News coverage of the African “market opportunity” reminds me of “Chindia”

Africa’s economic and consumer market opportunities, as covered in mainstream media as well as press releases, has begun to remind me of the way India and China used to be covered back in the early years of the past decade.

Just as was the case with India, where any news of economic growth or scientific advancement like sending a satellite into space was greeted with handwringing over the teeming millions living in poverty, one reads the same about Nigeria’s recent rise to economic prominence or the nascent African Space Research Program in Uganda.

At the same time, one sees the same hyperbole being bandied about the millions of emerging middle class consumers hungry for multinational brands and the shiniest retail opportunities in the form of mega malls and online shopping.

Even the research reports being churned out by management consultancies vying for lucrative contracts sound similar to those for the Indian and Chinese market opportunities when they first pinged the radar of the global economic powerhouses. “Chindia” as it was called, was the biggest emerging market ever, billions of customers, gazillions of dollars.

Look at where India and China are at now. An excellent summary of India’s performance over the two decades since the “Golden Summer of 1991” is available here by Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar and for China, this seems to provide at least a synopsis of major strides in development.

But what does this echo of hyperbole and handwringing imply for the frontier African markets of tomorrow?

I’ll be taking an indepth look on this in forthcoming posts

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