SA still first for investment in Africa

10 September 2013

Africa continues to increase its investor allure, with South Africa still the continent’s most attractive investment destination, now closely followed by Nigeria, according Rand Merchant Bank’s (RMB’s) latest Where to Invest in Africa report.

Nigeria moved from third to second place in RMB’s report and is “close on the heels of South Africa”, RMB said in a statement on Monday, adding that Nigeria could overtake South Africa in the next two to four years “or even sooner” depending on its rate of economic growth.

Another notable change in RMB’s latest rankings is Ghana’s climb up the rankings, from 10th in 2007 to 4th in 2013, despite being economically one-fifth the size of continental giants South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt.

While continued political unrest counted against Egypt, RMB said, the country’s sizeable market, large population and decent operating environment should support increased investment once tensions subsided.

RMB noted that its rankings had been drawn up before the recent flare-ups in Egypt and Libya, but said the report was “meant to inform long-term investment decisions”, and that more clarity should arise over the coming year.

Of the 52 countries surveyed, 42 showed improved investor attractiveness, RMB said, with the biggest improvements coming from some of the continent’s most troubled countries, notably Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Congo, Mauritania and Liberia.

Backsliders over the last year included Algeria, Angola and Equitorial Guinea, while, over the last decade, 41 countries improved their attractiveness and only three – Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland and Zimbabwe – deteriorated.

RMB’s report gauges investment attractiveness using three factors: market size (GDP), economic growth (GDP forecasts for the next five years), and operating environment.

As a supplementary ranking, the report also considers the effect of regional affiliation on countries’ economic attractiveness.

In terms of this regional methodology, South Africa is ranked third, “underscoring its importance as a gateway into Africa”, Rwanda climbs to second spot, and Mauritius comes first based on its access to broader markets within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

However, RMB notes, African countries still have a way to go in order to compete with the most attractive investment destinations worldwide, with China and the US topping the overall list and only two African countries – South Africa at 33rd and Nigeria at 38th – making the top 40.

SAinfo reporter