Africa as a continent is mostly known for its natural resources, raw materials, and agriculture. Due to the unavailability of resources needed to turn these raw materials into finished goods, oftentimes Africa’s natural resources are exported to foreign high-developed countries. However, there are still African products made by Africans. The emphasis on export has diminished the importance and presence of African businesses and entrepreneurship that make these products in the continent.
African-made products aren’t a new development, it goes back to the 1900s but due to urbanisation, products that are manufactured locally go unrecognised even though their quality is equal to foreign brands.
Despite parts of Africa being underdeveloped, this doesn’t limit the continent from tunnelling the global markets with its world-class consumer products. Most of the recent innovations can be credited to high thinking and fast-rising industrial African countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the likes. With them, large industries have been built that are worth billions of dollars and reduced imports in the continent. Although, some of the continent’s growth is owed to industrialists in foreign countries like China that build factories and settle here. Nonetheless, most of Africa’s success is owed to its innovative and resourceful people.
Listed below are the biggest African industries
The textile industry in Africa dates back to the 1950s when the continent was largely localised. At that point, the industry consisted of picking cotton that would be exported to Europe and America. The production of textile was birthed then. Africans started creating the fabric they wear, which is now associated with the cultural identity. These textiles included batik, kitenge, Ankara, etc for their traditional attires.
Over time, the textile industry grew to encompass the large-scale production of these textiles. Slowly, traditionally textiles like batik, grew unpopular in the industry as a discovery of wool was made. This newfound discovery of wool and other textiles diversified the African textile production industry. Countries like Morocco, and Egypt start producing on large scales.
Now in the modernised 21st century Africa, textile has become a salient production and one of Africa’s largest producers. The demand for African textiles now goes beyond the borders of the continents and extends globally to foreign countries. African patterns are gaining recognition as truly fashionable and iconic pieces. International fashion houses are integrating African patterns in their latest collections.
Even more, the industry has gained the traction of foreign investors. In 2018, the China Chamber of Commerce for Textiles (CCCT) signed sourcing agreements that involved the exploration of investment partnerships with the local textile and garment companies of Ethiopia as well as with high-level government officials.
The investment market isn’t open to only government officials. American fashion brand H&M is one of the private businesses that own large textile mills in Africa. Due to the availability of resources and relatively cheap labour, Africa makes a good breeding ground for textile production.
Africa is stepping up in its fashion sense and industrialization and capitalization. Just like textiles, the production of footwear in Africa was localised.
With a population of over a billion people with shoe demands, it’s no surprise that Africa’s footwear industry has grown exponentially to become one of the biggest industries on the continent. Although a large part of the market goes unaccounted for, the fast-rising pace of the industry gives hope for a large margin. The footwear industry which was barely established in the 1950s now churns out over $300m in South Africa. In 2013, Ethiopia ranked ninth in the global leather industry with a churn out of $30m for that year alone. As a whole, the industry is estimated to reach $1billion by 2023, and this isn’t even a wide part of the market.
Although the footwear industry is very lucrative, only a few African countries majorly deal with them with the largest footwear revolution being in South Africa where the local market’s demand is 248 million pairs. Some of the biggest African footwear producers in the market include;
Sole Rebels (Ethiopia)
Enzi Footwear (Ethiopia)
Sseko Designs (Uganda)
Tsonga South Africa (South Africa)
HTW – Heel The World (Ghana)
TT Dalk (Nigeria)
Haus of Hercules (Nigeria)
Passport ADV (Ethiopia)
Food and Beverages (Agribusiness)
Africa is widely known for its agricultural produce, but African countries have taken a step further to make consumer products of these raw materials. Africa’s beverage industry dates back to the 1980s, a time when the continent was coming into civilization. Agribusiness in Africa takes needs, utilises the raw materials in the surroundings, and turns a market of demand into profits. Items such as beverages, coffee, grains, flour, etc. A good example of an agribusiness is Flour Mill Nigeria.
The flour mill in Nigeria is the one of the biggest agribusiness in Africa. Not only do they produce flour, by extension they produce flour-based products like the different kinds of pasta that are made in these countries. Golden Penny, the Nigerian pasta brand, is manufactured by Flour Mill in Nigeria.
Other successful agribusiness in Africa includes South Africa’s Tiger Brands, Pioneer Food Groups, Tongaat-Hulett, Astral Foods, among others. Algeria also comes in with Cevital, a group that manufactures sugar, margarines, vegetable oils and manages supermarkets. Unimer Group of Morocco focused more on Canned Sardines, Mackerels, Anchovies, canned animal food, and canned vegetables.
Brewing beers is an activity rooted in African culture but the process and ingredients differ across places. In Southern African countries, sorghum malt is the primary ingredient for brewing beer. Due to the commonality of these local beers, it wasn’t so difficult to turn brewing into an upscale business.
A recent manufacturing venture that joined the train of African-made produce is cars. With its vast improvement of technology and engineering, the world of automobiles has taken the continent by storm. Although just a handful of manufacturers are in the industry currently, there is no doubt that Africa is about to witness a large growth in this sector over the next few years.
Birkin Cars of South Africa is the first ever automotive business in Africa. Founded in 1982, the company boasts of quality classic cars that are sold in various parts of the world, including Japan, United States and Europe. Undoubtedly, Birkin Cars set the breeding ground for other newer companies to excel. Whilst the company still stands strong, in recent time the African automotive industry has been introduced to new players including Innoson Motors (Nigeria), Kantanka Cars (Ghana), Kiira Motors Corporation (Uganda), Laraki (Morocco), Mobuis Motors (Kenya) and Wallyscar (Tunisia).
Africa is going global with her quality production of goods and services. This is expected to more than double the GDP of most of the African countries.