african business

African Business Landscape in 2024

Africa, a continent of immense diversity and untapped potential, stands at the crossroads of economic transformation. From the bustling markets of Lagos to the tech hubs of Nairobi, Africa's business environment is dynamic and multifaceted. Understanding this landscape is crucial for investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers seeking to harness its opportunities.

In this article, we explore Africa's economic tapestry, highlighting key sectors, investment climate, regional dynamics, and emerging trends. Buckle up as we embark on a journey through the vibrant markets and entrepreneurial spirit that define the African business landscape.

Historical Context

Colonial Rule and Its Effects

European powers established colonies, leading to resource exploitation of Africa's natural resources, such as minerals, timber, and agricultural products, and the establishment of legal, administrative, and economic institutions that influenced post-independence governance and policies influenced colonial history in Africa.

Post-Independence Challenges

Following independence in 1960, African nations gained political freedom but faced challenges in building institutions and managing diverse economies. Post-independence governments implemented economic reforms like nationalization, import substitution, and development planning.

Contrasting Perspectives

Scholars debate the influence of colonial legacies, with some arguing that colonial decisions influenced post-colonial outcomes, while others stress the role of African leaders in shaping their nation's destiny.

African Entrepreneurship and Markets

European colonial powers controlled trade to benefit the metropole, but indigenous merchants, traders, and producers adapted and continued operating within local and regional markets. The expansion of colonial trade networks provided new economic opportunities for indigenous groups.

Key Sectors of African Business Landscape

Africa's growth prospects vary significantly across different sectors. Let's explore some key sectors of African business.


Agriculture, accounting for 15% of Africa's GDP, is a significant contributor to the continent's GDP, with Egypt and Nigeria being major players. Despite abundant arable land, Africa only generates 10% of global agricultural output.

Economic growth in Africa (Image source:


Banking is rapidly growing, driven by the expanding middle class and financial inclusion, but faces challenges such as infrastructure gaps, regulatory hurdles, and cybersecurity risks.

Consumer Goods

The African Consumer Goods market is expected to grow significantly in 2024, with a projected value added of $14.1 billion, a per capita value added of $10.8, and a total output of $71.9 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 2.45% from 2024 to 2029. This growth is expected to continue with a compound annual growth rate of 2.85% from 2024 to 2029.


Africa's infrastructure expenditures are rapidly increasing, offering opportunities in energy, transportation, and telecommunications, but also facing challenges such as funding, project execution, and regulatory frameworks.


Africa ranks 11 among the top ten mineral sources, offering significant growth potential in extractive industries. Challenges include sustainable practices, community engagement, and governance.

Oil and Gas

The world's rapid shift away from fossil fuels is affecting African oil and gas-producing nations, as their reserves are more carbon-intensive and costly to produce. Rapid population growth and industrialization are expected to increase energy demand in Africa. European gas prices have surged, and the European Commission aims to reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2030, ‌ increasing demand for African oil and gas.

Africa's oil production is predicted to slightly decrease in 2024, with South Sudan's output dropping from 6.9 million barrels per day to around 6.62 million bpd, resulting in a total oil consumption of around 100 million bpd.

The transition to cleaner energy sources presents both challenges and opportunities for African countries. They can create conducive environments, attract capital, and build resilience to meet energy needs. However, oil majors' shift towards lower-emission basins may deprioritize development and leave untapped reserves.


Telecommunications is rapidly expanding due to mobile penetration and digital services, offering opportunities in mobile money, broadband, and content delivery, but faces challenges like infrastructure development and affordability.

Each sector has unique dynamics, and investment decisions should consider local context and challenges.

As an expert in the field, Global Indian Network (GIN) facilitates collaborative initiatives to explore innovative approaches for a more inclusive and resilient future through Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs). Foreign investors can invest in East Africa to drive sustainable development and positively impact local communities. GIN has an eye-opener podcast titled The Economics of Pan-Africanism and Ugandanness with President Museveni on its website.

Statistics on Africa's GDP Growth

Let's explore Africa's GDP growth trends. Here's a brief overview.

The World Bank reports positive annual GDP growth in Africa, indicating economic expansion, although specific growth rates vary by country and region. The World Bank reports positive annual GDP growth in Africa, indicating economic expansion, although specific growth rates vary by country and region.

Niger's real GDP is expected to grow by 10.4% in 2024, with other African countries experiencing varying growth rates due to factors like natural resources, infrastructure, and policy frameworks.

Africa faces challenges such as infrastructure gaps, political instability, and external shocks, but opportunities lie in diversification, regional integration, and investment in key sectors.

Real GDP growth in Africa 2010-2017 (Image source:

African Development Bank Group predicts Africa to be among the 20 fastest-growing economies in 2024 (Image source:

The African Development Bank Group predicts Africa to be among the 20 fastest-growing economies in 2024, with real GDP growth expected to exceed global averages of 2.9% and 3.2% and remain the second-fastest-growing region after Asia.

The top 11 African countries predicted to experience strong economic performance are Niger, Senegal, Libya, Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Benin, Djibouti, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.

East Africa is expected to drive Africa's growth, with projections of 5.1% in 2024 and 5.7% in 2025, bolstered by strategic investments in internal connectivity and intra-regional trade.

The growth of North Africa is expected to remain steady at 3.9% in 2024, with a slight improvement to 4.1% in 2025 due to adverse weather conditions and macroeconomic challenges.

Central Africa's growth is projected to moderate to 3.5% in 2024, but a recovery in private consumption and increased mining investment and exports could boost it to 4.1% in 2025.

 Growth in Southern Africa will remain sluggish at 2.2 and 2.6% in 2024 and 2025, respectively. This reflects continued economic weakness in South Africa, the region’s largest economy.

Growth in Western Africa is expected to increase to 4.4% in 2024 and 4.4% in 2025, largely due to strong growth in most West African countries, which is expected to counter Nigeria and Ghana's slowdowns. However, the withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger from ECOWAS raises uncertainty.

African Economy

Large private-sector firms in Africa, with 345 companies, generate over $1 trillion in annual revenues, but their performance shifted between 2015 and 2021 due to global commodity downturns and COVID-19.

Africa's high-performing large corporations, with recovering GDP growth, have the potential to boost revenues by over $550 billion by 2030. Strategies to access new markets, enhance productivity, improve operational efficiency, and contribute to society could help them achieve this.

Africa has at least 345 companies with revenues of $1 billion or more (Source:, 2023)

In this context, Global Indian Network (GIN), an established organization that facilitates business partnerships between Indian and African businesses, can offer appropriate guidance. It can usher in the path for foreign investors in navigating foreign direct investment in East Africa by providing access to local expertise, networking with stakeholders, and establishing mutually beneficial partnerships. Note that the co-founder and Chairman of Bidco Africa, Vimal Shah, has contributed to the website, elaborating on business in Africa.

10 largest economies in Africa, 2019

Economic Diversity

Africa's economic diversity is a multifaceted topic with significant implications for growth and resilience. Let's explore it further:

African countries are focusing on economic diversification for growth and resilience, with eight of the world's fifteen least economically diverse countries being located in Africa. This involves expanding sectors, international trade, and fiscal diversification, which is crucial for addressing challenges and promoting economic transformation.

Africa's global merchandise export share is stagnant due to structural transformation, productivity growth, and technology advancement issues. Low intra-regional trade levels underscore the need for diversification and stronger regional trade ties, while the COVID-19 pandemic underscores risks.

Policymakers should define economic diversification in specific contexts and measure progress effectively. Applying national, city, and company strengths can promote productivity-led growth across Africa, allowing each nation to shape its future.

African Trade

Africa trades more with external economies than within, with only 10% of imports and 17% of exports being intra-regional. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement aims to reduce border constraints and enhance economies of scale, competitiveness, and technology and talent flows across borders.

Imports and Exports, Africa 2021 (Image courtesy:

Investments in infrastructure, border delays reduction, increased truck availability, and scaling cold-chain storage and transportation can significantly boost the value of agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, automotive, and logistics.

African Cities

Africa's future lies in its vibrant cities, with a rapid urbanization rate of 3.7% since 2000, outpacing population growth of 2.5%. Over the next two decades, Africa will become majority urban, with 12 cities with over ten million people each by 2040.

Countries’ secondary cities as a share of the primary cities population, % Image source:

Africa's future lies in its vibrant cities, with a rapid urbanization rate of 3.7% since 2000, outpacing population growth of 2.5%, and 12 cities with over ten million people each by 2040.

African Workforce

Africa's growing working-age population by 2040 will boost economic growth through smart labor force deployment in productive jobs. By 2030, the services sector will create 85 million net new jobs, absorbing half of new labor market entrants,‌ adding $1.4 trillion to the economy.

