Chapter 6:Factors to Consider when Shipping from China to Africa
When shipping from China to Africa, focus on factors which can enhance smooth movement of the goods.
That’s exactly what I am going to discuss in this section.
Remember, these factors will help you reduce the shipping cost.
Some of these factors you must consider include:
1.Type of Cargo to Ship from China to Africa
Depending on the amount of the goods to be shipped, you can pack them in different containers.
There are three different types of containers you can use when shipping from China to Africa:
- 20 feet container
- 40 feet container
- 40 feet high cube container.
Normally, the design of these containers is such that they protect the goods from damage.
20 feet container is used mostly to carry some cargo such as machine spare parts, machineries, minerals since they tend to be a bit heavy.
40 feet containers do not only carry the heavy commodities, but those that are voluminous in nature and occupy a big space.
Such goods may include wood furniture, vehicle tires, assembled goods, toys etc.
The load for both the 20 and 40 feet container must be the same always, even though the volumes are not the same.
fact, the 40 feet container is twice the 20 feet container by volume.
By the way, I want you to remember this:
China allows the weight of a container packed to be between 27 to 28 tons.
They mostly prefer maximum weight of 20 tons.
So, even as you plan to ship from China to Africa, have this in mind always.
But, you know what?
The cost of ocean shipping of a single 40 feet container is cheaper than having two 20 feet containers during shipment – in China it is about 1.5 times less.
Now, what does this imply?
It is cost effective to have the goods shipped in the 40 feet container than two 20 feet containers.
As long as their weight conform to the required standards.
These containers are mostly applicable with regular commodities.
If the commodity is not regular, other containers such as:
- Open top
- Flat rack
- Reefer or tanks may be a better alternative
But, what brings this difference – let’s find out.
· Open Top Containers
They carry goods which are handled mostly using a crane and hence they do not have a rigid roof.
These containers carry very bulky goods.
It is flexible and can be manipulated easily to fit the commodities inside the container as it has movable elbows.
· Flat Rack Containers
Flat rack containers do not have side walls and the top.
The have end walls which can either be fixed or collapsible.
These end walls can flush and fold with the base.
The collapsible end walls allow transportation of a cargo which is over length.
The reasons of the structure of this container are to accommodate abnormal goods with very high height, large width and are heavy and bulky.
· Reefer Tanks
Reefer tanks are used mostly in transporting perishable commodities.
This is because they are equipped with the mechanical compressor system.
It is this compressor system that regulates temperatures inside the container.
The tank containers are installed inside a frame for stability purposes.
They are mostly used in the transportation of the hazardous or non-hazardous liquid substances.
It has safety devices and equipped with filling and emptying accessories to assist in loading and unloading liquid easily.
These tanks are always pressure tested after every 2.5 years for safety purposes.
2. Cargo Size
Cargo sizes vary with the type of container you’ll use.
These containers come in different sizes depending on the nature of the application.
The tables below show the dimensions of different cargo sizes.
Table 1: General purpose container
Table 2: Reefer containers
Table 3: Open top containers
Table 4: Flat rack containers
3. Shipment Type
Sea or ocean freight is the most common way of shipping goods from China to Africa.
This is because it is not only affordable, but carries voluminous goods.
Here, you can opt for either:
LCL is a situation where one shares the container space with others having same destination but small volumes of goods.
The cost for shipping is therefore shared among the individuals using the same container.
The amount you’ll pay depends on the volume (cubic meters) your goods will occupy.
It is one of the cheapest ocean freight.
I know you’d not wish to hear this, but it is the reality.
It will take longer time for the products to leave a port in China to Africa.
There is consolidation at the port of departure and also at the destination port.
Consolidation process may take time.
FCL is safer than LCL since not so many other cargos are put inside which can damage other cargos.
Before you choose LCL, ensure your goods will be safe.
Even the chemical loaded if not well packed may spoil other goods.
Tracking FCL shipment by the shipping company is also easy.
Simply use the container number or booking number to estimate the shipping duration.
Normally, the freight charges for FCL are flat rate basis.
