Food, beverage and confectionary giant Nestlé has announced that KitKat will be the first global chocolate brand to use only sustainably sourced cocoa. KitKat already uses sustainably sourced cocoa in some countries, but the announcement extends this worldwide and will come into effect in 2016. “Sustainable cocoa sourcing helps safeguard the livelihoods of farming communities and delivers higher quality cocoa beans. This announcement will only strengthen consumer trust in KitKat as a responsible brand,” a Nestlé spokesperson said. However, a report by news agency Bloomberg seems to suggest that the move may be partly linked to long-standing criticism of Nestlé and other producers for buying cocoa from farms in emerging markets that practise child labour. “Random visits to 200 farms in Cote d’Ivoire that supply Nestlé found four children under 15 working in cocoa fields, according to a report by the Fair Labour Association last year,” Bloomberg said. Some smaller chocolate-makers have long been selling products made from ethically sourced cocoa. Madécasse, a niche brand headquartered in the US but operating in Madagascar, is one such example. It sources its raw product from local farmers on the Indian Ocean island and is certified as being Fair for Life, which asserts that the farmers are fairly treated and properly compensated.
Published in My Article
Educating consumers in the use of high-tech app technology is one of the challenges facing innovative taxi company Uber as it attempts to increase its presence in the Nigerian city of Lagos. While the metropolis of 21-million has a high level of mobile phone penetration, most people use lower-technology feature phones rather than the Internet-enabled smartphones that are required when using the Uber app, which is integral to its offering. In an interview last week with Bloomberg news agency, Ebi Atawodi, General Manager for Uber Lagos, noted that “The smartphone module is usually what trumps people.” Only a small percentage of consumers could use a smartphone well enough to manage a trip, he said. Uber is a controversial taxi company that doesn’t own its own taxis or employ full-time drivers. Instead, both customers and independent drivers use custom Uber software that will route the nearest driver to the person requesting a taxi. Payments are handled by Uber in return for a percentage of the fare. The service is available in around 300 cities worldwide and debuted in South Africa in 2013. It now operates in Johannesburg and Cape Town, but Lagos is the first African city outside SA to get Uber. Trials are currently underway in Nairobi. Also speaking to Bloomberg, Uber's General Manager for sub-Saharan Africa, Alon Lits, said other challenges in Lagos included poor mapping quality and high traffic congestion.
Published in My Article
Africa is set to develop the world's fastest-growing travel and tourism market over the next 10 years, alongside Asia-Pacific, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). This will be the key message of David Scowsill, President and CEO of WTTC, when he delivers his keynote speech to aviation and travel industry leaders at the 21st World Route Development Forum taking place in Durban, South Africa on 19-22 September. According to Scowsill, the growth of Africa's tourism industry is on course to reach 4.9% for the sector's direct contribution to GDP over the next decade, equalling the growth of the Asia-Pacific region. This unprecedented growth rate underscores the strength of the region's potential compared to the estimated forecast increase in other regions of the world over the next decade – notably the Middle East at 4.6%; the Americas at 3.8% and Europe at 2.8%. Scowsill says: “The world has mostly been focused on Asia-Pacific as the fastest-growing region, but our latest figures demonstrate the potential in Africa's travel and tourism industry, which is ripe for investment. “Tremendous opportunities exist … yet growth doesn't happen by itself and challenges remain. African nations must collectively focus on four key areas: first, expanded investment in tourism infrastructure; second, improved connectivity and air liberalisation – a move towards a fairer open skies policy; third, common visas across multiple countries: and fourth, investment in human capital to build the capacity and skill set of the workforce.” According to Scowsill, the economic potential of tourism in Africa is remarkable. But for this to materialise it is critical that individual nations strengthen their unique branding positions.
Published in My Article
Monday, 28 September 2015 11:09

