(Repeats to additional subscribers with no changes)
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, April 18 (Reuters) – Wanted: Investors for
young, hot and thirsty continent. Population to double in 40
years. Poor, but less than it was. Interested parties must think
Africa’s demographic profile could make it a dream for
retailers if spending power continues to rise – or an unfolding
disaster for everyone if the labour market fails to absorb its
swelling ranks of young people.
Top business executives at the Reuters Africa Investment
summit see potential. They expect ever higher numbers of
childless young people to enter the labour market and earn money
that they can spend or save.
The latest U.N. figures project that Africa’s population
will double over the next four decades to almost 2 billion. To
give just one example, 46 percent of Zambians are below 15.
“We are going to benefit from a demographic dividend. You
are going to have this significant increase in consumers,” said
John van Wyk, who co-heads the Africa business of private equity
firm Actis, which has $1.5 billion under management in Africa.
A 2010 study by the McKinsey Global Institute projected the
number of African households with discretionary income earning
over $5,000 would rise to 128 million by 2020 from 85 million.
Credit Suisse estimates African household wealth grew at 19
percent in 2010-2011 – outpaced only by India and Latin America.