Trading with Africa: where to begin

Thinking of trading with Africa? We take a look at five of the continent’s most promising markets that offer strong opportunities for British businesses looking to expand their overseas operations… 

Trading with Africa

With more than 50 countries, not only is Africa a diverse continent, but also a resilient one. In 2011, more than 15 of its economies registered growth rates higher than 5%, despite a slow recovery from the global recession. And as the world economy recovers cautiously, Africa’s progress is expected to accelerate as the world’s emerging economies continue to grow more quickly than more developed ones.

Global businesses are starting to recognise Africa as a desirable and largely untapped market. Here we discuss the opportunities in key markets in the region.


The second-largest economy in West Africa after Nigeria, Ghana reached Middle Income Country status in 2012 and is projected to be one of the world’s ten fastest growing economies until at least 2015.

British exports to Ghana rose 21 per cent in 2012 and it’s now the UK’s sixth largest export market in Africa. Last year the British government included the country in its ‘High Level Prosperity Partnerships in Africa’ programme to drive trade and investment in the long term.

Read our fact sheet to learn more about trading with Ghana.


Kenya is East Africa’s strongest economy: accounting for 40 per cent of the area’s overall GDP, it attracted more private equity deals than any other country in the region in 2012.

With a concrete plan for future advancement (‘Vision 2030’) and a strong focus on technology development, Kenya offers promising prospects for British companies looking to trade with Africa. In fact the UK is already the largest external investor in the country and bilateral trade currently exceeds £1 billion, a figure that the British government aims to double by 2017.

Read our fact sheet to learn more about trading with Kenya.


Already the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria is en route to becoming its largest economy. It has been identified as one of the world’s top 25 rapid-growth markets, and as it aims to move away from being reliant on producing oil, its measures to maintain growth through non-oil sectors including services, agriculture and retail trade, are now the main drivers of its economy.

English is widely spoken and accepted as the business language and with strong investment incentives including Free Trade Zones and tax holidays, Nigeria is a strong market for British businesses looking for their next export destination.

Read our fact sheet to learn more about trading with Nigeria.

South Africa

As the EU’s largest trading partner in Africa and a member of both the BRICS and CIVETS economic groups, UKTI identifies South Africa as “the ideal destination for the investor who has an eye on building a global empire.”

Its position as the largest and most advanced economy in the continent and the only African member of the G20 have helped the country become a major player in the global trading system. And with a demographic change in sub-Saharan Africa, with the fastest growing middle class in the world, an entire new market is opening up.

Read our fact sheet to learn more about trading with South Africa.

With similar business cultures, a shared business language and a strong demand for the ‘Made in Britain’ label, which sets a benchmark for style and quality, South Africa is ready to import more British products. Watch our video to learn where the opportunities for Britain’s SMEs in South Africa lie.

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