The import-export business in Africa: promising sectors

Africa has everything to be a favorable ground for investment, with its abundant natural resources and a young and skilled workforce. Certainly, the economy is affected by a decline in some countries. But the figures recorded in recent years, by the World Bank in particular, bear witness to African economic performance. Import-export is thus an area that can be exploited. Africa, by virtue of its infrastructure, its needs and its potential, is very open to international trade. Investors are however required to educate themselves about customs regulations which may differ from country to country.

Starting out in international trade initially involves find a partner with which to organize the transport of goods. Fortunately, the sector is now more or less liberalized and has seen the arrival of several players working in maritime or air transport.

The sea ​​freight However, it will be preferred in the context of an import-export business, in particular for the cost, which is much lower than air transport, as well as for the transportable quantity. Unlike air freight, sea transport makes it possible to transport even a large volume of goods to a multitude of destinations around the world. It is thus possible to pass several dozen containers via a maritime forwarder in Africa.

The role of a freight forwarder

A freight forwarder is a carrier to whom it is possible to entrust the organization of transport of its goods internationally. It takes care of all the necessary steps to send the goods to the agreed destination country, and to the planned delivery location. In this sense, he can take care of the pre and post delivery, from and to the port, customs formalities, packaging as well as storage goods. Insurance will also be included in the service. It covers damage or loss that may affect the goods during transport.

The assistance of the forwarder thus makes it possible to facilitate and lighten his tasks, to save time and save money by opting for a full service at a single price. It also has the advantage of knowing the regulations in force in each country.

Choose your maritime forwarder

Many providers cover African areas, being able to transport goods of all kinds, industrial equipment or food products. The price will therefore be the parameter which will make it possible to make a choice, without forgetting to check the provider reliability. This makes it safer to contact sea carriers with years of experience, who are familiar with the countries of departure and destination as well as the navigable routes.

The scope of the service will also be decisive in the choice of the forwarder. It is indeed important to work with a carrier which can provide complete and qualified support, which can meet the needs related to the delivery of goods, taking into account their quantity, volume or characteristics.

What can be imported / exported from Africa?

International trade in Africa is based on the exchange of commodities as well as technological equipment.

Manufactured products for import

Africa strikes at first sight by the weakness and insufficiency of technical infrastructure and technological. It is nevertheless a gap to be filled, and which constitutes a business opportunity for foreign investors. Importing processed products and equipment for Africa can therefore be a very profitable market.

In addition, a large number of countries are now trying to improve their economy through industrialization. This creates needs, which foreign investors can supplement by providing the necessary technical solutions. An approach that also creates a virtuous circle for investment. With a developed economy, the African population benefits from an increase in purchasing power, also increasing the propensity to consume. In this sense, the food industry and transport will be sectors to be exploited.

Indeed, although having a rich and vast continent, a good part of African lands is not exploited. The demands are however existing, and even increasing. A foreign investor can thus take advantage of this opportunity and supply Africa with rice, cereals, dairy products and processed foods.

In terms of transport, African countries are faced with problems of public transport or traffic jams. Offering buses or motorbike-type locomotion alternatives thus seem necessary and allows the creation of a promotional market. Due to limited purchasing power, technical requirements are often low. Used vehicles can thus find their place in the African market.


Another sector that a foreign exporter can exploit is health. The lack of infrastructure effectively prevents Africa from embarking on the pharmaceutical industry. A supplier of drugs and pharmaceuticals will therefore be welcome. The same goes for investors that offer renewable energy solutions. Access to electricity is a major problem in Africa, it is thus possible to exploit green energies to compensate for this lack.

The fourth edition of the International Conference on Luxury, held in Geneva last June, also looked at the African market and focused on the development of sectors such as fine jewelry. A market that can be developed in countries like Morocco where the population is developing an attraction for these products.

Primary products for export

Africa is distinguished by significant natural resources. Thus, for investors who wish export abroad, the raw materials remain the best potential to be exploited: cotton, gold, iron, coal, platinum, etc. Rich and fertile, African lands produce resources in great demand on the international market. Agribusiness is therefore also a sector in which foreign investors can enter.

Carry out investments in Africa

Needs and potentials are of course different from one country to another. Also for succeed in the field of import-export in Africa, it is above all necessary to define and know your market. Moreover, the socio-economic contexts, which are different in each country, will also influence the exploitable potential of each region. Initially, it will thus be necessary to carry out a macroeconomic analysis which will identify the potential of the target market. The objective is to meet the expectations of the target market in Africa for export, or abroad for import.

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