From Accra to Nairobi, business opportunities abound
Wandering around Accra Mall in Ghana’s capital, it’s hard to believe that this city was ever considered part of the“developing world.”Fashionable couples promenade through Mango, Puma, Levi’s and Apple stores; women emerge from glamorous boutiques; a huge supermarket sells everything from ice cream to barbecues; a five-screen cinema shows all the latest Hollywood releases; and there’s parking for 900 cars – many of them flashy SUVs. All this without mentioning the food court offering fried chicken, smoothies and a bouncy castle for the kids.
Drive there via the spiraling highways of the city, meanwhile, and you see glossy ads for iPhones, beauty products, flights, mortgages and the luxury condos that have recently appeared in the region.
It’s the same in many major African cities. Nairobi, Lagos, Cairo and Dakar are all experiencing a shopping boom. It’s the new fashionable pastime, along with fitness (gyms are having a moment, too).
In Dakar, the Sea Plaza mall houses 44 shops including Benetton and Aldo, ten restaurants, a cinema and a spa run by the Radisson hotel group on a site that, back in the 1990s, was a rugged bit of cliff overhanging the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean without even a paved road running past it.
In Lagos, the Ikeja mall opened in 2012, while the Palms center is home to brands including Hugo Boss, Mango, Mac, Wrangler, Swatch and Sony, plus a cinema, food court and 1,000 parking spaces. In Lusaka, Zambia, several complexes offer supermarkets, clothing, electronics and everything in between, led by South African retailer Shoprite and Woolworths.
There is more growth to come. In two years, it’s anticipated that there will be 179 new malls in Africa.“The number of new malls is impressive, driven by retailers’growing interest in looking for new growth opportunities,”says Julien Garcier, managing director of Sagaci Research, which in 2013 predicted strong retail growth across the continent by 2017. “We are today at a major turning point across the continent.” the demand for consumer goods. Africa has the world’s youngest population, with more than half under 20.
The consumption habits of these young people are quite different from their elders – they are more likely to search for information online, seeking products and stores that reflect the right image; they are more brand-conscious, looking for the latest fashions and trends; and they like to try new things. Combined with urbanization and the increased availability of credit, it seems like a winning formula.
In the cities, more and more people are flocking to malls rather than the smaller, informal shops and markets that have been the traditional choice. They are seen as places to eat, drink and socialize.
According to McKinsey, Africa’s consumer-facing industries are predicted to grow by more than $400 billion by 2020, accounting for