May 14 - By the end of 2010 China had invested an estimated 2 billion US dollars in Zambia, and now learning Mandarin is becoming increasingly popular with local workers to give them the competitive edge in the job market. Ciara Sutton reports
Banker Majumo Nkunga repeats the syllables he hopes will give him a competitive edge in the job market. He's learning Mandarin - along with 2000 other Zambians in the country's capital, Lusaka. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MAJUMO NKUNGA, BANKER SAYING: "If you just look at how the world economics are moving, you find that they are being dominated by the Chinese, and the way English is, is how the Chinese language will be not too long from now." China's enormous appetite for resources has driven an investment boom across Africa. By the end of 2010 the country had invested an estimated 2 billion US dollars in Zambia's economy alone. There are now around 300,000 Chinese people in Zambia - most of them are involved in Africa's copper industry. School manager Jacky Wang, says breaking down the language barrier is crucial for improving relations between the two countries. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JACKY WANG, SCHOOL MANAGER SAYING: "We are doing this part as the hope to introduce Chinese Language and Chinese culture to Zambian people, and to be the bridge, the communication between Zambian people and Chinese people." But anti-Chinese sentiments run deep in Zambia, particularly in the mining sector. The eastern investors are accused of flouting labour laws. Strikes and protests are frequent in the country as workers fight for better pay and working conditions. And it is hoped mandarin will at least improve the lines of communication between both sides. Ciara Sutton, Reuters.