Agility – The Emerging Phenomenon in Africa

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The other day, the Episodes Research team was reviewing a piece on key shopping destinations around the world.  This was out of curiosity given the recent developments in the retail sector across the world. The strong growth of ecommerce, the closure of physical outlets, emergence of a new ecosystem, among other developments. However, if you run a search engine on “shopping destinations”, you will realize this is almost synonymous to certain sectors – mainly fashion, travel & hospitality. Isn’t this a is biased view? – what about other items like electronics? Cars? …etc.  Maybe one must make a specific search for other categories.  Of course, this ended up with some common cities such as Singapore, New York, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai … after running a few more searches, the team realized a same pattern – North America, Europe, and Asia.

A similar search targeting Africa provide a cue to key markets such as South Africa (Mainly), Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria … etc. A similar exercise a few years back returned fewer locations.

While each market has its unique challenges, the emerging aspect is that markets in Africa are looking more inwards for developing their ecosystems.  The pandemic due to Covid19 has only accelerated this trend.  In addition, supply constraints in the global chains have also led to a further search for local solutions, as a key source, in addition to collaborations from other parts of the world. Further, the on-going regional and continental frameworks for facilitating trade and movements within the continent are opening new possibilities.

This inward look has realized new possibilities, and resources.  Sectors / businesses that have been agile to adapt these resources are emerging as key winners.

Some legacy problems such as debt and limited data may hinder these developments.  Hence, the need to continue investing in data and understanding of local market scenarios.  This will be an enabler for wider integration in the continent.

At Episodes Research, we work with partners and clients across markets in the continent to help navigate such nuances.  Understanding consumer and business behaviors in different markets is still a key factor to driving growth. While the policy and regulatory factors may no longer be a key hindrance, the need for go-to-market strategies are now be a priority in developing these new markets.

We invite you to share your comments. We are glad to partner with you in this conversation. 


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