The Wall Street Journal is currently running an in-depth interactive series on the rapid development and potential of the African consumer market. The first installment of the series includes a wealth timeline of foreign investment in Africa, consumer profiles, an insightful article on multinational brand perspective and more. It’s a must read. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.
There’s a new gold rush under way for the African consumer, a campaign that spans the continent and aims to reach an emerging middle class. These are the people who have begun to embrace cellphone messages, restaurant meals and trips down supermarket aisles.
In Kenya, a battle between units of Britain’s Vodafone Group PLC, and India’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. has driven down the consumer’s cost of a text message to a penny. Yum Brands Inc. of the U.S. recently said it wants to double its KFC outlets in the next few years to 1,200.
And Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay nearly $2.5 billion to buy 51% of South Africa’s Massmart Holdings Ltd., with plans to use the discount retailer as a foothold for continental expansion. Andy Bond, Wal-Mart’s regional executive vice-president, describes the potential as a “10- to 20-year play.”
Some analysts believe a billion-person continental market already has arrived. Consultancy McKinsey & Co. says the number of middle-income consumers—those who can spend for more than just the necessities—in Africa has exceeded the figure for India. The firm predicts consumer spending will reach $1.4 trillion in 2020, from about $860 billion in 2008. – Read more on WSJ.com
On April 27, 2010 the popular website Mashable ran a post titled 1MillionShirts Leverages Social Media to Help Clothe Africa. The post was about a new charitable campaign launched by a pair of US-based social media marketing professionals whose goal was to get everyday consumers to “Help us send one million t-shirts to the people of Africa”. As the Mashable author wrote
The 1MillionShirts project, launched this month, is asking for used (but decent) T-shirts to be sent in with a one dollar bill to help with container costs. The shirts will then be shipped to Africa to help clothe folks in need.
The mis-guided campaign team set out to use social media tools to spread the word, encouraging supporters to use the #1millionshirts tag in comments about the campaign on Twitter. Within hours of the #1millionshirts tag appearing on Twitter a heated debate ensued between the marketers and the African development and aid professionals with both sides writing online, talkingon Twitter, and even getting on an international conference call. In 24 hours what started out as a typical American-lead Africa aid charity campaign had fueled a full blown debate on the merits of such efforts, and how campaigns such as these negatively affect African communities and the aid industry.
To further the open discussion, and educate other would-be Africa aid campaigners, I have tapped the wisdom of the crowd to produce a case-study document titled “No Tees Please: Why Africa aid campaigns #FAIL”. The contributors to the eBook have shared their perspectives on this and other Africa aid campaigns and the hard lessons which can be learned when they miss their mark.
Feel free to download and distribute the eBook embedded below freely to anyone you feel can learn from the diverse perspectives on smart aid and foreign-lead African development initiatives. A special thanks to the numerous contributors and my co-editor Raquel Wilson for helping get this project out the door in a short period. Leave your comment below or follow me on Twitter (@GKofiAnnan) to join the ongoing conversation.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide features a short video on Africa’s digital revolution. The video, highlights the use of digital tools, online and mobile, by young Kenyans to bridge the learning and economic gap. A key observation when watching the video is the underlying shift from formal organized education to informal individual education as a result of Kenyan youth’s access to technological tools. Watch the feature below featuring Mark Kamau of Nairobits and John Karanja of Whive.
Nairobi is buzzing! There is an energetic and innovative vibe in the city. A young generation has risen to take matters into their own hands.
A few weeks ago, I was honored to be invited to Harvard University to give a short talk and participate in the Rebranding Africa through the Youth panel as part of their Africa Focus series. The panel was a lively, collaborative one with both panelists and attendees providing perspectives on the topic. As a follow-up, I’ve put together a slide deck of my prep notes and am sharing here. Hopefully, the presentation embedded below will allow those who couldn’t attend the event a chance to join in and continue the conversation here and elsewhere. Feel free to download and share the presentation. You can contact me here or on Twitter (@GKofiAnnan) for further info or to discuss. Thanks to the Harvard team, especially Essie Yamoah and Julia Mensah, for having me up.
