It is hard to generalize about a continent that has 54 countries, 1 billion people, a plethora of languages, and many cultures. Still, a few salient African facts stand out.
With average annual growth of 5 percent over the past decade, Africa has been relatively untouched by the global financial crisis, plus its prospects look bright. Its population is set to double by 2025, while the economic infrastructure needed to serve its rapidly growing middle class is embryonic. It is the fastest growing region in world, with the International Monetary Fund estimating that 7 of the 10 fastest developing economies‚ between 2011 and 2015 will be in Africa.
All of this means that there is unprecedented interest in investing in African private equity - particularly in the sub-Saharan region, which arguably holds a relatively greater share of the region's unexploited potential. Public and private pension funds, endowments, foundations, insurance companies, family offices and sovereign wealth funds are eagerly reviewing investment opportunities in the region.
Given the review processes Palico has seen, and the number of fundraising campaigns targeting Sub-Saharan Africa, we think new private equity commitments for the region could hit $4 billion in 2013. That's more than three-fold the $1.2 billion raised in 2012 and easily surpasses the 2008 bubble-year record of $2.5 billion.
Overall, Palico counts 46 private equity funds with an Africa investment strategy currently fundraising. The funds are targeting $8 billion in commitments.
The biggest problem may not be getting into Africa in 2013, but eventually getting out. Nonetheless, the "build it and they will come" strategy GPs are following should work - if the region delivers on its promise.
This article was published in Opalesque's Private Equity Strategies our monthly research update on the global private equity landscape including all sectors and market caps.