Each year, the Marketing and Social Research Association (MSRA) takes a close look at the health of the East African research industry. The survey records actual revenue of member agencies for the previous calendar year and asks agency heads to forecast future growth. The 2007 survey recorded phenomenal growth for East Africa's research industry with revenue increasing from Kshs 890m (US$14m) to Kshs 1,330m (US$20m) during 2006. This represented growth of over 40%, compared to the predicted growth rate of 15%. In contrast, 2007 appears to have been a year of consolidation with annual revenue increasing by less than 10% to Kshs 1,400m (US$22m). This returns us to the slow but steady growth patterns of earlier years as can be seen below:
MSRA members are optimistic about continued growth and believe increasing economic interest in Africa will continue the development of a robust marketplace for their skills. Future growth is expected to come from two main sources; increased foreign inward investment to Africa from traditional Western trading partners as well as newer Eastern tiger economies and; growing competition within local marketplaces.
In the past few years, Kenyan based research agencies have positioned themselves to take advantage of this interest in Africa and Kenya has emerged as the hub country for much of the research done across the continent. Indeed, Kenya agencies now conduct work in most sub-Saharan African countries.
Almost 50% of research done by Kenyan agencies is commissioned by organizations outside the region indicative of the growing potential that external organizations are seeing in Africa. Most research done is quantitative (75%) with data collected through face-to-face interviews (89%). Other forms of data collection such as telephone or internet have very obvious limitations in Africa.
Almost 50% of research done by Kenyan agencies is commissioned by organizations outside the region indicative of the growing potential that external organizations are seeing in Africa.
Conducting quantitative face to face interviews is manpower intensive and as such logistics and security pose huge challenges to researchers. Indeed 83% of MSRA members claim the issue they fear most likely to restrict growth is the political and social instability of many African countries. Another major challenge is the escalating cost of operating across Africa where travel is difficult and unreliable while experienced manpower is often hard to find.
Nonetheless, the industry is optimistic and looks forward to a bright future, leading growth and development in Africa.
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