David Fickling Sydney

GENERAL Electric (GE) will invest about $2 billion (R21bn) in African nations by 2018 and sees the continent as its most promising growth region.

The money would be spent building new infrastructure projects, training local workers and improving regional supply chains, among other activities, the company said yesterday. The American industrial titan already supplies trains for Nigeria’s railway network and aircraft engines for Kenya Airways.

GE is increasing spending as the US is shifting from supplying aid towards investing in the lowest-income continent, a point emphasised as the US-Africa Leadership Summit kicked off in Washington yesterday.

Foreign direct investment in sub-Saharan Africa rose 16 percent last year to $43bn, close to a record level, according to the World Bank.

“We remain a committed partner to Africa’s sustainable growth,” Jeff Immelt, GE’s chairman and chief executive, said. The company has “great momentum in Africa and other developing regions”.

GE’s Middle East and Africa region is one of just two, with the Pacific Basin, to have increased sales over the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue from the region was 33 percent higher last year than five years earlier, a period when global sales fell 21 percent.

Africa is the fastest-growing continent, according to a report by the African Development Bank last year.

Global capital spending by GE has amounted to $51.03bn over the past four fiscal years. It had $49bn in assets in the Middle East and Africa at year-end. – Bloomberg