Toilet or ‘tissue’ paper deserves a special mention because it’s one of the fastest growing products in the personal hygiene category. In many rural areas of Africa, water is commonly used to clean up after using the toilet. Other common materials are leaves, waste paper and earth. These materials are preferred because they cost nothing. But people in urban areas are more likely to spend money on toilet paper because it’s the ‘modern’ and more convenient thing to do.
With more Africans migrating to the cities and adapting to changing lifestyles, the demand for toilet paper is on the rise. While there are imported toilet paper brands on the African market which appeal more to the brand-conscious and upper-class customers, the largest volumes of toilet paper in many parts of Africa are produced by local companies. Most of the single toilet paper rolls on the market could last just a few days (two to three) for the average household. This means that millions of toilet paper rolls are consumed across Africa’s cities every single day.
Apart from soap and toilet paper, there are other very important personal hygiene products used across Africa every day. Take toothpaste and toothbrushes, for example. With growing urbanization and exposure to modern care products, more Africans are abandoning chewing sticks and salt solutions to adopt toothpaste. A similar trend applies to other toiletries like shampoos, shaving cream and deodorants.
This is clearly a manufacturing business that requires premises, machinery, and staff. In South Africa, for example, toilet paper production equipment can range from around $15,000 (most basic) to $45,000, and of course you need to also purchase the raw materials. But it, is a relatively easy production and packaging cycle and a product that will most certainly find a market across Africa.
1. Luxury toilet paper for hotels and the upper class.
2. Small-sized toiletries for hotels, or in a lower quality for Africa’s poor who often buy small sizes as it is more affordable.
3. Paper napkins with birthday designs or printed business logos.
Toiletry products would find a market throughout Africa, but you will face bigger competition in Africa’s leading capital cities. It may be a good strategy to focus on the many newly upcoming and less known boom towns during the startup phase and then to expand into the capital cities from there.
Action & Tips
Call up the local Chamber of Commerce or Ministry of Trade and Industry to find out more about such companies in your country. Visit local supermarkets to see which brands are selling (many will be imported) and if you could offer a better price or unique selling point.