The 'Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index 2016' (84-page / 4.68 MB PDF) said South Africa’s "more established financial institutions and business environment" are among the reasons that 26% of survey respondents placed it at the top of the 'most promising' ranking for nations in the region.
Nigeria was ranked second in SSA, with 17.5% of respondents, followed by Kenya (15%) and Ghana (10.1%). However, Nigeria jumped 10 places to 17th in the overall ranking of 45 countries featured in the index, which was compiled by analysis and research firm Transport Intelligence.
Nigeria’s ranking "reflected the country's 'rebasing' of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014", the index said. Nigeria’s new GDP figures, which have 2010 as the base year, "give due weight to fast-growing industries such as mobile telecoms and film-making that have sprung up since then".
"Having risen 10 places in the combined ranking, it may well serve as a warning to those excited by (Nigeria’s) potential that its infrastructure is likely to severely limit growth unless significant progress is made," the index said.
A "particularly surprising statistic" highlighted by the index was that Kenya has become the third largest emerging market air export trade lane by tonnage, "exceeding not just its continental competitors such as South Africa and Nigeria but even the likes of India".
Mining was ranked highest by survey respondents (28.1%) in terms of sectors in SSA expected to have the "greatest potential" for future growth in emerging markets. Just over 11% of survey respondents thought the oil and gas sector had the greatest capacity to drive growth in the region.
According to the index, "while there may be some amount of consensus behind Africa’s most promising markets, (with) 58.5% agreeing that South Africa, Nigeria or Kenya deserve this title... the suggestion is of a gap between recognising the traits of a promising market and entering a market".
The index said: "In such circumstances, it may be that logistics markets in Africa are opportunities best addressed with low-risk strategies over the short- and medium-term, such as joint ventures or partnership agreements."
A World Bank report published last year said South Africa was the top market for private participation in infrastructure investment in the first half of 2015.
Separate research published last August found that a total of $9.3 billion in 'impact investment' funds had flowed into East Africa over the past five years, with almost half of that amount being disbursed in Kenya. The 'Landscape for impact investing in East Africa' report, based on research funded by the UK Department for International Development’s impact programme, said the investments in Kenya exceeded $650 million in that period.
Last month, China pledged "to help break Africa’s twin development bottlenecks of inadequate infrastructure and human resources" with a package of "low-interest loans" and new investments. China singled out railways, aviation and telecoms as key sectors for potential increased trade and investment across Africa.