It is really interesting to follow how the world is transforming these years, or should I say days?
Recession is truly knocking the door of the western world – even words like ‘collapse’ is on the plate – and on the other hand you have Africa, which has always been the continent that you donated to, you helped, you turned your back to…
As a starter, just see how The Economist has changed its ‘tune’ on Africa. The first front page is from a May 2000 issue… just 11 years after the cover of the magazine shows quite an opposite picture of Africa: “The magazine doesn’t shy away from the challenges still facing Africa… the continent is likely to continue on its current growth path.”
Reading the World Bank report on Kenya; Navigating the Storm, Delivering the Promise it stands clear that Kenya is facing an interesting future with national elections, rising food prices, etc. but still deliver positive growth rates:
“A growth rate of 4.3 percent is projected for 2011, rising to 5.0 percent in 2012 if Kenya succeeds in managing risks and avoids price and currency controls that distort economic activity. It is expected that growth will mainly be driven by services, tourism and recovery in agriculture.”
Another interesting angle on how the world is transforming is to follow how the fast-moving consumer goods company; Unilever is developing in Africa with DOUBLE digit growth in the past decade by focusing on what the African consumer needs!!
Just to add some leverage on how well established Unilever is in Africa: Unilever has annual sales of more than EUR 5 billion in Africa, the group employs 40,000 people in the region and has offices and factories in 40 locations.
Two interesting quotes from Unilever executive vice-president for Africa; Frank Braeken:
- “There is a growing realisation that the future of Africa is based around a consumer rather than mining.”
- “This is a consumer that has been under-served and over-charged,”
It might be that the relatively closed Sub-Saharan Africa economies are lucky to be somewhat sheltered from global trade flows and the pain that more open economies may soon feel…