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MARKETING INFORMATION Developing Benchmarks Within Africa: Navigating The New Markets By Isaac T. Ngatia I n March 2018, 44 African leaders met in Kigali to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area. The objective is to eventually establish the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). This will be the world’s largest free trade area by number of countries involved. This is expected to open the continent within itself. It will facilitate movement of goods, services and people within the continent. This is long overdue as research has shown that regional trade is one of the most important pillars for economic growth. Previously, most countries in the continent have ran after international markets, mostly in western markets. This could have been in line with prior agreements in the movement of raw materials or commodities. The intra-Africa trade will bring with it new challenges as marketers develop new markets; businesses navigate new territories and expand their groups of stakeholders within the continent. It will provide opportunities for local and regional businesses. A stakeholder refers to any group of individual who can affect or be affected by the activities of an organisation in trying to achieve its purpose (R.E Freeman, 1984). Hence, as businesses within the continent exploit the upcoming CFTA, which eases movement, they will come across new groups of people, and markets with their unique demands and expectations. The treaty will help in reducing barriers. However, any researcher will tell you, getting to market is only one dimension of the overall success factors. Understanding and meeting the success factors of any Most multinational companies have long known that every market requires marketing strategies tailored to that market. However, there are still lapses either due to budgetary or time constraints. Meeting and managing the different stakeholders in each market contin- ues to be a major challenge given market within the continent will call for a customised approach. Most multinational companies have long known that every market requires marketing strategies tailored to that market. However, there are still lapses either due to budgetary or time constraints. Meeting and managing the different stakeholders in each market continues to be a major challenge. We would therefore expect regional and local businesses to face the same challenges as they try to take advantage of this treaty. The previous wider view of ‘Africa market’ has led to one-fit all solution for the continent. The international markets have long held this view given the continent has contributed not more than 3% of the global trade. Businesses and researchers within the continent now have a chance to develop local and continent-wide benchmarks. This is important given the fact opening of boundaries for trade and movement of people does not imply acceptance within the new markets. Cultural and religious factors, varied consumption and usage patterns, habits… etc varies across markets within the continent. Hence, a review would include a top-down (from continental level to a market/sector level) and vice versa (bottom-up). Benchmarking various aspects – be it 80 MAL25/18 ISSUE