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17 African countries with good investment potential

In its recently published 2011 Africa attractiveness survey, Ernst & Young identified a selection of African countries with good potential for foreign direct investment (FDI) over the next five years.

1. Angola
Angola’s attractiveness for FDI will remain moderate but is expected to improve between 2011 and 2015. Angola’s oil and mineral reserves will continue to be the main attraction for investors over the next five years. Enriched by the oil wealth, the country’s growing middle class will also be attractive to investors looking for new markets. But current levels of income inequality, skills shortages, underdeveloped infrastructure, and bureaucracy are all hindering efforts to attract foreign investment. As a result most FDI in Angola is likely to be focused on the natural resource sectors for the foreseeable future. Although Angola will receive a significant amount of FDI over the next five years, its expected concentration in the oil sector will limit the job creation prospects.

2. Ethiopia
Research from The Economist shows that Ethiopia was among the 10 fastest growing economies in the world over the past decade. Its gold mines, and the potential to exploit recently found natural gas reserves (currently 25b cubic meters) will attract significant amounts of investment over the next few years. But poor levels of human capital, underdeveloped infrastructure and high levels of bureaucracy are all barriers to investment outside of natural resources.

3. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The DRC’s oil and mineral reserves are among the richest in Africa, and the sheer potential will continue to attract foreign investment, particularly as demand in the developed and emerging markets rises and capacity constraints are met by other producers. But poor human capital, primitive infrastructure and an unfriendly business environment will all work against any attempt to attract capital to non-resource sectors of the economy. Above all, the precarious political situation, with the possibility of renewed conflict in the eastern provinces, may limit the attraction of the country to foreign investors.

4. Nigeria
Nigeria’s oil reserves (which stood at over 36b barrels in 2007) will continue to attract funds over the medium term, and we expect a large proportion of FDI to be concentrated here. However, the large domestic market and diversified economy mean other sectors such as communications, real estate and tourism will also attract attention. Holding Nigeria back are its relative shortage of key skills, poor infrastructure and high level of bureaucracy.

5. Egypt
Egypt oil production is expected to fall as reserves mature and run dry, but the fossil fuel sector is still expected to attract investors over the next five years. Bigger attractions for investors are Egypt’s large, relatively well-educated population, sizeable domestic market and proximity to Europe. Slightly offsetting these positives are the high levels of bureaucracy and corruption, but recent government reforms in these areas should improve the institutional environment. Assuming that the political situation is resolved and reforms are continued, Egypt will remain an attractive destination for investors in the next five years.

6. Ghana
Ghana has a sizable resource endowment, including substantial mineral, gas and oil reserves. We expect continued investment in the oil and gas industries, contributing to the majority of FDI flows. Increasing oil revenues should indirectly boost other sectors. This is particularly true of infrastructure, although, if managed correctly, it could help fund improvements in industries such as health care and education. Ghana benefits from a stable political environment, with democracy well established and adhered to. However, Ghana needs to continue to invest in infrastructure, human capital and health care to attract more diversified FDI projects.

7. Kenya
Kenya probably has the most highly developed economy in East Africa. It has a relatively well-educated and rapidly growing labour force, and is most often used as a hub by multinationals looking to develop East African markets. However, its relative lack of natural resources may make it increasingly hard for it to compete with its neighbours, and its still small domestic market, immature infrastructure and high levels of bureaucracy are barriers to investment that need to be addressed.

8. Mauritius
Mauritius has a well-developed infrastructure network, a highly educated workforce, a comparatively high level of income and low levels of bureaucracy, all of which are attractive to investors. Slightly offsetting these positives are labour market rigidities; in particular, the centralised wage-setting mechanism and high levels of inequality. Despite Mauritius’ positive attributes, it is expected to receive only modest amounts of FDI over the next five years. Better opportunities elsewhere, in particular in countries with large natural resource endowments or larger populations, will attract investors. Despite the modest amount of FDI, the economy’s focus on the service sector means a relatively large number of jobs will be created as a result.

9. Zambia
Zambia’s copper mines will continue to attract investors over the forecast period, with global demand expected to keep prices high for the foreseeable future. Outside of the minerals sector, prospects for FDI are less good. Zambia’s reliance on copper (which makes it vulnerable to price movements), coupled with its small domestic market, will limit the flow of capital into the rest of the economy. But the country’s business-friendly environment, sound macroeconomic management and investment in the infrastructure network should attract multinational companies into other parts of the economy.

