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Book Review

At a time of slow, or no, growth in most of the world’s major developed economies, it is not surprising that businesses and governments around the world are busy searching out every possible opportunity for growth.
As the previously unstoppable rise of the emerging BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies begins to slow, focus is shifting to Africa. And with good reason. The content that was home to 100 million people in 1900 had an estimated population of 770 million in 2005 and more than 860 million in 2010. A lot of this growth has happened in the past 20 years.
The rapid expansion is creating all sorts of opportunities for those prepared to understand some of the continent’s difficult issues. David Mataen’s book explores the region thematically rather than geographically. Thus he excludes South Africa from his discussion as economically it stands apart from its neighbours. Mataen identifies eight megatrends that define the region, ranging from the population explosion through the cultural development and rapid urbanisation that this causes to more nuanced ideas such as the growth of credit and the development of capital markets.
Sprinkled throughout the book are statistics that are both terrifying and potentially exciting for those looking to expand into new territories. Mataen explores many of these potential business and investment opportunities sector by sector, explaining the context of how each market has developed.
While not quite as thoughtful as Will Hutton’s The Writing on the Wall, which examines developments in China, this is a more practical guide that will be particularly useful to anyone keen to develop work or investment relationships with any of the rapidly expanding African markets. It is also worth a flick if you are interested in the continent’s story.

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