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Cape Town leads in FDI ranking for Africa

By , ITWeb
Africa , 26 Jul 2021
Ian Lessem, Managing Partner at HAVAÍC.
Ian Lessem, Managing Partner at HAVAÍC.

Cape Town has topped international rankings for foreign direct investment strategy, and there are several other African cities and countries emerging as leading start-up and investment hubs to watch – including Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria.

This is according to Ian Lessem, Managing Partner at HAVAÍC, an investment and advisory firm that specialises in investing and supporting early-stage, high-growth post-revenue African businesses driven by technology with global prospects.

In a statement released to the media by the firm, Lessem said: “Start-ups in Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa raised a total of US$625-million last year. Of those, Kenyan start-ups raised US$191-million, the most of any other African country, according to Disrupt Africa’s African Tech Start-up Funding Report for 2020. Distinct start-up geographies are emerging in Africa, each with the potential to become its own powerhouse.”

In addition, the World Bank predicts that two thirds of the world’s GDP growth will occur in cities over the next fifty years.

Lessem said Africa’s rapid urbanisation is a welcome development as cities foster greater economic potential, business collaboration, and technological innovation needed to leapfrog traditional infrastructure, which can result in creating thriving tech ecosystems.

“HAVAÍC sees Southern Africa, dominated by South Africa; Anglophone West Africa, led by Nigeria; Francophone West Africa, dominated by Cote d'Ivore and Senegal; East Africa led by Kenya; and North Africa dominated by Egypt, as key African geographies to pay close attention to. Each are quite different, with some of them tackling more regional challenges and others offering globally scalable solutions,” noted Lessem.

A diversity of businesses are emerging in critical sectors such as e-health, Fintech, security and education, as African start-up investment continues its upward trajectory, having increased year-on-year for the past five years.

“West African hubs like Lagos have benefitted hugely from locals being skilled abroad and returning home where a young, bourgeoning middle class are open to new Fintech propositions as we have seen from the likes of Flutterwave. While in Nairobi, an influx of foreign direct investment and financing from national development finance institutions, coupled with international skills transfers, have contributed to creating a flourishing start-up environment,” said Lessem.

He added that Cairo’s access to favourable funding and product distribution from the Middle East is unique on the continent. “Egypt’s large local customer base and proximity to major international hubs in the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia make it a strong B2B (business to business) and B2B2C (business to business to consumer) regional player. Of course, South Africa’s strong blue chip corporate base and financial and digital infrastructure have ensured the country’s start-ups have been able to enter developed markets with their seamless tech competing toe-to-toe in international markets.”

“In both English and French speaking West Africa, there are significant B2B2C opportunities, thanks in part to the development and growth of cities like Dakar, Abidjan and Lagos. Ultimately, massive improvements in infrastructure, maturing financial markets and broader access to higher education are laying the foundation for Africa’s tech hubs and signal an exciting future for the continent’s start-ups who prove time and time again they can compete with the best in Silicon Valley, London and Singapore,” Lessem pointed out.

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