Now, what’s the difference between LCL and FCL?
- Who issues the bill of lading?
The freight forwarder issues bill of lading of LCL shipment while for FCL, the bill of lading is issued directly by the official shipping line.
- Take note of the mark to identify goods
The mark identifying your goods from other shippers (shipping mark) is printed on the outer package when using LCL.
This mark must be black and bold with waterproof paint so that they cannot erase easily.
Orange or red color is used for cargo carrying dangerous materials or substances.
The marks are mainly in English and other languages depending on the country of destination in Africa.
- FCL charges less shipping cost per unit than LCL
The difference in the charges is simply because of other fees levied on LCL at the destination.
Clearing and handling the LCL consignment has a high wo k rload compared to the FCL.
It is because the agents always handle several LCLs inside one container. All the LCLs are normally unloaded at the port of destination for segregation.
This is because they belong to different people while the FCL can be unloaded and sent directly to the buyer’s point.
FCL shipment handling is less since loading and sealing of the container is done by the seller and shipped to the destination port.
LCL will be subject to consolidation at the loading port and once the container reaches the destination port, it is again unloaded during sorting out.
4.Shipping Time and Port
Products made in China are of good quality and therefore their market in Africa is guaranteed.
They are also affordable.
Carrier companies have different departure times to their final destination.
Most companies have their schedules posted on their websites and one can easily contact them for forwarding services.
With the rising urge of importing products from China to Africa, the importers prefer different departure ports.
China has a number of ports and therefore depending on the location of the cargo, you can take it to the nearest shipping port.
Of course, it must be convenient in terms of logistics.
You’ll discuss this with your freight forwarder in China.
Some of the ports in China include:
- Jiujiang among others.
Of course, you will load products in any of these ports.
I hope you remember my discussion in chapter 2 – sea ports and airports in Africa.
Well, those are your unloading ports.
In short, before shipping, you must know:
- Loading and unloading port
- Shipping duration
- Cargo departure time
- How best to track cargo when in transit
Your freight forwarder will give you all these details.
5.Rules and Regulations on Importing from China to Africa
In any international business, there are rules and regulations that determine how people do business.
The same scenario is the same whenever you’re importing from China to Africa.
The good news:
China has good relations with most African countries.
Therefore, rules and regulations when it comes to international trade are not that strict.
Anyway, let’s have a quick overview of the rules and regulations on importing from China to Africa:
You will apply for this in the African country authority.
As an importer, you will apply for an import declaration form.
You will avail this form at the port of destination in Africa before inspection begins.
You will require the following documents for clearance to enable Electronic Registration of The Customs Entry:
- Original commercial invoice
- Packing list
- Original bills of lading
- Original certificate of conformity
- Original test result/report/analysis
- Original certificate of origin for preferential trade area partners e.g. COMESA
- Import declaration form and the receipt
- Insurance debit note
- Importers declaration
- Import levies
Every African country will put special levies on some product i.e Kenya has Sugar at 7% of CIF and Petroleum Products.
- Special permits/Certificates
You must produce special permits/certificates when importing certain products such as:
- Fumigation certificates
- Phytosanitary certificates
- Insecticides & herbicides permits
- Plants importations permit
- Bill of lading
Bill of Lading signed by the importer, shall only be issued and the banker can only be given to the shipping agent; to issue a delivery order only once the freight and the container chargers have been settled.
The following products are prohibited from importation by a number of countries:
- Game trophies
- Counterfeit currency
- Gambling machines
- Animal traps
- Alcohol and other spirits
- Precious metals and stones
Prohibition of importing all arms, explosives and ammunition unless there is police permit
Shipping from China to Africa can be very challenging for one who doesn’t understand the requirements.
Once someone gets to know every detail of shipping, he/she will enjoy stress free process and plan at his/her own convenience.
More importantly, you must have good planning and know all the necessary regulations.
Also, once you get a good freight forwarder, importing from China to Africa will be simple and easy.
With this guide, I believe shipping from China to Africa will be very simple.
And, by the way – feel free to share this article with family and friends.