SOAS University of London

Industrial Development, Construction & Employment in Africa


We assess 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 will enable us to develop dynamic and comparative picture of the employment conditions of local workers. For example, the workers interviewed are asked about their previous employment so that comparisons can be drawn with their current conditions. We conduct both quantitative surveys and qualitatively focused in-depth interviews. The former are used to give us a detailed picture of the sectors in questions and let us draw direct comparisons between industries and ownership structures, while the latter give us insights into the effects of employment on individual workers’ lives. Of particular concern across all interviews is the effect of employment in manufacturing and construction on training and general skill development, especially for unskilled workers who come from rural areas and agricultural occupations.

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.

Qualitative research has 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.