RMB releases list of 2021 Top 10 investment-attractive African countries

RMB’s Where to Invest in Africa 2021 report positions Egypt as Africa’s top investment destination, with Morocco following and South Africa in third place. Based on their operating environments, other high-scoring countries have moved up the rankings – notably Rwanda and Botswana, now in fourth and fifth position respectively.

The positive global sentiment that saw the year 2020 in was short-lived when SARS-CoV-2 began ravaging the globe. The nature of the virus and lockdown legislation demanded a new sociological construct that still tilts the scales of the work-life balance. Recession hit – putting amongst others the spotlight on salient aspects of human interaction. COVID-19 brought into sharp focus the vast disparities in access to basic health and wellbeing services across countries. It was also a catalyst for the adoption and utilisation of technology as a means to interface.

According to the author, RMB Africa Economist Daniel Kavishe, a new world called for a new approach to the publication and this year’s report assesses the extent of the pandemic’s impact by sketching the landscape of the continent pre-COVID-19, and then painting a picture of both its actual and potential outcomes through and post pandemic. Where previous editions positively projected Africa’s prospects, discerned through reliable and readily available data, COVID-19 has muddied the analytical waters and compelled the team to adapt their methodology.

The approach required an extra layer of sophistication. Says Kavishe: “We created a new set of rankings that incorporated some of the unavoidable COVID-19-induced challenges, of which the operating environment score was one.”

A fiscal score was also part of the methodology. This, says Kavishe, was essential because “fiscal scores are important indicators of how governments respond to COVID-19.” Thirdly, the publication needed to explore key themes emanating from Africa’s developmental aspirations. “Of these, three are central to fighting the pandemic and resuscitating economic conditions,” contends Kavishe. “They are government intervention, a focus on our triple-threat sectors, and healthcare.”

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Historically, investment destinations in Africa have been ranked based on the tenets of economic activity and business operating environment. Aimed at investors targeting real assets in an economy or looking to expand businesses that rely on physical infrastructure, the rankings offer a strong basis for investing.

This year demanded more nuance. In addition to traditional indicators, corporates and investors needed to be made aware of the state of a country’s government finances and its ability to aid its economy in crisis. “The inclusion of a fiscal score in our rankings aimed to score governments’ fiscal positions and provided a basis from which investors can understand specific jurisdictions,” says Kavishe.

“Although the pandemic brought much devastation, it also enabled opportunities for reimagining policies and trade relationships. Increasingly clear now is that home-grown strategies to tackle poverty, inequality and unemployment across Africa must be implemented. If not, all of Africa suffers,” Kavishe says, adding that capital will flow naturally to economies offering a good mix of opportunity and ease of doing business.

That’s at a country level. The interconnectedness of economies widens the investment scope: stakeholders can consider the continent from a regional perspective, leveraging the performance of one state (country) against another.