Some investors shy away from the African market because they consider it too risky. But in business, risk and profits are positively correlated. In most cases, the greater the risk involved, the higher the profits. Also, what risks are associated with the best African countries to invest in?
As Hawley puts it, “profit is the reward for risk,” and statistics back this up. Between 2006 and 2011, investors in Africa enjoyed the highest return on investment compared to any other continent of the world. The figure stood at 11.4% for Africa compared to the global average of 7.1% according to the report by the UN Conference on Trades and Development.
The report also highlights the reasons behind the huge ROI in Africa. The major takeaways from the reports are;
- Africa’s bright economic growth prospects,
- Its abundant natural resources,
- Its teaming youth population translates to a low cost of labor and low production cost
Africa is also among the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world. The continent’s population of over 1 billion is described as savvy and brand-loyal. With the increasing rates of urbanization in Africa, experts predict that household consumption will hit $2.5 trillion by 2030.
Although there is a glowing review on the opportunities in Africa, some countries are more favorable for business than others. So, what separates the best African countries to invest in from the rest? Keep reading to find out.
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Who are some of the biggest investors in Africa?
Clearly, Africa holds great promise for investors willing to take the risk—and they are quite a few who have done so. In a space of 10 years, China emerged as the highest investor in Africa creating more than 18,000 jobs on average.
In second and third places are the US and France with about 12,000 and 7,000 jobs created between 2010 and 2019. China has invested over $70 billion in Africa, making it the highest investor in terms of capital. However, the US and France are leading in the number of FDI projects in Africa according to EY Africa Attractiveness Report 2021.
Extractives, industrial, and service sectors are the focus of most foreign direct investments. The extractive sector was once the target of foreign investors, but it now ranks below the services sector.
This indicates a shift in interest towards services which in the past five years has the highest capital investment (about $158 billion), created 55% of jobs, and accounts for 69% of FDI projects. This is important information for those planning to invest in Africa.
Narrowing it down, business services, telecoms, and technology are the highlights of the service sector. Investors who pitched their tents in these areas have had great turnovers over the last few years.
Proctor and Gamble, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Merrill Lynch Walmart, ExxonMobil, Google, PepsiCo, and Ford are some of the foreign companies that are doing business in Africa. Analyze the countries where their headquarters are located and you will get an idea of the best African countries to invest in.
Why is Africa so attractive to foreign investors?
Africa has immense potential for growth. This is obvious in the fact that several African countries are among the fastest-growing economies in the world. Africa’s abundant natural resources are the number one reason why it is so attractive to foreign investors.
For a while, oil has been at the center of Africa’s growth and wealth. However, the world is gradually moving away from oil in favor of cleaner energy sources like natural gas. Natural gas emits 60% less CO2 making it a cleaner alternative to crude. It is predicted that natural gas production in Africa will go from 1.3m barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2021 to 2.7m in 2030.
New natural gas reserves have been discovered in Mozambique, South Africa, Senegal, Mauritania, and Tanzania. It is estimated that 420 billion cubic meters of gas will be available within the next three decades.
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Oil and natural gas are not the only natural resources found in Africa that are of significant interest in the world. Africa is also home to vast mineral resources. The Democratic Republic of Congo has the largest deposit of Cobalt in the world.
Cobalt is used in lithium-ion battery that powers our smartphones, electric vehicles, and many other electronic devices. Other valuable mineral resources found in Africa are gold, diamond, titanium, iron, zinc, copper, gypsum, salt, sulfur, and phosphates.
More than two-thirds of Africa’s mineral resources are produced by South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, and Libya. In 2021, these five African countries made a total of $275,409 million from their mineral resources. Other than its rich natural resources, Africa also has one of the lowest labor costs around the world because of its burgeoning population.
Africa’s population, which is predominantly youth, is predicted to reach 2.5 billion in 2050. Improving policies across the board, booming infrastructures, and the promise of high turnovers make Africa attractive to foreign investors.
What are the best African countries to invest in?
The pandemic has become a central theme in the world of business. Previously, investors considered factors like available infrastructure and economic policies as the basis for doing business in a country. This has changed after the coronavirus pandemic that hit the world in 2020.
Investors now look at a government’s ability to respond to a crisis as a factor to be considered in an investment destination. This is why we will base our list of the best African countries to invest in on Rand Merchant Bank’s top 10 investment attractive African countries.
RMB used fiscal scores in ranking these 10 African countries based on their response to COVID-19 by looking at the government’s finances and its ability to rebound from the economic crisis.
