Fast Food Chains on the Rise in Africa

Change attributed to rising incomes and changing lifestyles
Fast Food

Flickr / Joey / CC BY 4.0

Fast food chains meet new challenges and need to adapt to local tastes and logistical issues.

Over the past few years, a growing number of fast food restaurants have opened across Africa. According to Euromonitor, Morocco and South Africa have experienced an annual fast food outlet growth of three to four percent from 2009 to 2014, and markets in Sub-Saharan Africa have also become attractive to international chains. Out of these international chains, KFC has had the biggest reach across Africa, with 771 outlets and still expanding, according to CNN.

Elias Schulze, managing partner at The Africa Group, a boutique advisory and venture capital firm, says, "Kenya and Nigeria are most obvious candidates from a macro perspective because they offer the desirable ingredients of an expanding middle-class, and a strong private sector backbone. They have a challenging but growingly sophisticated supply chain, and adaptable consumer tastes.”

An expanding middle class signals more disposable income, and a changing lifestyle which makes the idea of fast food appealing. Elizabeth Friend, strategy analyst at Euromonitor International says, "As incomes rise and all of the usual emerging market dynamics are in play, such as urbanisation, more hectic lifestyles, many people in Africa are also gaining access to chained/branded restaurants for the first time.”

The future of fast food in Africa is uncertain and threatened by local circumstances. Schulze says, “The main obstacles are somewhat obvious. Challenging and underdeveloped supply chains, weak logistics networks, expensive and inconsistent power, potentially sensitive local partnerships, awkward or unhelpful regulatory environment.” According to Schulze, the key to long-term success and a return on investment is the growth of Africa’s still “nascent and delicate” middle class.

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