As fuel scarcity and protests intensify in Nigeria this month, it is easy to get stuck in the belief that Africans get the poorer end of the stick when it comes to lifestyle products and services. Yet, there are products and services that are relatively more accessible and cheaper in Africa than elsewhere. Though they may not be as essential as fuel and internet data which continue to be relatively expensive on the continent, they are important resources for a full and meaningful life and are worth acknowledging.
- Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
Year round access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a blessing that many Africans take for granted. Though most African foods are seasonal, there are always fresh fruits and vegetables in stock in markets and supermarkets in many places on the continent. Elsewhere, especially in food deserts in America, mere access to fresh fruits and vegetables is impossible, and where available, are highly expensive.
Take an avocado when it is in season. It is about $0.50 in Accra, Ghana, but 300% more expensive in NYC, America – at about $2 for a small fruit.
- Hair & Clothing
In the U.S., getting one’s hair braided costs an average $100 in a city like New York where there are many African hair braiders and about $200 in cities elsewhere. In Accra, it costs, on average, $8.
Clothing or getting cloths sewn is another area that favors Africans on the continent. It costs about $100 to get a skirt and top made in a city like New York, and on average $10, in places in Accra.
Moreover, for both hair and clothing, many styles originate from the continent, thereby giving many knowledge of and access to style and fashion innovations before they break on the international stage.
- African Art & Ceramics
African art continues to rise to prominence worldwide, and many are capitalizing and innovating on this trend, including innovative art at the recently reopened Gallery 59 in Accra which I wrote about here. African art and ceramics are prolific all around Ghana, with prices ranging from $1 to millions of dollars, and often, hailing directly from the artists.
- International Credit ie. Airtime
Calling “internationally” from the continent is cheaper than calling another country on the continent. In fact, a call from Ghana to the U.S. is about $0.03/min, yet calling from the U.S. to Ghana is about $0.20/min, and outrageously, $0.24/min from Ghana to Nigeria.
International airtime generally favors Africans living on the continent.
- Global Movies & Music
For good or bad, young Africans with access to the internet seem to have the best cultural information and products from around the world. They get insight, access, and knowledge of films, shows, and music from the European, U.S., and Asian markets. They have websites through which they then download these products for free.
Information does not travel as easily or far in other places, where people often watch just their local or national shows and music. In many ways, Africa is a global hub of cultural experiences and products.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with this list? What did I miss?