Briefs: Africa

China in Africa: Seeking Resources and Markets


China is rapidly increasing its presence in Africa through private and public investment, economic aid, and trade. It is outdoing the developed world in several respects: size of investments and aid packages, scale of infrastructure-building and resource acquisitions, and the sheer numbers of people involved on the ground.

As a result, China will help to reshape Africa as a competitive environment and as a market. This brief examines drivers of China’s interest and activity in Africa, explores some of the likely outcomes, and analyzes the implications of these changes for businesses and other organizations.

Ethiopia’s Consumer Market: Is It Worth Getting In Now?

Image: David Stanley
Flickr, creative commons for commercial use

The 14th largest country in the world by population, Ethiopia is an emerging economy that has demonstrated impressive growth throughout the past decade, growth sustained through the global recession. Ethiopia is currently the fifth largest economy in Africa and is projected to become the third largest within a decade, making it an inviting target for multinationals seeking to establish a presence in Africa.1

Despite its attractions, however, Ethiopia does not offer a certain—or even a relatively clear—road to prosperity for multinationals looking to do business there. The great promise the Ethiopian market presents is counterbalanced by the many drawbacks and challenges that will have to be overcome.

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Conflict-Free Products: Ethics in the Marketplace

Image: MauroCateb
Flickr, creative commons for commercial use

The idea of “conflict-free” products is spreading. Originating in the role of mineral industries in Africa, it centers on the concept that some products are ethically questionable because their ingredients or inputs are sourced from areas facing armed conflict, thereby contributing to instability and war.

To date, the idea of conflict products has mostly been applied to select, high-profile conflicts, but this could change. Activists and governments are moving to increase consumer awareness of the issue, reduce the trade in such goods, and change business behaviors.

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The Rise of the African Consumer

Image: Yenkasssa
Flickr, creative commons for commercial use

Africa’s economic and consumer activity are rapidly expanding. Over the last decade, the rate of Africa’s economic growth—equal to that of the Middle East—has been second only to emerging Asia. In fact, Africa’s GDP has grown at a faster rate than the world’s GDP in every year since 2001.

Contrary to popular belief, however, this growth has been driven not so much by harnessing the continent’s resource wealth (although that has certainly played a significant part), but more so by the increasing purchasing power of Africa’s rising consumer class and the consequent expansion of consumer-facing sectors of the economy.

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