Havas-ECA Study: 84.9% Of International Investors Express Optimism About Growth In Africa

Commodity Markets To Remain Volatile — ECA
Commodity Markets To Remain Volatile — ECA

Three days to the Africa-France Summit to be held on 8 October, Havas Horizons – the Havas group’s service dedicated to new emerging countries – is publishing the 5th edition of its annual barometer in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

This year, more than a hundred international public and private investors were interviewed and they gave their perception on the financing of African growth by 2030, as well as on the economic dynamics and future trends of the continent.

Complementing the findings of previous editions, the Havas Horizons 2021 barometer reveals that investor perception has evolved considerably in many areas, thus confirming the steady changes of a booming continent.

“International investors are embracing the establishment of AfCFTA, a larger and more integrated African market whose trade barriers will ultimately disappear. It will boost intra-African trade and should serve as a springboard for the continent’s industrialization as well as for the much desired diversification of its economy.”
Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa

“International investors remain confident about the continent’s future and, throughout our study, they reaffirmed their commitment to keep supporting growth in Africa over the long term. Such renewed confidence, in a period of uncertainty, is above all a recognition of the underlying economic dynamics that have driven African markets for nearly two decades, a conviction that Africa is today resolutely committed to the path of prosperity.”
Antoine Hillion, Associate Director, Havas International Consulting

Investors remain optimistic on the growth of the African continent

This year again, international investors (84.9%) reaffirm their optimism and renew their confidence in the continent’s economic prospects for 2030. Africa is still seen as a particularly attractive region. It should be noted, however, that this optimism has dropped slightly (it was 100% in 2015 and 92% in 2018) thus transitioning from an era of afro-optimism to one of afro-realism.

Rwanda, the new most attractive country in the eyes of investors

The top three most attractive countries this year are Rwanda (48%), Nigeria (24.3%) and Ethiopia (21.6%). Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya are out of the top three compared with the studies of 2015 and 2018. Worthy of note is Rwanda’s meteoric rise from the 12th position in 2015 to the 1st in this edition.

East Africa now represents the strongest growth potential

There are still disparities between the major regions where investors wish to increase or maintain their investments. East Africa is considered the region with the strongest growth potential with 89.6%, followed by West Africa (79.2%) and North Africa (77.8%). Central Africa remains the least attractive region (58.3%). The major change with the 2018 study is that West Africa dropped to second position.

New promising activity sectors

The most promising sectors by 2030 have changed significantly since 2015. The favorites are henceforth infrastructure (62.6%), agriculture (60.6%) and ICTs (49%), reflected by the continent’s development needs in the face of demographic, food and technological challenges. Compared with 2015 and 2018, financial services, logistics transport, mass distribution and energy are in decline.

Three main challenges to be met to improve the continent’s attractiveness

According to the investors surveyed, the following are the main challenges the continent should face in improving its attractiveness: improving infrastructure quality (53.5%), access to education (50.7%) and the fight against political instability (49.3%). These findings are close to those recorded in previous editions.

Structuring a single market, a new engine for investment

The development of the African Continental Free Trade Area (46.5%) is the new main reason for investing in Africa by 2030. As in 2015 and 2018, the emergence of a middle class (43.1%) and the willingness to be positioned on markets of the future (33%) remain key elements in investor decision-making.

The main obstacles to investment remain

For nearly 89.6% of respondents, bad governance, political instability and insecurity (57.5%) as well as the low qualification of the workforce (54.4%) remain obstacles to investment. These results echo those of 2015, thus showing the recurring need to address such major issues for the future of the continent.

The way forward…

The study also questions international investors on the contribution of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to the continent’s economic growth. Through various thematic focuses, it also delves into the major issues regarding agriculture, infrastructure, energy transition, demography and innovation.


The Havas Horizons 2021 barometer, produced jointly by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the Havas Group, interviewed a panel of about 100 representatives of major African financial and banking institutions, or those operating in Africa, and stakeholders that actively contribute to its economic development.

The survey was enhanced by a series of one-on-one interviews with leading economic managers in Africa.