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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Executive Summary

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and one of the richest in the world in terms of natural resources. With 80 million hectares (197 million acres) of arable land and 1,100 minerals and precious metals, the DRC has the resources to achieve prosperity for its people. Despite its potential, the DRC often cannot provide adequate food, security, infrastructure, and health care to its estimated 100 million inhabitants, of which 75 percent live on less than two dollars a day.

The ascension of Felix Tshisekedi to the presidency in 2019 and his government’s commitment to attracting international, and particularly U.S. investment, have raised the hopes of the business community for greater openness and transparency. In January 2021, the DRC government (GDRC) became eligible for preferential trade preferences under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), reflecting progress made on human rights, anti-corruption, and labor. Tshisekedi created a presidential unit to address business climate issues. In late 2020 Tshisekedi ejected former President Joseph Kabila’s party from the ruling coalition and in April 2021 he appointed a new cabinet.

Overall investment is on the rise, fueled by multilateral donor financing and private domestic and international finance. The natural resource sector has historically attracted the most foreign investment and continues to attract investors’ attention as global demand for the DRC’s minerals grows. The primary minerals sector is the country’s main source of revenue, as exports of copper, cobalt, gold, coltan, diamond, tin, and tungsten provide over 95 percent of the DRC’s export revenue. The highly competitive telecommunications industry has also experienced significant investment, as has the energy sector through green sources such as hydroelectric and solar power generation. Several breweries and bottlers, some large construction firms, and limited textiles production are active. Given the vast needs, there are commercial opportunities in aviation, road, rail, border security, water transport, and the ports. The agricultural and forestry sectors present opportunities for sustainable economic diversification in the DRC, and companies are expressing interest in developing carbon credit markets to fund investment.

Overall, businesses in the DRC face numerous challenges, including poor infrastructure, a predatory taxation system, and corruption. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed economic growth and worsened the country’s food security, and the Russia’s attacks on Ukraine have raised global prices on imported foods and gasoline. Armed groups remain active in the eastern part of the country, making for a fragile security situation that negatively affects the business environment. Reform of a non-transparent and often corrupt legal system is underway. While laws protecting investors are in effect, the court system is often very slow to make decisions or follow the law, allowing numerous investment disputes to last for years Concerns over the use of child labor in the artisanal mining of copper and cobalt have served to discourage potential purchasers. USG assistance programs to build capacity for labor inspections and enforcement are helping to address these concerns.

The government’s announced priorities include greater efforts to address corruption, election reform, a review of mining contracts signed under the Kabila regime, and improvements to mining sector revenue collection. The economy experienced increased growth in 2021 based on renewed demand for its minerals.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 169 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index N/A N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2021 $25 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita (USD) 2020 $550 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

Gabon

Executive Summary

Gabon is a historically stable country in a volatile region and has significant economic advantages: a small population (roughly 2 million), an abundance of natural resources, and a strategic location in the Gulf of Guinea. After taking office in 2009, President Ali Bongo Ondimba introduced reforms to diversify Gabon’s economy away from oil and traditional investment partners, and to position Gabon as an emerging economy. Gabon promotes foreign investment across a range of sectors, particularly in oil and gas, infrastructure, timber, ecotourism, and mining. Gabon’s government depends on revenues from hydrocarbons.

The Gabonese investment climate is marked by impediments related to establishing a new business, connecting to utilities, such as electricity and water, and transferring company ownership. Many companies also report difficulties in obtaining loans. Banks and other financiers struggle to release funds, especially to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), due to a lack of guarantees and missing documentation. However, several business incubators active in the country are attempting to facilitate business activities. Gabon ranks 38th in Africa for the protection of minority investors and 43rd for the payment of taxes.

Gabon adopted a new hydrocarbon code and a new mining code in July 2019, to provide a modernized basis for the legal, institutional, technical, economic, customs, and tax regimes governing these sectors and to spur investment through a more stable business climate.

Economic conditions in Gabon continued to weaken throughout 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic caused two shocks to the Gabonese economy, prompting it to enter into a recession. First, the decline in global demand and the corresponding collapse in oil prices hit government revenues and the economy hard. Second, domestic demand plummeted as a result of the government’s actions taken to halt the pandemic, such as through border closures and a national curfew.

A renewed wave of illnesses that began in January 2021 compounded this situation. Gabon officially launched its national vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in March 2022; a total of 499,247 doses of COVID vaccines have been administered. Assuming every person requires two doses, the number of doses is seen as enough to have vaccinated about 11.5% of the country’s population (World-coronavirus-tracker)

On July 2021, the IMF Executive Board approved a USD $553.2 million, 36-month arrangement under an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Gabon. The Board’s approval allowed for an immediate disbursement of US$115.25 million for budget support. The program aims to support the short-term response to the COVID-19 crisis and lay the foundations for green and inclusive private sector-led growth and a strong and sustainable recovery to benefit all Gabonese. A combined first and second review of the EFF was undertaken in May 2022.

Historically, the mining, oil and petroleum, and wood sectors have attracted the most investment in Gabon. To attract more investors in those key sectors Gabon created a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Nkok near Libreville in 2010. This 1,350-hectare project targets local and foreign investors, provides priority access to electricity and water and on-site legal and financial services, and is near the deep-sea port of Owendo. Originally set up through a partnership between Olam International Ltd, the Gabonese government, and the Africa Finance Corporation, it operates with a mandate to develop infrastructure, enhance industrial competitiveness, and build a business-friendly ecosystem. However, corruption, bureaucratic red tape, and the lack of transparency, including through the inconsistent application of customs regulations, remain impediments to investment. Many international companies, including U.S. firms, continued to report difficulties in receiving timely payments from the government, and some oil companies have closed down operations altogether.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2020 124 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2020 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2019 -172.0 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 7,030 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Government-appointed civil servants manage Gabonese State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), which operate primarily in energy, extractive industries, and public utilities. SOEs generally follow OECD guidelines on corporate governance, which usually consists of a board of directors under the authority of the related ministry. That ministry determines the board members, who may be government officials or members of the general public. The SOEs often consult with their ministry before undertaking any important business decisions. The corresponding ministry in each sector prepares and submits the budget of each SOE each year. Independent auditors examine the SOEs’ activities each year, conducting audits according to international standards. Auditors do not publish their reports, but rather submit them to the relevant ministry.

There is no published list of SOEs.

There are no specific laws or rules that offer preferential treatment to SOEs. Although private enterprises may compete with public enterprises under open market access conditions, SOEs often have a competitive advantage in the industries in which they operate.

Ghana

Executive Summary

Ghana’s economy had expanded at an average of seven percent per year since 2017 until the coronavirus pandemic reduced growth to 0.4 percent in 2020, according to the Ministry of Finance. Between 2017 and 2019, the fiscal deficit narrowed, inflation decreased, and GDP growth rebounded, driven primarily by increases in oil production. Ghana saw a 9 percent growth rate in the first quarter of 2019 and closed that year with a 6.5 percent GDP growth rate.  Indicating a recovery from the pandemic, the Ghana Statistical Service reported a 6.6 percent growth rate in the third quarter of 2021, marking the fastest growth in GDP since the pandemic began.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expected growth to rebound to 4.7 percent in 2021 from the shock of COVID-19 and by 6.2 percent in 2022. The economy remains highly dependent on the export of primary commodities such as gold, cocoa, and oil, and consequently is vulnerable to slowdowns in the global economy and commodity price shocks. In November 2020, Ghana launched the 100 billion cedi (about $13 billion) Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprises Support (Ghana CARES) Program to address the effects of the virus on the economy. In 2020, the government also launched Ghana’s National Adaptation Plan Process by which it expects to develop strategies to build resilience against the impacts of both climate change and crises such as COVID-19. In general, Ghana’s investment prospects remain favorable, as the Government of Ghana seeks to diversify and industrialize through agro-processing, mining, and manufacturing.  It has made attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) a priority to support its industrialization plans and to overcome an annual infrastructure funding gap.

Challenges to Ghana’s economy include high government debt, particularly energy sector debt, low internally generated revenue, and inefficient state-owned enterprises.  Ghana has a population of 31 million, with over 14 million potential taxpayers, but only six million of whom filed their annual tax returns.  As Ghana seeks to move beyond dependence on foreign aid, it must develop a solid domestic revenue base.  On the energy front, Ghana has enough installed power capacity to meet current demand, but it needs to reduce the cost of electricity by improving the management of its state-owned power distribution system.

Among the challenges hindering foreign direct investment are: costly and difficult financial services, lack of government transparency, corruption, under-developed infrastructure, a complex property market, costly and intermittent power and water supply, the high costs of cross-border trade, a burdensome bureaucracy, and an unskilled labor force.  Enforcement of laws and policies is weak, even where good laws exist on the books.  Public procurements are sometimes opaque, and there are often issues with delayed payments.  In addition, there have been troubling trends in investment policy over the last six years, with the passage of local content regulations in the petroleum, power, and mining sectors that may discourage needed future investments.

