business news in context, analysis with attitude

“Africa is a disparate collection of countries with wildly variant economies, cultures, climates and traditions,” Planet Retail reports in its ,i>Grocery Retailing In Africa 2002. “Different endowments of natural resources (arable land, oil, diamonds) have led to some countries attaining vastly different levels of wealth to others, while the influence of one-time colonial powers from Europe has also had a very real impact on the socio-political development of selected African nations. Natural phenomena such as drought and disease and man-made ills such as ethnic cleansing, civil war and border disputes have ravaged many African states, meaning that it is home to some of the poorest people in the world. At the other end of the spectrum are oil and diamond barons, for example, who are rich by any standards. The continent is one of extremes and it is therefore hard to make generalizations….”

The report illustrates the opportunities available in Africa, while conceding that “it is something of an understatement to suggest that retailing in Africa is underdeveloped. In many countries, subsistence farming is the norm, while in particularly afflicted regions, the main channel of food distribution is foreign aid agencies. In general, terms, open markets and stall vendors constitute the bulk of retail activity, while modern supermarkets, cash & carries and hypermarkets are few and far between. By way of illustration, there are less than 30 hypermarkets in the entire continent.

“There are always exceptions to the rule, however, and South Africa’s advanced grocery retail market and unexpected landmarks such as the Latrille shopping centre in Côte d’Ivoire show that, given economic and political environments conducive to growth, European-style shopping formats can be highly successful.”
KC's View:
To obtain a copy of this report, or learn more about the numerous comprehensive reports published by M+M Planet Retail, go to