Often described as the final frontier of global investing, Africa promises investors the possibility of rapid economic growth fuelled by its young population and vast natural resources.
Critics, however, point to poor corporate governance and widespread corruption that deter investments in the continent’s volatile markets. Among sub-Saharan countries, only South Africa, home to the continent’s largest stock market, is considered an emerging market by MSCI EM index.
Investment and liquidity risks notwithstanding, money is flowing into Africa in the global hunt for yield. In 2014, the region was the world’s fastest-growing destination for foreign direct investment, according to research by FDI Intelligence.
Global companies listed on more established exchanges that centre on the continent, such as London-listed brewer SABMiller, can also offer lower risk plays on the rise of African consumption.
The fate of the continent’s growth in the near future, however, remains pegged to global commodity prices. Its dependence on primary goods is illustrated by downgraded IMF growth forecasts for 2015. There is little doubt that Africa investors must commit themselves for the long term.