Italy Is The 6th Largest Investor In Africa

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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Italy is the sixth-largest investor in Africa — with companies including oil and gas giant Eni investing heavily across African projects. In this Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006 file photo, motorbike riders drive pass the Agip oil company (owned by Eni) head office building in Lagos, Nigeria. Image: AP Photo/George Osodi, File

Italy has become the world’s sixth-biggest investor in Africa, spending $28 billion in foreign direct investment in 2017.

At a time when major global economies including the U.S. and the U.K. have reduced their investment focus on Africa, Italy is increasing its investments in African countries.

Italy’s foreign direct investment in Africa grew to $28 billion in 2017 from around $17 billion in 2013 — only five other countries invested more in Africa, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s World Investment Report 2019.

France remains Africa’s largest investor, funding $64 billion worth of projects across Africa, though it is worth noting that the French invested the same amount in 2013.

In contrast, the Netherlands invested around $63 billion in Africa during 2017, more than tripling the $20 billion the Dutch invested in Africa during 2013, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development reports.

The U.S. and the U.K., while still Africa’s third and fourth-largest investors respectively in 2017, have both reduced their FDI commitments to Africa in recent years.

The U.S., which pledged $61 billion in 2013, since reduced investments to $50 billion in 2017. The U.K.’s investments in African projects declined from $60 billion in 2013 to $46 billion in 2017.

Africa’s fifth-largest investor, China, continues to increase its FDI focus on Africa. In 2017, the Chinese invested $43 billion in 2018 compared to $26 billion in 2013.

Italian companies including the oil and gas giant Eni are expanding their operations in African countries and taking advantage of Africa’s natural resources and growing economies.

Half of Eni’s global hydrocarbon gas production and 60 percent of its reserves come from 14 countries in Africa — it has large projects in Egypt, Ghana, and Nigeria, AfricaReport reports.

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Italian private renewable energy firm Enel Green Power operates widely across Africa, funding projects in South Africa, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, and Zambia, according to the Africa Trade Policy Center.

Other energy-related Italian firms that are investing in Africa include Terna, which manages high-voltage electricity transmission networks, and Milan-based Salini Impregilo, which builds hydroelectric power plants and hydraulic structures.

Terna has partnered with Tunisian gas and electricity group Steg to work on an electricity interconnection project.