Africa is rising! Lately, there have been some key markets driving economic growth, and sub-Saharan Africa is said to have recorded a considerable leap in GDP, averaging about 5% going for almost a decade. Besides this, productive investment opportunities are presenting themselves in various sectors. More so, an ever-growing consumer market is looking to acquire these services due to an increasing purchasing power. There are over 1.1 billion potential customers in Africa, and according to UNICEF, over 1.8 billion in the next thirty-five years.
“In Africa today, we recognize that trade and investment, and not aid, are pillars of development.” — President. Paul Kagame
By this, it is safe to state that ‘Africa is rising’ from the quagmires of despair and despondency. The rise is not going to stop, barring any political or social unrest. If you are asking, ‘When is the best time to invest in Africa?’ Well, shall I say that you are already late in the game if you are asking the question now? The fact remains that the best time to invest in Africa was yesterday. The next best time to invest in Africa is now. Here are some salient indicators that point to Africa’s possible boom, which any wise investor should take note of now.
#1. High Investment Rate
World Bank reports record Africa to have higher rates of return on foreign investments than other developing regions. It is not in doubt that foreign investments have increased with each year and have improved the economies. According to the Voice of America (VOA), “In 2019, the rate of return on all inward foreign direct investment in developing African countries was 6.5 percent, higher than the rates in developing Latin America and the Caribbean at 6.2 percent, and also higher than the 6 percent return in developed economies.” As it stands, it will only get better with time.
#2. Consumers’ Increased Demand
Over the years, with increased consumption and industrialization, there is even more need for expansion. The reason is due to the massive rise of the middle class across many countries across Africa. There are increased expectations and standard preferences from a larger group regarding supplying and consumption of services. This heightened expectation and traditional intention have led to the growth of e-commerce sites, world-class shopping complexes, relaxation spots, and the presence of various categories of luxury goods and services in many cities. These ventures’ success is proof of disposable income among a sizeable section of the population, who are willing to pay more for goods and services perceived to be of high quality.
#3. Potential Workforce
The African continent has a large population of youths, which indicates that there is potentially a large workforce if properly empowered and equipped. For instance, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has a median population of 19 years, with over 180 million, which is forecast to grow significantly over the next few decades. While the young people in Asia and Europe are on the decline, Africa is experiencing impressive growth. However, a large youth population is not in itself an advantage. It could become a massive problem if the majority of this population is uneducated and unskilled. However, with a seeming growth in interest in training youth in some African countries, particularly in tech areas, there is some cause for optimism.
#4. Availability of Raw Materials
It is no news that the African continent is rich in resources and has favorable weather and soil condition. Africa is home to many raw materials needed for production. Aljazeera does an excellent job summarizing the various raw materials that the continent boasts. Fifty-seven percent of Africa’s export earnings come from hydrocarbons (e.g., oil and gas). Five of the top 30 oil-producing countries arise from the continent of Africa. Besides, the rich hydrocarbons in Africa are precious minerals, agricultural produce, livestock, and forestry.
The secret of tomorrow’s future and the rise of nations hinges deeply on raw materials. The world’s developed countries are delving deeper into more advanced technologies, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Future technologies will not emerge out of thin air. Raw materials are the mainstay of the present and future rat race of technological development. The race for raw materials is a factor why countries like China pursue deep investment interests in Africa.
The presence of these natural resources in Africa’s continent gives the many countries that make up the continent a competitive edge. Not only can these resources be harnessed and used internally, but they can also serve as foreign exchange. Many factors are at play that will determine how the community of nations take advantage of this edge. More than ever, African countries like Rwanda seek global investment and partnerships to enable themselves to partake in the worldwide manufacturing industry rather than remaining a consumer. Africa can become a significant industrial playing hub globally if its constituent countries play their cards right.
#5. Flexible Government Policy
Unlike most developed countries, African governments have flexible policies that favor the growth and success of an investment in any sector. African governments are actively searching for foreign partners and can be of enormous assistance via government-initiated tax cuts, contract waivers, and land access.
