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Forestry & Wood Products in 2024: Africa's top business ideas and opportunities

With 675 million hectares of forests and fast-growing demand for building wood and furniture, Africa presents a huge growth market for wood products. This guide explores Africa's top opportunities in this market.

Africa now has the world's second-fastest-growing demand for sawn wood after Asia. The continent could have a $100 billion wood shortage by 2050. Photo by Nicola Pavan

Over the next 30 years, as the world’s population reaches 9.8 billion people and Africa’s population doubles in size to 2.4 billion, wood will present a highly strategic economic opportunity for Africa.

Wood is one of the most versatile and highly relevant natural resources in human society.

Beyond its familiar uses for fuel, furniture, building, and construction, wood also plays vital roles in the industrial production of several products, including paper, textiles, glue, alcohol, rubber, food, and medicines.

The world consumes roughly 3.5 billion cubic meters of wood annually. As a result, the global market for wood products is expected to reach $866 billion by 2025 and should continue to grow at an average rate of 7% annually until 2050.

Currently, Asia Pacific dominates the global wood products market, accounting for up to 40%. North America (the USA and Canada) is the second largest regional market for wood products at 27%.

Africa contributes less than 5% of the global wood market and is currently a net importer of wood products, even though 23% of the continent’s total land mass (675 million hectares) is covered by forests and woodlands.

In fact, according to the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), African countries import wood products valued at nearly $4 billion every year, despite the continent’s vast forest resources.

However, over the next 30 years, as Africa’s population explodes and its economies become prosperous, it’s unlikely the continent’s natural forests and commercial tree plantations can supply enough wood to keep up with local and international market demand.

This guide explores the most lucrative business opportunities for wood products in Africa.

We focus on the major drivers of the market, the types of wood products that enjoy high demand, and important factors to consider before you enter the wood products business in Africa.

This guide also shares two inspiring success stories of African businesses that are making a difference in the value chain for forestry and wood products in Africa.

In addition to the projected higher market demand for wood, the potential negative impacts of deforestation and climate change on Africa’s forest resources could lead to a $100 billion wood shortage on the continent by 2050.

This situation will create interesting opportunities for entrepreneurs who can innovatively plug the supply gap.

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