New study says 66% of institutional investors choose Africa as number one destination. No wonder. Have you seen the size of that place?

A new survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit finds when institutional investors interested in frontier markets were asked to choose two regions out of five, two-thirds see Africa as holding the greatest opportunity.

Asia came in second with 44% and Latin American third with 29%.

Africa emerged from the financial crisis relatively unscathed growing 2.8% during 2009 and the IMF  forecasts continent-wide GDP growth of just under 6% in 2012. That is faster than Asia (including Japan) and Australasia and double the expected global growth rate of 2.9%.

A 2010 McKinsey study forecast that Africa’s combined economy would grow by $1 trillion by 2020, taking it to a total of $2.6 trillion.

Despite the robust growth and rosy outlook institutional investment on the continent is in its infancy with one in three organizations with more than $10 billion under management having no exposure to the continent.

That is will change rapidly however and within four years says the EIU all expect to have funds flowing into Africa. On top of that institutions are switching to long term investments rather than hot money.

The study says while macroeconomic and political risks definitely still exist, investors’ concerns have shifted to Africa’s technical issues like illiquid capital markets; evidence of how far the continent have progressed in terms of overall stability.

Africa contains 54 countries and a total population of 1 billion and its biggest problem remains “to overcome deeply entrenched perceptions” says the EIU.

One such misconception is a fairly banal one: Africa is in reality much bigger than it appears on maps – the land mass can accommodate the US, China, India, Japan and Europe.

Click on the map below for a detailed geographical infographic. Click here to download the Economist Intelligence Unit and Invest AD report titled Into Africa.

Some avid cartographers have raised issues with this Kai Krause map from 2010, but concluded “however you look at it, his point is a good one.”

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