KFC aims to double revenue in Africa by 2012. The colonel would be proud.
KFC this week became the latest iconic American company to make significant moves into Africa, following expansion by Coca-Cola and Walmart.
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Last business frontier
"It's the end of the world," Reuters' Africa Chief Matthew Tostevin told me recently in Dakar. By which he didn't mean apocalypse -- combo meals in the Motherland!? -- but that "it," Africa, remains the last place on the planet where many large corporations can grow their core product lines at the pace they enjoyed in previous decades.
Consider Coca-Cola's dilemmna: Mexicans consume, on average 665 servings of coke a year. Kenyans, just 39. Boost consumption in Africa 17-fold, and where are you gonna go next to keep your shareholders fixed on that kind of momentum? Fiji? Titan Saturn VI?
Africanizing American classics
If the whole prospect of an Africa That Runs on Dunkin' has a kind of terrifying identity-erasing dread to it for you, don't despair.
For one, local tastes have their talent for worming a way into the placard menus of chains. Ever ordered a "Navajo Taco" at a New Mexican KFC? The only two teenage Navajo boys I ever knew swore by 'em.
Second, the American invasion of Africa isn't targeting the continent's poor and vulnerable so much as its rich and gullible.
To understand, perch yourself catty corner to the Pizza Inn in Accra, Ghana, an ammonia-reeking playland whose two-for-one Tuesday's inspire store-length queues of businessmen towing their families, all looking to take advantage of the two-fer deal.
A Pizza Inn cook explained the scheme.
"They use half the ingredients to make each pizza," he told me. "Half the pepperoni, half the cheese."