General Electric Co. (GE) will invest about $2 billion in Africa by 2018 to expand in what
Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt calls one of the world’s most-promising markets.
“Africa is one of the most important growth areas, purely from an economic standpoint,”
Immelt said at a media event for the start of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington
being hosted by President Barack Obama. “It’s early. It’s in very early days for Africa, so
there’s still a lot yet to be done and the notion of having the summit here says that it’s important.
”GE won about $8.3 billion in orders in Africa over the last year as it accelerates operations
in a continent where Immelt said sales were “almost zero” in 2000. Revenue there last year
was $5.2 billion, according to GE, which estimates that Africa’s basic infrastructure needs
could generate $90 billion in investment opportunities.
The Africa spending planned by GE will go to develop facilities, improve supply chains and
train workers, according to a statement from the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company. GE’s
Africa business includes supplying locomotives for Nigeria and aircraft engines for Kenya
Airways Ltd. Last year, GE announced one of its largest-ever power-plant orders when it signed
gas-turbine deals totaling $2.7 billion from a unit of Sonelgaz, Algeria’s national electricity and
gas company. Algeria is one of the biggest countries in Africa for GE investment, Immelt said.
Foreign direct investment in sub-Saharan Africa rose 16 percent in 2013 to $43 billion, close
to a record level, according to the World Bank. Africa is the world’s fastest-growing continent,
according to a 2013 report by the African Development Bank Group. The U.S.-Africa Leaders
Summit is aimed at boosting economic ties to help nurture growth. The U.S. government is
shifting from supplying aid toward investing in Africa, the world’s lowest-income continent.
Angola’s government announced plans in June to buy $1 billion of trains and power generators
from GE. The deal was part of the U.S.’s Power Africa initiative, a privately funded plan announced
last year by Obama to increase access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.