As WGSN announces the launch of our Cape Town Africa office, here’s Chief Marketing Officer Paul Coxhill on why Africa is a hotbed of talent and creativity, offering a huge potential for growth.
As I sit watching the Lion King with the kids, I am reminded of the romantic ideal of Africa presented by Hollywood and high-end Safari organisers.
But my time living in Johannesburg and travelling around this beautiful, vibrant continent taught me that the creativity and ambition of Africa and its people, teamed with innovative developments within the continent’s infrastructure, makes it a serious contender when it comes to the future of fashion, retail and industry. Africa is about so much more than its wildlife – although that still remains a huge source of inspiration.
Africa – and South Africa in particular – has often been considered only as part of the BRICS economies. But Africa should be considered in its own right. Over the last 10 years sub-Saharan Africa has grown over 51% – twice the world economy.
And the continent’s population is much younger than the global average and positively youthful compared to Europe in particular. In Nigeria, for example, 43.7 percent of the population is under 15-years-old. This is driving immense creativity and growth as the regular lists of Africa’s emerging entrepreneurs signals. People like Teresa Mbagaya of Econet, Ali-shah Jivraj of Royal Electronics and the Levy brothers of South Africa’s Blue Label telecoms. Guess what? Even Elon Musk was born in Africa.
African fashion is getting ever more attention too. Designers and brands are emerging and featuring in stores all over the world. For some commentators, Nigerian fashion is already setting the bar. I expect to see ever more designers and creative leaders moving onto the world stage over the coming years.
Smart solutions to connect Africa’s entrepreneurs into the global economy are already emerging. For example Soko, which connects Artisan’s into the global economy. Over 1,000 largely female run enterprises are selling to 30 global markets via an innovative mobile marketplace. An example of their success is an ongoing collaboration with ASOS.
This is not to deny that there are issues. The collapse of commodity prices has impacted growth rates. And governance and security remain a serious issue in some parts of the continent. However every part of the world has issues and the latent potential locked up in the African economy combined with the creativity of its people will continue to find new avenues for growth, given continued investments in education and growth in internet access via mobile in particular.
At WGSN, we have had clients in Africa for many years and we have now opened our first office based in Cape Town.
This investment from WGSN signals our belief, as the world’s leading trend forecaster, that Africa will play a bigger part in the future globally.
Africa is, after all, the birthplace of human creativity. Hakuna Matata!