Despite these challenges, Ghana’s abundant raw materials (gold, cocoa, and oil/gas), relative security, and political stability, as well as its hosting of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat make it stand out as one of the better locations for investment in sub-Saharan Africa.  There is no discrimination against foreign-owned businesses.  Investment laws protect investors against expropriation and nationalization and guarantee that investors can transfer profits out of the country, although international companies have reported high levels of corruption in dealing with Ghanaian government institutions.  Among the most promising sectors are agribusiness and food processing; textiles and apparel; downstream oil, gas, and minerals processing; construction; and mining-related services subsectors.

The government has acknowledged the need to strengthen its enabling environment to attract FDI, and is taking steps to overhaul the regulatory system, improve the ease of doing business, and restore fiscal discipline.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings 
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 73 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2021 112 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in Ghana ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 USD 429 million https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 USD 2,340 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 

4. Industrial Policies 

5. Protection of Property Rights 

6. Financial Sector 

7. State-Owned Enterprises 

Ghana has 94 State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), 51 of which are wholly owned, while 43 are partially owned.  While the president appoints the CEO and full boards of most of the wholly owned SOEs, they are under the supervision of line ministries.  Most of the partially owned investments are in the financial, mining, and oil and gas sectors.  To improve the efficiency of SOEs and reduce fiscal risks they pose to the budget, in 2019 the government embarked on an exercise to tackle weak corporate governance in the SOEs as well as created the State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA), a single institution, to monitor all SOEs, replacing both the State Enterprises Commission and the Divestiture Implementation Committee.

As of December 2021, only a handful of large SOEs remain, mainly in the transportation, water, banking, power, and extractive sectors.  The largest SOEs are Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Ghana Ports and Harbor Authority (GPHA), Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Ghana National Gas Company Limited (GNGC), Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL), Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited (CBG), Bui Power Authority (BPA), and Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo).  Many of these receive subsidies and assistance from the government.  The list of SOEs can be found at: https://siga.gov.gh/state-interest/ .

While the Government of Ghana does not actively promote adherence to the OECD Guidelines, SIGA oversees corporate governance of SOEs and encourages them to be managed like Limited Liability Companies to be profit making.  In addition, beginning in 2014, most SOEs were required to contract and service direct and government-guaranteed loans on their own balance sheet.  The government’s goal is to stop adding these loans to “pure public” debt, paid by taxpayers directly through the budget.

Kenya

Executive Summary

Kenya has a positive investment climate that has made it attractive to international firms seeking a location for regional or pan-African operations.  The novel coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected the short-term economic outlook, but the country remains resilient in addressing the health and economic challenges.  In July 2020 the U.S. and Kenya launched negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, the first in sub-Saharan Africa.  Despite this progress, U.S. businesses operating in Kenya still face aggressive tax collection attempts, burdensome bureaucratic processes, and significant delays in receiving necessary business licenses.  Corruption remains pervasive and Transparency International ranked Kenya 128 out of 180 countries in its 2021 Global Corruption Perception Index – reflecting modest progress over the last decade but still well below the global average.

Kenya has strong telecommunications infrastructure and a robust financial sector and is a developed logistics hub with extensive aviation connections throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia.  In 2018, Kenya Airways initiated direct flights to New York City in the United States.  Mombasa Port is the gateway for East Africa’s trade.  Kenya’s membership in the East African Community (EAC), the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and other regional trade blocs provides it with preferential trade access to growing regional markets.

In 2017 and 2018 Kenya instituted broad reforms to improve its business environment, including passing the Tax Laws Amendment (2018) and the Finance Act (2018), which established new procedures and provisions related to taxes, eased the payment of taxes through the iTax platform, simplified registration procedures for small businesses, reduced the cost of construction permits, and established a “one-stop” border post system to expedite the movement of goods across borders.  However, the Finance Act (2019) introduced taxes to non-resident ship owners, and the Finance Act (2020) enacted a Digital Service Tax (DST).  The DST, which went into effect in January 2021, imposes a 1.5 percent tax on any transaction that occurs in Kenya through a “digital marketplace.”  The oscillation between business reforms and conflicting taxation policies has raised uncertainty over the Government of Kenya’s (GOK) long-term plans for improving the investment climate.

Kenya’s macroeconomic fundamentals remain among the strongest in Africa, averaging five to six percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth since 2015 (excepting 2020due to the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic), five percent inflation since 2015, improving infrastructure, and strong consumer demand from a growing middle class.  There is relative political stability and President Uhuru Kenyatta has remained focused on his “Big Four” development agenda, seeking to provide universal healthcare coverage, establish national food and nutrition security, build 500,000 affordable new homes, and increase employment by growing the manufacturing sector.

Kenya is a regional leader in clean energy development with more than 90 percent of its on-grid electricity coming from renewable sources.  Through its 2020, second Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement targets, Kenya has prioritized low-carbon resilient investments to reduce its already low greenhouse gas emissions a further 32 percent by 2030.  Kenya has established policies and a regulatory environment to spearhead green investments, enabling its first private-sector-issued green bond floated in 2019 to finance the construction of sustainable housing projects.

American companies continue to show strong interest to establish or expand their business presence and engagement in Kenya.  Sectors offering the most opportunities for investors include:  agro-processing, financial services, energy, extractives, transportation, infrastructure, retail, restaurants, technology, health care, and mobile banking.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 128 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 85 of 131 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 $339 http://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $11,067.86 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

In 2013, the Presidential Task Force on Parastatal Reforms (PTFPR) published a list of all state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and recommended proposals to reduce the number of State Corporations from 262 to 187 to eliminate redundant functions between parastatals; close or dispose of non-performing organizations; consolidate functions wherever possible; and reduce the workforce — however, progress is slow (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BytnSZLruS3GQmxHc1VtZkhVVW8/edit).  SOEs’ boards are independently appointed and published in Kenya Gazette notices by the Cabinet Secretary of the ministry responsible for the respective SOE.  The State Corporations Act (2015) mandated the State Corporations Advisory Committee to advise the GOK on matters related to SOEs.  Despite being public entities, only SOEs listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange publish their financial positions, as required by Capital Markets Authority guidelines.  SOEs’ corporate governance is guided by the constitution’s chapter 6 on Leadership and Integrity, the Leadership and Integrity Act (2012) (L&I) and the Public Officer Ethics Act (2003), which establish integrity and ethics requirements governing the conduct of public officials.

In general, competitive equality is the standard applied to private enterprises in competition with public enterprises.  Certain parastatals, however, have enjoyed preferential access to markets. Examples include Kenya Reinsurance, which enjoys a guaranteed market share; Kenya Seed Company, which has fewer marketing barriers than its foreign competitors; and the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK), which benefits from retail market outlets developed with government funds.  Some state corporations have also benefited from easier access to government guarantees, subsidies, or credit at favorable interest rates.  In addition, “partial listings” on the Nairobi Securities Exchange offer parastatals the benefit of accessing equity financing and GOK loans (or guarantees) without being completely privatized.

In August 2020, the executive reorganized the management of SOEs in the cargo transportation sector and mandated the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) to oversee rail, pipeline and port operations through a holding company called Kenya Transport and Logistics Network (KTLN).  ICDC assumes a coordinating role over the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), and Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC).  KTLN focuses on lowering the cost of doing business in the country through the provision of cost effective and efficient transportation and logistics infrastructure.

SOE procurement from the private sector is guided by the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (2015) and the published Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Regulations (2020) which introduced exemptions from the Act for procurement on bilateral or multilateral basis, commonly referred to as government-to-government procurement; introduced E-procurement procedures; and preferences and reservations, which gives preferences to the “Buy Kenya Build Kenya” strategy (http://kenyalaw.org/kl/fileadmin/pdfdownloads/LegalNotices/2020/LN69_2020.pdf).

Kenya is neither party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) nor an Observer Government.

Lesotho

Executive Summary

The Kingdom of Lesotho is a country open to and eagerly seeking foreign direct investment (FDI). Government, business, labor, and civil society leaders all strongly agree that attracting FDI is vital to Lesotho’s future. In 2021 the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho (GOKL) undertook many promising initiatives to make doing business in Lesotho easier. However, in 2020 GOKL took or proposed measures that concerned foreign entrepreneurs and investors. These included measures that treat foreign-owned businesses differently than in the past and which suggest to some foreign observers a turn towards economic nationalism.

Among the important reforms undertaken in 2020, GOKL introduced new e-licensing and e-registration platforms that promise to greatly reduce the time for business creation and licensing. New protocols for customs procedures promise to streamline importing and exporting. And at the highest levels GOKL has announced that to help Lesotho recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, GOKL will focus on making Lesotho an attractive destination for FDI.

While GOKL clearly recognizes the importance of FDI and has continued to enact policies to make foreign investment easier, 2020 also saw the rollout of rules intended to protect local entrepreneurs from foreign competition in designated sectors. In recent years, many migrants from Asia and other parts of Africa have started businesses in these designated sectors and the current government has announced aggressive measures to reverse this trend. These sectors—such as small retail food sales and basic auto repair—are dominated by local small and micro enterprises but some do have participation by medium-sized foreign-owned firms.

