Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration is promising more employment opportunities and business openings for local communities in Africa from the rising outbound investments from China.

The Ministry of Commerce says China’s rising outbound investments are under strict instructions to empower populations around their areas of operations. “All must undertake social responsibilities and help employ the (local) populace,” said Vice-Minister of Commerce in charge of African Affairs Qian Keming

According to Qian, investments by Chinese companies in Africa reached 3.2 billion US dollars last year and he expected this figure to soar in view of the projected massive investment flows to the continent this year.

Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi disclosed that China’s co-operation with Africa was undergoing shifts as Beijing embarked on a mission to build industrial parks all across the continent.

With this expected increase in investments, the commerce vice-minister said “the economic impact of the investments must be felt by communities in host countries”.

However, as China’s investments to Africa rise considerably, concerns abound, especially with regards to effects on environment and communities.

In some parts of the continent, some Chinese companies have been accused of developing sub-standard infrastructure with negative effects on the environment and the locals. There have also been complaints over cases of poor treatment of workers.

Although he says that a large number of outbound investments are not involved in such social ills, China’s new Commerce Minister, Zhong Shan, is threatening strong action against companies found guilty of such practices.

“We will take appropriate action against any devious company. This is because the said companies are tainting the image of China globally,” Zhong warned.

He said all Chinese firms engaged in overseas investments must build a relationship with the local community at the onset of any project.

Among the actions to be taken by the Xi Administration is blacklisting of companies found to have flouted the regulations to operate in foreign countries.

Statistics indicate that more than 2,000 Chinese companies have invested in Africa in various sectors including infrastructure, power generation and natural resource extraction, among others.

Kenya is one of the largest recipient of investment inflows from China. China is financing the Mombasa-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway project and the Lamu Port infrastructure project. Other areas of investments include mining, communications, automotive manufacturing among others.

In the case of empowerment to local communities, a recent survey by World Bank shows that Chinese companies hire Kenyans for 78 percent of full time and 95 percent of part-time jobs. The report further showed that 93 percent of Chinese companies hire Kenyan workers. The survey concluded that employment of Kenyans by Chinese companies was growing over time.

Zhong says Beijing is developing measures to ensure Chinese businesses going global operate in a well regulated and orderly manner.