Africa will add 796 million people to the global workforce and be home to the largest and youngest population by 2050 (Source:

Over the past two decades, Africa's agricultural sector has seen steady improvement, with opportunities to increase yields and add value. The key is to develop skills and enhance digital tools for productivity-led growth.

Successful Examples of Economic Diversification

Diversification in Africa is a multifaceted endeavor with implications for growth, resilience, and development. Let's explore some successful examples:

Africa, Latin America, and the Persian Gulf are reducing their reliance on natural resources like oil and minerals by expanding export sources and fiscal revenues and transitioning from low-productivity sectors to higher-productivity ones. Diversification in African nations leads to increased per capita incomes, reduced poverty, and industrial development, promoting economic growth and stability.

African Countries Can Learn From a Successful Diversification Model

Learning from successful diversification models is crucial for African countries seeking sustainable economic growth. Here are some actionable steps they can take:

The policy aims to evaluate the country's unique context, industries, resources, and challenges and create a comprehensive framework that aligns with national development goals and regulatory reforms.

The strategy focuses on identifying growth-potential sectors, promoting investment through incentives and infrastructure development, and analyzing factors like comparative advantage, market demand, and technological readiness.

Investing in education and vocational training can boost human capital by creating a skilled workforce capable of contributing to various sectors supporting research and innovation. Infrastructure investment focuses on enhancing transportation, logistics networks, ports, trade connectivity, and energy and ICT infrastructure for increased productivity.

Regional integration in Africa fosters intra-Africa trade agreements, minimizes trade barriers, and enhances competitiveness by involving nations in regional value chains. Risk management involves diversified risk exposure, avoiding overreliance on a single sector or export partner, and preparing for external shocks like pandemics and commodity price fluctuations through contingency plans and safety nets.

Diversification in Africa requires long-term commitment, stakeholder collaboration, and adaptability, allowing African countries to learn from global best practices and tailor strategies to their specific needs.

Global Indian Network (GIN) partners with investors to provide local expertise, network with stakeholders, and establish mutually beneficial partnerships, encouraging decision-makers to explore the potential of foreign direct investment in East Africa. GIN has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Tourism Board - Africa's Next Big Thing: The Future of Travel and Investment Opportunities with Cuthbert Ncube.

Sectors That Have Diversified Successfully

Economic diversification in Africa is a multifaceted endeavor, and several sectors have made progress in diversifying their economies. Here are some examples:


African countries are enhancing their agricultural sectors by incorporating value-added activities like food processing, agro-industries, and export-oriented agriculture, thereby moving up the value chain and enhancing productivity.

Light Manufacturing

African nations are embracing light manufacturing, focusing on local production of textiles, garments, and footwear to reduce import reliance and generate employment opportunities.

Tourism and Hospitality

Countries with diverse landscapes and cultural heritage are embracing tourism as a key sector, focusing on ecotourism, adventure tourism, and cultural tourism.

Financial Services

The financial sector has expanded beyond traditional banking to include fintech, mobile banking, and microfinance, enhancing financial inclusion and contributing to economic diversification.

Renewable Energy

African nations are enhancing their energy security and sustainable development by diversifying their energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower.

Telecommunications and ICT

The rapid growth of mobile telephony and internet services in Africa has significantly diversified the economy, underscoring the crucial role of digital infrastructure in economic transformation.

Diversification requires a supportive policy environment, investment, and innovation, with each country's context influencing the sectors that can effectively diversify its economy.

Investment Climate

Let's delve into the investment climate in Africa and explore some case studies of successful investments.

Ease of Doing Business and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa

African countries are enhancing their investment climate to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), as it positively impacts the ease of doing business. This is crucial for Africa's development, bridging domestic savings and investment gaps, and contributing to sustainable development goals and economic transformation.

Case Studies of Successful Investments

From 2014 to 2018, the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (WATIH) was a flagship project by USAID, covering all countries under the USAID West Africa Mission. It achieved exports, sales, job creation and highlighted the importance of active trade associations as project partners.

EMPOWER, a USAID project in Kosovo from 2014 to 2020, aimed to stimulate job creation and economic growth through export growth strategies, stakeholder engagement, and leveraging diaspora communities for new business opportunities.

Entrepreneurship and Startups

Let's explore the exciting world of African entrepreneurship, including the rise of entrepreneurs and the ecosystem that supports them:

Rise of African Entrepreneurs

Over the past decade, Africa has seen a significant increase in entrepreneurial activity, driven by increased access to technology, a growing middle class, and a shift in mindset. Successful African entrepreneurs have made significant impacts across sectors like fintech and agriculture.

