The problem goes beyond mining. International supermarkets often truck in goods from distribution hubs—in South Africa, for example—rather than sourcing in the places where they operate. Much of Africa's coffee, cashew and cocoa leaves the continent in packaging made abroad. Garment-makers stitch together imported fabrics with imported zips and buttons.
Governments' attempts to nurture linkages show just how hard they are to create. Some are trying to set up clusters of knowledge in industrial parks. Raghav Pattar, an Indian, came to Hawassa Industrial Park in Ethiopia as the manager of a Chinese apparel factory. From there it was a short step to his current job as chief executive of Nasa Garment, the first Ethiopian-owned company there. These kinds of moves help skills and knowhow spread. But most Ethiopian firms "are not coming to the industrial park", says Mr Pattar. They struggle to get the loans and expertise that foreign firms can acquire abroad. In many countries the entrepreneurs who gain most from foreign investment are often those with existing connections, such as those of European or Asian descent.
Governments are also trying to foster links through "local content" rules, which require multinationals to procure locally to win licences. The focus needs to be on suppliers that add value, notes Judith Fessehaie of the International Trade Centre, a development agency, who has studied such policies in the southern African mining sectors, so that contracts do not go to importers with nothing more than "a briefcase and a desk". But the risk is that tough restrictions put foreign firms off setting up in a country altogether.
Some hope that the market might create incentives to source locally, as consumers become more interested in the origins of the products they buy. "Our objective is to grow the Ghana ecosystem," says Keren Pybus of Ethical Apparel Africa, a British garment-sourcing company that has invested in a factory in Ghana. Ms Pybus imports fabric but wants one day to buy it locally. Foreign-owned brewers are switching from imported barley to homegrown grains, marketing beer-drinking as a patriotic act. But unless suppliers have the funds, capacity and expertise to take advantage of foreign linkages, such efforts will amount to small beer.
一些人希望随着消费者对所购买产品的产地越来越感兴趣，市场能够创造出采购动机。“我们的目标是发展加纳的生态系统，”Ethical Apparel Africa的克伦·皮布斯表示。Ethical Apparel Africa是一家英国服装采购公司，已经在加纳投资了一家工厂。皮布斯女士的布料来自进口，但她希望有一天能够在当地购买。外资酿酒商正从进口大麦转向国产谷物，把喝啤酒当作一种爱国行为来进行推销。但是，除非供应商有资金、能力和专业知识来利用与外国的联系，否则这些努力将是微不足道的。