Later this summer the first ever African Leader’s Summit will bring heads of state from across the continent to Washington DC to discuss a range of trade and investment matters.  A recent study on the attitudes of multinational corporations toward investment in Africa suggests that the leaders looking to attract investors will receive a warm welcome.

Research by the advisory firm Frontier Strategy Group confirms that investment interest by multinational corporations is not just growing rapidly, but is also expanding beyond the traditional extractive industries to other fast-developing sectors in Africa.  The Frontier Markets Sentiment Index, which the group created for the Wall Street Journal, collects information from roughly 200 companies to track investment interest in frontier markets.  The survey shows strong and growing interest in Africa:

  • Nine of the twenty countries worldwide attracting the most investment interest from multinational companies are in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The top ten countries for greatest investment interest include Nigeria (1st), Kenya (5th), Angola (6th), and Ghana (9th).
  • African countries also saw some of the strongest positive changes in investment sentiment over the past year.  Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, and Zambia all posed significant increases in investor interest.

These results come as no surprise.  Foreign investment in Africa is booming.  But the survey also reveals other equally interesting and important trends:

  • While investment in major petroleum exporting countries (Nigeria and Angola) remains strong, they are being joined by countries that offer opportunities beyond extractive industries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania).
  • The rise of Ethiopia is particularly noteworthy.   Long seen as cool to foreign investment, the Ethiopian government more recently has made concerted efforts to attract investment, including through the five-year Growth and Transformation Plan, which focuses in particular on attracting investment in the infrastructure and energy generation sectors.  We have previously written about the success of Ethiopian Airlines thanks in part to improvements in infrastructure.
  • Continued violence in Nigeria’s northern states does not appear to have deterred investors.  Positive sentiment toward investment in Nigeria grew, even as international media focused on the abduction of 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram this past April.

In short, the study confirms that there is more interest, by more investors, in more African countries and sectors than ever before.

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Photo of Jonathan Wakely Jonathan Wakely

Jonathan Wakely practices at the intersection of national security and the private sector, advising clients on a range of significant international trade, cross-border investment, national security, supply chain security, and public policy matters.

Mr. Wakely has been recognized by Chambers USA for his…

Jonathan Wakely practices at the intersection of national security and the private sector, advising clients on a range of significant international trade, cross-border investment, national security, supply chain security, and public policy matters.

Mr. Wakely has been recognized by Chambers USA for his leading expertise in securing national security-related regulatory approvals for foreign investments. He regularly represents clients before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (better known as “Team Telecom”), and the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) in proceedings related to the mitigation of foreign ownership, control, or influence (FOCI). He was deeply involved on behalf of clients in the development of the Foreign Investment Review Modernization Act of 2018 (“FIRRMA”), which reformed CFIUS’s authorities, and its implementing regulations.

Mr. Wakely has advised on transactions with an aggregate value in excess of $250 billion across virtually all sectors, including semiconductors, telecommunications, financial services, software, IT services, energy, and real estate. His recent representations include successfully defending Qualcomm against the attempted hostile takeover by Broadcom, securing approval for the acquisition of Genworth Financial by China Oceanwide, and representing Ford Motor Company in connection with a $2.6 billion investment by Volkswagen in Ford’s autonomous driving subsidiary, Argo AI. He has negotiated and advised companies on compliance with many of the most significant, complex, and sensitive national security agreements of the past decade.

Mr. Wakely also regularly advises clients on public policy and government relations matters involving international trade, cross-border investment, and national security. He has represented trade associations, Fortune 100 companies, and sovereign states before Congress and the executive branch, including by designing and executing government relations campaigns to achieve policy, regulatory, and legislative goals.

Mr. Wakely is an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches a course on national security and the private sector. He has also published extensively on matters related to the regulation of foreign investment; his articles have appeared in the Harvard National Security Journal, The International Lawyer, and the Global Trade and Customs Journal. Before joining Covington, he served as a political analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he provided strategic analysis to the President and other senior policymakers.