In the past decade, the African continent has seen an increase in household affluence and consumption, advances in technology, a burgeoning youth population and subsequent labor force, and an economy that has grown at an average of 4.2 percent a year since 2000. Though the continent's economic progress did slow down after 2010, nearly half of African countries continue to exceed this rate.
The continent is growing in other ways too.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is an increased number of diasporans, or Africans born or raised abroad that are returning to the continent and influencing its tastes and standards. Diasporans and the incredibly young population of the continent is infusing a sense of “African pride” in all that is locally grown, produced, and purchased on the continent. In Rwanda, the leadership defied external criticism, levies, and pressure to prioritize made-in-Rwanda textiles by imposing an import tariff on cheap second-hand clothing that was proving injurious to the native industry. When the US temporarily suspended Rwanda from an arrangement allowing sub-Saharan countries preferential access to the US market, Rwanda still didn’t budge and maintained its import tariffs.
In Africa, countries continue to grow production to meet local demand as well as produce for continued export to global markets thereby reducing the continent's dependence on foreign imports. This is exemplified by the increased production of apparel in Ethiopia, wood production in Gabon, and increased unified cocoa production in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.
Buoyed by all of this promise of, well, promise, some young folks are starting to trickle back onto the continent, perhaps with the same zeal and expectation that their own parents left it decades earlier. A 2015 BBC article highlighted the young diasporan professionals returning to Ghana, drawn by the country’s growing economy. For reasons varied from a changing political climate abroad or increased economic opportunity in Africa, diasporans are continuing to return home. In Ghana, the numbers of how many individuals are returning are uncertain because the Ghana Immigration Service doesn’t keep statistics on returnees. With the increased number of “returnees” or repatriates back to Ghana, tastes are shifting as are the expectations for different types of consumer or retail services and products. Changes here reflect the growing population, shifting demographics and an increased demand for more sophisticated locally-produced products.
Over 130 million people are expected to join Africa's consuming class by 2030 thereby contributing to the continent's collective GDP.
It would seem then that Africa, if not only rising, is certainly changing. From appearances and action, the continent seems to have has lost some of its dewy innocence from the heady days of independence, is a bit more cautious of external influences as a barometer for achievement and is taking pride in the unique, diverse and varied landscape of Africa.