10. Morocco
Morocco’s oil reserves provide some pull for investors, but its well-educated, relatively cheap labour force is its prominent resource. Coupled with this, the country’s proximity to Europe and recently signed trade agreements with the EU and the US, make it an attractive location for multinational companies looking to service the lucrative market within the EU. These attractions are underpinned by good governance and sound macroeconomic policies. As a result of these positives, Morocco is expected to attract significant amounts of FDI over the next five years, with the expected focus of FDI inflows being in labour-intensive industries, such as tourism and construction. The negatives which may undermine foreign interest are the high levels of bureaucracy and potential for social unrest as a result of the high level of unemployment.

11. Mozambique
Mozambique’s key attraction for investors is the recently established natural gas reserves, which already stand at over 127b cubic meters. Coupled with this, significant improvements are being made to the education system and the country’s infrastructure. According to research by The Economist, Mozambique was one of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world over the past decade, and this growth is likely to be sustained for the foreseeable future. However, the country’s relatively poor population and high levels of bureaucracy (although this too is improving) mean Mozambique will probably remain only moderately attractive to investors over the medium term.

12. Rwanda
Relative to its African counterparts, Rwanda’s resource endowment is poor; the country has no significant natural resource, and its labour force is small and poorly educated. But offsetting these negatives is Rwanda’s institutional environment. The government has actively tackled corruption in recent years, and the business environment is extremely friendly. Significant investment has been made to improve infrastructure.

13. Senegal
Senegal has a sizable resource endowment, and its mineral resources make it an attractive location in which to invest. We expect continued investment in mineral extraction, contributing to the majority of FDI flows. Senegal also benefits from a stable political environment, with democracy well established and adhered to. A range of economic reforms have fostered a stable macroeconomic environment. However, improvements need to be made regarding human development, the business environment and infrastructure, for FDI to grow substantially.

14. South Africa
South Africa’s substantial natural resource endowment will continue to attract investors, and its comparatively well-educated labour force will draw funds into the non-resource sectors of its diverse economy. Coupled with this, the domestic market is among the largest in Africa, the population is the richest on average (although extreme income inequality means that many people remain in poverty) and the institutional environment is relatively conducive to business. Despite these overwhelming positives, inflows to South Africa are not expected to be large relative to GDP (around 2% to 2.5%). The economy’s wealth means it can afford to fund much of its own investment, and the country is expected to be a significant source of funds for other African nations over the forecast period.

15. Tanzania
Driven by the rising price of gold that has increased 75% over the last three years, Tanzania’s gold reserves will continue to attract investor interest over the medium term. The country’s relatively well-educated labour force, coupled with political stability and the government’s sound macroeconomic management of the economy, will add to Tanzania’s attractiveness. But the relatively small domestic market, poor infrastructure network and high levels of bureaucracy are a barrier to further investment in the non-mineral sector of the economy.

16. Tunisia
Although Tunisia’s oil reserves are modest (around 308m barrels), global capacity constraints mean they will continue to be attractive to investors in the near future. A potentially more attractive resource at the country’s disposal is its highly skilled labour, especially when it is coupled with Tunisia’s proximity to the lucrative EU market. And although the domestic market is small, the country’s well-established infrastructure network, good economic governance and business environment make it an attractive location for multinational companies. Potentially offsetting these positives is the political environment, which remains highly uncertain. If the new government can restore order, continue reforms and tackle unemployment, the country will continue to be a significant recipient of investment over the forecast period.

17. Uganda
Uganda’s vast mineral resources and a recent discovery of oil will attract significant amounts of investment over the medium term. The country’s relatively well-educated labour force, low levels of bureaucracy and diversified economy will attract funds into the labour-intensive service sector too (e.g., communications and financial services). Offsetting these positive factors are the infrastructure network and the country’s small domestic market. In addition, following the recent disputed presidential election, political risk factors need to be taken into account.

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  • Chinedu ezeh

    Nigeria is very ripe for potential investment especially in the Real estate sector. over 60 million people are living without a personal house. this is great niche to leverage and thrive in the emerging economy, any serious real estate investor will surely make a good ROI

    For your real estate needs visit Tribarn Real Estate on

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