The African Blogger Awards 2016 – aimed at celebrating the continent’s most talented bloggers and social media influencers, as determined through impartial analytics and metrics – are now open for entries. There are five overall awards: best blogger, best Instagrammer, and top influencers on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Each award is based on the Webfluential platform's analytics of the entrants' social media account reach. This means there will be no public voting involved. While the awards are free to enter, participants must be a permanent resident of any African country and must register their blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook page or YouTube profile on Webfluential. Brands and marketers also benefit as the African Blogger Awards provide objective measurement of the most relevant online and social influencers, who can then potentially be included in marketing campaigns on the continent. Entries for the awards close on 19 April, with results announced on 3 June. According to a report published last year in ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’, the magazine of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC), involving blogging in the marketing mix is starting to make business sense in Africa. As local consumers increasingly go online, the continent’s bloggers are growing in both number and influence. “What makes online influencers such an important part of any media strategy is that the people who follow, listen to and engage with these influencers do so by choice – brands deal with an active audience who opt-in to receive a specific message,” the magazine quotes industry expert Kirsty Sharman as saying. “It’s difficult to find any other advertising platform that allows brands to engage so effectively with people via people. In Africa, brands are dealing with a very captive audience as bloggers here have a loyal and engaged readership who will act on brand endorsement from influencers.”
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Following the end of a protracted civil conflict that ended in 2011, Ivory Coast is now enjoying a peace dividend that includes a party culture and soaring demand for champagne. Sales of bubbly almost tripled between 2011 and 2014, and rose again by 65% last year. “Champagne is flowing like water in Ivory Coast,” Vincent Voisin, Africa and Middle East Export Director of Grands Chais de France, one of France’s leading exporters of wines and spirits, is quoted as saying by Bloomberg news agency. “Ivorians like to party and women are consuming more and more. It’s become an affordable luxury, with a growing middle class that’s got the money to have a good time.” According to Bloomberg, even the relatively high cost isn’t deterring buyers. A bottle of champagne can cost anywhere between US$38 and US$200 – a substantial sum in a country with a per capita income of just over US$1 300 last year. Ivory Coast is now the fourth-largest consumer of champagne on the continent. Nigeria is the leader, followed by South Africa and Angola. “With ageing populations in Europe and subdued growth, more consumer companies are turning to rapidly expanding economies in Africa, where young people constitute a majority. Champagne sales are declining in the European Union and have hardly changed in the past decade in the US,” says the news agency. “Africa will be the fastest-growing market for beer and other alcoholic drinks in the next four years, according to London-based market researchers such as IWSR and Canadean.” Ivory Coast, with its population of about 22-million, has the largest middle-class market in French-speaking West Africa, according to the Financial Times’ newspaper. An economic revival, after a decade of crisis, has seen the economy grow at an average of 9% for the past three years. This year, despite the crash in commodities prices that is hurting oil-dependent states such as Nigeria, GDP growth is still expected to be near 8%, the ‘Financial Times’ says.
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Chinese, Indian, Thai and even Mongolian food has made inroads into many parts of the world – including places where these countries have little or no expatriate population. So, could African cuisine become the continent’s next big export? Despite many of the world’s cosmopolitan cities – think London, New York, Paris and others – having large immigrant populations of African background, they have very few restaurants or food emporiums that attract large numbers of customers from the wider community. But, says a report from the BBC, that may be about to change. Peter Okwoche, a BBC presenter from Nigeria now resident in London, notes that the city has several Nigerian restaurants, “but they are mainly filled with Nigerians; other Africans may also be tucking in, but hardly any Europeans”. He queries why African gastronomy hasn’t caught on and theorises that, given the European consumers’ obsession with healthy eating, “African food is seen as containing too much oil or carbohydrates or not enough protein”. But, says Okwoche, there seems to be signs that this attitude is changing, thereby opening up opportunities for African chefs, restaurants and food producers. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, for example, became embroiled in an uproar with West Africans just over a year ago when he substituted traditional ingredients for jollof rice (a West African dish) with ingredients more readily available in Europe. Okwoche believes many Africans viewed this as a positive debate because “a famous [chef] acknowledging an African dish means the continent's cuisine is making inroads into Europe”. Okwoche points to several recent examples of African restaurants finding more mainstream success in European cities. Within a year of opening, the small Blue Nile café – which draws its inspiration from the country of Eritrea in the Horn of Africa – was ranked as a top restaurant in London by the international hospitality review website ‘TripAdvisor’. In Paris, chef Loic Dable – who has his roots in the Ivory Coast – is doing well with a new gourmet restaurant located close to the famous Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. Could more such opportunities for the African food industry be on the horizon?
