In 2021, investment flows to Africa reached a record $ 83 billion

The report says this is more than twice as much as in 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on investment flows to the continent.

Despite such strong growth, investment flows to Africa accounted for only 5.2% of global FDI, compared with 4.1% in 2020.

Most African countries have experienced moderate FDI growth in 2021. In fact, it should be noted that about 45% of the total is related to an in-house financial transaction in South Africa.

“If we exclude this operation, the increase in FDI flows to Africa, while remaining positive, will be more in line with what we see in other developing regions,” said James Zhang, director of UNCTAD’s Investment and Entrepreneurship Division.

With regard to subregions, the report notes that in South Africa, East Africa and West Africa, their investment flows have increased, while those destined for Central Africa remain stable and North Africa has declined.

According to UNCTAD, the largest holders of foreign assets in Africa remained European, led by investors from the United Kingdom ($ 65 billion) and France ($ 60 billion).

FDI to South Africa has increased almost tenfold

FDI to South Africa has grown almost tenfold to $ 42 billion. Such a significant increase is mainly due to the large corporate reconfiguration in South Africa.

New projects announced in the country include funding for a $ 4.6 billion clean energy project sponsored by Britain’s Hive Energy and a $ 1 billion Vantage-based investment project. Data centers for the construction of its first African campus.

Investment flows to Mozambique rose 68% to $ 5.1 billion. New investment projects have sprung up in the country, including the British company Globeleq Generation, which built $ 2 billion worth of power plants.

Meanwhile, investment flows to Zambia remained negative at -457 million dollars, which fell sharply from -173 million dollars in 2020, mainly due to the disposal of a copper mine for $ 1,000 million. The Swiss company Glencore transferred $ 5 billion to the public company ZCCM Investments Holdings.

Increases have also been recorded in West and East Africa

In Nigeria, the largest recipient of FDI in West Africa, its inflow has doubled to $ 4.8 billion, largely due to the resumption of investment in the oil and gas sector, according to a UNCTAD report.

International project financing agreements in the country jumped to $ 7 billion. Among them is a $ 2.9 billion industrial complex project at the Eskravos seaport.

Mining projects have also helped increase FDI in Ghana to $ 2.6 billion, up 39% from 2020.

Senegal also saw a 21% increase in FDI to $ 2.2 billion. The country recorded an increase in new investment projects by 27%.

Investment flows to East Africa rose 35% to $ 8.2 billion

For example, in Ethiopia, the central hub of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, FDI flows rose 79 percent to $ 4.3 billion in 2021.

Four of the five announced international funding projects in the country are related to renewable energy, according to UNCTAD.

Other notable increases were in Uganda (31% to $ 1.1 billion) and Tanzania (35% to $ 922 million), where the number of new investment projects tripled in 2021.


Workers at a power plant in Takorad, Ghana (files).  Photo by Jonathan Erns / World Bank

Photo: World Bank / Jonathan Ernst

Workers at a power plant in Takorad, Ghana (files). Photo by Jonathan Erns / World Bank

FDI from Central Africa stabilizes at $ 9.4 billion

Although investment flows to Central Africa remain stable, the report says FDI to the Democratic Republic of the Congo has risen 14% to $ 1.9 billion, with investment trends remaining largely positive due to offshore oil fields and mines.

Investment flows to the Congo fell by 8% to $ 3.7 billion, but the country has announced two international project financing agreements. The most important thing is the construction of an oil plant for 166 million dollars.

Egypt, the second largest recipient of FDI in Africa

FDI to North Africa fell 5% to $ 9.3 billion in 2021.

Investment flows to Morocco rose 52% to $ 2.2 billion in 2021, while in Egypt FDI fell 12% to $ 5.1 billion. Despite this decline, Egypt is the second largest recipient of FDI in Africa.

The Gulf countries’ commitment to invest about $ 22 billion in various sectors of Egypt’s economy could boost FDI in the future. Meanwhile, the volume of new projects announced in the country last year more than tripled to $ 5.6 billion.


A technician takes care of the solar panels on the roof of a warehouse in Lusaka, Zambia.

UNDP / Karin Shermbrucker

A technician takes care of the solar panels on the roof of a warehouse in Lusaka, Zambia.

Renewable energy projects have increased

Although new investment remains low, renewable energy projects have increased.

Despite the overall positive trend in FDI on the continent, the total number of new project announcements remained low at $ 39 billion, showing only a modest recovery from the $ 32 billion recorded in 2020 and well below the $ 77 billion recorded in 2019. .

At the same time, the number of international renewable energy projects in Africa has risen to 71 – almost twice as many as the 36 recorded in 2011.

Among them is a $ 20 billion project aimed at supplying solar and wind energy to Britain through 3,800 km of submarine cables.

“In the long run, the African continent has great potential to attract international investment in the green and blue economy, as well as infrastructure,” Zhang said. “The challenge is to further improve the business climate and build Africa’s capacity to absorb these sustainable investments.”