Lagos: Notes from the “surprising, not simply rising” continent


Sarah Caddy

News broke that Nigeria has overtaken South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy as the 500+ delegates at the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s 11th annual conference in Lagos returned home (in my case, to a Saharan sand-strewn London).

Africa’s most populous country’s government released revised figures that more or less doubled estimates for its GDP, testament to its increasingly diversified economy and growth of services that tap into the expanding consumer story. Most notably the telecommunications sector has increased from 0.8% of GDP to 8.6%.

Nigeria’s minister for economy and finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is cited by the FT stating that the revision will “validate” the investment thesis to foreign investors increasingly searching for returns in the region.

They may not need reminding, however. AVCA/RisCura/SAVCA research released at the conference, downloadable here, noted that 24% of investors into private equity already find West Africa to be the most attractive region.

“What excites you about Nigeria?” asked William Wallis, Africa Affairs Editor at the FT in his interview with Michael Power, Investec, at the conference. “Its people are extraordinarily enterprising” came the reply. “Africa is not just the rising continent, it is the surprising continent.”

Though with Nigerian pension assets under management (currently NGN4 trillion/$25 billion) estimated (at the conference) to double in just three years, local – rather than foreign – capital may be the investment force to be reckoned with.


Read more insights from the AVCA conference in Lagos from the Financial Times here.

Watch AVCA’s Chief Executive, Michelle Essomé, on CNBC Africa, which filmed live from the event, here.