Regional Report

Furniture: A Growth Oriented Industry

Africa constitutes 16.36% of the total world population and contributes 3% to the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Africa is a huge pool of population, which is projected to expand and grow rapidly. By 2050, 2.4 billion more people are expected on the planet out of which 1.3 billion are expected to be born in Africa. The majority of the world’s population growth is expected to take place in Africa. It is said that where there is population, there are enormous opportunities. Business opportunities is one the aspect of this broad spectrum of opportunities. With the growing population in Africa demand for home and office accommodation is simultaneously increasing. When people move into a new home, they need a bed to sleep on, wardrobes for their clothes, chairs, a dining table, sofas, kitchen cabinets and all kinds of furniture. Like households, offices also buy a lot of furniture too. Africa’s rapidly growing urban population and their spending capacity, along with the growing economy are the primary reasons why furniture business is enjoying the best time of its life.

Total furniture imports into Africa amounted to USD3.6 billion in the year 2013. Ten main furniture importing African countries (each of them importing over USD100 million of furniture in 2013) are Angola, Morocco, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana and Sudan.

Growth factors

Urbanisation process is expected to be very rapid, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa and large urban areas will be the frontiers of economic growth with important implications for the increase of furniture consumption. Despite political instability and relative poor infrastructure level in some areas, there is evidence of numerous urban centres, which offer potential for growth for the furniture market. These cities are increasingly diversifying their economy. In recent years, huge investments have been made in real estate, tourism and hospitality industry, culture and entertainment, which have boosted demand for the furniture sector. More and more number of people are moving to cities from villages, in order to seek better medical facilities, education, sanitation and employment opportunities.

At the current rate of growth, more than 500 million Africans will move to cities by 2030. As the population in African cities and towns increases, this will naturally create a profound and genuine need for real estate; residential accommodation, office space, hotels and schools everywhere in Africa. Office buildings, hospitals, schools, luxury hotels, premium guest houses, residential apartments and societies, shopping malls and theatres are being constructed everywhere in African cities. As this trend of more people moving into new homes and establishing new business offices continues, furniture will be required. When new schools are built, desks and chairs will be needed. New hotels often require skillfully designed beds, stylish wardrobes and various other fixtures and fittings. This is just a short glimpse of a rewarding business stream which is waiting to be explored. Several African countries have good potential for developing their furniture industry, both for internal consumption and for exports. The more promising prospects are in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria, but also Namibia, Tunisia, Kenya, Zimbabwe are possible candidates for a relevant expansion of their furniture production.

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