Africa represents a vast untapped market for manufacturers and suppliers. The continent’s scale and rapid economic growth have caught the world’s attention. The future beckons – that means you need to get there now.

Africa is the world’s second-largest continent with 20.4% of the total global land area. It is also the second-most populous, currently representing 16% of the world’s population. The estimated population of 1.18 billion in 2015 is expected to increase to 2.48 billion by 2050, by which time it will represent 25% of the global population.

Sub-Saharan Africa in particular remains one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Between 2000 and 2014, GDP in Angola, Ethiopia and Nigeria grew at average annual rates of 9.2%, 8.8% and 7.7% respectively.

According to the World Bank, over the next 30 to 40 years Africa is poised to become the most rapidly urbanising region with the youngest population in the world.

Specifically, Africa’s youth is expected to drive consumption and economic growth in the coming decades. According to the World Bank, Africa’s median age was 19.7 years in 2012, and it is expected to increase to 25.4 years in 2050 – the youngest population on any continent. Estimates suggest the continent had a population of 226 million aged between 15 and 24 years in 2015. This is expected to double by 2045.

Urbanisation and an increasingly connected and demanding consumer class have given retailers a lot to be positive about. It is estimated that the urban population in Africa will increase to 56% in 2050 from 35% in 2010, making it the most rapidly urbanising region in the world.

Due to growth in internet penetration and travel, Africans are more connected to global trends than ever. They are demanding everything from smartphones to big-label brands and as more product choice becomes available, they are flexing their purchasing power and seeking out quality.