As the economy begins to bounce back, more investors are on the look-out for exciting opportunities around the globe. Some may be heading to new territory. With a reputation for political instability, many countries in Africa have not seen the type of investment one might expect for the second-fastest growing economy in the world. Even in the midst of a global economic crisis, growth in Africa continued, bolstered by rich natural resources and a rising consumer class. Several countries stand out as prime markets for investors.
(These countries were ranked by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013)
1. South Africa
Despite a troubled recent history, South Africa has quickly become a model of stability in Africa and an important voice on the world stage. It ranks second in the worldfor accountability of private institutions and third for financial market development, showing trust in its markets at a time when trust is hard to find. With a rapidly growing tourism industry, a wealth of natural resources and booming industrial production, South Africa presents a unique opportunity hard for some investors to pass up.
Little-known Mauritius offers a strong infrastructure for foreign investors – particularly in the areas of ports, air transport, and phone communication. Coupled with strong and transparent public institutions, clear property rights and an efficient government that enjoys an independent judiciary (a rare find on the continent), Mauritius has high standards for investor protection.
The Rwandan government’s no-tolerance policy when it comes to corruption makes the country a strong contender for investment. High-functioning institutions and security infrastructure contribute to the package. Additionally, Rwanda is well known for innovation and efficiency, and has well-developed financial and labor markets compared to the rest of the continent.
Morocco has actively tried to attract investors with financial incentives and tax exemptions, even simplifying procedures to make the process as hassle-free as possible. With a large tourist industry and growing real estate market, the country has become a very attractive option for investors worldwide.
A stable government and investor-friendly policies help make Seychelles a prime investment opportunity. In addition to its ideal geographic location midway between Asia and Europe, the Seychelles time zone overlaps working hours with major financial centers across the globe – so no need to schedule those 3 a.m. conference calls.
Botswana’s thriving domestic financial market, including banks, insurance companies and a growing stock market, manages to be immensely competitive while still following stringent international standards to combat money laundering and financial crime. This commitment to transparency transcends into the country’s governance style, which includes low levels of corruption and high political stability.
Often called Africa’s optimist, Namibia offers a peaceful and politically stable environment for those hoping to get a piece of its moderate but steady economic growth. An impressive diamond production industry, rich fishing grounds and an excellent transport and communication base make it likely for Namibia’s growth to continue in the coming years.
8. The Gambia
The Gambia’s free market economy is free of foreign exchange controls and offers quick and easy investment approval procedures. The country maintains a commitment to protecting intellectual property rights, and even offers incentive packages for investors such as the Special Investment Certificate and Free Zones License.
Investors looking at Gabon have the freedom to choose from a wide selection of legal business structures and are not limited by state restrictions on foreign investment. Large quantities of petroleum, manganese and timber are exported each year. Also, Gabon encourages nationally diverse sources to take a sizable stake in its industries.