Africa consumer

“They’re coming up every morning, just like churches,” Peter Kari, a father of two living in Nairobi’s Kawangware slum, says of the private schools mushrooming in his neighbourhood. “They die as they’re being born. You can wake up one morning and see a tin shack. The other night it was a pub. Today, it’s a school.”

A ride down one of the main roads in Kawangware offers evidence for Kari’s claim. Within five kilometres, there are at least fifteen visible signs for private schools, with names like ‘Brightest Star,’ ‘Top Shine,’ ‘Springs of Wisdom,’ and one (see photo) unfortunately misspelt ‘Havard.’ Read more

It’s a few minutes into Marion Akinyi Onginjo’s social studies lesson at Bridge International Academy Gicagi in Nairobi and the class 4 teacher is being drowned out by loud cheers next door.

Bridge International Academy Gicagi, Nairobi. Photo: Tosin Sulaiman

Class 4 finally gets its chance to make some noise when one student, Margaret, correctly answers a question about subsistence crops. After Onginjo tells the class, “let’s give Margaret the cowboy cheer,” they stand up, spin imaginary lassoes in the girl’s direction and yell, “One, two, three, four, five, yee-hah.” Read more

At the entrance to Shomaa Impressive School, a compound of 11 classrooms built from thin wooden boards in the Lagos slum of Makoko, prospective parents are greeted with a banner showing four children in graduation gowns and the motto “Raising future professionals”. Just as the message is crafted to appeal to the aspirational market traders and fish sellers who send their children to the nursery and primary school, the daily tuition fees averaging less than $1 a day are also tailored to their modest budgets.

Schools like Shomaa, which has around 100 students, are contributing to a boom in private education in Lagos and other cities in Africa.

A pupil at Shomaa Impressive School, Makoko, Lagos. Photo: Tosin Sulaiman

 Read more

President Obama’s US-Africa Business Summit in August drew a top-notch group of African heads of state, business leaders, financiers, and ministry officials.

But did the event bring in new potential investors? Some, but not enough. Rooms were full of familiar faces during our three days in Washington DC, but many US companies and investors still say “it is too early for Africa: the continent is too dangerous, and markets are too small”.

We think this approach — often based on anecdotes or media articles instead of fact-based research — actually elevates risk rather than mitigating it. Read more

In the 1980s Yvonne Chaka Chaka released a hit single called Umqombothi, the Xhosa word for homebrew beer. The song described the virtues of the traditional maize or sorghum-based brew that is often sold in cardboard cartons.

What the “Princess of Africa” did not mention was the pungent pong the fermenting beer gives off and – if it is left for more than a week in its carton – its propensity to explode.

The secret, therefore, to tapping the vast but informal African homebrew market is to play on the drink’s inherent charms while damping its explosive potential. SAB Miller, the world’s second largest brewer, reckons it has found the formula – a product it calls “Chibuku Super”. Read more

By Andrew Brown of Emerging Capital Partners

Last week the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a further drop in China’s growth to 7.3 per cent in 2014, the lowest figure that the country has experienced in the last 23 years.

China’s continued economic slowdown as it shifts from export-led to consumer-driven growth has prompted speculation as to the knock-on effect on economies that have benefited from China’s rise. Debate has centred on whether many frontier economies, including those of sub-Saharan Africa, are reliant on continued rapid growth in China’s demand for commodities to drive their own economic development. Read more

Ethiopia’s government is famously protective of its economy, especially telecoms, banking and retail. So when the late prime minister, Marxist-influenced Meles Zenawi, met senior Walmart executives face to face last year, it might have seemed an incongruous pairing.

But rising food inflation, combined with traders hoarding goods to avoid government-imposed price caps, made the prospect of big stores arriving to deliver cut-price goods appealing.

Negotiations are continuing with the American giant under Meles’s successor Hailemariam Desalegn (pictured). But progress is slow. Read more

French retail giant Carrefour has its sights set on sub-Saharan Africa’s booming consumer markets, and will begin setting up shop on the west coast of the continent within the next two years.

A joint venture between the supermarket retailer and the Africa-focused trading and distribution company CFAO – a subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho, the Toyota Group’s trading arm – announced on Thursday will open outlets across eight central and west African countries. Read more

Africa is on the verge of a supermarket boom thanks to the (comparatively) freewheeling spending habits of its citizens and spending on food.

But any retailer or producer thinking about Africa may be too late – the investment and deals are already underway, according to Mohit Arora, director of agricultural banking at Standard Bank. Read more

Africa’s fast-growing personal care and beauty markets are prompting ambitious innovation plans from two of the sector’s giants, Unilever and L’Oreal, both looking to capture the expanding middle classes.

But you can’t just take all your western or Asian products and sell them in Africa – new, tailored ranges are needed. Read more