What Multinationals Need to Do to Succeed in Africa

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Africa shows every sign of being the world’s next big growth market. It is home to more fast-growing economies than any other region, hundreds of successful big companies, and an urbanizing consumer market whose spending outstrips that of India. In an aging world, Africa is the exception: half of its people are under 20, and its population is projected to double to 2.5 billion by 2050. Fueling this dynamism, Africa is adopting technology at a furious pace: it will soon have double the number of smartphone connections than North America.

Yet Africa remains a challenging place to do business. Infrastructure is patchy, markets are fragmented, and regulations are complex — and although incomes are rising, poverty remains widespread. For some Western firms, those obstacles are just too daunting.

How can companies navigate Africa’s many challenges and translate its growth trends into profitable, sustainable enterprises? Our research into firms that have succeeded in Africa highlights two essential requirements: the imagination to see the continent’s unmet needs as opportunities for growth, and the long-term commitment to build businesses of meaningful scale.

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