Focus: African markets

Our new Africa focus series is a broad-spectrum guide on new markets opening up on the African continent and the multilingual challenges affecting companies seeking to take advantage of these.

The IMF has listed the Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Senegal, Djibouti and Rwanda among the world fastest-growing economies in 2016.

Until recently, companies expanding to African markets have predominantly opted for the old colonial languages of English, French and Portuguese as their primary language of communication with local audiences. There is evidence of a market shift with companies entering the local markets already looking at translating marketing materials into Hausa, Swahili and Zulu. The reasoning is sound as the statistics are quite staggering. Hausa is a mother tongue for approximately 34 million with another 15 million using it as a second language. Hausa is also used as lingua franca for trade and commerce across West Africa (Benin, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Ivory Coast etc.), Central Africa (Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon) and over to north-western Sudan.

A mobile continent

African markets are mobile device dominated and internet access is obtained though handheld devices whether in Tanzania or Nigeria. The lack of or weak landline and cable infrastructure means people use mobile phones as their primary method of communication for both voice and data. Gabon, for example, has one of the highest number of mobile subscriptions per person on the continent with 2 subscriptions. This has led to increased demand for mobile app localisation into languages like Yoruba and Igbo.

Young demographic and burgeoning middle class

The African continent has the most favourable demographic of any emerging market with a population in excess of a billion people with more than half of these under 30 years old, so in a decade or two it will have a large working-age population.

Africa’s burgeoning middle class is also growing quickly with 500 million new consumers expected to start shopping in the next 10 years. By 2020, more than half will be living in cities and consumer spending expected to grow to almost 1 trillion dollars.

Core industries

This growth requires infrastructure across a variety of industries with the following core industries

  • Banking
  • Construction
  • Railway
  • Mining
  • Educational software
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Environment – waste management and recycling
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Sports infrastructure
  • Retail
  • Telecommunications

Are you looking to expand to African markets? Stepping Stone provides a range of translation, localisation and cultural consultancy into Afrikaans, Amharic, ArabicHausa, Igbo, Swahili, Yoruba or Zulu.

Speak with us now at

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