Although these regulations will have a negative effect on some foreign investors, they will have low impact on overall FDI because most businesses in the designated sectors are relatively small. However, the government has also enacted other regulations, such as requiring foreign investors to renew their business licenses yearly instead of every three years, a condition that many foreign investors describe as onerous to the point of impossibility given the bureaucratic challenges.

Moreover, recent policy debates within the government around proposals to mandate a minimum percentage of local ownership enterprises earmarked for the locals have caused real concern. In February, the government implemented the regulations in the used car motor dealership sector causing barriers to entry for investors. Uncertainty concerning the execution of the regulations in other sectors remains.

Lesotho’s economy and FDI were badly affected by COVID-19 in 2021, with several foreign-owned textile factories closing or cutting back on operations due to the global downtrend in demand. The government introduced measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the private sector. Other challenges included corruption; while not pervasive, corruption is a problem with Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranking Lesotho as 83rd out of 180 countries. Foreign investors are requested to adhere to international labor standards, however, there were reported instances of Gender Based Violence and Harassment (GBVH) in some textiles factories. The government, in collaboration with the stakeholders, is working to address GBV. Despite these challenges, GOKL is refining the services it offers foreign investors, and Lesotho retains advantages such as ready access to the South African and regional markets as well as lower labor, electricity, and communications costs than neighboring countries. Lesotho also has a government that remains focused on providing jobs to its citizens, and which has publicly proclaimed its eagerness to work with foreign investors—especially those ready to partner with locals.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perception Index 2021 96 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2015 118 of 141 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2019 $3 million https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2021 $11,067 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

Liberia

Executive Summary

Liberia offers opportunities for investment, especially in natural resources such as mining, agriculture, fishing, and forestry, but also in more specialized sectors such as energy, telecommunications, tourism, and financial services. The economy, which was severely damaged by more than a decade of civil wars that ended in 2003, has been slowly recovering, but Liberia has yet to attain pre-war levels of development. Liberia’s largely commodities-based economy relies heavily on imports even for most basic needs like fuel, clothing, and rice – Liberia’s most important staple food. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many sectors of the economy, which contracted in 2019 and 2020. However, the World Bank and IMF expect per capita GDP to return to pre-COVID-19 levels by 2023. Growth will be driven mainly by the mining sector, although structural reforms are also expected to increase activity in agriculture and construction.

Low human development indicators, expensive and unreliable electricity, poor roads, a lack of reliable internet access (especially outside urban areas), and pervasive government corruption constrain investment and development. Most of Liberia lacks reliable power, although efforts to expand access to the electricity grid are ongoing through an extension from the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant, connection to the West Africa Power Pool, and other internationally supported energy projects. Public perception of corruption in the public sector is high, as indicated by Liberia’s poor showing in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, where Liberia ranked 136 out of 180 countries. Low public trust in the banking sector and seasonal currency shortages result in most cash being held outside of banks. To remedy this, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in 2021 initiated a plan to print and circulate additional currency. The new printing and minting will provide 48 billion Liberian dollars through 2024. The CBL and commercial banks have also successfully pushed the adoption of mobile money, which Liberians access through their mobile phones to make everyday purchases and pay bills. However, the government has yet to activate the “national switch,” meaning banking instruments like ATMs and mobile money accounts remain unintegrated and are not interoperable.

The government-backed Business Climate Working Group (BCWG) works with public and private sector stakeholders to explore how to create a friendlier business environment.  International donors also work with the government to improve the investment climate, which ranks toward the global bottom by most global measures. Despite these numerous challenges, Liberia is rich in natural resources. It has large expanses of potentially productive agricultural land and abundant rainfall to sustain agribusinesses. Its rich mineral resources offer significant potential to investors in extractive industries. Several large international concessionaires have invested successfully in agriculture and mining, though negotiating these agreements with the government often proves to be a lengthy and byzantine struggle. The fishing industry, long dormant compared to pre-war levels, is making improvements that should make it more attractive for investment.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 136 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2020 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in Liberia ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2019 -$94 million https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $570 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Liberia has approximately 20 state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which are governed by boards of directors and management teams overseen by government ministries. All are wholly government-owned and semi-autonomous. The president of Liberia appoints board members and directors or managers to govern and run SOEs. The Public Financial Management (PFM) Act defines the requirements for SOEs.

SOEs employ more than 10,000 people in sea and airport services, electricity supply, oil and gas, water and sewage, agriculture, forestry, maritime, petroleum importation and storage, and information and communication technology services. Not all SOEs are profitable, and some citizens and advocacy groups have called for SOEs to be dissolved or privatized. Liberia does not have a clearly defined corporate code for SOEs. Reportedly, high-level officials, including some who sit on SOE boards, influence government-owned enterprises to conduct business in ways not consistent with standard corporate governance. Not all SOEs pay taxes, or do so transparently, and SOE revenue is not always transparently reported or adequately reflected in national budgets.

Malawi

Executive Summary

Malawi’s economy was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gross domestic product growth slowed to 0.9 percent in 2020, but rebounded slightly in 2021, expanding by 2.2 percent. The government forecasts this trend will continue and forecasts growth of 4.5 percent by 2023. Macroeconomic and fiscal challenges remain, however. The government’s heavy debt burden and persistent fiscal deficits are likely to restrain economic expansion that outpaces population growth. Inflation was 9 percent in 2021, driven largely by currency devaluation and price increases for imported goods, primarily fuel, fertilizers, and food. The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture and is particularly vulnerable to climate related shocks.

The Government of Malawi is eager to attract foreign direct investment. Investment opportunities exist in agricultural, mining, health, transportation, information technology, and energy sectors. Transportation is a potential growth sector as the government works to improve the road network and rehabilitate railway lines connecting Malawi to Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania. Public-private partnership opportunities are likely to open in aviation and road networks. Corruption remains a major problem at all levels of the public and private sectors. There is a scarcity of skilled and semi-skilled labor. Political risk in Malawi is manageable and tribal, religious, regional, ethnic, or racial tensions are minimal.

The Malawi Investment and Trade Center assists investors and businesses by providing insight and local knowledge to help navigate the myriad regulations, processes, and procedures required to operate a business. Malawi’s legal system is generally unbiased but is notoriously slow. Investors have the right to establish, acquire, and dispose of interests in business enterprises. Parliament is scheduled to review existing land laws in early 2022. If passed, the reforms may negatively affect foreign ownership and investment in land-based enterprises.

Scarcity of foreign exchange (forex) remains a challenge and negatively affects investors. The government aims to maintain a three-month supply of forex, but often falls short of that goal. Forex rationing has led to several months wait for business to remit foreign investment funds. Despite the long wait times, there are currently no restrictions on remittance of foreign investment funds if the capital and loans initially came from foreign sources and were registered with the Reserve Bank of Malawi.

Malawi is a land-locked country and the road network connecting to ports in neighboring countries is limited. Investment in infrastructure overall has been limited. Formal and informal trade boundaries may restrict imports and exports, and import tariffs tend to be high. Malawi is one of the least electrified countries in the world; approximately eleven percent of the country has access to regular electricity and internet is unreliable, and expensive.

The government is committed to addressing climate change through climate smart policies and programs. The Environmental Management Act provides details on environmental requirements for investors and ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs). Climate change issues are integrated across the public service and national development plans. However, limited resources and issues related to poverty impede the government’s ability to implement climate adaptation and resilience programs and initiatives.

Malawi’s borders are open to local and international travelers, but all travelers are required to present negative COVID-19 test results and certificate of COVID-19 vaccination.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 110 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 107 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 USD 188 million https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 USD 580 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Malawi has 71 public enterprises, 20 of which are SOEs. A full list of the SOEs is available by request from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), but the government does not publish the list in the media or online except in conjunction with the announcement of board members of public enterprises. The government has bailed out several SOEs when they incurred heavy losses. SOE finance and operations data is opaque and not available to the public. Malawi’s SOEs are not required to adhere to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs. Corporate governance for the various SOEs is mandated by the law that established the entity. All public enterprises report to their sector-related line ministry, to the Department of Statutory Corporations in the OPC, and have a Chairperson and Board of Directors. The President appoints the board of directors, usually politicians, religious & traditional leaders, and professionals. Boards also include senior government officials as ex-officio/non-voting members. The participation of members as ex-officio/non-voting members, and of politicians as directors, creates a perceived and/or real conflict of interest.

Public and private enterprises are subject to the same terms and conditions, and must compete for access to markets, credit, and business opportunities. Public enterprises are given special preference by the government in the case of public projects. Personal relationships play a significant role in influencing business decision-making. Public enterprises in agriculture, education, and health sectors spend more on research and development than the private sector. Local firms tend to be capital-constrained and highly skilled labor is scarce. There is not a strong tradition of private sector-led research and development in Malawi.

