JOHANNESBURG—Wal-Mart Stores Inc. offered 16.5 billion rand ($2.32 billion) to buy 51% of South Africa’s Massmart Holdings Ltd., marking the U.S.-based retailer’s first foray into sub-Saharan Africa’s growing retail market.

“The more we learn about South Africa and the surrounding countries the more we are convinced that this is an important region with attractive growth characteristics,” Doug McMillon, president and chief executive of Wal-Mart International, said Monday.

“This combination fits perfectly with our strategy to enter high-growth markets in which we can apply our global expertise and generate strong returns.”

Africa is attracting foreign companies keen to sell to an increasingly affluent population. Yet European multinationals including Carrefour SA of France, Tesco PLC of the U.K. and Metro AG of Germany have yet to venture south of the Sahara.

Follow this link to read more: