Tag Archives: Africa
As seasoned readers of this blog will undoubtedly be aware, we at Mediolana firmly believe that in an era when vast swathes of the developed world are, at least from an economic perspective, having great difficulty finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning, the time has arguably never been more apposite for companies and individuals located in Western Europe and North America to ask themselves where exactly their core markets are. The BRICI countries in particular seem to offer incredible opportunities for manufacturers and service providers at every level; reading the China Daily, one would think that there is an inexhaustible supply of previously unheard of cities with populations of over five million people, while the fact that Indonesia has the fourth largest population of any nation on the face of the Earth still causes Mediolana’s CSO to stop typing and look around every time he recollects this.
Yet for the even more adventurous and daring entrepreneur, there are yet more lucrative opportunities than the aforementioned engines of growth. We are thinking in particular of Sub-Saharan Africa, a region which is internationally more famous for famine than finery; in particular, the region of East Africa, which was the subject of an excellent recent (November 2011) supplement published in the Financial Times. Perhaps largely because almost no one from the developed world conceptualises the states of the East African Community or EAC (Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda) as anything other than economically insignificant, they ignore the fact that there is a phenomenal consumer boom underway in this region. Consider the following:
- The Sub-Saharan Africa GDP growth rate in 2011 was 5.2%, with all EAC countries bar Burundi (4.2%) exceeding this rate;
- A global consumer culture applies to this part of Africa, too: Tanzania opened its first formal retail outlet in 1999, and shopping malls – like in China and India – are mushrooming region-wide;
- The Rwanda Development Board‘s One Stop Centre enables registration of a new corporation in just 24 hours.
Of course, it is not easy for most East Africans to do business in this part of Africa, let alone outsiders: transport, logistics, entrenched and relatively widespread corruption and other infrastructural issues are only just beginning to be addressed, while purchasing power for most people in this region is still quite limited. That said, relatively low competition and inchoate formal markets signifies that there is almost everything to play for in one of the world’s most underrated economic zones.