Southern Africa’s new leaders still have much to prove
The new presidents of Angola, South Africa and Zimbabwe could do better, but banks and investors will have plenty of due diligence to do when deciding whether or not and how to commit more resources to these countries.
The £2 billion London listing of Shell retailer Vivo Energy, which raised £548 million in May, was the LSE’s biggest such deal so far this year. It is the largest IPO out of Africa to take place in London since 2005: but is it a sign that the Africa-rising narrative is back?
In fact, Vivo’s timing probably has less to do with an African resurgence on the back of a tentative commodities recovery – let alone thanks to occasionally favourable political trends – and more to do with the investment cycle of owners Helios (private equity) and Vitol (the oil trader). What it does show is that the African demographic and consumer story still appeals to investors. The question has always been which of the continent’s multifarious nations can benefit from this belief in Africa’s growth.
South Africa, home to the continent’s biggest banks and financial market, has rarely been subject to this kind of enthusiasm over the last decade. Despite huge improvements in the quality of life for the majority of South Africa’s population since the end of apartheid, per-capita income started to decline after 2015.