The Star (Nairobi)

16 May 2014

Africa: Foreign Investors Shifting Focus to Africa - Survey

A new survey by multinational professional services firm Ernst &Young shows that technology, media and telecommunication sectors are attracting the highest amounts in Foreign Direct Investment in Africa.

The sectors accounted for 150 projects, retail and consumer products 131 projects and financial services with 112 projects.

The number accounts for more than half of the total projects last year alone, as the continent's attractiveness as an investment destination improved by four per cent.

The overall survey results show that Africa has moved from third last position in 2011 to become the second-most attractive investment destination in the world, behind North America, with 60 per cent of survey respondents saying that there has been an improvement in Africa's investment attractiveness.

"For the first time, Africa is seen as the second most attractive investment destination in the world. It has strong fundamentals to encourage investment including steady democracy and macroeconomic growth; an improving business environment; rising consumer class; abundant natural resources and infrastructure development," said EY's Africa chief executive Ajen Sita.

The report comes just days after Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said his ministry plans to double FDI to Kenya by improving the ease of doing business to attract investors.

The EY report, titled 2014 Africa Attractiveness Survey revealed that intra-African investment is gaining momentum, with African investors nearly tripling their share of FDI projects over the last decade, from eight per cent in 2003 to 22.8 per cent in 2013, a growth that is fuelled by need for improved regional value chains and strengthening regional integration.

It also attributes the momentum to African investors' understanding of the market and of the potential opportunities and challenges.

This is despite increasing investment into the continent, with United Kingdom leading the pack with 104 projects, and USA running 78 projects last year.

"External investors supply long-term capital, skills and technology, while intra-African investment creates a virtuous circle that encourages greater foreign investment," notes Michael Lalor, EY's Lead Partner Africa Business Center.

South Africa is the third largest investor in Africa with 63 investment projects into the rest of Africa, while Spanish and Japanese companies registered a sharp uptake with increases of 52 per cent and 77 per cent, respectively. Investment in agriculture was seen as a key growth sector, ranking only second to mining and metals.

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