Africa: Has its Time come?

Africa is a huge and diverse continent with a total population of 1.2 billion currently which is due to double by 2050, the middle class has doubled and urbanization is on the increase, majorly as a result of the booming manufacturing and service sector which has led to less dependence on more variable natural resources.  Internet penetration (a clear indicator of an economy’s development) within Africa is growing with 240 million people online at present.

 

The retail sector has taken note of this growing sector and has started to develop online and digital retail offerings for customers. The growth of both local and international supermarket chains in Africa will also mean job opportunities in Africa.  Despite the economic growth and achievements of many African countries over recent years, it still remains difficult for the Continent to shake off its negative historic war torn and politically troubled image.

 

Many African countries still are politically and socially unstable. Coupled with this, other challenges exist such as a poor internal infrastructure, weak market signals, undiscerning customers and low customer loyalty. Some steps could be taken to overcome such obstacles such as:

 

  • Working with local partners to gain greater understanding of local thinking within the countries
  • Produce products that are tailored specifically to the market – consider aspects such as pack sizes, specifications  and varieties that are required and favoured
  • Be open to working with others on business development areas such as commercial operations, R & D, or technical advances.  Having links from directly within the country will help to cement future progression
  • Be prepared for the long run – there is always going to be unexpected ups and downs. The  economy within Africa is improving, but it still has a long way to go before full potential is achieved
  • Working, as appropriate, with the NGO community – at times, unavoidable in Africa.

 

Africa is also evolving as a big importer with many countries eyeing business opportunities here.  The developing economic situation across Africa, increasing population, a strong middle class and investment in the service and manufacturing sectors means there is immense potential. Political and social risks notwithstanding, Africa looks like the next big thing.

 

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