Facebook’s mobile momentum grows in Africa

Facebook has released new statistics indicating that 2.2-million Kenyans use the platform every day and 4.5million each month, while 7.1-million Nigerians use it daily and 15-million are active each month. Almost all are using a mobile device: 100% of Nigerian monthly users are active on mobile, as are 95% of Kenya’s monthly users. This follows the recent announcement that Facebook’s active user population in Africa has grown 20% to 120-million in June 2015, up from 100-million in September 2014. More than 80% of all people on the continent access Facebook from their mobile phones. Nunu Ntshingila, newly appointed Head of Africa at Facebook, said: “Mobile is not a trend; it’s the fastest adoption of disruptive technology in the history of communication. It’s also an incredibly personal device, regardless of where a person lives or how they connect. Businesses need to reach people where they are – not where they were – in an authentic, personal and relevant way.” The social media platform recently opened its first office in Africa, which will focus largely on promoting Facebook as an advertising medium and business tool. The focus will initially be on the Kenyan, Nigerian and South African markets. In South Africa, Facebook has 7.3-million daily active users, of which 7-million use mobile phones.
Published in My Article
Tuesday, 11 August 2015 22:00

Mall culture makes inroads into Nigeria

Increasing consumer wealth and demand for high-quality modern retailing is driving an emerging mall culture in the continent’s biggest economy, according to the latest issue of ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’ magazine, the publication of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC).

Despite hiccups caused by currency devaluation, lower oil prices and post-election glitches, consumer spending in Nigeria is rising and shoppers are demanding a new kind of retail experience, notes the cover story in the Third Quarter 2015 issue of the magazine. It is perhaps not surprising then, that malls are springing up all over the country – bar in parts of the security-challenged north of the country – as an alternative to traditional markets and the throng of small and frequently informal traders.

As in many other parts of the continent, where malls and their attendant sophisticated tenants have threatened to put the small players out of business, not everyone is happy with the disruption caused to the retail marketplace. But it is a march of progress that seems inevitable.

“The retail sector has been somewhat inefficient and chaotic, so when more efficient players enter the market there is collateral damage,” says Pieter de Wet, Head of Research at private equity firm Novare Equity Partners in an interview with ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’. “Nigerian consumers are on top of global trends – technology has made a huge difference in terms of what they demand. They don’t want a Chinese-made knock-off Armani shirt from three seasons back that has been standing out in the sun at the local market. This is a highly aspirational society that does not necessarily want luxury but definitely wants comfort, which is why mid-range brands have been selling extremely well.”

An eight-year ban on the import of garments, originally intended to stimulate local industries, was lifted in 2011 and has allowed foreign brands to move into the country. This has revolutionised the retail scene and encouraged middle class to shop around. 

“Most well-educated Nigerians don’t want to spend time going to a market when they can go to convenience stores and buy 90% of their consumables there, along with their fashion,” says Bolaji Edu, CEO of commercial property services company Broll Nigeria. “Many are now looking for the same shopping experience they have when they visit South Africa or, for some, London and New York.” 

There are currently 18 formal retail malls operating in the country, according to Edu. They are not, however, malls as you would find them in South Africa or the other ‘mall culture’ countries in the Middle East, the US or Australia – where 150 000m² of shopping space is not uncommon. 

The largest of the Nigerian developments is Ado Bayero Mall in the northern city of Kano, which is 24 000m² in size. A-grade malls such as Ikeja City Mall and The Palms in Lekki (the first formal mall developed in Lagos in 2005) measure 22 000m² and 20 000m² respectively. The Jabi Lake Mall in the capital city of Abuja is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2015 and will become the largest in the country at 25 000m². 

A handful of companies – the biggest being UK-based Actis, Nigeria’s Persianas Group, Novare Equity Partners, Resilient Africa and RMB in South Africa – are driving much of this mall development. Edu suggests that new entrants would find it difficult to enter the market without significant financial capital, given that it costs US$35-US$60-million to build a mall on the continent. 

