McKinsey Quarterly has a slew of great articles under the header “Doing Business in Africa” that really deserve attention.  I’ll try to mix in some of the main points in subsequent posts over the next week or so, but in the meantime, registration there is free so go ahead and peruse at will if you’re so inclined. 

Some nuggets for now, gleaned from this week’s Economist:

  • The natural-resource sector accounts for only about a third of the continent’s growth.  Africa is producing a growing number of world-class companies outside the resource industry, from South African giants such as SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer, and Aspen Pharmacare, the largest generic-drugmaker in the southern hemisphere, to niche players such as Tunisia’s Coficab, one of the world’s most successful suppliers of wiring for cars.
  • As to the poor, thanks to rising living standards, some 200m Africans will enter the market for consumer goods in the next five years.  Moreover, the continent’s working-age population will double from 500m today to 1.1 billion in 2040.  Consumer-goods companies ranging from Western giants such as Procter & Gamble to emerging-market car companies such as China’s Great Wall and India’s Tata Motors are pouring into Africa.  Foreign firms are likely to start using Africa as a base for manufacturing as well, as Europe’s population shrinks and labour costs in India and China rise.