Africa’s record at attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) has been dismal. While the continent accounts for 17% of the world’s population, in 2017 it received just 3% of global FDI flows. This picture is still bleaker given the concentration of inflows in a small number of countries. Just four — SA, Nigeria, Egypt and Angola — have received more than half of all investment since 2000, reflecting a bias towards natural resources.

Investment fuels growth, which is needed to create jobs. This imperative acquires an even greater urgency with the projected doubling of Africa’s population by 2050, when there will be nearly 50-million school-leavers annually. Of course, FDI is not the only form of capital available. What Africa needs is less of the hot money of portfolio flows and more of the sort of permanent capital that creates jobs, lasts for generations and brings buildings, facilities, technology and skills. This will be more crucial if Africa’s share of the global populati...

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