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In sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s fastest-growing mobile phone market and home to initiatives such Facebook’s ‘Internet.org’ to give millions easier access to the Internet via cellular technology, cost is still an issue. The median mobile phone user in Africa spends more than 13% of his or her monthly income on their phone bill. Given that so many marketers and market researchers see Africa’s increasing mobile phone ownership as an important and relatively cost-effective communication channel with consumers, a January 2016 report by the World Bank makes for interesting reading. In the Central African Republic, for example, one month of Internet access via mobile phone costs about 1,5 times the annual per capita income, the study points out. According to an analysis of the report, published in the US-based publication ‘Quartz Africa’, other divisions persist. Only 10% of rural residents in Africa, compared with almost 25% of those who live in urban areas, have access to the Internet. Only a little over 10% of women are likely to use digital technologies compared to almost 20% of men. Sub-Saharan Africa may be catching up the rest of the world in mobile phone usage, but it is falling behind when it comes to access to the Internet. Developed economies still dominate the spread of knowledge and information, the World Bank points out. For example, last year there were more contributions to Wikipedia from Hong Kong, a city of about 7-million people, than from all of Africa. One reason is that cost-effective access to, and familiarity with, the Internet is still uneven. While developed markets have almost full Internet penetration and affordable access costs, in the developing world – including Africa – two billion people are still without proper and affordable access. “The poor benefit from digital technologies, but only modestly in relation to the true potential,” the bank says. It adds that cheap mobile phones and expanding access to the Internet haven’t delivered on the gains that many predicted – such as improved productivity, more opportunities for the poor and more accountable governments. In markets without enough competition, the bank warns, digital technologies can give rise to monopolies that curb innovation. “While the Internet allows many tasks to be automated, it can create greater inequality if workers don’t have the skills to take advantage of technological advances.” The report isn’t all doom and gloom however. It argues that technologies like the Kenyan-developed digital currency M-Pesa have drastically reduced the cost of remitting money for the world’s poorest, while “new technologies allow women to participate more easily in the labour market as e-commerce entrepreneurs, in online work, or in business-process outsourcing”.
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International brewing giant SABMiller is closing the only brewery in Africa’s newest country due to a range of difficulties, most notably a shortage of foreign exchange to buy necessary raw materials. The brewery in South Sudan – which is battling civil conflict and rampant inflation – will close next month. It will also mean the end of the road for White Bull Lager, the only beer brand in a country which gained its independence from neighbouring Sudan in 2011. White Bull has proved popular with local consumers and has outsold established brands such as Tusker from Kenya. However, SABMiller has never made a profit since building the brewery in 2009 in what was then regarded as a promising emerging market. According to a statement released by the company, the facility is now likely to be used as a warehouse for distributing beverages imported from neighbouring Uganda. SABMiller is the dominant beer produced in Africa and last year Strategic Marketing Africa magazine, the publication of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC), reported that its operations in 17 countries accounted for 40% of the continent’s beer volume. As a beer market, Africa – with exception of South Africa – is in its infancy and annual per capita beer consumption of seven litres is running way below the global average of 45 litres. However, it is not that Africa is a low alcohol-consuming continent. “Alcohol consumption per capita is much the same as anywhere in the world, but 75-80% of it is in the form of illicit or home brews,” SABMiller Africa Managing Director, Mark Bowman, told the magazine. “Bringing consumers into formal alcohol is the significant [business] opportunity.” SABMiller is currently in the process of being taken over by US-based Anheuser-Busch InBev in a deal that will combine the world's two largest beer makers.