50 African nations and the African Union will present their interpretations of the “Better City, Better Life” theme in Shanghai, China at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo running May 1 to October 31. Along with a number of other countries, African governments and businesses will exhibit at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo in efforts to showcase tourism and trade potential. Of the 50 African nations exhibiting, 42 have joined forces to build the Joint-Africa Pavilion, a 22.6 thousand square meters (243,264.38 sq. ft) exhibit hall with individual country exhibition areas and over 100 exhibits from Africa. Located near a main entrance of the expo, construction for the Joint-Africa Pavilion began in August 2008, and is developed in part with investment money from a $100-million fund set up by the organizers of the expo for the over 100 participating developing countries participating. The remaining 8 African countries exhibiting, including South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria, will rent their own separate pavilions.
The Joint African Pavilion consists of exhibitions provided by 42 African countries including Angola, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Zambia, and Sudan. The Pavilion embraces the theme of “The Great Ballad of Africa”. It aims to represent the cultural diversity, solidarity, and the rosy future of the African countries. Welcoming visitors at the entrance of the Pavilion is “Lucy”, a 3-and-a-half million year old fossil of a female hominid. She was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974.” - CCTV
Of the 191 countries participating in the World Expo in Shanghai, most are investing record amounts to build pavilions., Most world governments will be providing the bulk of investment, with heads of state promising to make special appearances. In an effort to solidify Shanghai as a global city, China itself is spending $4.2 billion on transforming the world’s fair to a blowout extravaganza, surpassing it’s recent efforts on producing the Beijing Olympics. “Compared with the Olympics, the expo will have a richer culture,” said Zhu Yonglei, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination. “It will be more interesting.” An extimated 70 million visitors from the public and private sectors, civil society, international organizations and others will attend the Shanghai World Expo, making it the largest World Expo in history.
More images of the Joint-Africa Pavilion available here and here.
For it’s part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup advertising wars, ESPN is channeling a major part of South Africa’s history: Apartheid. The sports channel is starting it’s World Cup advertising with a Wieden + Kennedy created spot highlighting the importance of football (soccer to Americans) at South Africa’s infamous Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. The commercial is part of a four-part series which will be rolled out over the course of the months before the World Cup start on June 11.
Our goal with this spot is to educate people about the historical significance of the World Cup being played in South Africa. – ESPN Marketing Director Seth Ader
Watch the commercial below and let me know what you think in the comments below.
As part of the marketing around the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup, the South African Tourism authority has launched a new branded url shortening service at http://mzan.si. Developed for the government agency by Quirk eMarketing, the Mzan.si service is so named for the word Mzansi (m-zun-zee), a popular word used to refer to South Africa. The marketing effort is an attempt to brand South Africa as “a country teeming with exquisite sights, natural splendours, adventure attractions and culture”.
Because URL shorteners are easier to remember, faster to type and less likely to break when they are shared, this shortening craze might just become a new kind of language for all internet users….Not only is http://mzan.si designed to shorten long cumbersome URLs, but it also allows South African Tourism to market South Africa as a destination through unobtrusive, geo-targeted advertising within the shortener itself. All URLs that have been shortened using the http://mzan.si will start with mzan.si making them instantly recognisable. The objective of the URL shortener is to reach people in an alternative way to educate and entice them into visiting South Africa hence the name msansi which means South Africa. It is also aimed at enabling all South African’s to ‘fly the flag’ and acknowledge their homeland online with every link they create.
