African exports by product
The total value of Africa’s exports decreased from 2014 to 2018 by an average of 21% in USD terms. This was driven by the decline in global commodity (especially oil) prices.
Nigeria, Southern Africa (excl. SA), Central Africa and the Maghreb region rely most heavily on extractive industries. As a result, these regions saw the largest decline in total export value over the 2014-2016 period, with muted recoveries between the 2016-2018 period. Oil prices were at an all-time high with an average closing price of USD 93.17 per barrel during 2014, decreasing dramatically to a low of USD 45.13 in 2016, recovering to an average price of USD 64.90 during 2018.
Ghana and Francophone West Africa are the only regions to report increases in the total export value of extractives over the 2014-2018 period.
South Africa has one of the most developed economies and boasts a diverse export basket. South Africa’s top exports include gold, platinum, diamonds, coal briquettes and vehicles.
The Maghreb region boasts the largest exports in 2018, with exports totalling USD 118 bn. This region is the largest exporter of extractive commodities in Africa. The region’s reliance on extractive commodities has declined from 78% in 2014 to 63% in 2018 with increases in the exports of fertilisers and organic and inorganic chemicals, electrical machinery and equipment, and vehicles.
East Africa has a relatively low level of exports, as compared to the other regions. Some 82% of the regions’ exports come from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda; of which tea, gold, and coffee are the top exports, respectively.