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Uganda Vanilla On High Demand In China

by Wangah Wanyama
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By Francis Emukule 

Many African countries are struggling with value addition and efficient industrial mechanisation.  As has been the norm, African countries can only provide raw products and often lack the ability to add value to them or, better yet, compete favourably, particularly in terms of quality assurance on the international market. 

Kilimall, a Chinese e-commerce company based in Changsha, Hunan province, with headquarters in Kenya, is taking the initiative to facilitate the entry of a number of African products into the Chinese market. The goal of the company is to become a digital Africa enabler by creating a better life for people in China and Africa by enriching their lives.  

According to Robin Xie Bin, the vice president t of Kilimall, they currently import coffee, aloe vera, moringa, flowers, avocados, and pepper from Africa, specifically Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda. 

He did, however, mention a new discovery of a herb from Uganda that is in high demand in the baking industry. 

“We used Ugandan vanilla here in China, and the flavour is loved by Chinese customers; it’s a new discovery, but demand is increasing,” Robin explained. 

Vanilla exports to China totalled approximately 90 million kilos in the previous year, according to Robin’s data. Due to “China’s large baking culture, it is expected to grow over time. 

According to Bin, China is also likely to open its market to Ugandan pepper due to Uganda’s preferential tax treatment of Ugandan products exported to China. Dried Ugandan mangoes, on the other hand, have a very competitive market in China as well. 

Kilimall imports 150 and tonnes of coffee from Africa to China each year. The company intends to expand into Africa’s western, northern, and southern regions. 

However, despite tremendous strides in shipping Africa’s products around the world, quality assurance remains a major challenge, with African countries grappling with mechanisation and human resources in quality assurance. 

Nonetheless, Kilimall says to be running initiatives to train African employees in order to promote production sustainability and quality assurance. 

Kilimall was founded in 2014 and currently employs over 200 people. In 2019, the company responded to the forum’s major initiatives on China-Africa cooperation, as well as assisting Hunan Province in the development of the China-Africa economic and digital platform, as well as African procurement channels. 

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