#6. Digital Acceptance
When it comes to the usage and adoption of technologies, Africa is becoming an early adopter. There is an enormous market for digital hardware and software. In recent times, Africa has become the go-to place to find bright minds skilled in digital programming. For instance, Forbes stipulates that African has about 643 Tech Hubs that play a critical role in the business landscape. Leading the pack is Nigeria that has about 90, followed by South Africa’s 78, Egypt’s 56, and Kenya’s 34. The continent does not look its slowing down in the technological market.
#7. Unsaturated Markets
The developed world has been an open field for commercial activities for decades. The boom periods which heralded some of the most notable businessmen in histories such as J.P. Morgan, Bill Carnegie, and John. D. Rockefeller, are long gone. The replacement of these business magnates and icons in the United States includes Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, to mention but a few.
However, there are still opportunities to explore many untapped resources, innovations, and opportunities in Africa. The world of business is yet to scratch the surface of Africa’s potentials. Many are leaving an indelible mark in the world of African business as we know it. Names such as Aliko Dangote, Patrice Motsepe, Mike Adenuga, Isabel dos Santos, Folorunsho Alakija, Strive Masiyiwa, Mo Ibrahim, to mention but a few. Despite all these names, Africa is still very much an unsaturated market, waiting for its boom period. There is always more room at the top of the African pyramid of achievement.
#8. Lack of Infrastructure
It is a wise saying that within every problem, there is a business opportunity. Africa lacks the infrastructure needed to make the exchange of services more accessible and swifter. With poor roads, old rails, unreliable airports, inadequate power supply, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, companies focused on leveraging on Public-Private Partnerships in these areas can thrive in Africa. The entire necessary infrastructure needed to boost growth in the African economy are substantial investment opportunities presenting many advantages to investors.
#9. Relative Political Stability
There was a time when all that the world heard about Africa were tales of wars, famine, and disease. That old stereotype of the continent is fast disappearing. The majority of African countries have now been operating under stable democracies for some time. However, many African nations still need more work to improve leadership quality and root out corruption. Still, there are indications that the continent is moving in the right direction. Now would be the perfect time to invest.
#10. Booming Entertainment Industry
The spirit of Africa is a cheerful, vibrant, and infectious one. Finally, African entertainers are now sharing the stage on an equal footing with global stars. From music to cinema, Africa is definitely on the rise. The booming Afrobeats scene globally features renowned artists like Burna Boy, Davido, Wizkid, Tekno, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, Sarkodie, Tinashe, Sho Madjozi, to mention but a few.
In the cinematic scenes, we have industries like Nollywood, Gollywood, the South African Movie Industry, and more, remain clear indicators that Africa’s entertainment scene is about to reach a tipping point. The above fact is another reason why investors should take the changing business landscape of Africa more seriously. The wise and strategic investor must assess this value chain and determine where they can become significant players.
Africans must understand the potential of the continent that they call their motherland. The English Proverb stipulates that charity begins at home, which means that one’s first responsibility is for the needs of one’s own family and friends.” Africans must take responsibility for their continent. Individual countries must put their love of country first by making sure that they put their best foot forward in ruling their countries right. Good leadership will ensure that the nations in the continent preserve and invest their natural endowment of resources for their every success in the global community of nations. Foreign nations, business conglomerates, or individuals who wish to invest in Africa should have done so yesterday. The next best time to invest in Africa is now. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is light years ahead of the West in investing in Africa. According to The World Bank Economic Review, China accounts for about 3% of the stock of direct investment in Africa, and the figure is growing rapidly by the day. The bulk of their focus leans heavily on tapping the natural resource wealth on the continent.1 Other countries of the world just deciding to invest in Africa are already late in the game compared to China. However, as they say, better late than never.
- Chen, W., Dollar, D., & Tang, H. (2018). Why is China investing in Africa? Evidence from the firm level. The World Bank Economic Review, 32(3), 610-632. doi: 10.1093/wber/lhw049