There are increasing signs that aviation, tourism and the adoption of place branding strategies are about to herald a new era for many African countries and cities. A growing middle class and consumer demand, coupled with unprecedented interest by private equity firms is fueling growth in a variety of industries across the continent. Reuters reports that “Africa has a youthful and booming population that could almost double to 2 billion by 2050, and includes some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and an emerging middle class which wants everything from banks
and insurance, to places to eat out.”
Responding to the expanding middle class and increased tourism demand, several discount airlines have commenced services. FastJet commenced in November with services linking Tanzania and Uganda. It is anticipated that services to Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan will be added in the next few months. South Africa is set to see the introduction of two discount carriers early in 2013. Africa is one of the last locations to experience the introduction of discount carriers and with Emirates now considering a partnership with FastJet, it is a region that is likely to undergo dramatic change.
Meanwhile, All Africa magazine advocates the need for Kenya to begin adopting the principles of place branding as the nation continues to mature and develop its economy and international reputation. The magazine says, “The struggle for attention and preference is not limited to the contest between countries and cities; even within cities there is a fierce competition between city centres vs. neighbourhoods, big-box retailers vs. main streets, shopping malls (like Village Market vs. Nairobi's crowded Central Business District, which is slowly becoming a "no go zone").”
As Kenya introduces brand strategies across the country for places of all sizes, it’s vital for leaders to pause and take stock of the successes and failures in place branding that have occurred in other countries. Too many have patted themselves on the back after producing a snappy new tagline or slogan and a bright new logo. But the secret is that these two elements do not create a brand, nor are they at the heart of branding. These are going to be exciting times in the economic and social development of Africa.