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Inside Africa’s Consumer Revolution

Nowadays, Africa’s economic potential – and the business opportunities that go with it – is widely acknowledged. But, for many companies entering Africa or seeking to expand there from a local base, the challenge now is to obtain a better understanding of the market and its consumers.

JOHANNESBURG – Nowadays, Africa’s economic potential – and the business opportunities that go with it – is widely acknowledged. Poverty and unemployment are still more widespread than in other emerging markets, but accelerating growth since 2000 has made Africa the world’s second-fastest-growing region (after emerging Asia and equal to the Middle East).

With rapid economic growth have come more prosperous consumers – and vice versa: 45% of Africa’s total GDP growth in the 2000’s (before the financial crisis erupted in 2008) came from consumer-related sectors of the economy. It is expected that, by 2020, more than half of African households – almost 130 million – will have discretionary income to spend (or save), up from 85 million today.

Moreover, Africa has the world’s fastest-growing population – and the youngest, with more than half under 20 years old, compared to 28% in China. The United Nations estimates that the continent will account for more than 40% of global population growth through 2030, with the working-age population expected to surpass that of China by 2040.

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