Urban Africa, Made in China

Across the African continent, Chinese companies are constructing infrastructure and buildings modeled after China’s urban development. 

The sheer number of development has ushered China into the world stage as a major player in global development, raising profound implications for Africa’s urban future. 




Photographs taken in Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong  

Urban Africa, Made in China follows a year-long trip throughout the Sub-Saharan Africa in 2014, where I photographed Chinese construction projects and the workers who built them.

These images form a broader portrait of urbanization occurring across the African continent - shaped by the complexities and dilemmas between China and Africa, formal and informal development, nature and artifice, and the urban culture of re-appropriation from the legacy of its colonial past. 

Over time, these images stand as isolated pieces that are rich in meaning: an unfinished concrete highway pier, unearthed landscape for a new highway, construction machinery amidst a pristine forest, a lone security guard in an empty housing development, migrant workers caught between two worlds, a restaurant full of Chinese décor - like testaments of civilization with the contradictions and complexities of globalization laid bare.

Beyond the simplified narratives propagated by media, I aim to reveal an intimate story that portrays globalization at work on a regional level - telling a broader story of global China that is unfolding across the world. 


“Unsettled Ground 未定之境”, 20 May - 23 November, 2023,Hong Kong Pavilion “Transformative Hong Kong”, 18th International Architecture Exhibition–La Biennale di Venezia, Italy

“Visual Culture 2022” at CICA Museum, March 26th, 2022, Gimpo, South Korea

Africa-China Journalists Forum & Photo Exhibition, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2018

Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale on Architecture and Urbanism, Hong Kong, June 2015


2023 “Decoding Visual Structures in Photography”, Wits Africa-China Reporting Project Photo Exhibition 2023, Johannesburg, November 21

2023 “Black Mountain, Red Earth”, Doctalks x MoMA, The Ambasz Institute, New York, October 31

The International Symposium for Visual Culture (ISVC) 2022, March 26th, 2022, Gimpo, Korea

“Urban Africa, Made in China”, COLLECTIVE, Hong Kong, June 04, 2021

“Black Mountain, Red Earth 黑山, 紅土”, The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure, Spring 2021, University of Hong Kong Division of Landscape Architecture, 2021 

“China’s World Cities", Transfer: Diffusions and Mobilities in the Built Landscapes of Asia and Beyond, University of Hong Kong Department of Architecture, 31 May to 01 June, 2019

“Visualising Africa-China: Directions in Photography and Perspective”, Africa-China Journalists Forum 2018, Johannesburg, November 1, 2018

“Urban Africa, Made in China”, China-Africa in Global Comparative Perspective, Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, June 27, 2018

“Africa-China: Mapping an Emergent Axis”, AUHI, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, March 30, 2017


Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture Exhibition Grant, Hong Kong, 2015

Graham Foundation Research and Development Grant, 2014

Robert Eidlitz Travel Fellowship, Cornell University, 2013

Articles appear in

Dewolff, Christopher. "Hong Kong at Venice Biennale 2023: sustainable, humane architecture to the fore as designers explore future of city at a crossroads", SCMP, June 01, 2023


Nowness Asia [@Nownessasia]. Featured photos from series “Urban Africa, Made in China.” Instagram,  29 May, 2021, https://www.instagram.com/p/CPZw25_gjgh/

Hui, Justin. “Urban Africa, Made in China, 非洲城,中國製造”,  2016. Print. 

Photography appears in

Lee, Ching Kwan. The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa. The University of Chicago Press, 2017.

Articles and Chapters

Hui, Justin. "Global Towns in the New Copperbelt." MONU: Transnational Urbanism 22 (2015): 38­41

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