The Only 4 African Countries That Have A McDonald's

Big Mac and fries
Big Mac and fries - Pavlovska Yevheniia/Shutterstock

McDonald's is the largest restaurant chain in the world, with around 38,000 global locations. It has become a symbol for America (for better or worse), an icon recognized by virtually everyone other than reclusive tribes on islands in the Indian Ocean. It is, possibly more than anything else, a symbol of American geopolitical hegemony, and it has even found ways to ingratiate itself into countries like France by adapting its business practices. Indeed, McDonald's appears in nearly every nation in the Western hemisphere -- save Cuba and Haiti -- and in every European nation -- save Iceland and some Balkan states.

But there's one continent on which you'll find precious few McDonald's locations. Though Africa is the second-largest continent by both population and total area (Mercator map projection tends to warp down its geographic size), you won't find many McDonald's there. In fact, only four countries on the continent feature the Golden Arches: South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia. The reasons why are myriad, but they mainly come down to money and supply chain concerns.

Read more: The Ultimate American Fast Food Restaurants Ranked

Most Of Africa Presents Supply Chain Issues

McDonald's sign in South Africa
McDonald's sign in South Africa - Thegift777/Getty Images

The biggest issue from McDonald's perspective is the lack of adequate global supply chains in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It's hard to operate an international business when you can't affordably get things to and from that business, and the legacy of colonialism has ensured that many regions do not have reliable, established global supply chains. This is particularly an issue since global supply chains, in general, are still suffering in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, many nations in Africa are (again, thanks to colonialism) relatively economically disadvantaged; of the ten nations in the world with the lowest GDP, only one (Afghanistan at number 9) is located outside Africa. It's difficult for a multinational food company to make money in a place where the population can't afford to pay for its product. There indeed are McDonald's in some relatively economically disadvantaged countries, but combined with the supply chain issues, McDonald's does not currently seem to view most sub-Saharan African nations as profitable locations for expansion.

The African Countries With McDonald's Have Something In Common

McDonald's in Cairo at night
McDonald's in Cairo at night - Tamer Soliman/Getty Images

This makes a lot more sense when you consider where McDonald's does operate in Africa. South Africa, Egypt, and Morocco are all in the top five of Africa's wealthiest nations. They're also all coastal nations, meaning shipping by sea is an option.

Tunisia is the outlier here, as it ranks somewhere in the teens for GDP, but that's still easily in the top half of all African countries. What sets Tunisia apart is geography: As a North African country on the Mediterranean Sea, it's already located closer to existing McDonald's supply chains in Africa (Egypt and Morocco) and southern Europe.McDonald's is like any other corporation; it will only operate where it views profit will be made. Unfortunately, it does not yet see the potential for high Big Mac sales for much of the African continent. That could (and hopefully will) change in the future, though.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.