Who are these essential Africans?

Who are Africans, today essential actors of the changes in Africa?

Black Beautés was invited to the “African Women” conference on May 18 at the Dapper Museum where Ipsos conducted a large exclusive * survey in Sub-Saharan Africa (French and English speaking), to understand these women in their plurality. Ipsos unveiled the main results of the study. The conference presented by Florence de Bigault, Ipsos Francophone Africa Director, brought together experts and business decision-makers testifying to successful initiatives with African women.


Dynamic and optimistic.
The women of sub-Saharan Africa contribute to economic development and major societal changes in their respective countries. In certain sectors such as agriculture or local commerce, most of the economy is in their hands. According to the exclusive Ipsos study, 42% of African women have a regular job and 49% earn a living. They are also 35% to be single, a reality which mainly concerns the urban middle classes where young women want to study and work, before living as a couple.

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“Both conveyors of traditional knowledge and initiators of novelty, Africans are carrying the continent's transformations and bringing it fully into modernity” explains Florence de Bigault, director of Ipsos Francophone Africa.

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African Beauty

Street vendor in Abidjan, entrepreneur in Johannesburg, or coffee farmer in Uganda, African women are pretty, whatever their purchasing power. Clothing and beauty represent respectively 14% and 13% of their personal expenses, that is to say the 2nd and 3rd item behind food (41%).

Indeed, consumers expect cosmetics that meet the specificities of African beauty, a very segmenting market.

“They are more and more aware and critical. These women also want to see themselves in advertisements. Make way for black muses and no longer for fair-skinned Brazilians! »Declares Marina Marville, director of Beauty Color Africa, the first international BtoBtoC beauty show in West Africa which was held in Abidjan in February 2017. Regarding fashion, fashionistas in English-speaking Africa are turning more to in addition to local creators - this is less true in French-speaking Africa.

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African women consumers

In small shops, markets, supermarkets, or even on the Internet, 89% of African women are decision-makers or co-decision-makers of purchases with their spouse. An unavoidable target, therefore. "These consumers are suspicious," warns Florence de Bigault. Brands must establish a relationship of trust. At the same time, African women show a real desire to discover new products. "

Indeed, consumers expect cosmetics that meet the specificities of African beauty, a very segmenting market. “In their selection criteria, quality now takes precedence over the lowest price” explains Rania Belkahia, CEO of Afrimarket, an e-commerce platform that operates in Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon and Benin.

“Middle-class consumers are turning to“ made in France ”or even premium local brands,” continues Rania Belkahia. The demand for quality involves, among other things, product innovation, to meet the specific needs of African women.

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"Our Brandt subsidiary will offer washing machines that withstand the very frequent power cuts on the continent," said Soraya Djermoun, communications director of the Algerian conglomerate Cevital.
“Equipping households with household appliances contributes to the liberation of women. They have more time for themselves. "

In the food sector for pregnant women and young children, brands must take into account the weight of traditions. “The nutritional value of products is an important argument, but it is challenged by eating habits and beliefs about nutrition,” says Moyosola Okoye, Consumer & Product Insights Team Leader at Danone. “Hence the need to constantly innovate so that our products are also accepted by the community. "

Beyond the product, the quality requirement of consumers also concerns the associated service. "African women expect added value in the services delivered by e-commerce", specifies Rania Belkahia (Afrimarket). “It is important to have a good delivery infrastructure, able to overcome poor road conditions. "

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African connected

African women have gone digital.
55% of them say they have access to the Internet, via their own smartphone or that of those around them, at work or from a cyber café. This encouraging figure should not be forgotten that Africa has the highest gender digital divide in the world, at 23% **, i.e. the gap between the Internet penetration rate among men and that with women.

Who says connected Africans, says potential audience to capture. The Lagardère group launched the very first version of Elle in French-speaking Africa, in March 2017. Precisely a 100% digital Ivorian version. This is the first time that high-end women, already present in 46 countries, have been adapted abroad without a paper version. This strategy was guided by the strong demand for an online women's press in Côte d'Ivoire. “Elle.ci offers company and lifestyle information, beauty tutorials, fashion consumer ideas,” explains Korédé Odjo-Bella, Managing Director of Lagardère Active Côte d'Ivoire.

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“Digital supports the emancipation of African women. Digital technology allows them to have a private space and gain independence. "

Haweya Mohamed, co-founder of Afrobytes, the first French hub dedicated to African technological innovation.

Television also takes a keen interest in women. "Across the continent, 89% of women consume television," according to Joan Murielle Yombo, Africa and international communications manager at Canal + Groupe, which distributes channels in 25 countries on the continent. Novelas TV, Nollywood TV and A + (a subsidiary of Canal +) are among the most popular channels among female viewers. Like the Ivorian sitcom Ma grande famille or the Senegalese medical soap C'est la vie.

“We support local audiovisual channels, because Canal + is keen to offer content that resembles the women who watch them. Joan Murielle Yombo, Africa and international communications manager at Canal + Groupe

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Committed Africans
"Is dedicating yourself to the family your priority?" " " No ! »Answer the Africans to 55%. Finished, the cliché of the housewife in boubou monopolized by her home and her children. Women want to progress in life. This is why 72% of them say they are concerned about their financial independence, 66% about gender inequalities, and 58% about girls' education.

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"To emancipate themselves and strive for gender equality, African women aspire to better education, even catching up, and of course financial autonomy" Florence de Bigault, director of Ipsos Francophone Africa.

French companies support the empowerment of women by leading a policy in favor of local female entrepreneurship. Because a third of African women start a business, the highest proportion in the world. This is the case of Orange, established in 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East. “As part of a major digital inclusion project for African women, we are promoting their entrepreneurship in the technology sector, through partnerships with local incubators, or through support for digital training centers dedicated to women”, explains Catherine Flouvat, Director of CSR, Ethics and Partnerships Africa, Middle East, Asia at Orange.

Orange's “Connected women, empowered women” strategy is also based on the deployment of Orange Money. The mobile banking service makes life easier for women, for example to pay school fees, health costs, etc. They therefore benefit from time savings to better focus on their entrepreneurial activity.

Is the figure of the business woman the new face of feminism? "In any case, she is part of the diversity of feminisms expressed today in Africa", underlines the author Rachel Khan, responsible for the development of the monthly Causette in Africa.

“African women are writing the continent's new story. Their efforts join the Woman Stream, this international feminist wave that intends to give birth to a world of meaning, thought, positive and action. Rachel Khan, responsible for the development of the monthly Causette in Africa. The writer Hemley Boum, who wrote the novel Les Maquisards on the place of women in the history of Cameroon, prefers to speak of female emancipation rather than feminism. And economic freedom is the prerequisite. “What is problematic in fact is the reduction by traditional African societies of the contribution of women to the economic development of the continent. There is a risk of invisibilization. »Brands therefore have a card to play in satisfying the demand of African women to see their role better valued. "If companies manage to capture the energy and modernity of these women, in their offers, their positioning and their communication, they will be able to develop their market," enthuses Florence de Bigault. There are real nuggets to grab! "

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By Florence de Bigault
Source Ipsos unveiled the main results of the study.

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* Technical sheet: the Ipsos 2017 African Women Survey covers 7 countries (Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa). 3,500 women interviewed by telephone, aged 20 to 55, from all social categories. 55% living in urban areas, 45% living in rural areas.

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** Source: Facts and Figures 2016, from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations agency.