Every week, Captain James T Kirk used to tell us that space was the final frontier (you remember, the most famous split infinitive in the English language, “to boldly go etc”). On a more mundane level, investors have been told for almost as long as the SS Enterprise has cruised the galaxy that their final frontier was Africa. Strange, we don’t hear that notion much now. Perhaps it is time to brush it down.
That fund managers are quiet about the prospects for Africa has everything to do with the returns they have generated there. The MSCI FM Africa index – as good a proxy for share returns from Africa as is available – stands 36 per cent below the level at which it exited 2008’s global financial crisis. Sure, that was the period of peak popularity, when the potential of frontier markets – and especially Africa’s – seemed to compensate for the failings of the old world.