Related data set “African Commodity Trade Database” with url https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-xt9-fzkw in repository “dans”. The African Commodity Trade Database (actd) aims to stimulate and deepen research on African and global economic history. The database provides export and import series at product level for more than two and a half centuries of African trade (1730–2010). This article introduces potential users to some of the major questions that can be explored with African commodity trade data, as well as the sources, structure and limitations of the dataset. The current version of the actd is downloadable from the data repository of the African Economic History Network (www.aehnetwork.org/data-research) and will be regularly updated with new data.