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Foreign Investment Drops for Africa's Poorest

UN Reports Declining Foreign Investment In Five Poorest African Countries

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in five least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa declined in 2002 and though two other nations on the continent made small gains, they did not keep pace with large recent losses, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said today.

It listed the five LDCs as Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic and Malawi, while the two other African countries were Botswana and Zimbabwe. In the countries with extractive industries, most investment went to that sector, but even that amount declined, UNCTAD said.

In oil-rich, cash-poor Angola, foreign inflows slumped to $1.3 billion from $2.1 billion in 2001. New offshore oil projects were expected to keep Angola as one of the top FDI recipients in Africa, however, according to the agency.

Gold production fell in Burkina Faso, where FDI dropped to $8.2 million from $23 million. "Some recovery is expected, however, as the economy is further liberalized and FDI in the services sector picks up," UNCTAD said.

Despite rich resources in the Central African Republic, "which has witnessed cycles of political instability," FDI there slid to $4.3 million in 2002 from $5.2 million in 2001.

Flows into Burundi were nil in 2001 and 2002 after reaching $11.7 million in 2000.

Investment funds were withdrawn from Malawi "because of structural problems," -- $32 million in 2000 and $20 million in 2001, the agency said, but the country neither gained nor lost investment in 2002.

Of the two non-LDCs, Botswana's FDI turned around in 1995 after four years in the red and marginally increased to $32 million in 2002 from $31 million in 2001. Zimbabwe, "experiencing problems with its reforms," recovered somewhat and reached $26 million in FDI in 2002, plummeting from a peak of $444 million in 1998 to $4 million in 2001, UNCTAD said.

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