What is the impact of export costs on the speed and extent to which African firms exports? We answer this question using a sample of 49,584 (mostly formal) firms across 71 countries, including 5,839 firms in 16 African countries surveyed by the World Bank during 2002 and 2003. We find that firms in African countries face higher export costs on average than firms in other parts of the world. However we find that African firms are more likely to enter export markets, but that when they do the extent of their exports (exports as a share of their total sales) is on average less than that of firms elsewhere. Also, younger firms are more likely to start exporting than older firms. As for the impact on export costs, we establish that the costs of exporting (as measured in US dollars) lower the likelihood and the extent of African firms’ exports but not when African firms start exporting.
Keywords: international entrepreneurship, exports, transport costs, firm heterogeneity, Africa