The recent downturn in Africa’s commodities markets might seem to signal dark times for the continent’s emerging economies. The slump in global oil prices prompted Angola’s government to end fuel subsidies; weak copper rates dramatically reduced the value of Zambia’s currency; and J.P. Morgan delisted the Nigerian naira from the Emerging Markets Bond Index.
But for long-term investors in Africa, these setbacks are blessings in disguise. They exposed the fault lines in sub-Saharan Africa’s growth narrative, but they also emphasized salient new opportunities at both the public and private investment levels.
Depressed commodity prices forced regional policymakers to wake up to the need for diversified economies. In Angola, for instance, the government now recognizes the urgent need to reduce its dependency on oil. Instead of shying away from these seemingly troubled markets, investors should see abundant openings in young but lucrative development sectors.