Mozambique

Executive Summary

Mozambique’s lengthy coastline, deep-water ports, favorable climate, rich soil, and vast natural resources give the country significant potential, but investors face challenges related to the business environment. The Government of the Republic of Mozambique (GRM) made progress on public financial management reforms and publishing budget and debt figures, took steps to reform State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and arrested or prosecuted high-level officials on corruption-related charges. It reached an agreement with the IMF and promoted dialogue with the private sector and donor community on economic reforms. Challenges include Mozambique’s opaque and complicated taxation policies, barriers to private land ownership, corruption, an underdeveloped financial system, high interest rates, poor infrastructure, and difficulties obtaining visas. Infrastructure outside of Maputo is often poor, while bureaucracy and corruption slow trade at many points of entry. Mozambican labor law makes it difficult to hire and fire workers, and court systems are bogged down in labor disputes. The domestic workforce also lacks many advanced skills needed by industry, and the visa regime makes bringing in foreign workers difficult.

Insecurity related to a terrorist insurgency in northern Mozambique has resulted in multi-billion-dollar onshore LNG projects being delayed, although a smaller offshore floating LNG platform remains on track to begin production by October 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the extractive industry and tourism sector, and pandemic-related restrictions affected many other economic sectors. Following a recession in 2020, the economy returned to 2.5 percent economic growth in 2021. In 2022, the GRM began to ease some restrictions, although COVID-19 measures have continued to limit the hours restaurants and other businesses can operate and impose testing requirements on travelers.

Mozambique is eager to partner with the United States on climate issues, although it lacks resources. It joined the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C) and is considering joining the Global Methane Pledge. As the GRM made progress on rural electrification, it incorporated solar energy and solicited investment for hydropower projects. U.S. development agencies and international financial institutions contributed to energy projects in solar and natural gas. The U.S. Department of Energy helped identify areas where small renewable solar and wind projects could be built alongside agricultural activities. These areas may provide opportunities for sustainable foreign direct investment in the renewable energy market. Mozambique is a growing producer of critical minerals, including graphite, lithium, and titanium. In 2021, Mozambique joined the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, enabling Mozambique to legally export diamonds.

The GRM worked constructively with the United States and other members of the donor community. In March 2022, it reached an agreement with the IMF for a three-year, $470 million program that aims to reinforce economic recovery while addressing challenges related to debt and financing and encouraging good governance and improved management of public resources. The GRM is working with the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) towards signing a second MCC compact (Compact II) in 2023. Compact II will entail business-enabling reforms and will undertake investments in Zambézia Province that focus on transportation infrastructure, commercial agriculture, and climate change mitigation. While Compact II is still under development, it has potential to contribute to key sectors and help create an enabling environment for additional investments.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 147 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2021 122 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 $491 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/  
World Bank GNI per capita (USD) 2020 $460  https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD   

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

According the State Holdings Management Institute (IGPE), Mozambique has twelve SOEs , 18 companies  that are majority state-owned, and 23 companies  with minority state ownership, which IGPE does not consider to be SOEs.

Some of the largest SOEs, such as Airports of Mozambique (Aeroportos de Moçambique) and Electricity of Mozambique (Electricidade de Moçambique), have monopolies in their respective industries.  In some cases, SOEs enter into joint ventures with private firms to deliver certain services.  For example, Ports and Railways of Mozambique (CFM, Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique) offers some concessions. Many SOEs benefit from state subsidies.  In some instances, SOEs have benefited from non-compete contracts that should have been competitively tendered.  SOE accounts are generally not transparent and not thoroughly audited by the Supreme Audit Institution.  Unsustainable SOE debt represents a liability for the GRM, and SOEs were at the heart of the hidden debt scandal revealed in 2016.

In 2018, the Parliament passed Law no. 3/2018, which broadens the definition of SOEs to include all public enterprises and shareholding companies.  The law seeks to unify SOE oversight and harmonize the corporate governance structure, instituting additional financial controls, borrowing limits, and financial analysis and evaluation requirements for SOEs.  The law requires the oversight authority to publish a consolidated annual report on SOEs, with additional reporting requirements for individual SOEs.  The Council of Ministers approved regulations for the SOE law in early 2019, and in 2020 the MEF published limited information on SOE debt.

The GRM is working with the IMF and the international donor community in an effort to reform its SOEs. In March 2021, the GRM hired a consulting company to study models for restructuring SOEs and selected four SOEs to be restructured: Mozambican Insurance Company (EMOSE), the Correios de Moçambique (Post Office), the Sociedade de Gestão Imobiliária (DOMUS) and the Matola Silos and Grain Terminal (STEMA).

Sierra Leone

Executive Summary

Sierra Leone, with an estimated population of 8.2 million people (2022 World Population Review), is located on the coast of West Africa between the Republic of Guinea in the north and northeast, the Republic of Liberia in the south and southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west, with a land area of 71,740 square kilometers and a humid tropical climate.

Sierra Leone emerged from a decade-long civil war in 2002 and has been politically stable with remarkable religious tolerance among its people. Since 2002, the country economically outperformed other west African countries before it was struck by an outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in 2014. When the country emerged out of the Ebola scourge in 2015, the government turned to foreign direct investment (FDIs) to return the economy to the pre-Ebola growth trajectory.

Sierra Leone was recovering from the ravages of the Ebola epidemic of 2014-15 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020 and took a heavy toll on the economy. The government’s quick and decisive response, which comprised the COVID-19 Health Preparedness and Response Plan and the Quick Action Economic Response Program (QAERP), focused on saving lives and livelihoods to prevent a more significant outbreak. The containment measures addressed broader economic and social concerns combined with strained debt. The government’s 2021 budget prioritized COVID-19 and was augmented by concessional support, primarily in the form of grants from development partners. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in August 2021, Sierra Leone grappled with severe and persistent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic amidst signs of early economic recovery.

Economic activity dipped sharply in 2020 with elevated inflation and limited fiscal space.

Sierra Leone offers significant investment potential across numerous sectors. The country is rich in mineral reserves and natural resources with a favorable tropical climate, fertile soil advantageous for agriculture, extensive continental shelf with multiple varieties of fishery resources, a natural environment offering touristic prospects, and vast mineral resources, especially iron ore, diamonds, gold, rutile, ilmenite, and bauxite. Possibilities also exist in energy, water, telecommunications, and other infrastructure. FDIs are crucial to the country’s economic recovery. Therefore, there has been a continuous drive and policy focus on encouraging FDIs into the country.

There are, however, legislative, institutional, and regulatory challenges to investment, including governance, the rule of law, business and human rights, dispute resolution, finance, and banking. Poor quality and limited infrastructure also pose significant investment challenges as the country lacks the capacity necessary to support practical commercial activities. Challenges similarly persist in corruption, skilled labor, accessing land, high-interest rates, and contract enforcement. The government’s policy focus has been to address all these impediments and shape the economic fundamentals for investment to flourish.

Sierra Leone has potential in six primary areas: agriculture, fisheries, mining, tourism, energy, and construction. The country is endowed with a favorable tropical climate with a wide-ranging fertile soil advantageous for agriculture. It also provides an extensive continental shelf with numerous fishery resources, a natural environment offering touristic prospects, and vast mineral resources, especially iron ore, diamonds, gold, rutile, ilmenite, and bauxite. There are also opportunities for public-private partnership projects in energy, water, telecommunications, and other infrastructure. Opportunities further exist for investors to benefit from several preferential trade agreements. These include duty-free access to the Mano River Union market of more than 50 million, ECOWAS market of over 420 million, and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement of about fifty-four African countries with a combined population of more than one billion. The country also benefits from the European Union’s Everything but Arms initiative and the United States African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

President Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), who ruled briefly as head of a military regime in 1996, replaced President Ernest Bai Koroma in April 2018.  His administration took over a poverty-stricken and debt-burdened country with an elevated level of corruption and fiscal indiscipline. His development aspirations are outlined in the comprehensive medium-term National Development Plan (MTNDP) launched in 2019 to span through 2023. The plan is built on human capital development and economic diversification in agriculture, fisheries, and tourism to facilitate the country’s transformation from a fragile state to a stable and prosperous democracy that would achieve middle-income status by 2035. His foreign policy agenda prioritized economic diplomacy and he has traveled to many countries seeking and marketing Sierra Leone as an investor-friendly country. The government is calling on investors in all sectors of the economy as it looks for private sector-led economic growth and development.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 115 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country (stock positions) 2021 N/A https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $510 USD http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

Sierra Leone has bilateral investment treaties with Germany, in force since 1966, the United Kingdom in 1981 and revised in 2001, China signed in 2001 but not yet entered into force, and United Arab Emirates, signed in 2019 but not yet in force. These treaties protect investors with fair and equitable treatment and defense against unlawful expropriation. Though not yet in force since signing in 2001, China and Sierra Leone reaffirmed their commitment to deepening the relationship by a memorandum of understanding signed when President Bio visited China in 2018.

