Amid global jitters, investors are eyeing up small markets that tend to move independently of their global counterparts. For this reason, one region on investors' radar screens is Africa, which has been shaking off its reputation as the lost continent.
Africa is far from risk-free, as shown by recent political violence in Kenya which now appears to have been defused by a power-sharing deal. But the big picture remains promising, reckons Cynthia Steer of Rogerscasey: Africa offers "superior growth at inexpensive prices".
Having expanded by at least 6% since 2004, sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow by almost 7% this year. The commodities boom has bolstered growth the continent boasts 10% of the world's oil and gas and half its diamonds by spurring investment in infrastructure as well as consumption. The spread of democracy and improved macroeconomic management, along with debt relief, has also played a part. Africa finally seems to have embarked on the path to sustainable growth, as the World Bank's John Page said earlier this year.
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Take Nigeria: successive governments "have embraced market-orientated reforms and proved good fiscal managers", says Stuart Culverhouse of Exotix. And Jamie Allsopp of New Star notes that Nigeria is being compared to Russia in 2000. Only 10% of its 150 million people have bank accounts and there are plans to pour £22bn into infrastructure over the next three years, "which makes it an appealing place for investment".
One way for investors to access Africa is through Allsopp's Heart of Africa fund, 30% of which is currently invested in Nigeria; the fund is up 10% since its inception last November. Aim-listed Lonrho (LONR) looks an appealing long-term Africa play, given that it has interests in areas ranging from bottled water and ports and shipping to mining and air travel. And the very brave punter hoping for a recovery in Zimbabwe may wish to explore Lonrho's Aim-listed investment vehicle LonZim (LZM).
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