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Sub-Saharan Africa

Investing in Infrastructure in Africa: Conundrum and Opportunity

Esohe Denise Odaro's picture

Last week, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released its semi-annual report on FDI flows, which reflected generally dismal results: global FDI declined by 8 percent, with a 5 percent decrease for the developing world in particular. Investing in Infrastructure in AfricaI found it interesting that South Africa’s significant decline in FDI seemed to catch a good deal of media interest. Yes, the continent’s darling and the usually one of the highest recipients of FDI saw a drastic drop (by 43%); admittedly this deserves more than a glance. But I wonder why Finland and Ireland’s numbers, at 96.2 and 42.8 percent respectively, didn’t make much news. South Asia’s inflows also fell by 40 percent as a result of declines across nearly all countries in the subcontinent. In India, inward FDI fell from US$18 billion to US$10 billion. Why South Africa? In my opinion, the flow of investment to sub-Saharan Africa is often reported as a sign that the doors of the last frontiers are being approached.

It's Africa's Turn

Rebecca Post's picture

In Washington last Friday, I boarded a flight to Addis Ababa at 11:00 am. By the time I arrived in Johannesburg, Egypt’s president of 30 plus years was no longer in power. The pace of change in the Middle East and North Africa is mind boggling. Anyone doing business in the region is trying to grasp the implications, and the risk profile of doing business in some of the countries has suddenly changed.

In the meantime, sub-Saharan Africa is looking more and more attractive to investors. At least that was the consensus at today’s MIGA-sponsored seminar on managing political risk for cross-border investment. For too long, Western media has portrayed the region as a place of war and famine.