Sierra Leone also benefits from its membership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States, signed in 2014 with no bilateral taxation treaty. Double bilateral taxation treaties exist with Norway, South Africa, and the UK, extended to Canada, Denmark, Ghana, New Zealand, Nigeria, and The Gambia. However, the Ministry of Finance plans to review all existing treaties and work on the requested treaties from Kenya and Qatar.

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Sierra Leone has more than 20 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) mainly active in the utilities, transport, and financial sectors. There is no official or comprehensive government-maintained list of SOEs. There is no official or comprehensive government-maintained list of SOEs. However, notable examples include the Guma Valley Water Company, the Sierra Leone Telecommunication Company, the Electricity Distribution, and Supply Authority, the Electricity Generation and Transmission Company, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, the Rokel Commercial Bank, the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Company, to name but a few. Some of these SOEs are governed by an independent board of directors, while the relevant government ministries supervise others.

Sierra Leone is not a party to the Government Procurement Agreement within the WTO Framework. SOEs may engage in commerce with the private sector, but they do not compete on the same terms as private enterprises, and they often have access to government subsidies and other benefits. SOEs in Sierra Leone do not play a significant role in funding or sponsoring research and development.

South Africa

Executive Summary

South Africa boasts the most advanced, broad-based economy in sub-Saharan Africa. The investment climate is fortified by stable institutions; an independent judiciary and robust legal sector that respects the rule of law; a free press and investigative reporting; a mature financial and services sector; and experienced local partners.

In dealing with the legacy of apartheid, South African laws, policies, and reforms seek economic transformation to accelerate the participation of and opportunities for historically disadvantaged South Africans. The Government of South Africa (GoSA) views its role as the primary driver of development and aims to promote greater industrialization, often employing tariffs and other trade measures that support domestic industry while negatively affecting foreign trade partners. President Ramaphosa’s October 2020 Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan unveiled the latest domestic support target: the substitution of 20 percent of imported goods in 42 categories with domestic production within five years. Other GoSA initiatives to accelerate transformation include labor laws to achieve proportional racial, gender, and disability representation in workplaces and prescriptive government procurement requirements such as equity stakes and employment thresholds for historically disadvantaged South Africans. In January 2022, the World Bank approved South Africa’s request for a USD 750 million development policy loan to accelerate the country’s COVID-19 response. South Africa previously received USD 4.3 billion from the International Monetary Fund in July 2020 for COVID-19 response. This is the first time that the institutions have supported South Africa’s public finances/fiscus since the country’s democratic transition.

In November 2021 at COP 26 the GoSA, the United States, the UK, France, Germany, and the European Union (EU) announced the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). The partnership aims to accelerate the decarbonization of South Africa’s economy, with a focus on the electricity system, to help achieve the ambitious emissions reduction goals laid out in South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in an inclusive, equitable transition. The partnership will mobilize an initial commitment of USD 8.5 billion over three-to-five years using a variety of financial instruments.

South Africa continues to suffer the effects from a “lost decade” in which economic growth stagnated, hovering at zero percent pre-COVID-19, largely due to corruption and economic mismanagement. During the pandemic the country implemented one of the strictest economic and social lockdown regimes in the world at a significant cost to its economy. South Africa suffered a four-quarter technical recession in 2019 and 2020 with economic growth registering only 0.2 percent growth for the entire year of 2019 and contracting -6.4 percent in 2020. In a 2020 survey of over 2,000 South African businesses conducted by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), over eight percent of respondents permanently ceased trading, while over 36 percent indicated short-term layoffs. Although the economy grew by 4.9 percent in 2021 due to higher economic activity in the financial sector, the official unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 34.9 percent. Other challenges include policy certainty, lack of regulatory oversight, state-owned enterprise (SOE) drain on the fiscus, widespread corruption, violent crime, labor unrest, lack of basic infrastructure and government service delivery and lack of skilled labor.

Due to growth in 2021, Moody’s moved South Africa’s overall investment outlook to stable; however, it kept South Africa’s sovereign debt at sub-investment grade. S&P and Fitch ratings agencies also maintain assessments that South Africa’s sovereign debt is sub-investment grade at this time.

Despite structural challenges, South Africa remains a destination conducive to U.S. investment as a comparatively low-risk location in Africa, the fastest growing consumer market in the world. Google (US) invested approximately USD 140 million, and PepsiCo invested approximately USD 1.5 billion in 2020. Ford announced a USD 1.6 billion investment, including the expansion of its Gauteng province manufacturing plant in January 2021.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 70 of 175 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 61 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 $3.5 billion https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $6,010 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) play a significant role in the South African economy in key sectors such as electricity, transport (air, rail, freight, and pipelines), and telecommunications. Limited competition is allowed in some sectors (e.g., telecommunications and air). The GoSA’s interest in these sectors often competes with and discourages foreign investment.

There are over 700 SOEs at the national, provincial, and local levels. Of these, seven key SOEs are overseen by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and employee approximately 105,000 people. These SOEs include Alexkor (diamonds); Denel (military equipment); Eskom (electricity generation, transmission, and distribution); Mango (budget airlines); South African Airways (national carrier); South African Forestry Company (SAFCOL); and Transnet (transportation). For other national-level SOEs, the appropriate cabinet minister acts as shareholder on behalf of the state. The Department of Transport, for example, oversees South African’s National Roads Agency (SANRAL), Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), and Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), which operates nine of South Africa’s airports. The Department of Communications oversees the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). A list of the seven SOEs that are under the DPE portfolio are found on the DPE website at: https://dpe.gov.za/state-owned-companies/ . The national government directory contains a list of 128 SOEs at: https://www.gov.za/about-government/contact-directory/soe-s .

SOEs under DPE’s authority posted a combined loss of R13.9 billion (USD 0.9 billion) in 2019 (latest data available). Many are plagued by mismanagement and corruption, and repeated government bailouts have exposed the public sector’s balance sheet to sizable contingent liabilities. The debt of Eskom alone represents about 10 percent of GDP of which two-thirds is guaranteed by government, and the company’s direct cost to the budget has exceeded nine percent of GDP since 2008/9.

Eskom, provides generation, transmission, and distribution for over 90 percent of South Africa’s electricity of which 80 percent comes from 15 coal-fired power plants. Eskom’s coal plants are an average of 41 years old, and a lack of maintenance has caused unplanned breakdowns and rolling blackouts, known locally as “load shedding,” as old coal plants struggle to keep up with demand. Load shedding reached a record 1136 hours as of November 30, 2021, costing the economy an estimated USD eight billion and is expected to continue for the next several years until the GoSA can increase generating capacity and increase its Energy Availability Factor (EAF). In October 2019 the DMRE finalized its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity, which outlines South Africa’s policy roadmap for new power generation until 2030, which includes replacing 10,000 MW of coal-fired generation by 2030 with a mix of technologies, including renewables, gas and coal. The IRP also leaves the possibility open for procurement of nuclear technology at a “scale and pace that flexibly responds to the economy and associated electricity demand” and DMRE issued a Request for Information on new nuclear build in 2020. In accordance with the IRP, the GoSA approved the procurement of almost 14,000 MW of power to address chronic electricity shortages. The GoSA held the long-awaited Bid Window 5 (BW5) of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP) in 2021, the primary method by which renewable energy has been introduced into South Africa. The REIPPPP relies primarily on private capital and since the program launched in 2011 it has already attracted approximately ZAR 210 billion (USD 14 billion) of investment into the country. All three major credit ratings agencies have downgraded Eskom’s debt following Moody’s downgrade of South Africa’s sovereign debt rating in March 2020, which could impact investors’ ability to finance energy projects.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the monopoly responsible for South Africa’s ports, charges some of the highest shipping fees in the world. High tariffs on containers subsidize bulk shipments of coal and iron. According to the South African Ports Regulator, raw materials exporters paid as much as one quarter less than exporters of finished products. TNPA is a division of Transnet, a state-owned company that manages the country’s port, rail, and pipeline networks. In May 2020 S&P downgraded Transnet’s local currency rating from BB to BB- based on a generally negative outlook for South Africa’s economy rather than Transnet’s outlook specifically.

South Africa’s state-owned carrier, South African Airways (SAA), entered business rescue in December 2019 and suspended operations indefinitely in September 2020. The pandemic exacerbated SAA’s already dire financial straits and complicated its attempts to find a strategic equity partner to help it resume operations. Industry experts doubt the airline will be able to resume operations. United Airlines and Delta Air Lines provide regular service between Atlanta (Delta) and Newark (United) to Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The telecommunications sector, while advanced for the continent, is hampered by poor implementation of the digital migration. In 2006, South Africa agreed to meet an International Telecommunication Union deadline to achieve analogue-to-digital migration by June 1, 2015. The long-delayed migration is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2022, and while potential for legal challenges remain, most analysts believe the migration will be completed in 2022. The independent communications regulator initiated a spectrum auction in September 2020, which was enjoined by court action in February 2021 following suits by two of the three biggest South African telecommunications companies. After months of litigation, the regulator agreed to changes some terms of the auction, and the auction took place successfully in March 2022. One legal challenge remains, however, as third-largest mobile carrier Telkom has alleged the auction’s terms disproportionately favored the two largest carriers, Vodacom and MTN. Telkom’s case is due to be heard in April 2022, and its outcome will determine whether the spectrum allocation will proceed.

