The Rising Demand for African Goods in the Chinese Market

Africa, with its rich natural resources and cultural heritage, has always been pivotal in global trade. Recently, the continent has been experiencing an uptick in its role as a major exporter, especially with the surge of African goods in the Chinese market. As China cements its place in the African trade landscape, its increasing appetite for African goods presents vast opportunities for African nations to enhance their trading prowess.

China has been the world’s largest exporter for several years, but its trade relations with Africa have often been skewed in favour of exporting Chinese goods and services to Africa. Even so, in the past decade, there has been a significant shift towards importing African goods to China. This is due to the rising demand for high-quality products unique to Africa. Exporters from Africa are starting to take advantage of this demand and are increasingly looking towards the Chinese market to grow their businesses. The Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to promote infrastructure and economic development across the globe, has created opportunities for African goods to reach Chinese consumers. In 2022, according to the General Administration of Customs of China, China-Africa trade was up 11% to US$282 billion. China’s exports to Africa were US$164.49 billion, whereas imports touched US$117.51 billion.

However, African countries have the potential to significantly increase their exports to China if they can meet the high quality and quantity demands of Chinese buyers. This could lead to the development of new industries and more jobs across Africa. Furthermore, African goods are increasingly being recognized for their sustainability and authenticity, and these factors are becoming increasingly important to Chinese consumers.

There are several types of value-added African goods that are gaining popularity in the Chinese market. tea, coffee, cocoa, and spices, which are in high demand among Chinese consumers. African coffee, known for its distinct flavours and high-quality, has been gaining traction in China. Countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda have emerged as major exporters of coffee to China. According to data from the International Coffee Organization, for the first six months of the current coffee year, exports totalled 6.35 million bags as which were up 0.3% from the previous year. China imported $497M in Coffee in 2021, becoming

Ugandan coffee, in particular, is known for having some of the tastiest coffee in Africa due to its floral, fruity, nutty, and chocolaty aromas. One company that is putting Ugandan coffee on the map in China is Kangumamu AGRO. (Source: https://www.africareima )

There are several types of value-added African goods that are gaining popularity in the Chinese market. tea, coffee, cocoa, and spices, which are in high demand among Chinese consumers. African coffee, known for its distinct flavours and high-quality, has been gaining traction in China. Countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda have emerged as major exporters of coffee to China. According to data from the International Coffee Organization, for the first six months of the current coffee year, exports totalled 6.35 million bags as which were up 0.3% from the previous year. China imported $497M in Coffee in 2021, becoming the 16th largest importer of Coffee in the world. Ethiopia was one of the fastest growing import markets in Coffee for China between 2020 and 2021. 

Tea is another popular value-added product from Africa that has found a growing market in China. African countries, particularly Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania, have established themselves as key exporters of tea to China. According to the Tea Directorate of Kenya, China imported 853 thousand kgs of tea from Kenya in 2021. 

Kazi yetu Kilimanjaro Black Tea is like a warm hug in a cup, with a bold and robust flavour that will awaken your senses and get you ready to take on the day (Source: oduct/kazi-yetukilimanjaro-black-tea50g/


Manufactured goods, including textiles, garments, and leather products, have also seen a surge in demand from the Chinese market. The growing middle class in China has led to an increased interest in fashion and luxury goods, which African designers and brands have been able to tap into. Unique and vibrant African prints and designs have become increasingly fashionable across the world, including China. African fashion designs and designers are showcasing their talents in the global space, and Chinese consumers are now warming up to the idea of African inspired clothing, bags, and jewellery. African fashion items are often handcrafted, and this adds to their value and appeal in the Chinese market. 

‘Maxhosa Africa’ is a luxury fashion brand that seeks to reposition culture on the pedestal as a thought leader in society (Source:

African leaders and embassies have been instrumental in increasing demand for African commodities in the Chinese market. Recognising the enormous potential of the Chinese market, they have aggressively promoted trade deals, facilitated collaborations, and showcased African products to the Chinese consumers. Their initiatives have helped to increase the visibility and attractiveness of African commodities in China. African leaders have organised trade missions and exhibits in China in partnership with their respective embassies and trade organisations. These platforms allow African firms to promote their products, network with Chinese customers, and build commercial connections. These activities have contributed to the increased awareness of African commodities, boosting interest and demand among Chinese importers and consumers. Bilateral talks among the two regions have strengthen commercial links. Bilateral treaties, such as the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), have played an important role in encouraging trade and investment between both regions. These agreements encourage Chinese purchasers to invest in African products by promoting economic cooperation, market access, and prospects. Through focused initiatives, African embassies in China have aggressively marketed African products. To market African items to Chinese customers, they have organised events, fashion exhibitions and cultural festivals. These programmes seek to highlight the diversity, quality, and distinctive characteristics of African products, pique the curiosity of potential purchasers, and develop brand awareness.

