Investment in Africa by Norwegian companies has increased six-fold during the past 10 years, according to state statistics bureau SSB. It remains small compared to investment on other continents, but business activity has taken off in recent years.
Attendance at a recent African-Norwegian business conference in Oslo was high, and newspaper Aftenposten reported that representatives from companies in various African countries were literally lining up to talk to their counterparts at, for example, Oslo-based Yara International. Yara, the large chemicals company that specializes in fertilizer production, now has 1,300 employees on the African continent and is among firms outside the oil sector that’s made considerable investment there in recent years.
Not all of it is successful, with Yara’s stake in a Libyan production plant resulting in corruption charges and the plant’s shutdown during the civil war. Risk is always involved, but more Norwegian companies seem willing to take it.
SSB pegged total Norwegian investment in African countries at NOK 56.5 billion (USD 9.4 billion) in 2010, or around 5 percent of all Norwegian foreign investment. The majority has occurred within Europe (61.4 percent), followed by North America (13.2 percent) and Asia (12.2 percent).