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Africa’s 15 hottest investment zones

EY’s recently released 2014 Africa Attractiveness Survey ranks the 15 top African states and provinces in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects. While FDI has declined in North Africa (primarily due to uncertainty in the region), sub-Saharan Africa has seen a 4.7% increase in 2013.

1. Gauteng, South Africa

The report describes Gauteng province as the “economic engine of South Africa” as it makes up 33.7% of GDP. The province is home to two important cities: Johannesburg (a commercial and business hub) and Pretoria (the country’s capital and a leading industrial centre).

According to the EY report, Gauteng holds a share of 11.3% of FDI projects in Africa for the period 2007-2013. “The services sector is the mainstay of its economy. Unsurprisingly, it is the most attractive destination for services-related projects in Africa, with numerous projects in TMT (technology, media and telecoms), business services and financial services,” notes the report.

2. Al-Qahirah, Egypt

Al-Qahirah in Cairo, Egypt is the second most popular destination for FDI projects, despite seeing a decline in activity in recent years.

According to EY, Cairo provides “considerable opportunities for consumer-facing companies” and by 2030 is estimated to have 3.5m households with incomes above US$20,000.

3. Casablanca, Morocco

FDI trends in Casablanca, Morocco are similar to those in Cairo with business services, ICT and media, retail and consumer products, and financial services being the sectors that attract the most investment. The government also plans to construct the Casablanca Finance City with the aim of creating a financial gateway for investors looking to access markets in Africa.

4. Nairobi area, Kenya

“The Nairobi area’s share of FDI projects in Africa has increased fivefold from just 1.5% in 2007 to 7.5% in 2013,” the report states, noting that Kenya’s capital Nairobi is gaining recognition as a financial, ICT and media hub.

“In August 2012, IBM established an innovation lab in the city – it’s first in Africa. Similarly, the arrival of several international banks, including Bank of China and HSBC, signals that Nairobi’s position as an emerging international financial centre is indeed strengthening.”

5. Western Cape, South Africa

South Africa’s Western Cape province holds key sea ports, such as Cape Town and Saldanha. In Cape Town – Africa’s fifth most attractive city in 2013 by FDI projects – technology, media and telecommunications has become a top investment sector, gaining momentum with the roll-out of broadband infrastructure across the city. Business services, retail and consumer products are other top sectors for investment in the city, notes EY.

6. Lagos State, Nigeria

By 2030, Lagos city in Nigeria (in Lagos State) is predicted to have a population of more than 25m and a per capita income of $2,810.

FDI in ICT and media, retail and consumer products, and financial services collectively accounted for 65.3% of total FDI projects in the state between 2007 and 2013, notes the report.

7. Luanda, Angola

Angola’s Luanda province holds the country’s capital city, Luanda, and a 3% share of FDI projects in Africa between 2007 and 2013.

The city was also ranked third out of 19 sub-Saharan Africa cities with the most high-growth potential in the MasterCard African Cities Growth Index.

8. Tunis, Tunisia

Tunis Governorate (or province) in northern Tunisia is home to the country’s capital city, Tunis. The area holds a share of 2.7% of FDI projects in Africa for the period 2007-2013.

9. Greater Accra Region, Ghana

The Greater Accra Region, in Ghana, has seen its share of Africa’s FDI projects increase nearly sixfold, from 0.8% in 2007 to 4.7% in 2013. The capital, Accra, was identified as the sub-Saharan African city with the highest potential for growth over the next five years by the MasterCard African Cities Growth Index.

“In the last few years, the city’s per capita GDP has grown rapidly, with population and household consumption also expected to expand,” states EY. “The city also benefits from a sound regulatory environment.”

10. Tangier-Tetouan, Morocco

Tangier, a city in northern Morocco, is home to the Tangier Free Zone which was ranked in sixth position in fDi Intelligence’s Global Free Zones of the Future 2012/13.

“An extended metropolitan region is growing around Tangier, which has become North Africa’s largest container port.”

11. Algiers, Algeria

Algiers is a province in Algeria and holds the country’s capital of the same name. EY ranks the area in 11th position in Africa, with a share of 1.9% of FDI projects between 2007 and 2013.

12. KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

KwaZulu-Natal, the province on the eastern seaboard of South Africa, is the 12th most popular cluster for FDI projects. It holds two of Africa’s busiest sea ports – Durban and Richards Bay – and can access markets across both the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

13. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Tanzania’s administrative and business hub, Dar es Salaam, is predicted to become Africa’s fifth most populous city by 2030. According to EY’s report, the country will see “the greatest expansion of middle class households with incomes between $5,000 and $20,000 per year by 2030”.

14. Maputo, Mozambique

Recent gas and coal discoveries in Mozambique have resulted in a number of multinational companies and foreign investors entering the country. Maputo, the capital city, has been experiencing a property and construction boom, and an influx of expatriates.

“Maputo is part of the Maputo Development Corridor, which passes through the highly industrialised and productive regions of Southern Africa. It connects the landlocked regions of the Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Limpopo provinces in South Africa,” notes the report.

15. Eastern Cape, South Africa

The Eastern Cape is South Africa’s fourth province to make EY’s list and has become a key hub for FDI in the automotive industry.

“Of the 48 total FDI projects the province received between 2007 and 2013, 21 are in the automotive sector.”

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