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Investing In Africa

"Africa could be on the brink of an economic takeoff

, much like China was 30 years ago, and India 20 years ago," according to a statement from World Bank that was included in an Africa attractiveness survey conducted by Ernst & Young.

The Africa attractiveness survey compiled the ideas and thoughts of more than 500 business leaders who answered a variety of questions pertaining to the growth of the continent and the continent's foreign direct investment trends. The findings, along with others, were presented during the first-ever Strategic Growth Forum hosted by Ernst & Young in Cape Town, South Africa last spring. A Celina-based, premier full-service energy solutions provider that specializes in power station engineering, procurement, construction, refueling and maintenance for mission-critical applications worldwide, attended the forum. CEO Will Gruver, whose company places a heavy emphasis on emerging markets, believes that opportunities in Africa are limitless.

"We see Africa as a great opportunity for us because there is an enormous shortage of high-quality trusted contractors and power station designers," he says. "And, there's a massive power crisis all over Africa."

E&Y's survey results showed that emerging market investors are generally more positive about Africa's attractiveness. Attractiveness of a location is defined by a combination of image, investors' confidence and the perception of the area's ability to provide the most competitive benefits for FDI. One of the key differences between emerging market and developed market investors is that emerging market investors viewed Africa critical to sustaining their own growth. Ernst & Young believes that foreign direct investment is key to accelerating and sustaining growth in Africa. In fact, over the past 8 years foreign direct investment has created 1.6 million new jobs across the continent. Gruver can attest to this first-hand. His company is currently working on a three-phase power plant project in Guinea and a power station project in Sierra Leone, both have resulted in jobs for the local nationals. Africa has a combined working age population of more than half a billion people. However, finding the right skill set is often challenging. A few ways to combat this would be through the transferring of skills from one part of the company to the other and retaining key staff, the survey stated.

Survey respondents were positive about Africa's long-term growth potential and many viewed Africa as an attractive investment destination with areas such as oil, gas and mining having the highest growth potential over the next few years.

Other sectors that are beginning to emerge include tourism, financial services, telecommunications as well as consumer products and construction.

by: Will Diesel
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