Emerging Markets in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Africa

Sometimes referred to by the acronym MENA (Middle East-North Africa), this region is one of great risk offering potentially huge returns. Many, although not all, of the countries in the region draw their economic power from petroleum. If you want to invest your money in emerging markets, make careful decisions about doing so in the Middle East, North Africa, or South Africa.

The Middle East and North Africa have suffered from enormous upheaval. Many of these nations allow polygamy, which has led to a surplus of unmarried men. Many of these men are educated but they can't find suitable work. Many nations have experienced ongoing upheaval and protests (starting with the "Arab Spring" of 2011), which have hindered economic growth.

Africa has enormous potential, and South Africa shows how economic growth happens; it's the dominant economy south of the Sahara. After Nelson Mandela was elected president in 1994, he did a masterful job of bringing the people together and creating a culture of reconciliation. But that doesn't mean that it's all sunshine and ponies in modern South Africa. The people have a high rate of HIV infection, community crime is a serious problem, and educated people of all ethnicities are tempted to leave for opportunities elsewhere. Still, the country's peaceful transition is amazing; South African leaders raised their standards, reassured their citizens, and convinced businesses and consumers all over the world to trade with the nation again. The 2010 World Cup took place in South Africa, bringing in tourist dollars, infrastructure improvements, and positive public relations. The ports, soil, climate, and minerals that attracted colonists are still in place and the envy of most of the world.

The following table shows the key stats of a few emerging markets in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Africa.

Country Government Major Industries GDP per Capita/Median Age MSCI 2009 Equity Market Return (in U.S. dollars)
Egypt Republic Cement, chemicals, construction, energy, food processing, hydrocarbons, light manufacturing, metals, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, textiles, tourism, transportation $6,600/24.8 years 44.49%
Morocco Constitutional monarchy Construction, energy, food processing, leather goods, phosphate rock mining and processing, textiles, tourism $5,300/27.7 years –16.47%
South Africa Republic Electronics, fertilizer, motor vehicles and parts, textiles $11,300/25.5 years 14.79%
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