Demographic and economic shifts occurring in Africa will increasingly affect the global business landscape in the years ahead. The region has the youngest and fastest growing population in the world. By 2050, Africa will make up a quarter of the world’s population and workforce. At the same time, consumer and business spending is growing rapidly and is expected to reach $6.7 trillion by 2030.
African markets are diverse and complex; they face uneven growth prospects and can be challenging business environments. Though home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, Africa continues to rank below other regions in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. Additionally, lingering misconceptions cause many investors to overestimate the risk associated with doing business in African countries. Nonetheless, savvy foreign investors are making money—and those who are doing business on the continent are generally bullish about its prospects. Companies that take a “wait-and-see” approach may find themselves disadvantaged in the years ahead and kicking themselves for not entering African markets sooner.
Anyone who aspires to conduct international business, manage a global brand or find high-growth investment opportunities is wise to gain an understanding of African markets. This course provides an overview of some of the opportunities and challenges with respect to doing business in the region. As part of this course, students will take an in-depth look at two countries in particular: Kenya and Rwanda. Kenya serves as the main economic hub for East Africa and has made significant economic, political and structural reforms since the passage of a new constitution in 2010. While its economic prospects remain strong, the country continues to confront high levels of poverty and inequality as well as episodic periods of political tension. Meanwhile, Rwanda, a country that less than three decades ago was devastated by genocide, has experienced strong development gains and economic growth in recent years. While some laud Rwanda as the “Singapore of Africa,” others express concern about political rights and governance.
This course is taught through the lens of a practitioner, and the discussion will predominantly focus on the realities and practicalities of operating in African markets. Though some examples and discussion will touch on North Africa, this course is primarily focused on sub-Saharan Africa.