SOTM July: Africa’s top imports in 2018

At africon, we are particularly keen about identifying and underscoring the numerous business opportunities and potentials that exist in Africa which our clients can take advantage of after further market research as well as designed entry strategies. With our focus being on Africa, we have looked into the African markets to see what sort of products are mostly imported in each market, and for the past year 2018 we were able to come up with the following findings.

Over the last five years, Africa has been recording a trade deficit when it comes to total annual imports and exports of goods. Data trends also show that imports to and exports from Africa started increasing in 2017 after the decline in 2015. Also, China, France, USA, Germany, and India have remained Africa’s top export partners in these past years.

In 2018, Africa’s total imports was worth approximately 549 billion USD, and the largest imported product (using the 4-digit category) was petroleum and mineral oils which was valued at approximately 60 billion USD, that is, 11% of Africa’s total imports in 2018.

The other top products imported by Africa are: Motor cars for persons (worth 17 billion USD), Medicaments (worth 11.4 billion USD), Telephone sets (worth 11.2 billion USD), Wheat and Meslin (worth 10.6 billion USD), Motor vehicles for goods (worth 6.3 billion USD), Rice (worth 6.3 billion USD), and Parts & accessories for vehicles (worth 6.1 billion USD).

The largest importers in order are: South Africa (imports worth 93 billion USD i.e. 17% of Africa’s total imports), Egypt (imports worth 81 billion USD i.e. 14.8% of Africa’s total imports), Morocco (imports worth 51 billion USD i.e. 9.3% of Africa’s total imports), Algeria (imports worth 47 billion USD i.e. 8.6% of Africa’s total imports), Nigeria (imports worth 36 billion USD i.e. 6.6% of Africa’s total imports), Tunisia (imports worth 20 billion USD i.e. 3.7% of Africa’s total imports), Kenya (imports worth 16 billion USD i.e. 2.9% of Africa’s total imports), Ghana (imports worth 12 billion USD i.e. 2.2% of Africa’s total imports).

In South Africa, the top three imports excluding petroleum and mineral oils are: motor cars, telephone sets, and medicaments. For Egypt, they are: motor cars, wheat and meslin, and telephone sets. Nigeria’s other top imports are: light-vessels fire-floats etc, wheat and meslin, and motor cars, while in Kenya, the other top imports are: motor cars, medicaments, and flat iron.

SOTM June. Plastic film imports in Nigeria

africon was contracted to conduct a research on Nigeria’s plastic film industry. The objective was to attain profound understanding of the plastic film packaging industry, as well as to identify potential customers for a slitter manufacturer from Germany. Potential companies in this case included primary manufacturers of plastic film as well as plastic film converters.  

The growth of plastic film imports over the past ten years is a demonstration of the growth in the adoption of plastic film packaging in Nigeria as well as the slitter market. Polyethylene (PE) film is by far the most popular plastic film material used in Nigeria due to its versatility and wide areas of application.

If you would like to know more about the plastic film industry in Nigeria, how to access this market, who the right local partners and the customers are, do not hesitate to get in touch.

SOTM May. The aftermarket for commercial vehicles in South Africa

In late 2018, africon conducted a project on the independent aftermarket (IAM) for commercial vehicles in South Africa. The target of the project was to identify potential partners that are not only suitable, but also themselves interested to take up business with the client. Along the way, we scanned partners of most of Europe´s big aftermarket suppliers, from ZF, Mahle to Mann+Hummel and others.

Being Africa´s most developed country, the automotive aftermarket in South Africa presented itself with its own profile, own challenges and opportunities: South Africa is one of the very few African countries with a relatively strong base of local automotive parts manufacturers. A vast variety of international brands have long set up shop, some established their own offices and warehouses. The local motor vehicle fleet of more than ten million is one of Africa´s biggest but has recently only grown very slowly. Together with a sluggish economy, the parts market has become relatively competitive with firms fighting hard for market shares.

Nevertheless, africon successfully identified suitable gaps to enable our client´s market entry into Africa´s largest automotive premium parts market. The already existing volumes, together with a market that – in a global comparison – still has space for significant growth, open interesting opportunities for international firms.

Get in touch if you would like to know more about opportunities in Africa´s automotive aftermarkets!

SOTM April. Ghana’s aluminium fabrication market

africon was contracted to conduct a research on Ghana’s aluminium industry. The objective was to attain profound understanding of the aluminium profiles market in Ghana, as well as to identify and access the right customers our client. 

The overall market for aluminium profiles in Ghana is split into three price/quality segments: Firstly, premium profiles are used in large high rise and complex construction projects, which are shaping the skylines of Accra and other cities in Ghana. This segment represents around 19% of the total market volume and is served by so called “International Fabricators” and “Niche Fabricators”. On the opposite side of the spectrum, “Retail Fabricators” serve around 50% of the market demand with relatively lower price/quality profiles. These profiles are used in common housing construction and for smaller commercial buildings. In between these two segments is the medium price/quality segment, which represents around 31% of the market. Profiles in this segment are used in a variety of residential and commercial construction projects.

Overall, the aluminium profiles market in Ghana has a pyramid shape, with a large budget and a relatively smaller but still significant premium segment. As for other building materials, especially the premium segment holds interesting opportunities for firms from Europe and elsewhere.

If you would like to know more about how your market in Ghana looks, how to access this market, who the right local partners and the customers are, do not hesitate to get in touch.

SOTM March. Kenya’s construction and real estate sector

africon GmbH was contracted by one of our clients and we successfully conducted a research on the aluminium industry in Kenya. We found out that the key drivers of this industry are the construction and real estate sectors in Kenya. Findings revealed that these sectors have experienced positive growth rates within the last five years and are expected to expand even further.