Incubators, Accelerators, and Innovation Hubs

Startups require support structures like incubators, accelerators, and innovation hubs for success. Incubators provide resources like space, mentorship, and funding for idea validation and product development. Accelerators offer growth programs, networking, and equity investments. Innovation hubs foster collaboration and idea exchange.

Incubators and accelerators

Africa's innovation hubs include CCHub in Nigeria, iHub in Kenya, MEST in Ghana; 1776 in South Africa, and Labs by ARM in Nigeria. These hubs support tech startups, and social enterprises and provide training, funding, and mentorship. They also offer accelerator programs and fintech incubators to address global challenges.

Challenges and Opportunities

Progress is being made in sectors like agribusiness, renewable energy, e-commerce, and health tech, but challenges like capital access, infrastructure gaps, and regulatory hurdles persist. Collaborations between startups, investors, and governments are crucial.

Infrastructure and Connectivity

Let's explore the critical role of infrastructure and connectivity in Africa, particularly in the areas of transport, energy, and digital networks, as well as how they impact foreign investment:

Transport Infrastructure

Efficient road and rail networks are vital for trade, commerce, and economic growth in Africa. Ports and airports enhance international trade, benefiting coastal countries. Initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) improve transport infrastructure for seamless goods movement.

Energy Infrastructure

Power generation, transmission, and distribution are crucial for industrialization, businesses, and households. Renewable energy investments, smart grids, and decentralized energy solutions can bridge gaps while expanding electricity access in rural areas is vital for economic development and quality of life.

Digital Infrastructure

Broadband internet is transforming productivity, innovation, and growth, but affordability and availability remain challenges. Mobile connectivity is crucial in regions with limited broadband, and robust cybersecurity frameworks are essential for digitalization protection.

Attracting Foreign Investment

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

Infrastructure investments in Africa boost productivity, making it a desirable destination for foreign direct investment (FDI). FDI stimulates economic growth, job creation, and technology transfer. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) promotes intra-African trade, encouraging greenfield investments. Private companies play a crucial role in infrastructure development, investing in energy projects, roads, and digital networks.

Remember, a well-connected and digitally enabled Africa is poised for sustainable growth. 

ALSO READ: Foreign Direct Investment in East Africa

Regional Dynamics

Let's explore the contrasts between North, West, East, and Southern Africa, as well as the regional trade agreements and economic blocs on the continent:

Contrasts Between African Regions

Northern Africa, including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, is an arid, predominantly Arabic-speaking, predominantly Islamic country with a Berber indigenous population coexisting with Arab communities.

West Africa, made up of Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and Ivory Coast, is known for its diverse ecosystems, rich cultural heritage, and trade history.

East Africa, encompassing Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Uganda, is renowned for its stunning landscapes, Swahili language, and maritime heritage, including the Great Rift Valley and Mount Kilimanjaro.

Southern Africa, consisting of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia, is renowned for its diverse wildlife, mineral wealth, and stunning natural beauty, including the Kalahari Desert and Victoria Falls.

Regional Trade Agreements and Economic Blocs

Regional trade agreements (RTAs) are bilateral agreements between countries or regions that aim to reduce or end trade barriers like tariffs and non-tariff barriers, facilitating trade between participating countries.

Southern African Customs Union (SACU): SACU, consisting of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and eSwatini, has implemented duty-free trade among its member countries.

Southern African Development Community (SADC): Since 2012, SADC has been promoting economic cooperation and regional integration, allowing duty-free trade among 12 out of its 15 members.

European Union-South African Trade Agreement: The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a significant agreement that has significantly improved regional trade ties.

Tripartite Free Trade Agreement: The agreement establishes a free trade area between the South African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC), and the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): The AfCFTA, launched in 2021, aims to boost intra-African trade and economic growth by establishing a single market for goods and services.

Remember, these regional dynamics shape Africa's economic landscape, fostering collaboration and growth. 

Let's explore the emerging trends in Africa related to fintech, e-commerce, mobile banking, and sustainable business practices:

Fintech in Africa

Africa is experiencing a fintech boom, with 5,200 tech start-ups, nearly half of which are fintech companies, disrupting traditional financial services to improve financial inclusion. In 2020, African fintechs generated $4 billion to $6 billion in revenues, with a 3 to 5 percent penetration rate. By 2025, if they surpass Kenya's global leadership, revenues could increase by eight.