If you haven’t already heard FELA! The Musical has opened on the Broadway in New York City. For many people, myself included, this marks a milestone in African culture’s rise to global recognition. Nigerian musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti has been an major inspiration for many young Africans looking to re-define what it means to be African in the West. Ever the African icon, Fela’s music and ideas have been at the cornerstone of the growing Afropolitan culture in New York and other metropolitan areas around the world. He has inspired many creative expressions of African culture including my own early foray into Africa-influenced business. After many years as an Afropolitan lifestyle inspiration, now the essence of what Fela has defined for modern Africans has brilliantly been captured in this new musical.
There should be dancing in the streets. When you leave the Eugene O’Neill Theater after a performance of “Fela!,” it comes as a shock that the people on the sidewalks are merely walking. Why aren’t they gyrating, swaying, vibrating, in thrall to the force field that you have been living in so ecstatically for the past couple of hours?
The hot (and seriously cool) energy that comes from the musical gospel preached by the title character of “Fela!,” which opened on Monday night, feels as if it could stretch easily to the borders of Manhattan and then across a river or two. Anyone who worried that Bill T. Jones’s singular, sensational show might lose its mojo in transferring to Broadway can relax.
FELA! The Musical features the Afrobeat music of Fela Anikulapo–Kuti, a book by Jim Lewis and the direction and choreography of Tony® Award winner Bill T. Jones. The musical is co-produced by Jay-Z, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith among others.
Watch the opening night and behind the scenes videos below.
When GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt wrote in this month’s Harvard Business Review that GE’s “Success in developing countries is a prerequisite for continued vitality in developed ones” and as a result the company was full on adopting the reverse innovation model, he sent shockwaves through the US-based business world. Looking at the numbers though, who could argue. The HBR article explains that “GE’s revenues outside the United States soared from $4.8 billion, or 19% of total revenues, in 1980, to $97 billion, or more than half of the total, in 2008.” all while the global economic crisis surged on.
… (business leaders) are shifting their energies from managing the present—surviving the financial and economic meltdowns—to creating the future. But we worry that too few U.S. business leaders have recognized that the future is far from home. Indeed, many of the innovations that propel global economic growth over the next few decades will originate in the developing world. – BusinessWeek
While the idea of reverse innovation – or trickle up innovation as the business practice is sometimes called – is nothing new, the business climate is ripe for it’s large scale adoption. With the global economy in peril, and waning consumer confidence particularly in the west, multinationals are increasingly seeking alternatives to old revenue and product development models. Reverse innovation – creating entry-level products for developing nations and then repackaging them for sale in richer nations – solves many problems for multinationals including reducing product development costs and increasing revenue by diversifying globally. But to truly see the gains of a reverse innovation business practice companies must make an honest effort to observe what makes it profitable; most importantly, understanding how emerging markets like China, India, Brazil and Africa, have become politically stable, more self reliant, and how innovation is now driven locally.
Affordable Products – Emerging nations can’t afford goods priced for the U.S. and Western Europe, which pushes companies to find inexpensive materials or manufacturing options.
‘Leapfrog’ Technologies – Developing countries lack 20th century infrastructure and so have fast-forwarded to newer technologies such as mobile phones or solar energy.
Service ‘Ecosystems’ – Entrepreneurs in poor nations often must rely on others for help, creating new partnerships like video-game cafés where gamers test offerings such as online identity verification.
Robust Systems – Emerging markets require products that work in rugged conditions. A gadget sturdy enough to survive monsoons can handle spilled coffee in Boston or San Diego.
New Applications – Customers in poor countries have few product choices, providing market openings for add-ons that update and extend the lives of existing merchandise.
More on Reverse Innovation / Trickle Up Innovation
Vijay Govindarajan talks with Bloomberg’s Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt about technological “reverse innovation,” or developing products in emerging countries such as China and India for sale there.
Interview: Microsoft’s Trickle-Up Strategy – (Businessweek audio) Microsoft is looking to developing-world audiences for inspiration on new products for the U.S. Now it is also increasingly hunting for R&D talent among students in emerging markets. The company’s Amit Mital explains.
Feature: Innovation Trickles in a New Direction – (Businessweek video)