Improving access to consumers via mobile technologies. Consumers in Africa are getting easier to reach due to a remarkable uptake of mobile services. By 2012 almost 50 percent of Africans (more than 500 million people) will own a mobile phone, compared with 30 percent in 2008.7 This significant mobile adoption by consumers has made it easier for companies to reach consumers through mobile marketing, competitions and promotions (for example, M-Pesa for mobile money). Consumers are more savvy because they are now linked to the rest of the world through their cell phones and no longer isolated. In addition to improving access to consumers, the mobile revolution has created a booming industry that employs and provides income for large numbers of people. Witness the significant drive in Kenya to open new business call centres.
A healthier and more stable business environment. Fewer conflicts, more democratic elections, higher economic growth rates and improved business regulation make Africa more business-friendly every year. This fact has been recognized by the World Bank’s 2009 Ease of Doing Business report, which highlighted Africa as a continent that is making strides toward becoming a businessfriendly regulatory environment.
A loosening of trade restrictions. Trade among African countries in the past has been slowed by the hefty tariff barriers that countries imposed on imports. However, the global drive for rapid opening of borders to regional and international trade is forcing African countries to open up their borders for imports. Africa has fostered a number of formalized trade blocs that have been the catalyst for loosening trade restrictions between member states and the global economy in general. As African consumers accumulate wealth and steadily gain access to global products and services, they will form lasting allegiances with companies offering these products and services. For companies that want to benefit from the size and growth inherent in the African opportunity, the time to act is now.