Original Research - Special Collection: Managerial Practices

China’s technological footprint in Africa: A patent network analysis

Juan V. Rojo
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 55, No 1 | a4331 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v55i1.4331 | © 2024 Juan Vázquez Rojo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 October 2023 | Published: 23 April 2024

About the author(s)

Juan V. Rojo, Department of Economics, Corporación Universitaria de Asturias, Bogotá, Colombia; and Department of Business and Technology, Camilo José Cela University, Madrid, Spain


Purpose: The study aims to examine China’s rising technological influence in Africa within the context of Industry 5.0 and how it compares to traditional powers like the European Union (EU) and the United States (US).

Design/methodology/approach: Utilising an innovative patent network analysis methodology, this study draws on data from the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Centre for Intellectual Property Statistics from 2001 to 2021.

Findings/results: The analysis reveals China’s significant and growing presence in technological diffusion throughout Africa, potentially surpassing regional historical players.

Practical implications: These findings have far-reaching implications for policy formulation and management strategies, particularly in a global landscape where technology standards and patents can significantly influence economic and business dynamics.

Originality/value: This study contributes to the existing literature by offering a nuanced understanding of power dynamics in African value chains and a new context for relations between developed and developing countries. It emphasises the strategic importance of understanding technological centrality in emerging regions.


China-Africa relations; technological influence; network analysis; industry 5.0; intellectual property rights

JEL Codes

F23: Multinational Firms • International Business

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure


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