Kenya’s construction sector expanded by 8.6% and contributed approximately 6% to the country’s GDP in 2017. It is also one of the major sectors attracting foreign investors to the country. 

According to Deloitte’s construction trends report, Kenya has remained the leading country with the highest number of projects in East Africa for four consecutive years, with projects increasing by 78% from 23 projects in 2017 to 41 projects worth $38.2 billion in 2018. The major construction projects are in real estate, energy and power, and transport, sources also reveal that the Kenyan government is spending billions of dollars on transport projects as Kenya is expected to become the logistics hub of East Africa.

Challenges to this Kenya’s construction sector include: the frequent use of substandard materials, long procurement procedures, low project completion rates, and low technological knowledge. Despite these apparent challenges, continuous growth is expected in the sector as the Kenyan government plans to build 500,000 houses by 2022, and also to reduce corporate tax for developers who construct at least 400 units per year.

Kenya’s real estate sector is the 6th largest contributor to Kenya’s GDP, and was valued at $5.5 billion in 2017. The sector expanded by 6.1% in 2017 compared to 8.8% in 2016, and this slowed growth rate is due to the elections and reduced credit supply (as a result of capped interest rates). The construction of new private residential buildings in Nairobi increased from 9,054 in 2015 to 10,002 in 2016, while new public residential buildings rose from 45 in 2015 to 1,062 in 2016. Some of the challenges faced by Kenya’s real estate sector include inadequate sources of funding, high land costs, and infrastructure development costs. However, government initiatives such as digitization of the land ministry, removal of land search fees, and inclusion of affordable housing as part of Kenya’s big four agenda is likely to boost real estate development over the next few years

Slide of the month showing the growth.

For more information, check out our other slides of the month and do not hesitate to contact us.

Automotive parts import Sub-Saharan Africa.

SOTM February. Automotive parts imports in Sub-Saharan Africa

africon conducted a market analysis on the automotive industry with specific interest in the automotive parts market in sub-Saharan Africa. Our focus was further narrowed down to the aggregate value of three main automotive service parts which are: Filters (consisting of air filters for internal combustion engines, as well as Oil or petrol filters for internal combustion engines), Spark plugs, and Brake parts. The total combined import value of these automotive parts in Sub-Saharan Africa was $753 million in year 2017. Brake parts recorded the highest import value worth $388 million which is 52% of the total import value of the three selected automotive parts combined, while spark plugs were the least of the imports valued at $58 million.

Based on our analysis of the available data on automotive parts imports in Sub-Saharan Africa, we found that South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, and Ghana were the top five importers of filters, spark plugs and brake plugs into Sub-Saharan Africa in the year 2017. South Africa being the largest market, accounted for 47% of these automotive parts imports worth $355 million, while Ghana being the fifth largest market was worth $21 million.

The major export partners were China, Germany, South Africa, Belgium and USA. However, the data from year 2007 shows that Germany was the largest exporter of these automotive parts to the Sub Saharan Africa region until 2013 when China took over as the largest exporter to the region. Brake parts were also the largest exports (of the three parts) from China and Germany while Filters were the largest exports from South Africa, Belgium and USA.

SOTM. January

SOTM January. The automotive parts market in Nigeria

The Nigerian automotive industry appears to be an interesting market, as our research on the automotive parts market shows that the market size is worth USD 4.4bn or more.

The total vehicles in operation in Nigeria is currently estimated at 12.7 million, and Nigerian drivers spend an average of USD 350 on automotive parts per year.

Interviews conducted with various automotive experts in Nigeria also confirmed that the market for service parts accounts for the biggest share of the automotive market.

SOTM December

SOTM December. Aluminium market growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

africon recently conducted aluminium market research in Africa and this revealed that the Aluminium market in sub-Saharan Africa has been experiencing a steady growth in the past decade.

The major contribution to this, is the increased import of hollow profiles of aluminium alloys into Sub-Saharan Africa which has grown by 467%, from 23 mn tonnes to 107 mn tonnes between 2008 and 2017, compared to other profiles.

The non-alloyed profiles which has the lowest contribution seems to be dwindling in import size, as they only increased between 2009 and 2012, after which they began to decline.

Market entry project

SOTM November. Market entry project for a US communication company

africon was contracted to carry out a market assessment and recommend a suitable Africa strategy for a major international player in the two-way radio communication industry. The project had 7 countries of focus where a total of 184 interviews were conducted with the relevant players in the industry. The results concluded from the analysis of all interviews and market data was clear; South Africa dwarfs its counterparts in terms of market size and market maturity. Nigeria, Kenya and Angola on the other hand offer the greatest potential going into the future. Quality was found to be the key determining criteria for consumers when purchasing two-way radios. This is mainly due to fact that main users of two way radios tend to be in critical sectors where quality cannot be compromised including law enforcement, private security, mining, oil and gas. Customers in this sectors are willing to pay a premium for the guarantee of a reliable products. Africon can provide value to other radio communications companies by evaluating the market potential for their product, analyze the value chain and identify suitable distribution partners in the key market in sub Saharan Africa

Trade Fair in East Africa

SOTM October. Trade fairs in East Africa


As official representative of Messe Dusseldorf in East Africa we are today taking a closer look at the trade fair market in East Africa. Especially, Kenya has developed as hub for exhibitions and conferences during the past years and serves as gateway to a vital region. But also the neighbouring country are hosting various types of trade fairs from small niche events with less than 100 visitors to big exhibitions with thousands of visitors.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any details about the trade fair market in East Africa and of course the engagement of Messe Düsseldorf in the region!