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Marketing experts from Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Coca-Cola, Shell and the BBC are scheduled to present at the Marketing Kingdom Morocco, Morocco’s first international marketing event. It takes place from 10-11 March 2016 at the Savoy Le Grand Hotel in the city of Marrakech. “After phenomenal success in 12 countries, we are glad to confirm that the Marketing Kingdom is finally coming to Morocco. We are now working hard with our global marketing experts to deliver a top notch event that will help Moroccan marketers understand and master the latest challenges in today’s complex marketing world,” said Kosta Petrov, Event Director for the Marketing Kingdom Morocco. The two day event kicks off with a presentation on Twitter marketing by Benjamin Ampen, Sales Director for the Middle East and Africa at Twitter. Moroccan and regional marketers will also be able to attend presentations by Rayan Karaky from Google on how technology is changing the marketing world; on content marketing by Hussein Freijeh from Yahoo; social media measurement by Muhammad Karim from the BBC; customer experience by Anja Jakubowski of Coca-Cola; mobile marketing by Richard Harless from Shazam; and multichannel marketing by Timothy White from TEVA Pharmaceuticals. The event will also include a half-day workshop on Facebook marketing by Scott Hicks, former Client Partner at Facebook. With over 6 000 delegates and events in 11 different countries – including Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Turkey – the Marketing Kingdom is claimed to be one of the world’s fastest-growing marketing events. For information on Marketing Kingdom Morocco, go to: http://www.thepworld.com/pevents/event/111/marketing-kingdom-morocco
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During January, CNN’s ‘Marketplace Africa’ programme is featuring four of the biggest global brands in Africa. Each week there is an examination of a brand’s operations on the ground, as it positions itself to appeal to African consumers and deals with the infrastructural and logistical challenges that exist on the continent. Each episode also has interviews with global CEOs from the companies involved to discuss how their strategy for Africa ties into the overall global strategy of the business. Kick-starting the series on January 8 was one of the world’s largest fast-food chains, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). With nearly 20 000 restaurants worldwide and more than 1 000 locations on the continent, KFC has the biggest presence of any fast food chain in Africa. Most of the restaurants on the continent are found in South Africa, but the brand is continuing to expand in other countries in the region. To discover what lies behind KFC’s success, Samuel Burke interviewed Roger Eaton, global CEO of KFC, for the FaceTime element of the programme, and Eleni Giokos reported from Nigeria to see how the brand is building a presence beyond South Africa. In the first episode, Eaton describes what he sees as the most important challenges KFC faces in expanding across Africa, telling ‘Marketplace Africa’: “I think the first most important question is [whether we] can we access the products we need to meet the standards we have. I think that’s absolutely critical. I think the second thing is how we make the food affordable to the consumer in those countries.” Expansion in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, provides a great opportunity for the brand. Eaton told Burke and ‘Marketplace Africa’: “[Nigeria has] massive population [and] great income levels; [it’s] very exciting.” In Nigeria, KFC has taken the local approach and created an improvised dish of jollof rice, a spicy dish native to West Africa. From a KFC restaurant in Lagos, KFC’s Africa CEO, Doug Smart, tells CNN that jollof rice is just as important as the fried chicken. “If you take KFC around the world, we look at local content: over here it’s jollof rice; in SA it's a maize porridge called pap. In Kenya we've taken a twist on that and we've taken maize porridge, turned [it] into balls and deep-fried it with the original recipe breading.” CNN Marketplace Africa airs every Friday at 16:15 on CNN. To watch the first episode on KFC, click on the following link: http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2016/01/11/marketplace-africa-kentucky-fried-chicken-a-spc.cnn
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Ethiopia’s growing consumer demand for beer has attracted investment from South African-based packaging giant Nampak, which is to spend US$65-million on establishing a glass bottle factory that will produce 30 000 tons of glass a year. “The Ethiopian beer market is growing extremely fast and virtually all of their glass is imported at the moment,” Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter told news agency Reuters recently. Among the attractions for Nampak is Dutch-based brewing giant Heineken International, which will be producing its flagship Heineken beer brand in the country as of 2016. The company also produces local brands such as Bedele, Harar and Walia beer. “Africa is the story for us,” De Ruyter said in a separate interview with Bloomberg news agency in September. “People talk about Latin America, they talk about India, China or other emerging markets, but we think the opportunity that we’ve got in Africa is so big and this is what we know we can do well.” Many people in the sub-Saharan region were moving away from subsistence existences and becoming consumers of packaged goods for the first time, De Ruyter said, creating a growing market for can and bottle manufacturers. Nampak is also the continent’s biggest maker of beverage cans. “There’s a youth bulge of people reaching drinking age” in Africa, he noted in the Bloomberg interview. In a statement released earlier this year, Heineken International said it was a good time to be investing in Ethiopia. “With increasing prosperity, a growing population and urbanisation, the beer market has almost doubled in the last five years. Beer consumption per capita is still relatively low compared to elsewhere in East Africa, [but] the Ethiopian beer market only continues to grow. Our additional capacity [and] leading brands … will support our growth and will enable us to compete effectively within the Ethiopian market,” the company said.