“It is quite difficult to structure and arrange the funding required for these developments as one needs to determine the appropriate mix of both debt and equity capital needed for each project. In addition, the funding currency for each project needs to be tailored to mitigate against foreign exchange risks,” explains Tola Akinhanmi, Senior Manager for Real Estate Finance at Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited in Lagos. 

Prospective tenants should realise that mall rentals can be high as land is expensive and not readily available. In addition, construction costs are enormous and must be paid in US dollars rather than the local naira currency. This means that tenants and developers have to bear the currency burden as it is not always easy to pass these costs onto consumers. 

More information on the growth of a ‘mall culture’ in Nigeria can be found in the Third Quarter 2015 issue of ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’, the publication of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC). The magazine is published on a quarterly basis and distributed to members of the marketing associations of Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe


Published in My Article

Mobile phones dominate the African telecommunications landscape, but what kind of phones do Africans own and what are they most commonly used for? Seeking to answer these and other questions, a recent Pew Research Centre survey, conducted across seven sub-Saharan African nations, is the latest in a series of reports which seek to provide valuable insights. 

Based on face-to-face interviews with more than 7 000 respondents in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda last year, the survey (‘Cell Phones in Africa: Communication Lifeline, 15 April 2015’) found that two-thirds of these countries’ populations own mobile handsets. 

Interestingly, the study found that today cellphones are as common in South Africa and Nigeria as they are in the US. Yet, in contrast to the American market where mobile growth has little room to grow, sub-Saharan Africa still has a long way to go to reach saturation point – making it a key region for mobile technology companies. At the same time, the high – and growing – level of penetration is vital for marketers, brands and market researchers wishing to tap into mobile audiences.  

Other surveys echo this assertion. “In terms of mobile phone usage, sub-Saharan Africa will be the fastest growing region globally over the next seven years,” said researchers from Frost & Sullivan, which recently conducted a study entitled ‘Sub-Saharan African Mobile End-user Trends’. According to these researchers, mobile penetration in Africa, which stood at 52% in 2012, will reach 79% by 2020. 

While sub-Saharan African mobile penetration continues to grow, the number of smartphone owners in the region is relatively low (i.e. those who own a phone such as an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android device that can access the Internet and apps), reports the Pew Research Centre. However, South Africa and Nigeria again stand out with 34% of South Africans and 27% of Nigerians owning a smartphone. These countries also naturally have higher rates of mobile social media activity than those with lower smartphone penetration. According to the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, by 2020 the number of smartphone connections in the region will eventually overtake feature phone connections in percentage terms. 

However, due to the current limited smartphone ownership figures across the region, it’s unsurprising that the Pew survey found that the most popular mobile activity is texting – functionality available on all types of mobile devices. Indeed, 80% of respondents most commonly use their phones to send text messages, whereas 53% of respondents use their phones to take pictures or videos. 

For those seeking to conduct mobile research in the region, such a finding suggests that texting, or at least SMS-enabled technology, is the way to go. Digital research agency Pondering Panda elaborates by saying: “Researchers who want to reach representative samples in Africa have to design surveys that work across multiple devices and multiple technologies.”

Also notable for those looking to market and sell products in sub-Saharan Africa is the popularity of mobile money services (making or receiving payments on cellphones) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. “One of the reasons usage is so much higher in these countries is the prominence of mobile money services, such as M-Pesa in Kenya and Tanzania and MTN Mobile Money in Uganda,” they continue. “Elsewhere in Africa, mobile banking is less common.”

While mobile phone ownership is common among most age groups, mobile activity is more prevalent among the youth – with the exception of mobile money. “Young people, those with a higher education and Africans with the ability to read or speak English are more likely to participate in most of these mobile activities,” reports the Pew. 

With the prevalence of mobile phones, most African countries have all but bypassed landline technology. “Landline penetration in the seven countries surveyed is close to zero,” notes Pew


Published in My Article

The South African-based Loeries advertising awards, an event that has been working to reinvent itself as a pan-African and Middle Eastern festival of creativity rather than one focused exclusively on the SA ad industry, has announced a 77% increase in international entries.

