It’s one thing to hear a money manager, whose fund’s thesis rests on African growth, tout the continent’s impending demographic dividend and accelerating  consumption habits; it’s quite another when the world’s biggest retailer takes a punt and sinks its own teeth into the game.  Last week’s Economist noted, for instance, that Wal-Mart’s recent $4.1bn acquisition of South African-based Massmart (the top wholesaler and low-cost distributor of basic foods and consumer goods, as well as the leading retailer of general merchanise, liquor and home improvement equipment and supplies with 288 stores in 14 countries spread across sub-Saharan Africa) is proof that “Africa is near the top of the agenda for the world’s leading businesses . . . as [its] middle class and urban working class expand rapidly, food consumption is expected to grow strongly, along with sales of other consumer products.”  That said, as the article points out by referencing the firm’s travails in Germany, the rewards from such global expansions are never for certain, and hence why the $4bn expenditure should perhaps be thought of more as a cheap call option on the region rather than a definitive, global macro paradigm shift in consumption habits.

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