Global Post: It's thrilling: the rise of Africa's amusement parks
What Africa's booming middle class really wants is a roller coaster.
... At least eight theme parks have opened or are scheduled to open in West Africa alone since 2000. The region’s roller coaster tycoons — some foreign, many local — brave one of the world’s least friendly business environments.
Power outages in Dakar last half the day; Nigeria’s last longer. Most citizens of either country can’t earn enough in 24 hours to ride Magic Land’s bumper cars for even 15 minutes.
And yet, triumphing over power outages, corrupt governments and widespread poverty, Africa's middle class is flourishing. And that middle class, theme park operators say, craves roller coasters.
“More and more, Senegalese parents bring their children here to ride the attractions and play,” said Abdoulaye Ndiaye, security guard at Magic Land. “It’s super. We have given them a place to relax in a city where we don’t have a lot of space to play.”
However discouraging West Africa’s economics are, its demographics make it ripe for a theme park bonanza. Half the continent is under 20. By 2050, one in every fifth person on the planet will be a sub-Saharan African, according to the United Nations. Hundreds of millions of those will be teenagers with no place to go on a date. ...