The GoSA appears not to have fulfilled its oversight role of ensuring the sound governance of SOEs according to OECD best practices. The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture in the public sector has outlined corruption at the highest echelons of SOEs such as Transnet, Eskom, SAA and Denel and provides some explanation for the extent of the financial mismanagement at these enterprises. The poor performance of SOEs continues to reflect crumbling infrastructure, poor and ever-changing leadership, corruption, wasteful expenditure and mismanagement of funds.

South Sudan

Executive Summary

Trade and investment conditions in South Sudan improved slightly in the past year, but many challenges remain. The Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) continued to implement the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), although key provisions on security, governance, and transitional justice remain outstanding. The transitional government continued implementing public financial management (PFM) reforms including stabilizing the South Sudanese Pound (SSP).

In its February 2022 report entitled “ Towards a Jobs Agenda,” the World Bank provided a “cautiously positive” forecast the economy could grow by 3.5 to 5.0 percent in productive sectors including household processing and artisanal production “if the peace process holds.” However, peace agreement implementation is significantly behind schedule. The country remains plagued by large-scale population displacement, widespread food insecurity, restricted humanitarian access, harassment of aid workers and journalists, and catastrophic flooding for the third straight year.

The South Sudan economy is highly dependent on oil-revenue. The transitional government did not institute any new programs in the past year to diversify the country’s economy. South Sudan’s oil sector is fraught with corruption and mismanagement. The country’s oil-producing firms and the Ministry of Petroleum remain on the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List . The U.S. government assesses the 15 entities BIS added to the Entity List are contributing to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan “because they are a source of substantial revenue that, through public corruption, is used to fund the purchase of weapons and other material that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan rather than support the welfare of the South Sudanese people.”

Corruption and malfeasance extend beyond the oil sector. Transparency International ranked South Sudan the world’s most corrupt country in its 2021 rankings . Additionally, a September 2021 UN Human Rights Commission report highlighted the link between South Sudan’s human rights violations and economic crimes.

Humanitarian and development aid is a major source of employment. The difficulties humanitarian service providers face of arbitrary and conflicting regulations, multiple layers of taxation, airport and border obstructions, labor harassment, and looting of warehouses demonstrate what private investors can expect to encounter.

The legal system is underfunded, dysfunctional, and subject to corrupt practices and interference. Government entities do not enforce laws equitably or consistently. Corrupt government officials operate with impunity. The legal framework governing investment and private enterprises remains underdeveloped. Contract dispute litigants are sometimes arrested and imprisoned until they agree to pay a financial settlement even when never charged an offense or brought to court.

Other factors inhibiting investment in South Sudan include a lack of skilled and unskilled labor and limited physical infrastructure riddled with arbitrary checkpoints. The International Peace Information Service (IPIS) published a December 2021 report  that found checkpoints make transport in South Sudan among the most expensive in the world.

The U.S. Department of State maintains a Do Not Travel Advisory for South Sudan due to crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 180 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2021 N/A https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2015 1,090 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

The Nile Petroleum Corporation (Nilepet) is the primary SOE in South Sudan. The government, through Nilepet, holds minority stakes in other oil producing joint ventures operating in South Sudan. The 2013 Petroleum Revenue Management Act governs how Nilepet’s profits are invested, but Nilepet does not release information on its activities, even though Chapter IX of the 2013 Petroleum Revenue Management Act states comprehensive, audited reports on the company’s finances must be made publicly available. Nilepet’s revenues and expenditures are not disclosed in the central government budget.

Nilepet’s director does not report to the Minister of Petroleum and the government is not transparent about how it exercises ownership or control of Nilepet.

Nilepet is on the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List. See 83 FR 12475 .

The government also owns stakes in construction and trade companies and several banks. It is difficult to obtain information on the number, total income, and employment figures of SOEs in South Sudan. There is no published list of SOEs.

The country does not adhere to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs.

Sudan

Executive Summary

Following the end of the 30-year regime of Omar Bashir in 2019, Sudan’s military and a coalition of civilian opposition groups agreed to a three-year power-sharing agreement under the Civilian-Led Transitional Government (CLTG) that was to culminate with a popularly elected government in 2022. The clock on that agreement was reset to 2024 with the integration of former armed opposition groups into the CLTG following the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement on October 3, 2020. The transition ended abruptly on October 25, 2021, when the country’s military, led by General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, seized power and ousted the CLTG, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The military takeover precipitated a political crisis that continues into 2022. Sudanese citizens, angered and frustrated by the military’s seizure of power, initiated a series of regular nationwide protests demanding a return to civilian rule. In January 2022, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) launched a mediation effort aimed at bringing together a broad range of civilian actors to begin negotiations on a political solution to restore Sudan’s democratic transition; the African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development later joined that effort.

During its two-year administration, the CLTG initiated a series of political, economic, and legal reforms. In cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government pursued a program that reduced or eliminated several costly subsidy programs, improved fiscal discipline and public financial management, adopted currency and tariff reforms, and launched a revision of its commercial laws. The international community, under U.S. government leadership, took actions to dramatically reduce Sudan’s outstanding $56 billion international debt by paying off debt arrears owed to International Financial Institutions and organizing debt relief among creditors nations. A popularly supported “Dismantling Committee,” in concert with the Ministry of Justice, was intended to root out corruption, identify and seize illegally obtained assets, and return much of the national wealth that was spirited out of the country by Bashir-era cronies.

The October 25 military takeover stalled most CLTG reform efforts and threatens to reverse the gains of the previous two years. Sudan’s current military leadership dismissed most of the civilian ministers, including the Prime Minister, appointing in their place “caretaker” ministers absent legal authority to do so. The international community has imposed significant costs on Sudan’s military regime for its actions. The United States has paused all non-humanitarian assistance to Sudan, and much assistance from bilateral donors and International Financial Institutions also remain paused. The United States government has been clear that the only path to restoring financial assistance is predicated on restoring Sudan’s democratic transition. The ongoing political turmoil has produced economic uncertainty, a depreciating national currency, price increases, and shortages of grain, fuel, medicine, and other imported commodities.

The sectors of greatest interest to foreign investors remain mineral extraction (primarily gold, non-precious metals, oil, and natural gas) and agriculture. Sudan’s infrastructure is in significant need of modernization and expansion. Many American companies have inquired about investment opportunities and visited Sudan with an expressed interest in direct investment and promotion of U.S. products. The Sudanese have expressed a robust interest in obtaining U.S. goods, services, technologies, and training/capacity building programs. However, a lack of domestic investment capital, poor infrastructure, burdensome bureaucracy, endemic corruption, and low household incomes create challenges for any company considering the Sudanese market.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 164 of 175 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2021 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2021 N/A https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $650 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) associated with the military and security services play an unusually large role in the Sudanese economy and are currently involved in a range of commercial activities, including fuel storage, natural gas projects, solar panel manufacturing, infrastructure, the railroad sector, cotton and textiles, and food industries, including flour milling, bread production, and animal husbandry. Approximately 220 out of approximately 650 SOEs cataloged by the CLTG are associated with Sudan’s military and security services. Reportedly, many of these SOEs are inefficient and poorly managed; however, reforming and transferring them to civilian control has been politically sensitive. Although the CLTG made SOE reform a centerpiece of its broader economic and governance reform program, this agenda has stalled because of the military takeover.

As part of the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF) program, Sudanese authorities committed to take the following actions by June 2022: (1) endorse an ownership strategy that sets forth the oversight and management framework for SOEs and guiding principles for a review of the existing stock of SOEs; (2) publish end-2021 financial statements and audit reports for ten priority SOEs and creating a calendar for annual publication of these reports thereafter; and (3) publish a complete list of SOEs, including those in the intelligence sector. SOE audits from previous years exist but authorities have not yet made them public. The U.S. government, in concert with the IMF, continues to press the Sudanese authorities to accelerate their review of SOE operations and publish the aforementioned documents as steps toward greater transparency and adherence to its IMF program. However, military authorities have resisted these reform efforts.

Tanzania

Executive Summary

The United Republic of Tanzania achieved lower-middle income country status in July 2020, following two decades of sustained economic growth. The country’s solid macroeconomic foundation, sound fiscal policies, rich natural endowments, and strategic geographic position have fostered a diverse economy resilient to external shocks. This proved critical as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an economic downturn, though Tanzania avoided a more severe pandemic-induced recession.

