Seven surprising numbers from China-Africa trade


China has become Africa’s largest trade partner, and has just promised an impressive $60bn (£40bn) in assistance and loans to boost development of the continent.
Yet the relationship is not simply about new roads, mines and military power. Traders from across Africa now live and work in China, while tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have moved in the opposite direction.
Many different facets of life in Africa have been affected by the Chinese influence – here’s a look at some of the more surprising transactions:
$411m wigs

In 2014, tiny Benin was the continent’s biggest importer of wigs and false beards from China. It purchased Chinese hair pieces worth $411m.
A hefty three million kg (472,400 stone) were taken to Benin, with many of those wigs then whisking their way to neighbouring Nigeria.
16 million underpants

South Africa was the continent’s biggest importer of Chinese-made male underpants.
Of the 18,747,003 pants imported by South Africa in 2014, 16,612,590 were Chinese – that’s a whopping 88% of South Africa’s imported pants.
5,700 reptiles

Mauritius was Africa’s largest importer of Chinese soy sauce last year, spending $438,929.
However surprising sales don’t just flow one way. Mauritius sent back 5,735 reptiles to China to a value of $90,000.
$8m toilet seats

Kenya was Africa’s biggest importer of plastic Chinese toilet seats in 2014, spending $8,197,499 on the lavatorial thrones.
159 million toothbrushes

In Nigeria, China has not only been buying its oil, but also keeping Nigeria’s teeth clean.
Nigerian traders were the continent’s biggest purchasers of toothbrushes from China last year, spending a cool $9,372,920 on 159 million items – roughly one for each Nigerian.
$193m motorbikes

China has also been keeping Africa moving. In 2014, Togolese traders spent $193,818,756 on Chinese motorcycles.
Only Nigeria imported more, spending a whopping $450,012,993.
300 primates

Guinea was Africa’s largest primate exporter in 2014, sending 340 live primates to China last year.