Consumerism, & BCG, McKinsey & E&Y bullish on Africa

In Season 4, Episode 3 of the popular TV series Mad Men, Don Draper meets Anna’s niece, a U.Cal Berkeley student. “I’m not political,” she tells Don, “I just don’t understand who’s in charge.” “You’re in charge,” comes the ad man’s response. Historian Andrew Marr concurs.

Summarising his authoritative book A History of Modern Britain, Marr acknowledges that ‘the story that follows is the defeat of politics by shopping’. ‘Consumerism,’ he explains, ‘has shouldered aside other ways of understanding the world – real political visions, organised religion, a pulsing sense of national identity’.

Dr Peter Ackerman, former chair overseer of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, has observed that the composition of cross-border transactions has shifted from official to commercial since the Cold War ended. Commerce, according to Chilean activist Guillermo Wechsler, has become the most relevant domain of human activity, because commerce is what determines the distribution of resources.

And as commerce has risen and has helped bring to the West, South America and East Asia unparalleled levels of prosperity, so too is it rising, and will it continue to rise in Africa, as it caters to the rising consumer class. Don’t take my word for it. See what top-tier strategy consultants McKinsey and BCG, the World Bank’s IFC, the Africa Development Bank, Ernst & Young and The Economist have to say.

BCG: The African Challengers – Global, 2010

McKinsey: Lions on the move – African Economies Full Report, Jun 2010

Ernst & Young: Growing in Africa, 2011

Ernst & Young: Eye on Africa, 2010/11

Africa Development Bank: The Middle of the Pyramid, Apr 2011

IFC: The Business of Health in Africa

The Economist: Africa Rising, Dec 2011

The Economist: Is Africa poised for steady, rapid growth, Sept 2010

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