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African nations may be the new Brics
Brazil and Russia's growth has been especially sluggish since emerging markets boomed in 2004-2008, according to data supplied by London research consultancy Capital Economics.And while emerging Asia remains the fastest growing developing region, "growth has held up best in in the Middle East and Africa," Capital Economics economist Daniel Martin finds.That will be music to the ears of those bankers and consultants who are currently fishing out old China research notes from 2006, substituting the word "Africa" throughout.Africa is the next frontier for emerging market investors, according to some analysts, because the development of the middle class is expected to lift off.Many African nations also have young populations, as recent research from Moody's pointed out.This is a well-worn narrative that the financial industry applies to poor countries. But Multinationals are getting excited. Manufacturers such as Ford and Nissan are approaching this part of the world with a level of enthusiasm they once reserved for China.
The good sentiment is also translating into money flows. The Somali shilling has gained 30 per cent in the last six months. In the last three months, Egypt's EGX 30 has returned 9 per cent and the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index is up 7 per cent.Of course, as with many emerging markets, there are those thorny issues of weak institutions, organised crime and corruption. But in developing world investment cycles, talk of such issues comes after the initial rush, once growth rates slow and cross-border deals turn sour. For now, the excitement seems to be warming up.
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