E-com­merce sig­nals new fu­ture for ties be­tween China, Africa

Global Times US Edition - - BIZUPDATE -

African com­pa­nies are ex­plor­ing new trade mod­els with China based on e-com­merce at the first China-africa Eco­nomic and Trade Expo (CAETE), which opened on Thurs­day in Chang­sha, cap­i­tal of Cen­tral China’s Hu­nan Prov­ince.

Trade be­tween China and African coun­tries has been ris­ing since 2008, and by 2018, China had been the big­gest trad­ing part­ner of the continent for a decade. As bi­lat­eral trade grows, e-com­merce is emerg­ing as a new way to bring about a more sus­tain­able growth mode.

In May, China’s Alibaba Group signed an agree­ment with Rwanda to es­tab­lish an Elec­tronic World Trade Plat­form (EWTP). Charles Kay­onga, am­bas­sador of Rwanda to China, told the Global Times on Thurs­day that e-com­merce plat­forms in­clud­ing EWTP can stim­u­late the cre­ativ­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity of the continent.

“E-com­merce is not a magic pill that solves ev­ery prob­lem,” he said. “It can’t solve Africa’s deficit in its trade with China. To solve trade is­sues, you need pro­duc­tiv­ity and man­u­fac­tur­ing, and e-com­merce can stim­u­late that, by open­ing up the mar­ket for African com­pa­nies.”

Han­nah Ry­der, CEO of De­vel­op­ment Reimag­ined, an in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment con­sul­tancy ded­i­cated to find­ing new so­lu­tions to African de­vel­op­ment, told the Global Times that e-com­merce is “ab­so­lutely the fu­ture” of trade be­tween China and Africa. The new chan­nel is im­prov­ing mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties on both sides.

“A lot of African coun­tries still have no idea about the huge po­ten­tial of the Chi­nese mar­ket,” Ry­der said. “Peo­ple still have a lot of stereo­types about China and there is a lack of knowl­edge about what’s go­ing on in there.”

E-com­merce now serves as a con­nect­ing plat­form for shar­ing in­for­ma­tion, as more African com­pa­nies tar­get Chi­nese con­sumers and their surg­ing pur­chas­ing power.

Max­hosa, a South African lux­ury cloth­ing brand, is one of the seven com­pa­nies brought to the first CAETE by De­vel­op­ment Reimag­ined. Nt­sika Ty­ata, its pub­lic re­la­tions li­ai­son, told the Global Times that the com­pany is look­ing to take a share of the mil­lions of e-com­merce cus­tomers through so­cial me­dia.

“Even if we only get 1 per­cent of the e-com­merce con­sumers in China, the volume will be mas­sive,” Ty­ata said. The com­pany is de­sign­ing and pro­duc­ing Xhosa-in­spired cloth­ing, hop­ing to ex­er­cise its ap­peal to the young gen­er­a­tion of con­sumers of lux­ury brands in China very soon.

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