Advice on exporting to Africa

Question: I’m a South Africa-based manufacturer looking to export my products into the rest of Africa. Any tips on how to do this? Duvan, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Answer 1: One way to do it is through an agent that travels to your target market regularly and has built up a network of customers that have the adequate distribution and reach in their respective market. This way you don’t have to take the risk and can focus on the supply and production.

A market in Mombasa, Kenya. It is important for exporters to learn how business in Africa works.

A market in Mombasa, Kenya. It is important for exporters to learn how business in Africa works.

Another way is to take it head-on by yourself. At some point you’ve got to travel, meet the people, understand the culture and learn how business in Africa works, which is not as structured as in South Africa.

Most South African exporters fail because they don’t research their product against the world market. Exporters need to ask themselves the following questions: How does my product compare to what is currently being supplied in the target market? Who are the competitors? What services do they offer? What are their pricing schedules? How is my product priced in the retail sector of my target market? Other important factors are duty structures, logistics (from South Africa the freight rates are cost saving mechanisms, which offsets the higher local manufacturing costs), currency fluctuations, etc. These factors need to be ascertained to see if you have a marketable product.

Once the above is meticulously factored, you will be in a position to accurately take a decision to venture into the African export market. My most important advice is to do your research. There are enormous opportunities in Africa but you have to thoroughly research the market.

Question answered by Sanjay Mithal from African Trade Consultants

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