In 2010, all 3.7 million tonnes of global cocoa—the raw material for chocolate—was grown in the developing world. Most of it—2.5 million tonnes—was grown in Africa. But until now, almost none of the African cocoa has been transformed to chocolate on the continent itself. Consumption in Africa—just 450,000 tonnes a year—is also quite low.
But perhaps that will begin to change: East Africa's first local chocolate factory could soon be open in Tanzania, according to local media reports. Neuchatel Chocolate, the Swiss manufacturer, is said to have plans of opening a plant in the country's industrial zone.
It's a tiny piece of news—but it marks part of a larger trend away from mere raw material production on the continent and toward value-added products and services. It's a vital development for economic development and job growth—and it's made possible by the exciting combination of better regulations, improved macro-conditions, and perhaps even more, a rising African lower middle class that can, sooner-rather-than-later become a very powerful consumer base. According to the reports, the chocolates will be destined back to Europe for export for now. But consumption of the stuff is growing at a rate of 7.4 percent annually, according to a UN report from several years ago.
Chocolate in Dar Es Salaam, anyone?