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How Risky, Really, Is the Arab World for Investors? Take Two.

Paul Barbour's picture

In June 2010 I posted a blog on political risks for investors in the Arab worldThe blog (and associated Perspectives note) argued that it was probably a mistake to lump all Arab countries together, and that risks were idiosyncratic among nations. Overall, the note reflected the view at the time that most investors were fairly sanguine about the risks in the Arab world.

In retrospect of course, we have all been found out following the events that started in Tunisia in January and spread across the region. This week MIGA hosted a panel discussion on ‘Investment Opportunities in the Wake of the Arab Spring’ to try and take stock of these events and consider their implications for investors. 

Honor Thy Sovereign Financial Obligations

Hoda Atia Moustafa's picture

In December 2010 and again in April 2011, MIGA issued contracts representing many "firsts" for the agency -- our first two non-honoring of sovereign financial obligations contracts, our first coverage for stand-alone debt, and first coverage for sub-sovereign credit risk. I was fortunate enough to have worked on both projects, which support public transport in Istanbul,

Pop the Champagne: Developing-Country Outbound Investment Hits Record High

Cara Santos Pianesi's picture

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has just issued its Global Investment Trends Monitor that looks at outward-bound foreign direct investment (FDI). Here’s the lead: The share of developing and transition-country FDI in global outflows increased to 28 percent in 2010, up from 15 percent in 2007, the year prior to the global financial crisis. These are historic levels, both in absolute terms and as a share of the global total of outbound FDI.

Another important snippet from UNCTAD is that a full 70 percent of developing and transition-country outward investment is destined toward other developing and transition countries—this is also known as “South-South” investment. The Monitor attributes this trend to the stronger recovery and economic condition is those destinations.

For Love of Jobs or Money?

Michael Strauss's picture

As part of the launch of the World Bank’s World Development Report, a distinguished panel (including MIGA’s own Edith Quintrell) convened at IFC to discuss the topic of Private Sector Growth and Job Creation. Jyrki Koskelo chaired the panel and asked for a lively and frank discussion. He got more than he bargained for.

In addition to Ms. Quintrell and Mr. Koskelo, the panel included:

  • Arnold Ekpe, CEO of Eco
  • Rosalind Kainyah, Vice President, External Affairs, Tullow Oil
  • Justin Lin, senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank
  • Jay Naidoo, World Development Report Advisory Council Member, and, most provocatively
  • Mohamed Ibrahim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

 

Let's Have More of These

Rebecca Post's picture

I recently returned from Ethiopia where I visited a project that is being covered by MIGA’s political risk insurance. The project involves the privatization and expansion of an existing farm to cultivate and process passion fruit, mango, and papaya for juice exports. The newly formed company, africaJUICE Tibila Share Company, has taken what was essentially an abandoned farm and transformed it into a thriving enterprise. 

The project introduced passion fruit to the community which is harvested and processed into juice in a new state-of-the art factory. The juice is then exported to markets in Europe and the Middle East. In addition to creating significant direct employment for a poor rural area (2400 employees), the project is developing a cadre of contract farmers who can earn a significantly higher income for this “in demand” product.

The Arab Spring, History, and Political Economy

James Bond's picture

People in Maghreb and Mashreq countries, long used to being muzzled by their authoritarian regimes, are rising up to make their voices heard. This movement — if one can call it that — started first in Tunisia with the self-immolation of an unemployed street vendor. This desperate act by Mohamed Bouazizi, a poor 26 year-old university graduate without a steady job to support his family, brought out into the open the seething resentment of ordinary Tunisians at the 23 year rule of President Ben Ali.

You Say You Want a Revolution...

Hoda Atia Moustafa's picture

As I return from a week-long mission to Lebanon and Jordan, where I took part in a workshop to teach government agencies about MIGA's mission and products and met potential clients to discuss prospective collaboration, I am struck at how much unchartered territory there is for us in this ever-changing and turbulent region. 

During the 18 days of the Egyptian revolution that began on January 25, I was glued to the news media -- and to Facebook, which proved to be a vital source of information quicker than any news agency -- to try to get news of what was happening and ensure that my family and friends back in Egypt stayed safe.

Ethiopia: Uptick in Investor Interest

Michael Durr's picture

Here at MIGA, I’m responsible for fielding initial investor inquiries about our political risk guarantees, which is an interesting vantage point from which to note trends. Last year I blogged about the rising interest of foreign investors in Sierra Leone. Talking with investors around the world interested in emerging markets and examining MIGA’s Preliminary Application (PA) data, I see a similar trend emerging in Ethiopia. Investor interest has grown dramatically.

MIGA was created to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries by mitigating political risk. The agency offers insurance to private investors against

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.

What to Expect in Davos: Global Risk Landscape

Kevin Lu's picture

One of the four themes  in Davos this year is risk management. The World Economic Forum (WEF) issued a report titled Global Risks 2011 earlier this month. It provides a high-level overview of 37 selected global risks as seen by members of the WEF’s Global Agenda Councils and supported by a survey of 580 top leaders and decision-makers around the world.

Issues related to macroeconomic imbalances top the list.  These are a group of economic risks including currency volatility, fiscal crises and asset price collapse, which arise from the tension between the increasing wealth and influence of emerging economies and high levels of debt in advanced economies.

In addition, a number of risks are related to geopolitics. They include: corruption, geopolitical conflicts, global governance failures, illicit trade, organized crime, space security, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction.

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