Do you remember that long lost world just four or five months ago when African leaders used to fly all over the world to attend Africa Investment Summits hosted by the likes of President Xi of China,  President Putin of Russia,  the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and others?

There was a buzz in the air that Africa’s moment was coming. And everyone wanted to be our friend. Then coronavirus struck and everything stopped…or did it?


Upcoming investment summits planned for France, Saudi Arabia and many more may have been canceled as the world descends into lockdown but Africa’s attractiveness is as tempting as ever – the continent’s acres of uncultivated arable land, its rare earth, its rich mineral reserves, and, most importantly, its youthful working population are still some of our prized assets.


This Covid-19 crisis is deep and unprecedented but makes no mistake it will eventually be contained and then the world’s devastated economies will be keener than ever to engage with Africa. The continent has many of the best investment opportunities in the world and the wounded global economy will seek to engage with the continent to reap significant returns.


It’s happening even while we’re in the midst of this crisis. Friends working in impact investing in Africa say they have never been busier as people chase what the continent has to offer.


Perhaps the most dramatic example is that of the UK’s pilot project to link investors with African companies. Since the digital DealRoom initiative was launched at the UK-Africa Investment Summit back in January some forty business opportunities from high-growth African firms have resulted in thirty-four links with UK-based investors.


The UK’s Trade Commissioner for Africa Emma Wade-Smith commented that the volume of interest is a testament to the effectiveness of a digital platform to connect investment demand and supply between the UK and Africa. In reference to the current Covid-19 crisis Ms. Wade-Smith said:


“With enormous challenges ahead for our economies, it is more important than ever that we can enable and support these online business connections, to ensure that UK investors can continue to support business growth in Africa.”


The digital DealRoom has proved so successful that the UK Department of Trade has decided to extend it for a further six months in partnership with Asoko Insight.


It’s just one indication that Coronavirus hasn’t brought the world to a complete standstill. Business activity is still going on and you can be sure that Chinese, American, Russian, and many other players are also finding ways to invest in the myriad opportunities for wealth creation that lies in Africa.


It may be many months before Africa’s leaders start collecting their air miles again but in the meantime, their entrepreneurs are already signing deals and making big plans for the future.



Peter Burdin