One can say that any external investment into a developing economy ultimately promote its “development” and such can be argued as true from a pure viewpoint of classical economics. However, we believe that some investments ultimately have greater economic benefits for frontier markets such as West Africa. As opposed to purely extractive industries that source raw goods from developing countries, impact investments create local economic value-add, and have the local populations not just as a labor force, but as the recipient of key economic benefits.
The region’s economic history as a commodity exporter has underpinned the majority of investments that have been made in West African countries in the past. While these investments have created jobs and provided large net inflows of capital into the region’s economies, in many cases much of the economic value from these commodities has been generated elsewhere. Continued economic growth will need to encompass the transfer of some of these value-adding commodity processing and manufacturing activities into West-African countries themselves.
Meanwhile, at Brightmore Capital, we don’t necessarily believe that pure commodity export is a “no go” in terms of investment areas that generate economic impacts – it just need to be balanced by activities that add value to the host countries beyond solely compensation for resource extraction. For example, and agribusiness venture can simultaneously focus on both exports and serving the dietary needs of the local population. Such balances are especially advantageous in cases where seasonal weather differences create scenarios where local agribusiness (enabled by assets such as greenhouses, hydroponics, and other advanced farming methods) provides for import substitution and local food security during some months of the year, while exporting surplus abroad during others.