The Government of Tanzania (GoT) welcomes foreign direct investment. In March 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan assumed the presidency following the death of President John Pombe Magufuli. In her first months in office, President Hassan promised reforms to improve the business climate and identified attracting foreign investment as a key priority. This commitment to increasing investment has continued throughout her tenure and economic issues remain at the forefront of the administration’s policies, strategies, and goals. President Hassan’s government has sought to engage stakeholders, including local private sector organizations and development partners, to improve the business climate and regain investor confidence. Consistent with this shift in rhetoric, significant changes to improving the business environment and investment climate have been made over the past year: improving the complex, and sometimes inconsistent, work permit issuance process for foreign workers and investors; streamlining Tanzania Investment Center (TIC) operations; disbandment of the special ‘Tax Task Force’ previously associated with heavy-handed and arbitrary tax enforcement; and strengthening regional trade cooperation.

However, while several laws have been reviewed, business climate legislative reforms have not yet been sweeping. There remain significant legislative obstacles to foreign investment such as the Natural Resources and Wealth Act, Permanent Sovereignty Act, Public Private Partnership Act, and the Mining Laws and Regulations. Despite pledges by President Hassan and senior government officials, these have yet to be resolved; rather, the administration has selectively eased the application of these laws. The primary business and investment challenges lie in tax administration; opening and closing businesses; inconsistent institutions compounded by corruption and requests for “facilitation payments” at many levels of government; late payment issues; and cross-border trade obstacles. In recent years, aggressive and arbitrary tax collection policies targeted foreign and domestic companies and individuals alike, and tough labor regulations made it difficult to hire foreign employees, even when the required skills were not available within the local labor force. Corruption, especially in government procurement, taxation, and customs clearance remains a concern for foreign investors, though the government has prioritized efforts to combat the practice.

The country’s drastic and improved shift in its acknowledgement of and approach to COVID-19 in 2021 led to the creation and implementation of a national COVID-19 response plan that addressed both health and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. Tanzania has reengaged with the international community to support implementation of its robust national pandemic response plan with key pillars for improving data sharing, welcoming vaccines, and conducting vaccination outreach campaigns.

Sectors traditionally attracting U.S. investment include infrastructure, transportation, energy, mining and extractive industries, tourism, agriculture, fishing, agro-processing, and manufacturing. Other opportunities exist in workforce development, microfinance solutions, technology, and consumer products and services.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 87 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2021 90 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country (historical stock positions) 2020 USD 1,510 Million https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2019 USD 1,080 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Public enterprises do not compete under the same terms and conditions as private enterprises because they have access to government subsidies and other benefits. SOEs are active in the power, communications, rail, telecommunications, insurance, aviation, and port sectors. SOEs generally report to ministries and are led by a board. Typically, a presidential appointee chairs the board, which usually includes private sector representatives. SOEs are not subjected to hard budget constraints. SOEs do not discriminate against or unfairly burden foreigners, though they do have access to sovereign credit guarantees.

Specific details on SOE financials and employment figures are not publicly available.

As of June 2019, the GoT’s Treasury Registrar reported shares and interests in 266 public parastatals, companies and statutory corporations ( view the most recent Treasury Registrar report ).

Uganda

Executive Summary

Uganda’s investment climate presents both important opportunities and major challenges for U.S. investors. With a market economy, ideal climate, ample arable land, a young and largely English-speaking population, and development underway of fields containing at least 1.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil, Uganda offers numerous opportunities for investors. Despite the negative effects of COVID-19 related countermeasures on the economy, including a 40-day July-August 2021 national lockdown, according to the Bank of Uganda (BOU), the economy grew by 6.5% in 2021, recovering from 1.5% contraction in 2020. On a fiscal year basis, the economy grew by 3.3% in FY 2020/21 (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021) compared to 3% in FY 2019/20. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is still yet to recover from pre-pandemic levels, with receipts dropping by 35% to $847 million in FY 2020/21 compared to $1.3 billion in FY 2019/20. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects FDI to rebound due to oil-related investments projected at $10 billion over the next five years and the IMF also projects Uganda’s economy to return to pre-pandemic growth that averaged 5.3% from 2014 to 2019. Oil-related investments were spurred by the February 1, 2022 announcement by Uganda and its partners – Tanzania, TotalEnergies, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and the state-owned Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) – of final investment decision (FID) on upstream oil production, with first oil expected in 2025.

Uganda maintains a liberal trade and foreign exchange regime. In 2021, the IMF approved a $1 billion Extended Credit Facility (ECF) to the government to enable the country to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and spur economic recovery. Uganda received the first tranche of $258 million in June 2021 and the second tranche of $125 million in March 2022. As the economy begins to recover, Uganda’s power, agricultural, construction, infrastructure, technology, and healthcare sectors present attractive potential opportunities for U.S. business and investment.

President Yoweri Museveni and government officials vocally welcome foreign investment in Uganda. However, the government’s actions sometimes do not support its rhetoric. The closing of political and democratic space, poor economic management, endemic corruption, growing sovereign debt, weak rule of law, growing calls for protectionism from some senior policymakers, and the government’s failure to invest adequately in the health and education sectors all create risks for investors. U.S. firms often find themselves competing with third-country firms that cut costs and win contracts by disregarding environmental regulations and labor rights, dodging taxes, and bribing officials. Shortages of skilled labor, a complicated land tenure system, and increased local content requirements, also impede the growth of businesses and serve as disincentives to investment.

An uncertain mid-to-long-range political environment also increases risk to foreign businesses and investors. President Museveni was declared the winner in the widely disputed and discredited January 2021 general elections and started a five-year term in May 2021 after 35 years already in power. Domestic political tensions increased following election-related violence and threats to democratic institutions. Many of Uganda’s youth, a demographic that comprises 77% of the population, openly clamor for change. However, the 77-year-old President has not provided any indication that he or his government are planning reforms to promote more inclusive, transparent, and representative governance.

On the legislative front, Uganda’s parliament passed a Mining and Minerals Bill on February 17, 2022, aimed at reforming the mining sector and attracting larger mining companies to exploit Uganda’s cobalt, copper, nickel, rare earth, and other mineral deposits. However, the private sector has noted that the bill could limit potential international investment since it contains high tax and free carried interest provisions and insufficient legal protections for mining firms.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 144 of 180 https://www.transparency.org/en/cpi/2021/index/uga
Global Innovation Index 2021 119 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 $50 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/factsheet.html#446
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $800 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD?locations=UG

 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Uganda has thirty State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). However, the Ugandan government does not publish a list of its SOEs, and the public is unable to access detailed information on SOE ownership, total assets, total net income, or number of people employed. The government has not established any new SOEs in 2021 but has ramped up expenditure for car manufacturer Kiira Motors Corporation. While there is insufficient information to assess the SOEs’ adherence to the OECD Guidelines of Corporate Governance, the Ugandan government’s 2021 Office of Auditor General report noted corporate governance issues in seven SOEs. In February 2021, the Ugandan government embarked on a plan to merge some of the SOEs to reduce duplication of roles and costs of administration. This process is still ongoing. SOEs do not get special financing terms and are subject to hard budget constraints. According to the Ugandan Revenue Authority Act, they have the same tax burden as the private sector. According to the Land Act, private enterprises have the same access to land as SOEs. One notable exception is the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), which receives proprietary exploration data on new oil discoveries in Uganda. UNOC can then sell this information to the highest bidder in the private sector to generate income for its operations.

Zambia

Executive Summary

Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa that shares a border with eight countries: Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. It has an estimated population of 17.86 million, GDP of $19.3 billion and GDP per capita of USD $1,086.

Zambia has been in a financial and economic crisis since at least 2020, when the country became the world’s first COVID-era default after Zambia missed a payment on $3 billion of outstanding Eurobonds. The Zambian economy contracted in 2020 by 3.0 percent and grew by a meager 1.0 percent in 2021. The IMF forecasts 2022 real GDP growth of only 1.1 percent. Zambia’s debt overhang remains a severe inhibitor of economic growth, effectively eliminating the government’s access to international capital markets and forcing it to finance a persistent budget deficit through domestic borrowing, which crowds out private sector access to capital and limits growth.

Despite broad economic reforms and debt relief under the World Bank’s Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative in the early 2000s, Zambia has generally struggled to meet its full economic potential. A decade of democratic and economic backsliding under former President Edgar Lungu and the Patriotic Front resulted in widespread use of corruption and economic rent-seeking that has further damaged Zambia’s reputation as an investment destination. Cumbersome administrative procedures and unpredictable legal and regulatory changes continue to inhibit Zambia’s immense potential for private sector investment, compounded by insufficient transparency in government contracting, ongoing lack of reliable electricity, and a high cost of doing business due to poor infrastructure, high cost of capital, and the lack of skilled labor.

President Hakainde Hichilema achieved a resounding victory at the polls in August 2021 on a platform of democratic and economic reform and renewal. By December 2021, Zambia achieved staff-level agreement with the IMF on a $1.4 billion Extended Credit Facility that is expected to anchor macroeconomic and fiscal reforms and restore investor confidence. With the appointment of respected economists and technocrats to lead the Ministry of Finance and the central bank, the Hichilema administration has made significant strides reducing inflation, which has dropped from nearly 25.0 percent in July 2021 to 13.1 by the end of March 2022. The Hichilema administration is currently seeking debt restructuring under the auspices of the G-20 Common Framework, which would provide the basis for IMF board approval of Zambia’s Extended Credit Facility. A successful businessman and investor in his own right, President Hichilema has pledged to tackle fiscal and regulatory reforms aimed at strengthening Zambia’s investment climate.

