China has in recent times surpassed the U.S. as Africa’s top trade partner, investing heavily in infrastructure development projects, manufacturing, mining and agriculture amongst others.

Chinese investment in Africa is well documented and the country’s direct investment in African countries runs into billions of dollars. Chinese outbound tourists visiting Africa have also steadily increased over the past few years, with the continent reportedly receiving 2.69 million visitors from China in 2014.

The presence of Chinese nationals on the continent doesn’t end there, but there is now a new phenomena which has been reported in several African countries. Chinese sex workers have taken various countries by storm, providing their services in Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria.

According to research, Sub-Saharan Africa has become a new haven for Chinese sex workers. The research conducted by Basile Ndjio, a researcher from Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study explores migration patterns of Chinise sex workers in Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana.

Chinese sex workers join scramble for Africa Photo: Business insider

Chinese sex workers join scramble for Africa Photo: Business insider

The study estimates “that between 13,000 to 18,500 Chinese sex workers are currently in sub-Saharan Africa,” Quarts Africa reports.

Ndjio, who is an anthropology professor at the University of Douala in Cameroon observes that Africa has become “a new El Dorado for the prostitution business”.

According to Quartz Africa, Ndjio first discovered the phenomenon while working as a casino croupier during graduate school in Cameroon, where he was introduced to the world of “Shanghai beauties”.

The sex workers would gather in the back of Chinese restaurants, hotels and lounges and Ndjio soon leant from gamblers who used code words asking for sex with terms like “stress relief,” “rest” or “acupuncture”.

The research will be published in a forthcoming paper for the academic journal Urban Studies.

Source: Quartz Africa