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Bloomberg has an interesting story about the burgeoning African middle class, which it says “prompted Wal-Mart Stores on Sept. 27 to propose purchasing Massmart, the continent’s third- largest retailer, for $4.6 billion. With 288 stores in 14 African countries, purchasing Johannesburg-based Massmart would enable Wal-Mart to profit from one of the world’s fastest- growing retail markets.

“Africa’s population reached 1 billion last year and after economic growth averaging 4.9 percent from 2000 to 2008 the number of families with an income of more than $20,000 a year has exceeded India’s, according to a report by McKinsey & Co. With China investing in the continent to exploit its mineral wealth and the population rising by more than 2 percent a year, that market is set to expand.”

And while Walmart is expected to face challenges as it works to set up a supply chain infrastructure that is reliable, efficient and effective, the opportunity to get relatively early to cater to this growing customer base is simply too enticing to resist.
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