Egypt is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. It is regarded as the business hub of Africa by virtue of its unique geographical position, high literacy rate, and strong GDP growth. Despite the COVID-19 rampage, Egypt’s GDP grew by 3.6% and is expected to surpass 5% by the end of 2022.
The Egyptian government also enjoys strong support from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, both of which are investing heavily in Egypt’s public infrastructure. However, Egypt still lags behind in ease of doing business due to the complexity of its business environment. Nevertheless, it is evident why it ranks top among the best African countries to invest in.
Morocco is the second most attractive business destination in Africa. It provides a much better business environment compared to Egypt. This made it rank higher in the ease of doing business index.
Morocco was number 53 on the index scoring points on ease of starting a business, paying taxes, political stability, and a large pool of active labor force. It is one of the most developed markets in Africa and the government of Morocco now offers incentives to investors in a bid to attract more foreign investment by providing government aid.
#3. South Africa
South Africa is considered by the US Department of State as a “comparatively” low-risk location for doing business in Africa and the fastest growing consumer market in the world. The South African government is open to foreign investors, particularly in the manufacturing sector as well as other sectors considered to be labor intensive.
Its GDP outlook is equally promising, growing at a modest rate of 1.3% post-COVID. The manufacturing sector was the highest contributor to its economy. Recently, other sectors like the Finance, real estate, and business service sectors are contributing immensely to the growth of South Africa’s GDP. South Africa wraps the top three best African countries to invest in.
One of the best African countries to invest in is Rwanda. The East African country has seen sustained economic growth, improved governance, and an investor-friendly climate. Rwanda has one of the fastest-growing GDPs in Africa.
Its GDP rose from 3.4% in 2020 to 10% in 2021 followed closely by a decline in inflation from 7.7% to 0.8%. Its infrastructure, energy, agriculture, tourism, and ICT sectors are still not fully exploited. Thus, investors have several options to choose from. This makes Rwanda a prime choice when considering investing in Africa.
Low tax rates, absence of foreign exchange controls, minimal labor strife, and a good geographical position make Botswana one of the best African countries to invest in. Botswana is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
This makes it a gateway for investors looking to do business with South Africa and other Southern African countries. It is the 3rd freest economy in Africa and its government is promoting investment in diamonds, electricity, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructure.
If you want to invest in Africa, Ghana is one place you should consider. Ghana is one of the most politically stable democratic nations on the continent. Political stability guarantees the stability of long-term investment.
When a nation shows strong political stability, investors feel safer and it ensures strong economic growth. In 2019, Ghana had the fastest growing economy in Africa and its economic growth rate continues to beat expert predictions.
When it comes to ease of doing business, Mauritius ranks 13th out of 190 countries in the world and 1st in Africa. Low tax rates, low VAT rates, and a stable political climate are some of the reasons that make Mauritius an attractive business environment for investors.
The country has the third highest literacy rate in Africa, great public infrastructures, good schools, and medical services. Mauritius is equally ranked 1st among all African countries in the World Bank Doing Business report. many African countries tick all the right boxes for investors who want to invest in Africa.
#8. Côte d’Ivoire
According to the RMB ranking, Côte d’Ivoire is the 8th best African country to invest in. It is the third largest economy in West Africa after Nigeria and Ghana. Between 2012 and 2015, it was the fastest growing economy in West Africa.
Its business environment is fair, bolstered by a stable political atmosphere. Also, the country has good infrastructures like roads, airports, and seaports which is the second largest in West Africa.
Kenya continues to grow into a very attractive African country for foreign investment. Its business environment has improved with tax reforms and finance policies that simplify the process of doing business in the country. Kenya ranks as the 56th easiest country for business according to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report.
Also, it boasts of well-developed telecommunications infrastructures, a robust financial sector, and excellent logistics. Kenya provides its investors and easy access to regional markets as a member of the East African Community (EAC) and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Tanzania has seen sustained economic growth for nearly two decades fueled by a strong macroeconomic foundation, sound policies, and abundant natural resources. Although it ranks low on the ease of doing business index, Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan promises to reform the business climate to attract foreign investors.
The news of upcoming reforms in Tanzania’s business sector is welcomed by many investors who want to invest in the country’s rapidly growing economy. We can’t wait to see how the new reforms are implemented.
Africa provides countless opportunities for foreign direct investments. Although the business climate in some African countries is mildly favorable due to an unstable political climate or corruption, many other African countries provide a business-friendly environment.
We’ve outlined the ten best African countries to invest in. However, there are still some challenges that need to be ironed out, especially in policies, tax systems, and infrastructure. If you are thinking of the best sectors to invest in Africa, check out this post.