Making and taking Africa’s opportunity

Over the past decade, Africa has become the fastest growing region in the world. Growth rates of around five percent per year since the turn of the century means that the continent’s GDP has doubled in a decade. Even since the global financial crisis Africa has continued to outperform other regions.

The macro-forces that are shaping this transformation, fueling what is likely to be a long boom after years of stagnation and decline, represent a sea change for the continent’s fortunes. Few of them seem likely to reverse in the next few years. The long-term opportunities for business development are significant.

But if Africa has become an important location for brands and businesses seeking to drive growth, navigating the opportunities offered by the continent is not straightforward. Outsiders typically underestimate both the sheer scale of Africa, and the extent of its diversity and cultural complexity. But there are some rules of thumb which can help:

  • Growth is growth
    All growth is erratic, stretching and bumpy. The same is true for growth in Africa.
  • Nothing quite like it: Don’t compare African markets or territories directly with other emerging nations, or other regions within Africa with each other. If you do, you will miss opportunities.
  • The streets tell truer stories
    There is data about Africa, but it can be hard to make sense of it. Listening to consumers, and watching them, is the key to unlocking the data.
  • Agility is essential
    There will be surprises. Your organization’s ability to adapt and respond is a source of competitive advantage.

In this Future Perspective, then, we set out to help businesses navigate the opportunities in Africa, in the following way:

  • Framing the opportunity
    Explore the cultural context of doing business in Africa.
  • Making the opportunity
    Analyze the long-run trends.
  • Taking the opportunity
    Understand the consumer context.

As with our other thought-leadership reports, we combine the detail of consumers’ lives with insight into the cultural context.

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