Você fala Português?


Sarah Caddy

If you can’t, chances are you’re missing out, was the message from OMFIF’s conference on the ‘Role of Portugal and the UK in Lusophone Economies’ (February 4th 2014, London).

Addressing a roundtable of business owners and potential investors looking to expand into Angola and Mozambique, João Alves, Partner at EY, listed the benefits enjoyed by Portugal as a result of its 500 years of common history with the rest of the Lusophone world. Reporting on the findings of his firm’s Attractiveness Survey 2014, which tracks 200+ investor perceptions, Mr. Alves detailed that:

  • 58% of interviewees believe Portugal will improve over the next three years (marking one of the strongest scores for a European country)
  • 95% of investors in Portugal today believe that they will still be doing so in five years’ time


And the reason that investors gave for these bullish views? That Portugal has such strong cultural and linguistic affinities with emerging markets.

With Angola and Mozambique both clocking in over 7% GDP growth, this interest is unsurprising. And despite the oil sector continuing to dominate – it currently accounts for 96% of Angolan exports, for example – the panellists and government representatives were unanimous in providing evidence of rapid sector diversification.  Agriculture and telecommunications were two of the most regularly cited, with government agencies like ANIP (@ANIP_US) providing incentives for many non-oil sector businesses.

The swathe of positivity did come with a dose of realism from international law firm Miranda – in Angola, the only real way for a foreign company to build a business is via a local partner. At least the attendees of the conference now have the contacts to do so.

More good news for Africa: Consumer spending and private investment is up


Sarah Caddy

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than 60 % of Africa’s GDP, remained strong last year according to a World Bank report.

The trend was driven by declining inflation across the continent and improved access to credit in Angola, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria and Zambia.  In addition, interest rates were much lower in 2012 than in 2011 and we witnessed a spectacular rebound in agricultural income thanks to stable weather conditions. Especially Guinea, Mauritania and Niger experienced good rains compared to 2011, but less crops failed in general across the continent compared to the previous years.

We also have to add the steady remittance inflows to the good news coming from Africa, currently estimated at $31 billion.

Not to be sneezed at are the increased investments that are supporting the region’s growth performance. In 2012, for example, net private capital flows into the region increased by 3.3 % to a record $54.5 billion; and foreign direct investment inflows to the region increased by 5.5 % in 2012 to $37.7 billion.

The World Bank report also mentioned that exports are increasingly helping the continent’s growth and that the traditional destination of these goods over the last decade is also changing. Since 2000, the overall growth of sub-Saharan exports to emerging markets and other African countries has surpassed that to developed markets. Africans are increasingly selling to and buying from other Africans, which is the best news of all.

Causing a stir: The fifth BRICS Summit


Isabelle Alenus-Crosby

The BRICS account for 21% of world GDP (IMF), 17% of world trade, and over 40% of the world’s population. This year, BRICS is expected to grow at almost 5%, well above the world average (at 3.6%).

This year’s summit therefore received quite a lot of media attention, and not just due to the attendance of the brand-new Chinese President Xi Jinping, nor because of the above statistics.

For South Africa, which makes up just 2.5% of total GDP in BRICS, the summit was an opportunity to showcase its role as an investment gateway to Africa and President Zuma therefore invited 15 African heads of state to attend. Tensions between South Africa and Nigeria (surrounding Nigeria’s belief that they should also be part of BRICS) means that President Goodluck Jonathan did not attend, but other heads of state including Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Uganda, Ethiopia and Egypt, did. Each country actively showcased its nation, grabbing the momentum of the African continent’s current economic boom.

What caused the greatest stir however, were the talks about the establishment of a development bank, which would rival the World Bank and the IMF, and is meant to fund infrastructure and development projects in member states and developing nations, through a joint foreign reserves fund.

The discussions of where the bank will be, or how much money each nation will contribute, did not reach a conclusion. Several experts and officials have said the bank will start with 50 billion dollars, divided equally. BRICS members are clearly seeking greater sway in global finance to match their rising economic power. Undoubtedly the “New Development Bank” will be top of next year’s agenda. The 2014 Summit will be held in Brazil.