With a population of nearly one billion, and growth rates that exceed the global average, Africa has huge potential as an economic powerhouse. While much of Africa’s growth has been led by its natural resources, South Africa’s rapidly growing technology industry and Kenya’s financial services industry have spurred significant boosts to their respective economies. Despite the substantial business risks on the continent, investors have begun to look at African markets as for long-term growth.
The region is the fastest-growing continent on the planet and a critical market for global brands, from Apple to Coca-Cola. But where are the best places to invest? Below, we look into the top 10 countries in Africa with promising investment opportunities.
- Egypt: Ranked second only to Nigeria in terms of the size of its market, Egypt has a sophisticated business sector relative to its neighboring African nations. This is evident in Egypt’s eight-place leap in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, facilitated by government programs such as the white cab initiative, which subsidizes the financing of new taxis to reduce carbon emissions.
- Morocco: Morocco is Africa’s fifth-largest market, growing at an expected 4% over the medium term. The operating environment has greatly improved since the Arab Spring, with Morocco’s reintegration into the African Union and accession to the Economic Community of West African States increasing its investment appeal.
- South Africa: South Africa remains Africa’s most attractive market for portfolio investment, especially because many African nations contend with severe liquidity constraints. Although graft and corruption at an executive level continue to hamper governance at state-owned enterprises, South Africa has generally maintained a high level of financial inclusion and its markets have benefitted from rising levels of economic activity in recent years.
- Kenya: Kenya’s growth is boosted by a population increase and political reconciliation following disputed elections in 2017. These factors, along with the broadening of consumer demand and urbanization, the country’s membership in the East African Community, and its ongoing infrastructure improvements — including an oil pipeline, railways, ports, and power generation — contribute to Kenya’s status as an investment hotspot in the continent.
- Côte d’Ivoire: The country is one of the more diversified economies in French-speaking Africa. Its strong growth rates are supported by government reforms that favor business and a relatively stable political context. Large infrastructure projects, particularly in transport and energy (financed by foreign investment, aid inflows, and the government), also support the country’s strong position as one of Africa’s investment hotspots.
- Rwanda: Rwanda has one of the most favorable business environments in Africa. According to the World Bank’s operating environment scoring, the country has more than double its business operating efficiency, with its government heavily invested in domestic industries, supported by increased foreign direct investments.
- Ghana: Ghana’s economic growth will depend mainly on the oil and gas sector, but non-oil growth will pick up as Ghana’s pro-business reforms continue and the country’s power supply improves. Ghana’s political stability will remain consistent due to its democratic credentials. Even though Ghana’s operating environment ranking has dropped recently, it remains one of the easier business environments in Africa.
- Nigeria: Nigeria leads Africa’s emerging markets due to improving macroeconomics, supported by rising prices oil prices. As Africa’s largest economy in nominal terms, Nigeria presents an attractive market for investors, and with a large consuming population, domestic demand remains high. Rising foreign investment in technology and entrepreneurship is on a high-growth trajectory. The recent liquidity crunch has been alleviated by changes in foreign exchange regulations and commodity price recovery
- Ethiopia: Home to more than 90 million people, Ethiopia is one of five major economies in Africa and one of the continent’s fastest-growing. Government has been successful in nurturing its key comparative advantage: agriculture and manufacturing. Although the country still prohibits foreign ownership across many sectors, government is slowly changing that policy given Ethiopia’s need for outside investment, evident in changing policies, including plans to open up its highly controlled telecommunications and power monopolies
The United Nations predicts that by 2050, Africans will make up almost a quarter of the world’s population. That projection, alongside the continents youth demography, growing middle income class and unmatched digital adoption rate sets the context for the continents high return on investment potential in the medium to long term. Africa is poised to leapfrog its development leveraging new technology, and emerge as an economic powerhouse.