Others have gushed over this book's enthusiastic take on the "African" market. It seems to me that the pendulum has swung to the other end of its arc on whether Africa is a disaster needing charity or the biggest business opportunity for the 21st century. The real answer depends on a) where you are in Africa's 54 countries, b) whether you are urban or rural, c) what kind and size of business you are running, d) your expected time horizon, and e) what kind of risk you can assume. One size does not fit all, and if there is an underlying weakness to the book, it may be that it uses the lens of big Western corporate business to appraise Africans. Risk though mentioned is hardly balanced with opportunity in this book. Failed states, corruption and lack of basic civic infrastructure in many places are real problems that won't disappear for some time, no matter how many consumers are generated by exposure to Western (or Chinese) goods.
I think a great deal more care and nuance needs to be taken in approaching market development there if some of the more negative consequences of our consumer society are to be avoided. For example, Mahajan is excited about the segment of the potential market represented by Tier 3 consumers--those who are employees of the very rich. These people see the conspicuous consumption of their employers and aspire to the same gadgets though they cannot afford them. Advances in the banking system aim to create a consumer lending (debt) market. By leapfrogging the development process instead of allowing time for proper wealth accumulation structures in this Tier, he essentially advocates slavery to American-style consumer debt as the basis for market exploitation. The Market Tier 3 Africans I know lead a tenuous financial life, much more so than Americans, so debt is likely to be very dangerous in the long run. Should business try to sell Africans what they don't need? What is the impact of cheap Chinese goods flooding the market on the development of indigenous industry? It is these kinds of wise, ethical, systemic questions that are missing from this book and others like it. This does no service to Africans looking for solid long term economic and social development or to Western investors looking for decent risk-adjusted returns. Africa is changing in some fundamental ways. This book goes about halfway in helping Western audiences understand how.