Africa, the next growth engine of the world - CNBC Africa

Africa, the next growth engine of the world

Special Report

by Trust Matsilele 0

AfrAsia's chief executive James Benoit says Africa is the next growth engine of the world. PHOTOS: AfrAsia

In an exclusive interview with CNBC, Benoit said the region had seen a tremendous increase of investor flow and this was being aided by ease of doing business in countries like Mauritius. 

He also warned investors intending to establish businesses into the region to conduct adequate research.

“Prospective investors need to know the markets as Africa consists of 54 different sovereignties,” Benoit said.

The AfrAsia bank’s chief added that when looking into Africa it mattered how one invested.

“It’s not why you should invest in Africa but how you invest in the region. A lot of homework needs to be done.”

Turning to Zimbabwe where AfrAsia has a considerable share in the bank, Benoit said his group had faced some headwinds common in that economy.

(READ MORE: Zimbabwe still high risk but high reward market)

“The Zimbabwean economy has been a bit sluggish over the last year. We see long term advantages of doing business in the country as it still provides the much needed connectivity to markets in Zambia and Malawi,” he said.

AfrAsia’s headquarters are in Mauritius where Benoit says offers a unique positioning linking trade and investment to the rest of the region.

He says his group enjoys client relationships in 105 countries across the globe.

The bank offers syndicated lending and private banking with a substantial clientele base including investors from Asian economies.

Regarded as the third biggest bank in Mauritius with 1.6 billion US dollars worth of assets, Benoit said his financial services company has experienced rapid growth in the past seven years.

“Mauritius has COMESA and SADC connections due to historical ties and this assists us with good institutional connectivity,” added.

(READ MORE: Mauritius' good governance record attracts investors)

Benoit said when it comes to investment, focus was critical.

“We get a lot of opportunities in Africa but it’s a matter of focus and for now we are focusing on South Africa and Zimbabwe,” he said.

Dismissing news on the possible sale of AfrAsia in Zimbabwe he said his company was talking to a wide range people so the public can keep speculating.

The chief executive defended South Africa’s financial services saying the country had high standards of corporate banking.

Benoit also took the opportunity to encourage African politicians to enact investor friendly policies as that would assist with foreign direct investments.

“Politics is important as politicians are the ones who make laws and policies that influence investor behaviour.”