The African investment roller-coaster shows just how hard it has been to make bets on the continent pay off. After two years of declines, the region experienced growth in inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2018, thanks to a revival of interest in SA and a more stable environment in Egypt. Yet foreign interest has been fickle, underscoring the difficulties for policymakers to attract investors for the long haul. New York-based Blackstone Group is scaling back in Africa after less than five years. Bob Diamond, the former Barclays chief, is turning his attention elsewhere after six years’ struggle to get his banking venture off the ground. “Oversized bets, misunderstandings about the scale and nature of customer demand in sub-Saharan African markets and too-high expectations have led to mistakes,” said William Attwell, head of sub-Saharan Africa research at DuckerFrontier in London, an adviser to multinational firms. “The opportunistic approach is an inadequate approach.”

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