Zambia remains highly dependent on its mining and extractives industry. It is Africa’s second-largest producer of copper and is an important source of several other critical minerals, including nickel and cobalt. According to the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative, mining products accounted for 77 percent of Zambia’s total export earnings and 28 percent of government revenues in 2019. Investment in the mining sector fell substantially during the Lungu era due to multiple changes to Zambia’s minerals tax regime and an unstable regulatory environment. The Hichilema administration in its maiden budget introduced a key reform to Zambia’s minerals tax policy that is expected to attract new investment in the sector. The agriculture, healthcare, energy, financial services, and ICT sectors all offer potentially attractive opportunities for expanded U.S. trade and investment.

The U.S. Embassy works closely with the American Chamber of Commerce of Zambia (AmCham) to support its American and Zambian members seeking to increase two-way trade. Agriculture and mining remain headlining sectors for the Zambian economy. U.S. firms are present and are exploring new projects in tourism, power generation, agriculture, and services.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 117 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 121 of 190 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 $21 https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.cfm
World Bank GNI per capita 2020  $1,160 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/
NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To and Restrictions Upon Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

There are currently 34 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) operating in different sectors in Zambia including agriculture, education, energy, financial services, infrastructure, manufacturing, medical, mining, real estate, technology, media and communication, tourism, and transportation and logistics. Most SOEs are wholly owned, or majority owned by the government under the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) established in 2015. Zambia has two categories of SOEs: those incorporated under the Companies Act and those established by particular statutes, referred to as statutory corporations. There is a published list of SOEs in the Auditor General’s annual reports; SOE expenditure on research and development is not detailed. There is no exhaustive list or online location of SOEs’ data for assets, net income, or number of employees. Consequently, inaccurate information is scattered throughout different government agencies/ministries. The majority of SOEs have serious operational and management challenges.

In theory, SOEs do not enjoy preferential treatment by virtue of government ownership, however, they may obtain protection when they are not able to compete or face adverse market conditions. The Zambia Information Communications Authority Act has a provision restricting the private sector from undertaking postal services that would directly compete with the Zambia Postal Services Corporation. Zambia is not party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the WTO, however private enterprises are allowed to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations such as licenses and supplies.

SOEs in Zambia are governed by Boards of Directors appointed by government in consultation with and including members from the private sector. The chief executive of the SOE reports to the board chairperson. In the event that the SOE declares dividends, these are paid to the Ministry of Finance. The board chair is informally obliged to consult with government officials before making decisions. The line minister appoints members of the Board of Directors from within public service, the private sector, and civil society. The independence of the board, however, is limited since most boards are comprised of a majority of government officials, while board members from the private sector or civil society that are appointed by the line minister can be removed.

SOEs can and do purchase goods or services from the private sector, including foreign firms. SOEs are not bound by the GPA and can procure their own goods, works, and services. SOEs are subject to the same tax policies as their private sector competitors and are generally not afforded material advantages such as preferential access to land and raw materials. SOEs are audited by the Auditor General’s Office, using international reporting standards. Audits are carried out annually, but delays in finalizing and publishing results are common. Controlling officers appear before a Parliamentary Committee for Public Accounts to answer audit queries. Audited reports are submitted to the president for tabling with the National Assembly, in accordance with Article 121 of the Constitution and the Public Audit Act, Chapter 378.

In 2015, the government transferred most SOEs from the Ministry of Finance to the revived Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The move, according to the government, was to allow line ministries to focus on policy making thereby giving the IDC direct mandate and authorization to oversee SOE performance and accountability on behalf of the government. The IDC’s oversight responsibilities include all aspects of governance, commercial, financing, operational, and all matters incidental to the interests of the state as shareholder.

Zimbabwe

Executive Summary

Zimbabwe suffered serious economic contractions in 2019 and 2020 due to the economic mismanagement, the extended effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate shocks that crippled agriculture and electricity generation. According to the government of Zimbabwe, the economy recovered strongly, growing by 7.8 percent, in 2021 although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates the economy grew by 6.1 percent, thanks to increased agricultural production, high commodity prices, and improved capacity utilization in the manufacturing sector. The government expects the economy to grow by 5.5 percent in 2022 as the negative impacts of COVID-19 subside. International financial institutions also project positive but more modest growth, with the IMF forecasting a real GDP growth of 3.1 percent in 2022. Inflation remained high in 2021, but steadily declined to end the year at 60.6 percent. Authorities attributed the decline to the introduction of a weekly foreign exchange auction system in June 2020 and fiscal consolidation that resulted in near balanced budgets in 2020 and 2021. However, the inflation rate has continued to rise to 72.7 percent by March 2022 due to the negative effects of the Russia-Ukraine war on commodity prices as well as the depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar. Zimbabwe’s local currency has lost 79 percent of its value relative to the U.S. dollar since the government adopted an auction system on June 23, 2020. A gap between the auction and parallel-market exchange rates has persisted, with U.S. dollars more than twice as expensive on the parallel market.

To improve the ease of doing business, the government formed the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) in 2020, intended as a one-stop-shop to promote and facilitate both domestic and foreign investment in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s incentives to attract FDI include tax breaks for new investment by foreign and domestic companies, and making capital expenditures on new factories, machinery, and improvements fully tax deductible. The government waives import taxes and surtaxes on capital equipment. It has made gradual progress in improving the business environment by reducing regulatory costs, but policy inconsistency and weak institutions have continued to frustrate businesses. Corruption remains rife and there is little protection of property rights, particularly with respect to agricultural land. Historically, the government has committed to protect property rights but has also expropriated land without compensation.

The Finance Act (No 2) at the end of 2020 amended the Indigenization Act by removing language designating diamonds and platinum as the only minerals subject to indigenization (requiring majority ownership by indigenous Zimbabweans), finally ending indigenization requirements in all sectors. However, the new legislation also granted broad discretion to the government to designate minerals as subject to indigenization in the future. The government subsequently issued statements to reassure investors that no minerals will be subject to indigenization, including diamonds and platinum.

The government ended its 2019 ban on using foreign currencies for domestic transactions in March 2020. However, the authorities decreed businesses selling in foreign exchange must surrender 20 percent of the receipts to the central bank in exchange for local currency at the overvalued auction rate. Exporters must surrender 40 percent of foreign currency earnings at the unfavorable auction rate.

Zimbabwe owes approximately US$10.7 billion (US$6.5 billion of which is in arrears) to international financial institutions accounting for 71 percent of the country’s GDP. The country’s high external debt (public and private) limits its ability to access official development assistance at concessional rates. Additionally, domestic banks do not offer financing for periods longer than two years, with most financing limited to 180 days or less. The sectors that attract the most investor interest include agriculture (tobacco, in particular), mining, energy, and tourism. Zimbabwe has a well-earned reputation for the high education levels of its workers.

Although the United States has a targeted sanctions program against Zimbabwe, it currently applies to only 83 individuals and 37 entities.  The U.S. Government imposed sanctions against specifically identified individuals and entities in Zimbabwe, as a result of the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons that undermine democratic institutions or processes in Zimbabwe, violate human rights, or facilitate corruption.  U.S. companies can do business with Zimbabwean individuals and companies that are not on the specially designated nationals (SDN) list.

After reaching US$745 million in 2018, Zimbabwe witnessed significant declines in foreign direct investment (FDI). According to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), FDI inflows into Zimbabwe fell from US$280 million in 2019 to US$194 million in 2020.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 157 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2021 113 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 (D) https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/  
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 USD 1,140 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD   

(D) – Information suppressed to avoid disclosure of data of individual companies.

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Zimbabwe has 107 state-owned enterprises (SOEs), defined as companies wholly owned by the state. A list of the SOEs appears here . Many SOEs support vital infrastructure including energy, mining, and agribusiness. Competition within the sectors where SOEs operate tends to be limited. However, the government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) invites private investors to participate in infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships (PPPs). Most SOEs have public function mandates, although in more recent years, they perform hybrid activities of satisfying their public functions while seeking profits. SOEs should have independent boards, but in some instances such as the recent case of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), the government allows the entities to function without boards.

Zimbabwe does not appear to subscribe to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines on corporate governance of SOEs. SOEs are subject to the same taxes and same value-added tax rebate policies as private sector companies. SOEs face several challenges that include persistent power outages, mismanagement, lack of maintenance, inadequate investment, a lack of liquidity and access to credit, and debt overhangs. As a result, SOEs have performed poorly. Few SOEs produce publicly available financial data and even fewer provide audited financial data. SOE poor management and lack of profitability has imposed significant costs on the rest of the economy.

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