Why UK Brands Looking to Export Shouldn’t Underestimate Africa

August 24, 2022

When British brands look to expand their horizons to international markets via exports, the first port of call is often Europe or English-speaking countries such as the United States, Canada or Australia.

But with the UK’s departure from the European Union, many businesses are now looking further afield for growth opportunities. If you haven’t considered Africa as a potential market for your products or services, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity.

The continent is considered to be a sleeping giant on the verge of waking up. So let’s take a look at why these traditionally under-developed nations are now an attractive proposition for UK brands searching for new export markets.

A Young, Growing, and Increasingly Affluent Population

One of the main reasons Africa is such an appealing proposition for UK businesses is its population growth. It’s one of the few places in the world where the population is still growing at an astonishing rate, with estimates suggesting it could top 2.5 billion by 2050.

Plus, it’s an incredibly young population, with over 60% of Africans under the age of 25. This represents a vast potential market for UK businesses, as young people are typically more open to trying new products and services. With an ever-expanding exposure to British culture through music, TV, film, and social media, they’re also more likely to be receptive to UK brands.

This population growth is being matched by an increase in affluence. Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. As more people move into the middle class, they will have more disposable income to spend on non-essential and higher-quality goods.

The total private wealth currently held on the African continent is £1.784 trillion and is expected to rise by 38% over the next ten years, according to the latest 2022 Africa Wealth Report. With key markets in South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, and Kenya, expected to lead the way, there are a lot of opportunities for UK businesses and Africa-based importers to tap into.

An Improved Appetite for Trade

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in the past has been the fragmented nature of the African continent. With 54 countries, most with their own customs rules and regulations, it’s been difficult for businesses to find a single point of entry.

But this is beginning to change. The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) framework agreement was signed in 2018 by 44 African countries and has ambitious long-term goals of deepening integration among African Union member States.

Among the main objectives of the CFTA are the facilitation, harmonization and better coordination of trade regimes, along with the elimination of challenges associated with multiple and overlapping trade agreements across the continent. While countries are still working toward implementing the agreement, it’s hoped that the CFTA will eventually create a single market for goods and services with free movement of people and capital across the continent.

In the meantime, several other trade initiatives are underway that are making it easier for UK businesses to trade with Africa. Since leaving the EU, the UK has agreed eight free trade agreements with African countries and trading blocs, including:

  • Cameroon
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Eastern and Southern African trade bloc (Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe)
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Morocco
  • Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique (six countries, including South Africa)
  • Tunisia

Increasing Expertise in The Complexities and Opportunities of African Trade

Lastly, another factor driving interest in exporting UK products to African countries is the gradual increase in expertise and understanding of the continent’s complexities and opportunities.

In years gone by, it was challenging to even find an export company with trade experience with Africa. But as the continent has grown in importance, a few firms now possess the knowledge and understanding to help UK businesses thrive here, including Leverbrook Export.

We have dedicated account managers offering our import and export clients specialist services for Africa-related shipments. We also have a deep understanding of the continent’s customs rules and regulations, as well as the infrastructure challenges that need to be navigated.

If you’re a UK brand looking to export your food, drink, or other retail products to Africa, or you’re already trading with the continent but would like to find out more about how we can help, please get in touch. We have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share, and we’re always happy to chat about the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Africa.
Give us a call on +44 (0) 151 645 3517 or email your import/export enquiry through to garyj@leverbrook-export.co.uk.