A total of 267 submissions from outside SA have been received for the 2015 Loeries, which take place at the Durban International Conference Centre in the beachfront city of Durban from 10-16 August. 

“As the Loeries is now the largest and most respected measure of the work being done across Africa and the Middle East, it is great to see such growth in entries from across the region,” CEO Andrew Human claimed in a statement released this week. “From this year, all categories are open to the whole [African and Middle East] region and the awards ceremonies will be fully integrated. Also, the official rankings will now include an overall table for the region, as well as sub-tables. This will provide a comprehensive overview of who's doing what across the region.”

Last year several agencies from Africa and the Middle East were acknowledged for their creative excellence. Among them: Advantage Y&R from Namibia, Scanad from Uganda, Flametree from Kenya, Golo from Mozambique and Geometry Global from Dubai.

For 2015 the total entries – encompassing South Africa, rest of Africa and the Middle East – have increased and Human said more than 2 900 submissions had been received. Across categories, the biggest growth (180%) is in the Ubuntu Category that recognises sustainable marketing. Human said this was “a good indicator that purpose-driven marketing is being recognised as vital for the continued success of brands”.

The following are the overall 2015 entries by category:


Communication Design


Digital & Interactive


PR communication


Live Events, Activations and Sponsorships


Media innovation


Outdoor & Out of Home






Television, Film & Video


Integrated Campaign


Ubuntu category for Sustainable Marketing


Effective Creativity


Service Design





2 976

Published in My Article

Look out for the latest edition of ‘Strategic Marketing Africa’, the publication of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC) dedicated to high-level, thought-leadership coverage of marketing in Africa and emerging market economies. 

The Third Quarter 2015 issue, available in both print and digital editions, analyses the changing face of modern retail in Nigeria as consumers in the major cities increasingly embrace a mall culture. No longer do worldly local shoppers want a Chinese-made knock-off of an Armani shirt from three seasons ago; instead, they’re focusing on higher-end global brands and retail or supermarket chains from France, South Africa, Lebanon and elsewhere.

It’s a similar situation in Kenya, where an already entrenched mall culture is seeing the opening of even more quality developments, among them the Two Rivers and Garden City malls in Nairobi.

Looking at African consumerism in general, the magazine highlights recent research into the values, opinions and attitudes of consumers across sub-Saharan Africa. Among the key findings is that people on the continent can be divided into eight archetypes: Optimists; Mentors; Caregivers; Traditionalists; Survivors; Bosses; Inventors and Go-Getters.

Also included in this issue is an analysis of the supply chain challenges faced by retailers operating on the continent and details of how African fashion designers are taking their brands to the world despite limited resources. There’s also a product case study from the emerging market of Peru.

Strategic Marketing Africa is distributed on a quarterly basis to the membership of the marketing associations of Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The magazine is also available in Kenya Airways lounges in Nairobi, at Lanseria Airport lounges in Johannesburg, on selected Emirates Airlines flights, at selected African embassies, and is posted to a mailing list of top marketers.


Published in My Article

Birdwatching and religion may seem like an odd mix, but Uganda is marketing both it works to lure more international and African-based tourists to the country. 

According to the tourism website ‘Tourism Review’, 11% of all birds in the world can be found in the East African nation, which offers a significant opportunity to tap into the globally popular pursuit of birdwatching. Figures from the United National Environment Programme indicate that enthusiasts in the United States alone create economic value of about US$32-billion a year. In Scotland, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds noted in 2011 that up to US$12-million was spent annually by tourists wishing to see only one species at a single Scottish location: the white-tailed eagle on the remote Isle of Mull.

The website notes that Uganda has more species of birds per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world – in excess of 1 200 – and “is a haven where bird enthusiasts can enjoy the endangered shoebill stork, African fishing eagle and the long-legged African jacana, just to mention a few.” 

