The Arab Spring, for all its democratic and political virtues, put a big economic dent in the side of participating North African countries, particularly when it came to attracting foreign investment in 2011.
According to a recent UNCTAD report:
Sub-Saharan Africa drew FDI not only to its natural resources, but also to its emerging consumer markets as the growth outlook remained positive. Political uncertainty in North Africa deterred investment in that region.
So far, so logical. Except that simply can’t be all there is to it.
Why? Because plenty of African countries marred by political uncertainty have succeeded in attracting inward FDI.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a good example. According to political risk consultancy Maplecroft, the country ranks as “extreme” in its risk index for governance framework, regulatory and business environment, conflict and security and human rights and society. It scores 0.00 on business integrity and corruption. And yet in 2011 it attacted over a billion dollars in FDI, according to the UNCTAD report.
Sudan tells a similar story. Its risks are high or extreme for every category that Maplecroft lists, and while its business integrity and corruption score comes in at a comparatively virtuous 0.10, it doesn’t scream out to investors as attractive. Yet Sudan too attracted over $1bln in FDI.