Global Report: Nouveau-riche and loving it

Nigeria enjoys oil wealth.

 
A model wearing Maki Oh walks the runway during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, 2012 (Photo: Bennett Raglin/WireImage/Getty)
A model wearing Maki Oh walks the runway during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, 2012 (Photo: Bennett Raglin/WireImage/Getty)

Oil is gushing in Nigeria, and so is the bubbly: the country now boasts the second fastest-growing champagne consumption in the world, according to Euromonitor—surpassed only by the French themselves. Cristal, Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon, are just some of the corks being popped by the country’s elite. “The biggest consumers are politicians, their cronies, family and coteries,” says Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, an online news network that covers Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa, adding there is a growing number of “movie stars, musical artists, con artists and a sizable population of religious adherents of the prosperity-preaching get-rich-quick Pentecostal stock” who are revelling in the bubbly.

The continent is home to a growing group of mega-rich, and an even bigger middle class, who are hungry for everything luxurious. Along with established international brands such as Louis Vuitton and Burberry moving in, a crop of homegrown fashion houses has emerged, including Maki Oh, a Nigerian womenswear label that showed at New York Fashion Week in March, has been featured in Vogue and is worn by American singer Azealia Banks.

The booming middle class is predicted to bring huge changes to every corner of the region’s economy. A November 2012 McKinsey & Co. study expects Africa’s consumer industries to grow by $400 billion by 2020, and the African Development Bank sees the share of households that can afford some discretionary spending surging from 35% in 2012 to 52% by 2020. The opportunity is not just about good numbers; it’s about good feelings: “Africans are exceptionally optimistic about their economic future” says the McKinsey report, with “84% say[ing] they will be better off in two years.”

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