However, more needs to be done, says ‘Tourism Review’. Currently Uganda receives US$6-million a year in revenue from birdwatching-related tourism. Challenges to beefing up this niche tourism sector include the need to upskill tour guides, the requirement for better marketing of designated routes, and making information on specific species more freely available to visitors. 

Uganda is keen to increase its earnings from tourism. ‘New Vision’ newspaper reported late last year that the Tourism 2014-2024 Master Plan expected earnings to exceed US$2-billion annually over the next few years. The plan, created by the Ugandan government in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme, anticipates that an uptick in tourism will result in an additional 150 000 industry-related jobs by 2024. 

Speaking at the time of the plan’s launch last year, Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba, noted: “It is projected that attracting 100 000 additional leisure tourists would add 11% to exports and 1.6% to GDP.”

Another tourism-focused opportunity happens this November when, reports the ‘East African Business Week’, Uganda will host a sitting pontiff for the third time in the country’s history (following on from the visits of Pope Paul VI in 1969 and Pope John Paul II in 1993). Last month Edwin Muzahura, Marketing Manager of the Uganda Tourism Board, said in a news statement that the incumbent pontiff, Pope Francis, would visit the country between 27-29 November this year. 

The Papal visit is expected to attract some 10-million visitors and the Uganda Tourism Board anticipates arrivals from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Zambia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa. 

Minister Mutagamba noted: “Tourism is one of the major drivers of developing economies and faith-based tourism is one of the projects we have seen grow in numbers and impact on the Uganda economy.” She told ‘East African Business Week’: “The Pope’s visit will not only enhance the Catholic faith, but will also boost Uganda’s profile as one of the major faith destinations globally.”


Published in My Article

The influential London-based ‘Financial Times’ newspaper has highlighted to its global audience of more than 6-million people how the African continent is embracing what it calls a ‘supermarket shopping revolution’. In an article published last week, Southern Africa Bureau Chief Andrew England points to the way shopping malls in Zambia, for example, are changing the way that locals shop.

“At the entrance to the Shoprite supermarket in downtown Lusaka, women wrestle with shopping trolleys. It is the end of the month and salaries have been paid: the women have bought nappies, rice, sugar and sacks of maize meal half the weight of a bag of cement,” says the newspaper, before describing a more informal and choatic retail scene that unfolds in the streets outside the supermarket.

The outside street scene is not uncommon on the continent, it notes. “The supermarket, however, is a newer phenomenon. Serene, air-conditioned and well stocked, it is an experience urban Africans are becoming increasingly accustomed to as South African retailers advance north.

“The trend is being felt from Lagos to Luanda, Maputo to Kampala, and it is radically altering the shopping habits of the growing middle class. Where the supermarkets have led, other international brands have followed: from Barclays [bank] to [fast-food outlets] KFC and Nando’s.”

Writer England then follows Anga Kasanda, a Lusaka account assistant, as she shops at a Shoprite outlet on Cairo Road, one of the city’s main highways. “Every location you go, there’s malls ... I can say that’s development. It’s changed the perspective of people,” she is quoted as saying.

The article also quotes Wilson Mulambe, a finance student drinking coffee at a Mugg & Bean quick-service restaurant at the Levy Mall in Sadzu Rd. “The way it is right now, people have got used to the malls; it’s become part of you,” he says. “When somebody buys something from the malls, there’s that status – you come from the wealthy class. But when you buy from the street, you don’t want anybody to know about it.”

According to the ‘Financial Times’, nine shopping malls have opened in Lusaka, a city of about 2-million people, in recent years and another three are under construction.

While the formal retail challenges in Zambia and the rest of the continent remain strong, the metamorphosis across African cities over the past decade has been remarkable, the newspaper notes. “From an explosion in real estate development to the new consumerism; and with a youthful population that is rapidly urbanising, all forecasts point to the trend continuing. The advance of the retailers is only the beginning.”

Published in My Article