An e-commerce platform has been linking African manufacturers with Chinese customers, and vice versa, for the past few years.
Tia Peng from Amanbo Nairobi while talking to CNN Traders, a programme that highlights enterprising individuals globally that are going the extra mile to trade across borders detailed the opportunities that abound in this business:
“We think Africa, especially Kenya, is a huge market for online. Chinese electronics are particularly popular in Africa.” Peng explained the benefits of Amanbo: “The manufacturer can ship their product directly from China to here. We will not charge their operating fee on our platform, we will charge them some percentage of the profits.”
The demand for African products in China is great, especially amongst the middle classes, according to Peng: “It is not only focus on bring Chinese product to Africa, but also selling African product to China, because African product is great, there is a big need for Chinese market. As you know, China’s population is around 1.4 billion, and zero-point-three billion is middle classes among them. So, they have a strong need for African product”
Decorative artefacts carved from Kenyan soapstone are one of the products to have found a market in China.
Stephen Okari, a soapstone craftsman who speaks about the benefitting from the demand:“Amanbo they are very important for me because when they come, they come to the Maasai Market they order from me and then sometimes they give me a big order.”
Amanbo’s online marketplace has been tapping in to an already strong economic bridge between China and Africa. CNN’s Traders revels that China is Africa’s main export market and also its largest source of imports.
Eighty-five per cent of exports from Africa to China are made up of commodities and crude materials, with oil being the biggest single item. Due to the country’s lower manufacturing costs, machinery, autos and textiles from China make up the biggest imports into the African continent.
Amanbo has the ambitious goal of reaching ninety percent of all African consumers but there are some challenges, as Tia Peng explained: “One is the cost of broadband, which is still too high in Africa. The second is logistics, which is still not much now. The third is the literacy rate in Africa. We do believe it will improve in Africa.”