The growing demand for African goods in the Chinese market presents an incredible opportunity for African brands and exporters to expand their business. This demand for African goods provides an opportunity for African businesses to grow and scale up, resulting in increased economic growth. The availability of a large market like China creates the potential for significant gains. However, African brands and exporters must understand the Chinese market and tailor their products to meet the specific demands of Chinese consumers. Cultural differences and market dynamics should be taken into consideration when exporting to China. African countries should also strive to create an enabling business environment, promoting exports, as well as engaging in policies to encourage diversification, and investment in key sectors.


Inoue, Y., & Saigol, L. (2023, May 18). China-Africa trade soars on spike in commodity prices. Nikkei Asia.

Wong, K. (2023, May 19). China-Africa trade hits record $282 billion on boost from Beijing and soaring commodity prices. South China Morning Post.

China-Africa trade hits record US$282 billion with boost from Beijing and soaring commodity prices | South China Morning Post (

World Bank. (n.d.). China.

Kishore, V., & Verma, P. (2022, August 3). China to deepen Africa ties over next decade with focus on trade. Bloomberg.

General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China. (n.d.). Statistics.

International Coffee Organization. (n.d.). Coffee Market Report 2022/23.

Observatory of Economic Complexity. (n.d.). China: Coffee (bilateral exports).

SAIS-CARI (China Africa Research Initiative). (n.d.). Data – China-Africa trade.

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Trevor Lwere

Research and Coordination Analyst

Trevor Lwere is a Research and Coordination analyst at Development Reimagined with a background in Economics and Global Affairs. His interests include geopolitics, geoeconomics and economic development. He holds a Masters’ degree in Global Affairs fro Tsinghua University and a BA Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Yujie Shi

 Policy and Research Analyst

Yuejie Shi is a Research and Data Analyst at Development Reimagined with a special focus on Global Trade and China-Africa Trade.

Sena Voncujovi

Research Analyst

Sena Voncujovi is a research and policy analyst at Development Reimagined. Voncujovi specializes in global health issues, Japan-Africa relations, and China-Africa relations. He served as the Editor-in-chief of Peking University’s Africa Think Tank (PATT) during his master’s in International Relations & Politics as a Yenching Scholar. Voncujovi previously advised the Ghanaian government for the 2019 TICAD 7 Conference held in Yokohama. He is the co-founder of Jaspora, Tokyo’s largest community of African diasporan diplomats, changemakers, professionals, students, and business people.

Rugare Mukanganga


Rugare is an economist at Development Reimagined, providing economic and data analysis support across projects.

Yixin Yu

Research Analyst

Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion.

Ivory Kairo

Communications Support

Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team through liaising with African brands, creating graphic content and other external outputs at AR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French

Huiyi Chen

Partnership Development

Huiyi Chen is a Research and Coordination Analyst on China-Africa cooperation and leading the engagement with Chinese stakeholders at Development Reimagined.

Jinyu Chen

Research Analyst | Paris, France

Jinyu is a dual-degree Master’s student at Sciences Po & Peking University.  At Africa Reimagined, Jinyu produces research to foster better mutual understanding between African clients and Chinese consumers. 


Jade Scarfe

Communications Support
Jade is a research analyst and communication support at Africa Reimagined. She supports with liaising with African brands, creating content and gathering China market research.

Yike Fu

China-Africa Policy Analyst

Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.

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Project Manager | Beijing, PRC

Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.

Leah Lynch

Deputy Director | Beijing, PRC

Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.

Hannah Ryder

Founder and CEO 

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE’s International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.


We support our clients throughout the whole onboarding and sales process on Chinese e-commerce platforms including registration, international and China-mainland logistics, storage, payment transfers, and marketing & advertising strategies.

In addition to supporting our clients with onboarding onto e-commerce platforms or developing their own WeChat stores, we also have our own Africa Reimagined e-commerce stores for our clients to sell on.
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