The population of Africa hit 1 billion in 2009 with a growing middle class of consumers too big for Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world, to ignore. In late September, Wal-Mart proposed acquiring Johannesburg-based Massmart as it seeks to tap into one of the fastest-growing retail markets in the world. "It will be to their own detriment if companies ignore Africa," said Celeste Fauconnier, Africa analyst at Rand Merchant Bank. "We are seeing massive growth in the population, an increasing middle class and people having more access to money."

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