Regulations and Challenges when Shipping from Europe to Africa
If it is the first time you’re shipping from a European to an African country, there can be a level of uncertainty and unfamiliarity involved. Different countries have imposed different customs rules and regulations, with some challenges like strict regulatory regimes on imported goods.
A number of countries across Africa have imposed import regulations, including Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Botswana, among others. The main idea of establishing regulations is to ensure product quality and protect the plant, animal, and human health and life. Under the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement, states have the right to impose restrictions for reasons such as cultural and religious practices, geographical considerations, national security, and prevention of deceptive practices.
As of 2021, countries across Africa and the Middle East account for 35 percent of notifications to WTO for TBT and 30 percent for phytosanitary and sanitary measures. As many countries across Africa and the Middle East are experiencing a pick-up in growth, in terms of both social and economic development, this upward trend is expected to persist in the foreseeable future.
Importers, including distributors, suppliers, manufacturers, and freight forwarders assisting them are faced with multiple regulations. Depending on the country you’re importing to, these can cover a wide variety of industrial and commercial products and consumer goods. Many countries require that shippers present proof of conformity to local standards, which can only be obtained from a conformity assessment body in the country of origin. In case a shipper fails to obtain proof of conformity, cargo is subject to testing in a third-party laboratory.
Currently, countries that require proof of conformity include:
- Ivory Coast
There are two countries that have established their own conformity assessment programs – Uganda and Tanzania. Under the Tanzanian program, the main goals are to protect the environment, safeguard human safety and health, ensure the quality of products, and satisfy the requirements of the pre-shipment verification of conformity. In Uganda, goods shipped to the country must meet quality standards to ensure consumer safety and environmental protection. The program aims to protect local industries from unfair competition, avoid the importation of counterfeit, sub-standard, and unsafe products, and streamline customs clearance. All goods that are intended for export are tested and inspected to ensure quality and value for money.
The cost of delivery is another challenge to consider. While countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa have well-developed retail sectors, the cost of delivery of small shipments can be considerable. In terms of cost-effectiveness, the best way to ship goods is by sea, but delivery times from Europe can be upward of 3 months, making tracking a challenge. Express delivery normally takes 2 – 5 days, and tracking is considerably easier.
Lastly, safety is another source of concern when shipping from Europe to Africa. In many countries, you’ll find virtually no addresses and few street numbers and names, putting parcel delivery into question.