Africa: Continent of Opportunity

10/07/2014 8:00 am EST

Focus: GLOBAL

Jim Powell

Principal Analyst, Global Changes & Opportunities

The African continent’s 54 economies and stock markets were never high flyers. However, I don’t think it will be much longer before investors seeking outstanding returns decide that Africa is earning its wings, observes Jim Powell in Global Changes & Opportunities Report.

Last year, six out of the ten of the world’s fastest growing economies were in Africa. Even in countries where corruption is still rampant, many companies are finding it possible to make excellent profits.

Perhaps the most promising and surprising new development in Africa is the rapid development of its middle class, a population that already totals 350 million.

Many readers may have been surprised to see the photos of the prosperous Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya after the September 2013 terrorist attack. The mall was indistinguishable from high-end malls in the US. Africa’s middle class will be a great source of growth.

I think the timing is right for making investments in Africa or for increasing your existing positions. On August 6, President Obama hosted nearly 100 African heads of state and US company representatives to discuss new partnerships.

Blackstone, General Electric, Chevron, Coca-Cola, IBM, Marriott, and several other companies announced plans to invest $14 billion in Africa over the next few years.

These investments will attract a lot of attention to Africa, an opportunity that’s unlikely to be overlooked much longer.

Our three principal African investments are iShares South Africa (EZA), SPDR Mideast & Africa (GAF), and TRP Africa & Mideast (TRAMX). All three remain as buy recommendations.

I think the gains have barely started to come in from the biggest investment opportunity we have seen since the emergence of modern China.

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