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Africa’s Billion-Dollar Haircare Industry

In Africa, haircare becomes a multi-billion dollar industry

While still largely based in the informal economy, the African haircare business has become a multi-billion dollar industry that stretches to China and India and has drawn global giants such as L'Oreal and Unilever.

Hairdressers such as Ogble are a fixture of markets and taxi ranks across Africa, reflecting both the continent's rising incomes and demand from hair-conscious women. "I need to braid my hair so that I will look beautiful," said 25-year-old Blessing James, wincing as Ogble combed and tugged at the back of her head before weaving in a plait that fell well past the shoulder.

While reliable Africa-wide figures are hard to come by, market research firm Euromonitor International estimates $1.1 billion of shampoos, relaxers and hair lotions were sold in South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon alone last year.

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