Composite satellite images of the Earth at night in 2016.

Is Africa the next big place for industrial growth?

Feb. 7, 2018
Africa may reach 25% of the global population by 2050 and significantly alter the global marketplace.

Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Korea, India, China, and Vietnam have all taken their turns as the low-cost labor, greatest new market for the growth of companies. What’s the next big place for growth? I’d say it’s Africa where industry has a great opportunity to light up growth.

That image is made more salient when looking at some NASA photos of the world at night. You can see an image from 2009 here and a more recent one from 2016 here. The newer photo has better resolution, of course. But, you can see where there are large swaths of land offering the opportunity for population growth, transportation of freight, and roads. 

The population of Africa may well reach one-fourth of the global population by 2050. You can bet the continent has challenges of environment, politics, and much more. I am certain, it will grow and change just as that list of countries I started with have significantly altered the global marketplace and global transportation.

Through TED talks and various articles I see, there is the start of innovation and focus on solutions unique to the needs of the continent in communications, software, manufacturing, and transportation. Here’s one that caught my attention recently. It combines pedal power, electric vehicles, solar power, grid storage, and more. The image is taken from the January 2018 edition of SAE Automotive Engineering. You can learn more about the effort at

Not every company in the world, let alone in the United States, will be interested in expanding operations to Africa. But, they will likely see the production of parts and raw materials coming from Africa in the future, just as we now get electronics from China (used to be Japan) and we get clothing from India and Vietnam. The world is constantly changing and we cannot stop that. 

Take off any blinders you may have and shine a light on the African continent to see if it plays a part in your future for transportation of freight.

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