JOHANNESBURG - International investors putting money in Africa are increasingly looking beyond the oil and mineral sectors and Africa's top economies as they hunt for new business, according to a report by Ernst & Young.
The London-based advisory firm's survey of more than 500 global business leaders showed investors "are looking beyond the more established markets of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya to expand their operations."
The number of projects in South Africa and Nigeria actually declined in 2013, while there were notable increases in Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.
South Africa in particular has seen a significant slowdown in economic growth in recent years, amid labour unrest, policy uncertainty and vast unemployment.
According to Capital Economics, Africa's most developed economy grew at the slowest pace in five years in the first quarter of this year, slumping to 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter.
Investors are also moving away from sectors like mining and energy -- which no longer figure in the top ten for number of investments -- "into more consumer-related sectors as Africa's middle class expands," the report said.
The largest number of projects were found in technology, media and telecoms; retail and consumer products; and financial services.
"Resource driven sectors are expected to remain the industries with the highest potential over the next two years, the actual numbers show that infrastructure and consumer-facing sectors will increase in prominence as the middle class expands and consumer spending on discretionary goods increases," said EY's Michael Lalor.
According to the International Monetary Fund, about 150 million people can be considered firmly in the continent's middle class.
Ernst & Young reported most of the investments came from Britain, the United States and South Africa, with a "sharp uptick" in investments from Japan and Spain.