Investing in Africa: UAE ranks high for FDI projects

Real estate consultant says investment market in the continent is expected to remain resilient despite the pandemic, with data centres in particular likely to grow  

Aerial view of cityscape at sunrise in Dubai.UAE.

Aerial view of cityscape at sunrise in Dubai.UAE.

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The UAE remains one of the top investors in Africa, ranked number four in a report by Knight Frank in terms of the number of projects.

In 2019, the UAE had 71 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects worth a total of $5.639 billion, compared to the top investor, the USA, which has 115 projects worth $3.459 billion, with France and the UK taking the second and third sports by number of FDI projects, according to the new report, titled Africa Horizons 2021/2022.

Only France and China had a higher value of investment in the continent than the UAE, with $5.751 billion and $9.419 billion, respectively.

The report said the African investment market is expected to remain resilient despite the pandemic. But, it added, the cities that successfully emerge from the pandemic will be those that innovate, provide long-term social solutions to their residents, attract funding and generate new demand for space.

The report has listed Nairobi, Kenya, as the number one city for innovation in Africa, and in the top 100 globally. Two South African cities - Cape Town and Johannesburg - were in the top five cities for innovation in Africa along with Kampala and Cairo.

“Cities that score higher for innovation but have less robust economies will attract those willing to take more risk, such as private equity investors. These cities include Nairobi, Kenya, Cape Town in South Africa and Kampala, Uganda,” the report noted.

Tilda Mwai, Knight Frank’s researcher for Africa, said lower risk investors were likely to favour cities with above-average innovation scores and a robust economy such as Cairo and Johannesburg.

“These cities have the greatest potential to remain economically resilient in the long-term despite undergoing short-term shocks,” she said. 

(Writing by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria) 

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© ZAWYA 2021

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