Foreign investors still negative about Africa, says MTN CEO

Many foreign investors with large amounts of capital at their disposal still hold a negative view of Africa although the situation is improving, according to Phuthuma Nhleko, outgoing group president and CEO of MTN.

Phuthuma Nhleko

Phuthuma Nhleko

Speaking at a recent forum organised by South Africa’s Gordon Institute for Business Science (Gibs), Nhleko said: “There is clearly [a] very, very strong negative perception held amongst the people that really do have the flows, the very significant flows.”

Nhleko said that Africa is the world’s “best-kept open secret” from an investment and a return perspective.

“If you ask any 25-year old fund manager in New York or Hong Kong, he will tell you what returns he gets here and what returns he gets in Europe,” he noted.

He, however, added that infrastructure and human capacity levels need to improve for Africa to realise its full potential.

Nhleko attributed MTN’s success in Africa to the fact that the company moved into a vacuum that was left by other players in the telecommunications sector who held a pessimistic view of the continent.

MTN operates mobile telecommunications services in 16 African countries.