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Ethiopia’s SoleRebels shoe brand is turning out to be a remarkable international success story. The company, which has its roots in one of the most impoverished areas of the capital city of Addis Ababa, currently has18 stand-alone retail outlets in prime retail markets around the world and expects to produce 100 000 pairs of shoes by the end of 2015. This production figure should treble by 2017 and the 2018-19 forecast is to produce one million pairs of shoes for worldwide sale through retail outlets and online. “Currently our top markets are the US, Taiwan, Canada, Germany, the UK, Spain, Austria, Switzerland and Australia,” SoleRebels founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu says in an interview published in the 4th Quarter 2015 issue of ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’, the publication of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC). “By 2018 we would like to have 150 stores open, generating US$250-million. By 2022 our forecast is to have over 500 stores globally, generating an income in excess of US$1-billion.” She continues: “SoleRebels is one of world’s fastest-growing footwear brands. We are also the only globally branded multi-channel retail chain from a developing country. This is a crucial set of achievements as it demonstrates that a grassroots African company can build a successful global powerhouse business literally from the ground up.” The world’s first fair trade green footwear firm – as certified by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) – it uses Ethiopian artisans to create colourful shoes made from recycled materials, including car tyres. SoleRebels has also more recently expanded into handmade leather garments through its Republic of Leather range As the brand expands into more markets, Alemu says it is using a combination of business models, including licensing and joint ventures. “In some markets we license the store brand and in others we are a joint venture partner. It depends on the market, the partner and our collective aims and objectives,” she tells ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’. “We will continue to pursue this flexible model as we feel it’s the best way to maximise everyone’s interests.”
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West Africa seems to be having mixed fortunes when it comes to consumer confidence levels, according to data published this week by Nielsen research. “The confidence score in Nigeria, while still overwhelmingly positive, is likely a reflection of the more recent moderate economic outlook driven by currency devaluation, declining oil prices, food inflation, and dwindling consumer disposable income,” says the company’s regional Managing Director, Lampe Omoyele. “This has led to reprioritisation of where consumers spend money, with a greater focus on staple foods and basic necessities – and saving any leftover [cash] for a rainy day.” Favourable spending intentions decreased eight percentage points to 48% in the third quarter. And although 71% of Nigerians say they consider their job prospects over the next 12-months to be ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, this declined by 2 percentage points from the previous survey. In Ghana, however, sentiment for personal finances and immediate spending intentions increased, with 67% of Ghanaians classifying the state of their personal finances as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, up four percentage points from the previous quarter. Nielsen says key factors driving this behaviour include stable fuel prices, an improvement in power supply and the local currency (the cedi) having gained against the US dollar. The outlook for employment in Ghana also increased, rising three percentage points from the second quarter, with 40% of respondents saying they viewed their job prospects as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in the next 12 months. In both countries, most respondents said they did not have spare cash; namely 68% in Ghana and 60% in Nigeria – levels that decreased in Ghana but increased in Nigeria from the previous survey. Among those consumers who did claim to have discretionary funds, saving continued to be a priority, with 77% of Ghanaians and 80% of Nigerians planning to put money into savings. Home improvement projects were the second biggest spending priority, with 64% of Ghanaians and 70% of Nigerians citing this as important, while 49% of Ghanaians and 54% of Nigerians said they would invest in shares of stock/mutual funds.
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