Bringing Opportunities

Job fair connects Chinese-invested enterprises in South Africa with local job seekers.

Simphiwe Zondi in Johannesburg, South Africa, was especially happy on 16 April. At the 2024 Job Fair of the Chinese-Invested Enterprises in South Africa held in the Gallagher Convention Centre on that day, he presented his CV and immediately secured a job as a technical director at the South Africa subsidiary of PowerChina, which ranked 105th on the Fortune Global 500 list in 2023. He was one of the few applicants who signed employment contracts at the job fair.

“I cannot reveal his actual pay, but I can say his salary is higher than most of his peers in South Africa,” said Zhang Miao, CEO of Africa Department and Deputy CEO of Overseas Department of PowerChina Northwest Engineering Corp. Ltd., who attended this year’s job fair. “We value very much his long working experience in different companies similar to ours.”

Zondi holds master’s degrees from the Durban University of Technology and Wits Business School. He has worked in Eskom, South Africa’s largest electricity producer, as well as in a local engineering institute.

PowerChina has several projects in South Africa, including the 100-mw Redstone Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Plant in Northern Cape with an investment of more than $500 million, and other photovoltaic, wind and energy storage projects. “We currently have more than 150 local employees, but we need more to expand our business,” said Zhang. “We hope to hire dozens of employees today.”

“I am very happy to sign the contract with PowerChina and be a part of the company in South Africa. I hope I could make my contribution to the development of the company,” Zondi told ChinAfrica.

Increasing employment

This year’s job fair has provided a good platform for young South Africans to find jobs in Chinese companies operating in South Africa. A total of 75 Chinese enterprises set up booths in the Gallagher Convention Centre, providing more than 1,000 job opportunities for local job seekers.

Like Zondi, Lifa Mathenjwa was another lucky man. He secured an offer from Bank of China as a relationship manager. The 29-year-old has worked at the financing department of an NGO in Johannesburg, dealing with trainings and development.

Mathenjwa studied international economics in Nantong University in east China’s Jiangsu Province. “During the over six years of studying and living in China, I learned a lot, not only about my academic discipline, but more importantly, about the Chinese way of doing things, that is, being diligent, efficient and effective,” he told ChinAfrica. “After joining the Bank of China Johannesburg Branch, I will learn more and improve myself. I hope I could have a good time there.”

The job fair was held by the South Africa-China Economic and Trade Association. In 2022, the association also held a job fair in the convention centre where more than 60 Chinese-invested enterprises interacted with more than 1,000 young South African job seekers, generating positive social effects.

People take a selfie at a job fair of Chinese-invested enterprises in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Apr. 14, 2022. (Photo/Xinhua)

“Employment is like a bridge connecting national development and family well-being. It is the biggest heart-winning project that benefits ordinary people,” said Li Zhigang, chargé d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in South Africa, at the opening ceremony of the job fair. “As a good brother, a good friend and a good partner, China is ready to work with South Africa through job fairs to help to create jobs and promote development, and to inject vitality into the talent recruitment and local development of Chinese-invested enterprises.”

Fostering talents

Talent training and exchanges form an important part of China-Africa cooperation, and have featured on the agenda of each conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. In August 2023 when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited South Africa, he and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa reached consensus on a series of issues. President Xi stated that China supports the South African government’s efforts to strengthen vocational education and promote youth employment. “Today’s job fair is an important measure to implement the consensus reached by our two heads of state,” said Li.

Increasingly deepening China-South Africa economic and trade cooperation has made outstanding contribution to South Africa’s economic and social development and job creation. According to cross-border investment monitor fDi Markets, China’s cumulative investment in South Africa in the past decade has exceeded $13 billion, with every project providing 260 local jobs on average, ranking first among all investing countries in South Africa. So far, more than 200 Chinese companies with investment in South Africa have created altogether more than 400,000 jobs.

“The 2024 edition of the job fair is a testimony to the commitment of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa’s sustainable development, the well-being of its people, especially by creating job opportunities, and to the ever-deepening economic ties between the two countries,” said Lindiwe Zulu, minister of social development of South Africa. She encouraged South African youth to join Chinese companies and learn Chinese well so as to further deepen bilateral ties.

Supporting local communities

Chinese enterprises in South Africa are supporting the host country’s development. In response to the New Investment Initiative proposed by Ramaphosa, a large number of high-quality enterprises participated in the South Africa Investment Conference, supporting South Africa’s development with their actions; in 2023 when South Africa was facing load shedding challenge owing to the insufficient power generation capacity, Chinese companies donated three batches of emergency power equipment to ensure reliable power supply in local schools, hospitals and clinics. Chinese companies also organised the China-South Africa New Energy Investment and Cooperation Conference, creating a useful platform for deepening cooperation between enterprises of the two countries on new energy projects.

This year’s job fair saw inflow of about 2,800 people in the convention centre, including Chinese enterprise representatives, university graduates and job seekers.

Fidelis Jambaya, a mechatronic engineering graduate who studied in Hungary and came back to South Africa in 2023, visited the job fair for the first time, trying to find a job in mining or energy sectors.

“Chinese companies give us a lot of choices in seeking jobs and I will be very happy if I could land a job today,” he said.