Business opportunities in Africa

Despite all of the attention Africa has received for its social, medical, humanitarian and political challenges, it is still undervalued as a consumer market, according to Vijay Mahajan in his book Africa Rising: How 900 Million African Consumers Offer More Than You think. The book shares the insights gained by the author after travelling thousands of kilometres across Africa and meeting with leaders of major African companies  and other organisations doing business in Africa.

The book goes on to describe numerous businesses operating profitably in Africa. Some of these, such as mobile telephone businesses and Nollywood movie productions businesses, have experienced a level of success over the past decade far outweighing expectations. For other businesses the level of success is more ambiguous.

The fact that some businesses are operating in a market does not mean that the market is attractive for other businesses; the regulatory environment, sovereign risk and many other factors need to be considered in evaluating a business opportunity. Africa certainly presents business opportunities, but for the present only the bold, mining companies, and those motivated by social entrepreneurship rather than strictly profit motives, are likely to leap in.

Africa needs both aid and trade, according to the author: aid for solving immediate problems relating to education, health and food; and business development through trade to build sustainable wealth in the long term. The book follows very much in the footsteps of C K Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, and it raises issues that will be of interest to those who are concerned about ending poverty in Africa.

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