Monday, 12 March 2012

The three year view of African telecoms infrastructure investment

A new piece of analysis I’ve just completed on total telecoms investments in Africa from 2009 to 2011. What it shows is the extreme concentration of investment in the top 3 markets – 55% of the investment that went into Africa in 2009 to 2011 went into Nigeria, South Africa or Egypt.
On a per person basis, it’s no surprise that residents of richer economies do better than average. That said, I remain bearish about Kenya’s long term prospects as a digital leader in Africa. Interference from government and regulator, coupled with slowing national investment in public sector IT has led to the country becoming a less attractive destination for FDI. Since it lacks its own telecoms powerhouse (Safaricom being largely foreign owned), Kenya risks falling behind regional competitors.

Zimbabwe may well be one of those competitors. Chinese investment in a number of local players has boosted infrastructure capabilities and provides a basis for long term growth of the sector. Provided governmental interference and corruption can be managed, the relatively well educated Zimbabweans could reap rich rewards in the longer term, possibly even as a destination for services sold into richer neighbours.

Chinese investment in the continent is a well known trend in recent years and I’ll dedicate a post to it in the near future.

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