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>> The notion of Africa Rising was a popular narrative a few years ago. In short, that was the idea that Africa was home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. And that, allied to the fact that these countries had rapidly expanding populations, meant that there was opportunity for a hugely expanding middle class.
Fast forward a few years, and a number of African countries have been going through a downturn, largely based on low quality prices. That has forced a number of businesses, particularly multinational companies, to alter their strategy. My name is Alexis Akwagyiram, I am the Reuters Nigeria Bureau Chief, and I'm reporting from a Unilever factory in the commercial capital, Lagos.
Unilever is doubling down on local production and the use of local inputs as well. So, for example, they, last month, in December, opened up a margarine factory, in which they were increasingly using palm oil that was sourced locally. The managing director told me that they have moved to 90% local inputs, as compared to 80% three or four years ago.
The idea, in short, is to make sure that you save costs by bringing in local inputs and manufacturing locally. That way you reduce the costs of importation. That's particularly been crucial in Nigeria. Nigeria went through its first recession in 25 years in 2016 and only emerged from recession in the second quarter of last year.
As a result, big companies want to save money by not relying on imports. Business and political leaders gathering in Davos, I'm sure, will agree that there is no one solution to cracking African economies. However, what businesses that are operating here in Nigeria have shown is that the way forward is often to build resilience and to find a way to weather the storm.