed picture of the sectors in question and let us draw direct comparisons between industries and ownership structures, while the latter gave us insights into the effects of employment on individual workers’ lives. Of particular concern across all interviews was the effect of employment in manufacturing and construction on training and general skill development, especially for unskilled workers who came from rural areas and agricultural occupations. 

Summary of data collection instruments and samples

Data collection instrumentAngolaEthiopiaPeriod
Workers survey
(main questionnaire)
682839Angola: Sept 2016-March 2017
Ethiopia: March-Sept 2017
Firm management survey 3440Angola: March 2017- July 2018 
Ethiopia: January – August 2018
Life/Work histories2333Angola: March 2017- April 2017
Ethiopia: October– December 2017
Qualitative research – other SSIs98117Angola: November 2015- July 2018 
Ethiopia: November 2015 – August 2018
Phone survey (follow-up)126155Angola: October – December 2018
Ethiopia: September- November 2018

The quantitative surveys targeted workers at leading manufacturing and construction companies in both Ethiopia and Angola. We carefully selected the firms in each sector based on size and reputation. Workers in each company were selected using stratified random sampling, and interviews were conducted by skilled and experienced interviewers, who underwent an intense training programme for this specific project. In total, we conducted over 680 workers’ interviews in Angola and 840 workers’ interviews in Ethiopia. The distribution of sampled of workers and firms by sector and origin of firm is summarised below.

Combined sample of firms by sector and firm origin (both countries)

CHINESE firms161531
OTHER FOREIGN firms14822
DOMESTIC firms121123

Combined sample of workers by sector and firm type

CHINESE firms313287600
OTHER FOREIGN firms285180465
DOMESTIC firms238218456

Women carrying stones at a road construction site in Ethiopia
Women carrying stones at a road construction site in Ethiopia – © Davide Scalenghe

Qualitative research

Qualitative research proceeded in different stages, from an exhaustive scoping process preceding the quantitative surveys, to follow-up qualitative research focused on life histories of workers and in-depth interviews with a range of relevant respondents, including firm managers, site/factory supervisors, policy makers and implementers, relevant experts, trade union representatives, and other relevant stakeholders. We conducted over 200 qualitative interviews distributed as follows:

Qualitative interviews

Trade union94
International Orgs65