Though the allure of private equity might have faded in developed markets, we at Blackhawk believe that Africa is providing golden opportunities for funds that are willing to swallow a bit more risk.
It was a geographer, George Kimble, who best summed up Western perceptions two centuries after Swift when he said: “The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it.” This is just as true among our financial community today.
Risk-averse Western investors have traditionally avoided Africa, citing the high political and economic risk that goes with investing there. Just mention Rwanda in the US and people will probably think of genocide and murder rather than the current political stability or the leaps and bounds taken by Rwandan banks.
The attitude to Africa is indeed evolving. Changed perceptions have been driven in part by a series of funds that have been investing in Africa for many years but are only now attracting the world’s attention. The credit crunch in global markets has left investors with little choice but to search for returns in emerging markets, and in particular in Africa.
The impact of the credit crisis on Africa has been limited. Countries such as Nigeria do not have developed credit markets or over-leveraged homeowners. What they do have though is enormous potential at a time when the rest of the world is still hurtling in recession.
There is no doubt that Africa is today ready for business: With better democratization and good growth, people are realizing that the rule of law prevails and business can be done.
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