Don’t Invest in Africa

Don’t. Don’t invest in a whole continent. Or have you ever heard of someone who got an investment right at the same time in 54 countries? Invest in a sector. Invest in a country. Invest in people.

But please, let’s stop seeing Africa as a country. Guinea differs from Mozambique just as Peru differs from Austria. There is no one single common ‘trait’ among Africans.

Last week, the Africa Global Business Forum took place in Dubai, and it managed to get across this message pretty well. With presidents, such as Paul Kagame (Rwanda), ministers, and corporates (Jay Ireland, GE Africa), the two day event attracted a high profile set of attendees. Sim Tshabalala (CEO of Standard Bank in South Africa) noted that the fastest growing countries in the continent are those without commodities, with Ethiopia leading all the way with a 8–9% growth. The recent opening of the tram proved the point well. It is very tempting to think of Africa as one whole block, but it is crucial to the success of a business to see the different countries and people.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 2015

The ability to execute was criticized and concerns about logistics were raised. 12.5% of production are lost due to electricity issues. Indeed, these are currently some of the biggest problems. But, at the same time, it is such a prosperous situation — because it offers a vast amount of opportunities. Especially looking at the huge population under 30, it is of no doubt that there is strong potential. Young leaders like Sangu Delle (Golden Palm Investments) are becoming less and less of a scarcity. He passionately noted that

“our generation will be the one bringing Africa on the map”

And how he is right.

By 2060, 60% of the population will be urbanized. What a huge potential for urban planners, architects, and many more professions! However, we need more investors from the private sectors. Those, that take on risks which banks don’t. And, taking risk will be crucial to the development of quite a number of countries.

*pictures are all my own.