Switzerland direct investment in Africa is growing

Switzerland is the tenth largest investor in Africa worldwide. Swiss direct investments in Africa have tripled to about CHF 13.5 billion in the last 15 years. The number of employees of companies headquartered in Switzerland and working in Africa has for its part more than doubled between 2000 and 2016, announced Wednesday the association Swiss-African Business Circle in its 2018 report, the first of its kind.

Africa and Switzerland trade


‘Even though Switzerland represents the 10th most invested country on the African continent, information on Swiss-African business relations is rather scarce and fragmented’, noted Verena Utzinger, president of this association.

In 2017, trade volumes between Switzerland and Africa amounted to 5.2 billion francs, or 1.3% of the Confederation’s overall trade, a more or less stable development over the past ten years. Including gold, this amounted to CHF 12.1 billion, or 2.2% of total trade.

South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria account for 75% of trade,” the authors of the report said.

The export of services is gaining in importance

Exports to Africa represent 3.4 billion francs, or 1.6% of Switzerland’s total exports, and imports without gold 1.8 billion and with this precious metal 8.6 billion.

Chemicals and pharmaceuticals (51%), machinery (22%), precision instruments, watches and jewelry (10%), and agricultural products (9%) are the main goods delivered to Africa. In the other direction, energy products (36%), agricultural products (27%), and textiles (15%) were imported.

Services exports, one-third of total exports, are growing, and are advancing faster than goods, thanks to strong demand for information and communication technology services,” the authors point out.

Some 30 percent of these services are in the finance sector, the report says.

While only seven African countries accounted for all direct investment a decade ago, it is now more evenly spread across the continent. The majority of investments still take place in South Africa,” the study says. The number of employees based in Africa and working for companies headquartered in Switzerland has for its part more than doubled to about 140,000 at the end of 2016 against 63,333 in 2000.

The growing interest in the continent and its potential does not recede. And Africans in Switzerland are mobilizing to attract Swiss companies to the continent. While the Swiss Confederation has about 110,000 nationals from the continent, Switzerland remains no less influential in some states. Like in Côte d’Ivoire, where, according to the Ivorian authorities, it was the third country in terms of investments, behind France and China. It is in this spirit that Zion Kick-up Startups organizes, online, the international exhibition of African entrepreneurship from November 16 to 20. “We are targeting 5 sectors of activity this year, including energy, trade, and agribusiness. The objective is to increase Swiss-African investments,” says Project Manager Lionel Kouchou. Even though Africa currently represents only 2% of Switzerland’s FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), optimism has not waned on the part of investors.

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