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Kick-Starting FDI in Africa

To help catalyze growth and tackle extreme poverty, African leaders must try to attract hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign direct investment. They should emulate China and start by targeting the 165 million members of the continent's diaspora.

LOMÉ/BOSTON – In the United Nations’ 2020 World Investment Report, Secretary-General António Guterres noted that global foreign direct investment (FDI) this year is “expected to fall sharply from 2019 levels of $1.5 trillion” to below the trough it hit during the global financial crisis. This decline will have a devastating effect on emerging economies, many of which are already in crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Few regions will struggle more than Africa. Not only does the continent account for just 3% of global GDP, but it currently attracts less than 3% of global FDI, which has been a critical factor in propelling other regions to prosperity.

To catalyze growth and potentially help to rid the continent of extreme poverty once and for all, African leaders must try to beat the odds and attract hundreds of billions of dollars in FDI. They should start by seeking investments from the 165 million members of the African diaspora. And they can draw inspiration from China’s meteoric rise to become the world’s second-largest FDI recipient, after the United States.