Global foreign direct investment (FDI) announcements were buoyant in November, as tech firms outlined significant expansion plans alongside growth in the building materials and pharmaceuticals sectors.

The fDi Index, which tracks foreign investors’ sentiment, stood at 899 points in November, up by 13.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest figures from fDi Markets. This is the second-highest index score since before the pandemic, when 1007 points were recorded in November 2019.

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Foreign investors announced 1076 greenfield FDI projects globally in November, up slightly from the 1046 projects a month earlier, thanks in part to the international expansion plans of software and IT services companies. 

Tech FDI projects in November were almost double the number recorded in the same month of 2020. Meanwhile, pharmaceuticals saw the second-highest increase in projects of any sector over the same period, followed by building materials and business services.

Signs of international expansion on the horizon continued to break records. Investor signals — a major component of the fDi Index that gives an early indication of future investment plans — stood at 486 in November, the highest number ever tracked in a single month.

Cementing Africa’s revival

FDI projects worth an estimated $8.6bn were announced across Africa in November, the highest monthly total recorded for the continent since December 2019, according to the latest fDi Markets figures.

More than half of announced capex came from Germany’s Hyphen Hydrogen Energy’s plans to invest $4.4bn into the first phase of a utility-scale green hydrogen project in the Tsau Khaeb national park in Namibia.

“Namibia is one of a few countries in the world with particularly suitable conditions for green hydrogen, as we have a sea that meets the desert,” Nangula Uaandja, the chief executive of the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board, previously told fDi.

Africa accounted for the lion’s share of the rise in FDI projects in the global building materials sector in November, too. More than 85% of the estimated $2.9bn pledged globally went to the continent, as several projects aimed at growing demand for housing and infrastructure in West Africa were unveiled.

Cement manufacturer Ciments de l’Afrique (CIMAF), which operates as a subsidiary of Morocco’s Omnium des Industries et de la Promotion Group, secured a €161.5m loan from the IFC and other development finance institutions to expand cement production. This will enable CIMAF to expand capacity at its existing grinding plants in Mali and Ghana, and launch a new integrated cement plant in Senegal.

“Supporting local manufacturing will help countries in West Africa reduce their reliance on imports, strengthen local supply chains and create new job opportunities,” Sérgio Pimenta, IFC’s regional vice president for Africa said in a statement.

India-based Mangal Industries also signed a contract with China’s Sinoma to construct a $600m cement production facility and power plant in the northern Nigerian state of Kogi. 

Americans look abroad

US-based investors also sought more opportunities abroad than at home in November. They announced 217 projects in foreign markets, compared with 167 interstate projects.

Notably, Amazon Web Services plans to invest over $17bn in Canada by 2037, including more than $3bn into a new cloud computing server hub in Calgary. The Calgary cloud region is expected to create at least 950 full-time equivalent jobs in Canada.

Meanwhile, professional services giant PwC unveiled plans to invest $1.25bn into China by 2026, creating 20,000 new jobs as part of efforts to scale up strategically important areas such as environmental, social and corporate governance and digital. 

“China continues to perform remarkably well despite ongoing global challenges,” Raymund Chao, PwC’s chairman for Asia Pacific and China said in a statement. US-based electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Lucid Motors also announced plans to open a factory in China.

The most capital-intensive US interstate project in November was announced by Ohio-based branded food manufacturer JM Smucker. The company will invest $1.1bn to build a new production facility and distribution centre in Jefferson County, Alabama.

The largest FDI project tracked in the US was German copper producer Aurubis’s plans to build a €300m metal-recycling plant in the state of Georgia, where economic developers aim to create an entire EV supply chain.

Renewables continue lead

The renewable energy sector saw FDI projects worth an estimated $8.9bn in November, maintaining its position as the industry with the largest capital pledges.

Notably, Canadian green energy solutions provider Grasshopper Energy announced plans to develop, build and operate new solar capacity in Romania as part of a partnership signed with Prince Stefan Sturdza, a representative of the old Romanian and Moldavian aristocratic family.

“This exciting partnership with Grasshopper Energy will pave the road to a cleaner and more sustainable energy infrastructure in Romania and better position our nation within the European clean energy market,” Prince Sturdza said in a statement. The Romanian government aims to increase its renewable energy capacity by seven gigawatts by 2030.