The rise of the online promotional shopping festival for African products in China

Last month, Africa Reimagined took part in a promotional shopping festival for African products in China called the: “4th Brand and Quality Online Shopping Festival and Quality African Products Online Shopping Festival.”

From April 28th to May 12th, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, launched the promotional shopping festival for African products in China which saw more than 100,000 African brands and their products being showcased and sold on over 300 e-commerce platforms across China, as well as offline events held in exhibition centres in 4 Africa-China free trade zones in the provinces of Hunan, Hubei, Henan and Zhejiang. Total sales were reported to reach over $3 million USD on the e-commerce sales platforms alone and millions of Chinese consumers engaged with the video and livestreaming campaigns. The festival consisted of:

  • Offline business match-making events in the exhibition centres where African brands were introduced to Chinese importers, distributors, buyers and investors
  • Livestreaming of African products using influencers where Chinese consumers could learn about and buy directly from the influencer on China’s biggest e-commerce shopping platforms
  • Sales and promotion campaigns for African products on e-commerce stores dedicated to premium African products, such as Kiliselect (Kilimall in China)
  • Video promotion campaigns of African brands and products on China’s biggest short video app, DouYin.

(Offline displays of premium African products in Gaoqiao Market in Hunan province including Oye, Monks Gin, Kazi Yetu and Rwanda Bean).

Africa Reimagined supported many of our clients (high-end African brands) with participating in these online and offline events throughout the shopping festival including Monks Gin (premium gin from South Africa)Oye (handmade footwear and accessories from Kenya)tea from Tanzania (Kazi Yetu)Rwanda bean (roasted coffee from Rwanda) and Kazi Yetu (tea from Tanzania).

This was not the first African products promotional shopping festival to be held in China, but this year’s was certainly the first of its kind because it focused so heavily on using digital sales and promotion platforms and tools rather than offline business match-making and promotional events.

It also promoted a wider variety of premium African products and brands than ever before including high end fashion and jewellery and beauty products.

Why create online promotional shopping festival for African products in China?

Chinese consumers are only just getting to know about African products and brands. Until only just a few years ago, Chinese consumers knew about few, if any, African exports beyond oil and minerals. Fast forward to 2022 and South African wine and East African coffee have become hugely popular amongst Chinese consumers and can be found in online and offline retailers across China. African wine and coffee are also helping to raise awareness of and boost the popularity of other African products, such as Rwandan chili oil, Ghanian chocolate, Tanzanian cashews, and Shea butter and aloe vera skincare products.

Online promotional shopping festivals and livestreaming events are the key to raising awareness of and driving the demand for a wider range of African products amongst Chinese consumers. Chinese consumers shop almost solely online, which has led to the Chinese e-commerce market becoming the most lucrative and diverse in the world.

Livestreaming is also becoming an increasingly powerful sales and promotion tool in China. Live streaming e-commerce grew by 160% in 2020 and generated a massive $300 billion in sales in 2021. During a live streaming event featuring Austin Li, China’s top live streamer, and Ethiopian Ambassador to China, Teshome Toga, 11,292 bags of packed Ethiopian coffee sold out in just 5 seconds.

(Livestreaming event hosted by Kiliselect to promote premium African products during the festival).

Shopping festivals are also becoming a key tool to help implement a growing number of Sino-African government-led initiatives to boost Africa to China trade of specifically value-added African products.

This is because in the build-up to the 8th Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC8) in September 2021, African leaders and African ambassadors in China sat down with their Chinese partners to present Africa’s development goals for the coming years and their top priorities for the outcome of FOCAC8 of which increased value-added Africa to China trade was a key focus. These meetings contributed to a number of trade-boosting initiatives that were announced by President Xi Jinping at the FOCAC8 summit in Senegal, including:

“The Digital Innovation Programme” – Online shopping festivals promoting African products and a campaign to market 100 African stores and 1,000 African products on e-commerce platforms are promised.”

Will there be more online promotional shopping festival for African products in China?

Definitely! African and Chinese leaders recognise that cross-border e-commerce is playing a crucial role in boosting Africa to China value-added trade, which is set to be top of the Sino-Africa agenda for years to come.

China’s ecommerce market is only becoming bigger and more diverse, which means Africa-China trade cooperation initiatives will increasingly focus on utilising e-commerce platforms.

For example, in the build-up to and during the eagerly awaited China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in 2023, sales, promotional and business events will increasingly shift from offline events to a series of online shopping festivals and promotional events on China’s biggest social media platforms.

A growing number of partners focused on facilitating Africa-China trade are also turning to e-commerce. For example, the International Trade Centre has partnered with Alibaba to promote African brands on Alibaba’s top e-commerce sales platform, Tmall.

Finally, there are now also an increasing number of e-commerce shops dedicated to selling premium African products, such as roasted nuts and coffee, tea, wines and spirits, fashion and jewelry, skincare and homeware on China’s biggest e-commerce platforms, including, Tmall and WeChat.

Visit the Africa Reimagined website to learn more about how we can help your brand participate in future promotional shopping festivals or to book your free consultation.

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.

Rosie Wigmore

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.
Kiliselect on WeChat Stores: Africa Reimagined launched on Kiliselect, which is a foremost e-commerce store for premium African products in China and the Chinese branch of East Africa’s Kilimall. It houses brands from a range of sectors including food and beverage, skincare and homeware. Kiliselect is found on WeChat Stores, which gives the store access to 1.2 billion active WeChat users across China.
JD-Worldwide: Next year, Africa Reimagined will open the first ever flagship, pan-Africa e-commerce store for premium African brands on JD-Worldwide, the cross-border e-commerce platform of China’s largest retailer, It will sell exclusively luxury African brands from a range of sectors including, fashion and jewellery, food and beverage, skincare. and homeware.