Friday, February 4, 2011

Want more FDI in Africa? Get a foreign-trained leader

You know the mantra: if you want to get funding for a project, you need to be well connected. It turns out the same holds true at the macroeconomic level for foreign direct investment in Africa.

Indeed, Amelie Constant and Bienvenue Tien point out that have an head of state educated abroad increases on average FDI by up to 100%. And 40% of African leaders obtained their tertiary education outside of the continent. More importantly, it is once you have some FDI flows going that the foreign connection becomes important. Indeed, for countries in the lower quantiles of FDI, foreign education of the leader has no impact. But if there significant FDI, then it matters a lot. It is not clear why, perhaps part of the story is that low FDI countries cannot attract funds no matter what. And why would foreign education matter? It is probably not because of human capital, as those with tertiary education in Africa do worse, but still better than those without tertiary education. It must be the connections.

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