Investment in African infrastructure was up 33 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, reversing a trend of decreasing investments. In 2006, the continent attracted almost $25 billion of investment, dwindling to $13.6 billion in 2011. Last year’s rebound brought investment back up to the ten-year average of about $18 billion, caused by a hike in the energy sector.

Investment in African Infrastructure (1990-2012)



Private investment in the energy sector reached $8.3 billion in 2012, reflecting financial close of 25 new projects, including those in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya (2), Morocco, South Africa (18), Uganda, and Zambia. Together they added a total of 3312 MW to the African energy grid (1076 MW in South Africa alone), at an average cost of $2.5 million per megawatt.


Telecom has seen huge growth across Africa. More than $50 billion was privately invested between 1990 and 2012 through fixed, mobile, and multi-service providers. The average telecom provider in Africa has 4.4 million subscribers—providers receiving investment in 2012 had over 700 million subscribers. Three new mobile providers emerged in 2012: Haatif Telecom (Somalia), Smile Communications (Uganda), and Africell (Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]).


Close to $20 billion of private investment flowed into Africa’s transport sector since 1990: $14.5 billion in seaport projects, $3.3 billion in railroad projects, and the rest split between airports ($1.5 billion) and roads ($0.7 billion). Reflecting a decrease since 2006, only one transport deal closed in 2012: the Blaise Diagne International Airport, a management contract in Dakar, Senegal.

Water & Sewerage

Water and sewerage in Africa has received $3.3 billion in investments since 1990. Activity was slow in the early 1990s, at its peak during the boom years 2007-2008, but then slowed as the global financial crisis settled in. Two large concessions closed in Egypt in 2010 and Algeria in 2009, worth $475 million and $468 million in investments respectively. Of the total 44 projects, there were 28 management and lease contracts, 13 greenfield projects, and two concessions.

Top deals by country (1990-2012)

The largest African countries, measured by their gross domestic output, have attracted the lion’s share of investments in private participation in infrastructure. South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, and Algeria attracted 65 percent of investments in infrastructure since 1990—a combined total of $158 billion.

It is useful to note that population does not drive investment: Population-rich countries such as Ethiopia (87 million people), DRC (75 million), and Tanzania (46 million) have received little investment—$4 million, $2.6 billion, and $5.1 billion respectively.

Splitting the spoils

Africa’s investment levels have remained fairly stable since the global financial crisis, although investment in energy projects has picked up in recent years. Investments are largely concentrated in a handful of countries, namely South Africa, Nigeria, and the large North African countries. The other 48 countries received the remaining 35 percent of investment.