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Wall Street, “Africa is Investing’s Final Frontier”

Western Investments in AfricaI came across an interesting article in Canada’s Globe & Mail entitled, “Africa – Investing’s Final Frontier?“. The piece talks about how Africa has been overlooked, primarily due to the perceived risks associated with putting money into play in Africa. They quote extensively from Merrill Lynch chief investment strategist Richard Bernstein and his thoughts on what makes Africa a potential big hit in the coming years.

While India, China and other emerging markets are now permanent fixtures on the radar screens of the media and investors, Africa is brimming with under-followed companies and stock markets, Mr. Bernstein said. Furthermore, the continent is rich in oil and other commodities, the very resources that are fuelling the booming economies investors are clamouring for.

The Merrill report pointed to ten investment opportunities in Africa:

  • Oil
  • Commodities
  • Agriculture
  • Health care
  • Infrastructure
  • Telecommunications
  • Information technology
  • Defence
  • Financial services
  • Retail

It’s good to see some of the larger US investment organizations looking closer at Africa. I hope that more investors do take a serious look at African enterprises. The will to build business and wealth in Africa is there already, what has been lacking is the capital to build.

[Update: more on this same topic from the Wall St. Journal – thanks Pablo]

6 Comments

  1. Erik – I posted a similar piece on Nubian Cheetah. Hopefully in 10 years we won’t need to be talking about investing in Africa…it will be as common as investment in China and India.

  2. I share the same belief that it is just a matter of time before investment outfits start focusing on Africa – I hope our governments will meet the challenge by enhancing the establishment of the key fundamentals, viz: sound infrastructure, a critical mass of an educated labor force and respect for the rule of law.

  3. The WSJ also covered that Merrill report here:
    http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2007/07/24/seeking-riches-in-africa/

    The Bernstein quote I liked there was:

    “Most of the emerging market stories are well known and arguably have been played out judging by some of the markets’ extreme valuations. Africa, however, presents an opportunity that maybe quite risky, but that might over-compensate investors willing to take risk over the next decade”

  4. Nii:

    Great work on Nubian Cheetah. I believe I saw that one.

    Ken:

    I agree with you. But you know what I believe, I believe that to a large extent gov’ts are followers, they are very big. But nonetheless, they are adept at follwing the investment. If you look at some of the top ecnomies and then go back for a few centuries to half a millenium, we might see that the gov’ts and laws were built around certain industries, which in turn were built around entrepreneurs.

    I believe we will see this happen in African governments also (it is already happening in some), the one’s that don’t adapt will be voted out.

    Pablo:

    I enjoyed that quote too.

    Hash:

    Excellent piece. What we are seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg too. It will get bigger, my only thoughts are how do we involve the continent’s tiny players and entrepreneurs so that they don’t get left behind…Maybe that is food for thought for the 3rd carnival of africa enterprising…Thanks Hash!

  5. I agree, Africa has been overlooked FOREVER. My only worry is that since Africa will start off “right” when she begins to develop. The list of “prospective investors” is actually quite scary. Money hungry foreign companies waiting to seize Africa. Kinda like South Africa (the natives are still the poorer citizens). Africa should be developed for the people (something the government has failed to do already).

  6. George N. Mtonga

    October 8, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    I share the same belief that in a world that is controlled by globalization and the obvious reality of Capitalism to always search for new ventures, Africa needs to be integrated in this reality. Most will site a case of neo-colonialism as reflecting this type of ” New Frontier” but the reality of a free market pretty much narrows this whole venture into one solicited by business and nothing else. Africa shouldn’t be overlooked, and given the extent to which political governments pretty much facilitate free-trade, then the business-oriented investments can be used as a proxy for development—obviously when people invest in Africa it creates jobs, infrastructure etc. The Chinese and the Indians are catching up and owning up to their economic destinies and quite frankly that reality is prohibitively hostile when it comes to expanding investments. The next step in this case is Africa!!! In other words, like the west was a new economic frontier for the New Englanders in America, so should Africa—if not for the reality of the investment opportunities, then the mechanism of Capitalism pretty much compels this reality to be true!!

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