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Why do African multinationals invest outside their home region? Should they?

Kevin I.N. Ibeh

UNCTAD Transnational Corporations Journal

Abstract: This study draws on preliminary case evidence to explore the motivations and advisability of engagement by African multinational enterprises (MNEs) in outward foreign direct investment (FDI) activities outside their home region. It complements recent research on MNEs from emerging markets, focused on the BRICS (Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa) economies, with virtually no attention to potentially important players from rising Africa. The MNEs explored in this study are active in the energy, manufacturing, construction, chemicals, agribusiness, extractive/mining, and financial services sectors, and they have investment footprints both in countries in the North and the South. Their investment decisions are motivated by the search for market opportunities, strategic assets/resources and performance-boosting relationships, though more advanced economies appear to attract more strategic asset-seeking FDI from African MNEs. The paper argues that intra-regional investments by African MNEs should continue to be prioritized, but selective and strategic extra-regional FDI, undertaken with an eye on furthering global competitiveness, also requires appropriate policy support. This seems even more sensible given that the acceleration of borderless digital internationalization and the increasingly blurred nationality of MNE affiliates are lessening the relevance of regional distinctions.

Date: 2018
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