It’s a continent with a long history of war, famine, disease, and recently, a penchant for political instability due to economic mismanagement.
But enough about Europe. Let’s talk about a continent with some hope: Africa.
In 2012, as the rest of the world slows down because past exuberant consumerism and speculative investment – or debt, as they used to call it – Africa is expected to grow by 4.5 percent or 4.9 percent, depending on whether you believe the African Development Bank or the World Bank, respectively.
This growth is due, in part, to African natural resources being dug up, chopped down, or pumped out and sold to global consumers who still have cash – mainly China, India, Brazil, and Russia – and it is also due to the growth of African middle-class consumption. Yes, read that again: African middle-class consumption. According to McKinsey & Company, there is an African middle class; and although they are scattered over 54 different countries, and speak many different languages, they are at least as large as the Indian middle class, and they spend money like middle-class people everywhere do.
"Africa’s economic growth is creating substantial new business opportunities that are often overlooked by global companies,” said Damian Hattingh, an associate at McKinsey & Company, which produced the report “The Changing Face of the African Consumer” last month.