Ellington Arnold Ellington Arnold
Manager, U.S.-Africa Business Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


May 18, 2023


Global business interest in Africa has blossomed, and for good reason. Explore our new guide, complete with infographics, on how Africa represents one of the century’s greatest growth opportunities—and how your business can get involved.  

As the old adage goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second-best time is now. The same can be said about investing in Africa, but there is still no time better than the present.  

Advance with Africa, the U.S. Chamber’s nationwide roadshow, is demystifying Africa's commercial profile, increasing U.S. exports and investment, showcasing tools supporting new market entrants, and unlocking opportunities for businesses in the United States and Africa. All businesses, big and small, are included in its mission—not just those that trade on Wall Street, but also those that line the American and African Main Streets.  

Africa's potential for growth and development is immense, and businesses around the world are taking notice. Some key indicators of Africa as the world's next big growth market are:   

Consumer Population

By the end of the century, 1 in 3 people in the world will be African, inhabiting a huge consumer market with vast growth potential. According to the United Nations, Africa's population is set to double by 2050, reaching 2.5 billion people. This will create a massive demand for goods and services, presenting businesses with historic opportunities to build profitable, sustainable enterprises.

Dynamic Workforce

Not only is the African continent rapidly growing, but with a median age of just 19.4 years, Africa is home to the world’s youngest population. Africa's young population represents a large, dynamic workforce eager to drive growth and innovation. Business expansion opportunities are vast, especially as the continent continues its improvements in quality public education, digital connectivity, and workforce development. 

Urbanizing and Growing Middle Class

Sub-Saharan Africa is also the world’s fastest urbanizing region. By 2050, it is estimated that 56% of the continent's population will live in urban areas, creating a huge demand for infrastructure, housing, and goods and services. Businesses in sectors like construction and infrastructure will be particularly advantaged, but Africa’s rapid urbanization is also giving rise to a burgeoning middle class with increasing purchasing power and demand for quality goods.

Market Access

Another key factor making Africa a fertile arena for investment and innovation is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), set to become the world’s largest free trade area, encompassing a market of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of $3 trillion. The AfCFTA is expected to boost Africa’s trade and investment both within the continent and internationally, making it far easier to do business across the continent and encouraging cross-border investments across all 54 African markets. 

Economic Growth 

African markets’ increasing diversification accounts in large part for why Africa's economic growth rate outstrips the global average. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Africa is expected to outperform the rest of the world in economic growth over the next two years, with an average GDP growth rate of 3.4%. 

Africa offers exciting opportunities to do business, but the continent’s commercial climate remains relatively misunderstood. As illustrated, the advantages to investing in Africa are vast — its population is young, fast-growing, and increasingly urbanized, and digitization is transforming African economies. If your business is ready to export and ready to seize the opportunities on the continent, we invite you to participate in our next Advance with Africa event. Whether you are expanding into a new African country or looking for a roadmap to access the African market for the very first time, join our in-depth discussions and network with businesses that have successfully made the move. After all, while the best time to invest may have been 20 years ago, the next best time is now.  

About the authors

Ellington Arnold

Ellington Arnold

Ellington Arnold is manager of the U.S.-Africa Business Center (USAfBC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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