Luxury living in Africa.
For several years, African coun- tries relied on traditional in- dustries such as manufacturing, telecommunica- tions, agriculture, oil and gas, and banking to create the continent's multi-millionaires and bil- lionaires. As we all know, however, the only thing that is constant is change. The world wide web has opened all doors for businesses. Today, new, non- traditional industries are among the top five GDP players in several African countries, for example, film in Nige- ria, mobile money in Kenya, tourism in South Africa and music in Demo- cratic Republic of Congo. Wealth is also being created in consumer-driven industries such as hotels, information, property, retail and entertainment. All of which has had a huge and growing impact on the luxury market.
But where are these rich individuals driving the luxury sector on the con- tinent?
According to a recent report by New World Wealth, the wealthiest African cities include Johannesburg, Cape Town, Cairo, Lagos, Durban, Nairobi, Luanda and Pretoria. Total individual wealth in Africa amounts to around $2.3 trillion and the figure is expected to rise by 34 per cent within 10 years, reaching $3.1 trillion by the end of 2027. South Africa is reported to be the wealthiest country in Africa, with total wealth of $722 billion.
One of the beloved luxury products among Africa's wealthy individuals is champagne, with Nigerians known to be the continent's leading consum- ers (in 2016, Nigeria's Terry Apala even had a hit song with Champagne Shower). "I believe that as African economies improve and the middle class grows, consumption of cham- pagne increases as tastes and lifestyles evolve," says Pierre-Louis Araud, busi- ness development manager and global brand ambassador for MoE1/2t & Chan- don.
He adds that as the African market has become ever more sophisticated, so too has the African consumer: "There is a change in attitude and the affluent African is now very concerned about personal growth, the environ- ment, social responsibility, and is will- ing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. We noticed the de- mand for the high-end products and top range products. Countries like Kenya have great growth and it is the leader in East Africa. It is a stable mar- ket in regards to its economy, quite so- phisticated in development and caters to a lot of foreigners, too. This is a sign of opportunity for us."
A crucial factor that cannot be ig- nored in this economic growth is the role of women, who are active partici- pants in the creation of jobs. An increas- ing number of women hold leadership positions in corporate jobs, senior man- agement roles, while others are business owners. Today, they have disposable in- come and are purchasing luxury goods and services to reward themselves for their achievements. This has led to lux- ury businesses created by women such as jewellery by Satta Matturi, Epara skincare by Ozohu Adoh, The Royal Portfolio by Liz Biden, which owns The Silo Hotel and the Royal Malewane in South Africa, and Vana leather goods by Vanashree Singh.
While Adoh created the Epara brand specifically to address the beau- ty concerns of women of colour, she has noticed that the product's appeal has extended beyond her initial target market.
"I created this brand to cater for the skins of women with colour us- ing natural African ingredients and packaged in elegance and sophistica- tion," she explains. "When I did my original business model, I thought our biggest market would be London and then some select countries in Af- rica. So I was very surprised when I was approached by an agent in Hong Kong saying they would like to sell the brand. That's been one of our biggest orders to date."
Africa needs to facilitate its growing luxury market through products and services such as concierge, public rela- tions, advertising, family wealth man- agement, private banking services and luxury training. Another area of grow- ing business opportunities is art advi- sory, which has received a huge boost as the number of African artists, buy- ers, events and galleries has increased.
Julie Taylor is an anthropologist, communications guru and art entre- preneur, interested in the intersection of technology, the creative spirit and the under-representation of African fine art in the global economy. She cre- ated Guns & Rain, an online gallery of contemporary fine art from south- ern Africa, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. Art lovers can purchase art online and it will be delivered anywhere in the world. While some the artists featured on the gallery are established, most are new or emerging.
"The idea for Guns & Rain came about when I saw the hardships en- dured by Zimbabwean artists in the mid-2000s, and I started exploring the internet as a platform to raise aware- ness about their work," says Taylor. "There are now dozens of online art platforms globally. But despite a recent explosion of international interest in African contemporary art, African art- ists are still hugely underrepresented online. I founded Guns & Rain to help fill the gap for thoughtful representa- tion and curation of this art. The de- mand for online art -- whether for edu- cation or collecting -- will only grow as people's comfort levels with digital channels increase."
Sotheby's in London has an African art division that has seen a growing de- sire for African art from both Africans and non-Africans.
Hannah O'Leary, head of Mod- ern & Contemporary African Art at Sotheby's, says: "In recent years, I've seen an exponential increase in market demand from collectors in Africa and the African diaspora, as well as inter- national art collectors and influencers who are embracing art from Africa as exciting, innovative and relevant. Sotheby's entry into the market is in direct response to its current strength and its even greater potential over the coming years."
The two most valuable works in a recent sale of African art were by the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, whose tapestry of shimmering bottle caps, Earth Developing More Roots from 2011, sold for $941,691, and the South African artist Irma Stern, whose still life of Sunflowers from 1942 made $538,524.
Although a look at the world's top luxury goods companies shows that European countries and the United States still dominate the industry, the question is, how soon until we start seeing African brands take a place alongside the leading luxury power- houses?
One of the key challenges is to cre- ate more luxury businesses in Africa owned by Africans to cater for the con- tinent and the rest of the world. His- torically, local luxury companies from Africa have not been prepared to com- pete and play in the global markets as they lack strong business capabilities, but this is changing. For example, Far- fetch, a leading international luxury shopping platform, has created an in- cubator to work with brands that have potential to cater to a wealthy clien- tele. One of the brands that has been selected is fashion marque Fashpa by Honey Ogundeyi who is being trained in Portugal in the business of luxury.
Luxury from Africa is undoubt- edly growing, but we need enablers. We need capacity building for the small business, guidance on joining international platforms, packaging that speaks of elegance and luxury. We have the resources, the workman- ship, the consumers and we have the soul, we are storytellers, we have a rich culture, rich history and solid tenacity thanks to our fragile economies. After all, luxury is a lifestyle -- we deserve to enjoy it.
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