The future of business in Africa and the role of the CMO


We often hear about economic superpowers of China, the USA and Europe and how the changing technologies are impacting the way we work and the benefits individuals and organisations can reap. However, while these markets continue to be of supreme importance, it seems the big revolution is set to take place in Africa.

It may sound like a radical concept, with the common perception of Africa revolving around the vast poverty of the majority of the population, the inadequate health systems, the underdeveloped infrastructure and the rampant unemployment. Nonetheless, there are two powerful elements that are driving the future of business in Africa: the people, and the resources.

Power of two

1. People

In the West we are dealing with the increasing problem of an ageing population and the adjustments that means for our workforce and our collective economic future. By contrast, the population in Africa is a very young and growing fast.

For example, looking at Uganda, an enormous 50% of the population is aged 14 years and under. As a result, over the next few years over 21 million young Ugandans will be looking for both education and employment.

Looking at Uganda’s neighbours in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and South Sudan, the number of under 14 year olds swells to add another 65 million young people entering the jobs market in the near or immediate future.

Furthermore, as communications improve, so does the market potential for many businesses, with East Africa and Nigeria offering a reach of around 125 million internet users, with year on year average growth of 5%.

2. Resources

Alongside the abundant manpower, Africa is also rich in natural resources, including viable agricultural land for food production, oil and minerals.

While the political climate is still something that can be considered fragile, in recent years it has been gaining stability in particular regions, and with that comes investment, jobs, professionalisation and economic growth, all of which fuel the demand for quality education at all levels and a circular motion for prosperity and a need for expert skills in corporate strategy, marketing and business development.

It is a matter that is already very much in evidence in a culture whose identity hinges on a proud desire to surge forward and to compete at a global level. Having worked closely with business in Africa, we have seen a high demand for a range of expertise.


A rising hub for international business

The sticking point for many businesses at this point however, is a lack of relevant skills. Businesses are searching for C-suite skills such as CMOs, but are met with a limited number of people with the relevant marketing training.

Bridging that gap in skillsets has become fundamental to driving businesses forward, where, in our own research we have found many to consider the frustrating lack to limit success in the current climate or even cause businesses to fail.

Where once the possibility of a rapidly growing market seemed unrealistic, today Africa seems to have all the elements needed for new marketing opportunities – people, resources and increasingly good communications. The challenge, is to provide the right c-suite expertise to optimise those opportunities in the right way.

Mikki Hall, our own Fractional CMO whose own experience driving transformational change in developing economies says: “There is so much opportunity in Africa and working on projects across the region at the moment in both higher education and industry, I find myself alongside bright and determined individuals focused on delivering commercial success. It is a great pleasure to help bring in the right skills to help reinforce and realise those goals with relevant, commercial, market and brand strategies.”