Investing in Africa

It’s often overlooked, but the past decade saw a very substantial increase in the amount of money foreign companies invested in Africa – what’s known as foreign direct investment (FDI). In 2000, FDI was worth about $9 billion; by 2008 it had risen almost tenfold to $88 billion. To put that in perspective, that was double the $44 billion provided for African countries in official development assistance (ODA) in 2008.

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Traditionally, most FDI in Africa has gone into natural resources, such as mining and oil production. But in recent years, services and manufacturing have been claiming a bigger share, as have telecoms. Agriculture, too, has been a growing target for investors, though some critics accuse them of making land grabs, including for the food security of countries on other continents. However, these investments have also served to raise Africa’s traditionally weak agricultural productivity.

So, FDI has become increasingly important for African economies. But in global terms, this vast continent still receives only a small proportion – about 5% – of total global FDI. And the financial crisis delivered a big blow to African FDI inflows, which dropped at least 36% in 2009, ending six consecutive years of increases. As the global economy recovers,FDI should strengthen too. Africa may also benefit from investments from Asia, which are flowing into a range of sectors, including energy, telecoms, transport and real estate.

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5 comments to “Investing in Africa”

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  1. James Sama - 16/01/2011 Reply

    For an IMF take on the rising investment in Africa, see

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