Questions for the emerging future of the African consumer market

Should a nation develop itself first? Be able to proudly provide potable water, sufficient food, adequate shelter and employment for all citizens who shelter under its protective umbrella, as President Kalam dreams for India in 2020?

Or should the markets be developed, to provide choice, convenience and consumer goods, to those who can afford? How does one support the other? How do they integrate? Should development of each side of the equation – the market and the nation – be balanced in order to moderate their relative equal growth? Or left unchecked, for short term gains and profits, let one outstrip the other, leaving tens of millions behind?

Or alternately, can one be grown to provide the profits that could then be invested in developing the nation, or at least a percentage thereof? Call it the Corporate Social Opportunity Tax, one that says, that if you reap profits from the benefits of doing business within the supportive environment of this country, here is the balancing tax you must pay back in order to support the simultaneous development of that country. Not just its markets.

And its a win win scenario, or could be, in the longer term. Why? Because as you invest back into development – be it education, infrastructure or planning – your ROI, your return on your investment, will only be an increase in the numbers of the population who could then afford your product or service, thus growing your market indirectly rather than directly by putting that money into more advertising billboards or commercials aired on primetime cable.

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