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Business

Asian marketers' new target: The African consumer

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CFAO's Playce shopping center -- its first in Abidjan, Ivory Coast -- houses a Carrefour supermarket.   © Reuters

The resource price rout has hit the African economy hard. Yet the continent continues to attract foreign capital -- and these days, a lot of the money is coming from Asia. Africa was once dominated by Western investors, due to ties forged in colonial times. But Chinese companies have muscled their way in, and Indian, Japanese and South Korean players are arriving and thriving. This intense competition is no longer just about extracting minerals and materials. It is about tapping the next big consumer market.

Vivek Karve has a clear picture of the ideal African market. The chief financial officer of India's Marico, a maker of hair and body care products and other fast-moving consumer goods, said his company targets countries with "per capita GDP under $5,000, many mom-and-pop shops, low penetration of multinationals and political stability."

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