Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

African agricultural finance under the spotlight

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ZIMBABWEKeith Mullin, Editor-at-Large of Thomson Reuters IFR, writes on prospects for the flourishing investment in African agriculture.

Africa is turning into a fashionable post-crisis investment destination as investors regain their confidence and start to focus on the continent’s lack of direct involvement with the global market’s volatility drivers and trouble hotspots. Africa is benefiting not only from a resumption of international debt and equity flows; it is also a beneficiary of international efforts to maintain the flow of trade finance via multilateral guarantee programmes – 45 issuing banks from 27 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have joined the IFC’s trade finance programme, for example.

At the same time, bilateral and multilateral development agencies are actively investing via an assortment of public and private-sector channels; the international capital markets pipeline is building – sovereign debt offerings on the docket for Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zambia with Libya believed to be looking – while the slew of private equity and hedge funds being raised this year for Africa are seeing healthy interest from public-sector and private LPs.

Investors are focusing broadly on Africa’s relative political stability, improving governance, more conducive policy and regulatory environment, as well as more transparent foreign investment regimes. At the macroeconomic level, above-average growth and low levels of government and corporate indebtedness add to the appeal. What’s key to much of the capital flowing into Africa is that it is supplemented by a support network of capacity building, advisory services, training, technology transfer, and infrastructure benefits.

From a sector diversification perspective, the emergence of new technologies such as mobile telephony and Internet broadband are creating interest beyond the traditional natural resource plays; the telecoms and services sector was the dominant Africa FDI recipient in 2009.

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