Mobile Banking and Digital-Only Banking

Mobile banking offers cost-effective transactions, savings, and remittances, empowering users and driving financial inclusion. Digital-only banks offer convenience, lower fees, and personalized experiences, catering to tech-savvy consumers.

Sustainable Business Practices

African businesses are implementing sustainable practices and investing in renewable energy projects to reduce carbon emissions. They are also focusing on waste management, recycling, and responsible disposal, and addressing climate change effects through eco-friendly practices and biodiversity support.

Africa's future is shaped by these trends, and businesses play a crucial role in driving positive change. 

GDP growth in Africa, 2021-24

African economies are expected to remain resilient in 2023-2024, with an estimated 4% average GDP growth. However, challenges such as currency depreciation, high debt, and geopolitical tensions pose obstacles to accessing international capital markets.


Investing in Africa can be rewarding, but it's essential to be aware of the challenges. Let's break down the points you mentioned:

Political Instability, Corruption, and Security Concerns

Political instability, corruption, and security concerns can significantly impact business operations and investment decisions. Researching the political climate in specific countries is crucial, as is due diligence and transparency when dealing with local authorities and partners. Assessing safety and considering risk mitigation strategies are also essential.

Currency Fluctuations and Forex Management

African currencies' volatility is influenced by commodity prices, trade imbalances, and global economic changes. Effective forex management, hedging strategies, diversifying exposure, and collaborating with financial advisors are essential.

Recommendations for Successful Investment Programs

Africa should leverage preferential trade agreements and regional trading blocs to boost exports, gain stakeholder support, explore diaspora communities for new business ventures, and encourage beneficiary firms to participate in international trade shows. To foster economic growth in Africa, here are some key recommendations:

Invest in Human Capital: Investing in education, healthcare, and skill development is crucial for cultivating a well-educated workforce, which in turn boosts economic productivity and innovation by equipping the workforce with the necessary skills for a modern economy.

Promote Economic Diversification: Diversification encourages industries to expand beyond natural resources, reducing reliance on commodity prices and enhancing resilience against external shocks.

Image source: Diversification

Create Jobs-Friendly Policies: Implement policies promoting job creation, especially for youth and women, focusing on entrepreneurship, small businesses, and startups, as they significantly contribute to employment generation.

Regional Integration and Free Trade: Promoting free trade and strengthening regional integration can enhance market access, economies of scale, and overall economic growth across the continent.

Investment in Infrastructure: Enhancing infrastructure, including transportation, energy, and telecommunications, is vital for Africa's economic development, as it reduces costs, enhances efficiency, and boosts global competitiveness.

Strengthening Governance and Institutions: Good governance and strong institutions are vital for creating a favorable business environment, preventing corruption, upholding the rule of law, and making sure ‌political stability.

(Image source: Sustainable agriculture)

Promoting Sustainable Agriculture: Promoting sustainable agricultural practices and improving market access for farmers can significantly improve food security and income levels in Africa.

Leveraging Technology and Innovation: Digital technologies and innovation can foster economic diversification and growth by fostering startups and investing in research and development.

Building Effective Partnerships: Collaborating with international organizations, the private sector, and civil society can provide the necessary resources and expertise for achieving sustainable development goals.

A comprehensive and sustained effort to tie up the above aspects and appropriate implementation along with the required balance and checks could guarantee the long-term well-being of the African people.


It is to be noted that each country's context and challenges are unique. This also reiterates the need for a sustainable approach along with diversification.

Africa's growing middle class, abundant resources, and youthful population are driving significant growth in sectors like telecommunications, fintech, renewable energy, and agriculture, showcasing immense potential. The call to action for sustainable growth and investment involves research into countries' economic policies, local partnerships, investing in technology, sustainable practices, and social impact, and proactive risk management to address challenges and diversify portfolios.

The 2024 African Economic Outlook emphasizes Africa's transformation through global financial reforms and strategic investments in key areas like education, energy, technology, innovation, and transport infrastructure, addressing slow structural transformation and economic challenges.

The commitments of one and all will make sure that the ‘world will grow with Africa’.

Usha Menon

With over 25 years of experience as an architect, urban designer, and green building consultant, Usha has been designing sustainable, and visionary spaces. She has published a book, has been actively blogging, and is on social media. Now, her journey is transitioning to full-time writing. Her words will continue to craft stories, not brick and mortar, but in the realm of ideas, fostering a better, more inspired world.

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