This isn't on the investing public's radar at all. In fact, as far as most investors are concerned, this place doesn't even exist.
But right now the World Bank, along with a small, publicly traded company that we'll show you in a moment, is on a $1 billion quest to map sub-Saharan Africa's mineral wealth.
That's a big, expensive job, of course, but the inevitable payoff will reach into the trillions.
$1 trillion never came so cheaply.
And we have the perfect opportunity to play along, before anyone else even realizes this is happening…
An Ancient Market Is New Again… and It's Red Hot
The ancients knew Africa as a place of opportunity, of extraordinary plenty, rich in gold, silver, diamonds, timber – a resource investor's dream. And that's still true. It hasn't changed.
But that immense wealth proved – for a time – to be a curse, as rapacious exploitation dominated the African scene from the 16th century until very recently. That troubled history, and all the ills that followed, have tended to put modern investors off of the immense opportunities Africa is offering – all over again.
The growing global demand for resources means that a lot of money and energy is being put toward eliminating old obstacles to investing in Africa. At the same time, representative democracy and better government is on the rise in many of the continent's countries.
And that great confluence of trends means that this time, foreign investors and Africa's own people will be able to benefit from the resource rush.
And that rush is starting now. Just look at the chart above. According to Financial Times, foreign investment in Africa will set a record this year, rising to $84 billion, surpassing even pre-2008 crisis levels.
China Is a Huge Player Here… but There's Plenty of Room
China is Africa's largest trading partner, with much of their activity focused on resources. And it's no wonder.
The U.S. Geological Survey has ranked Africa as having the No. 1 or No. 2 reserves of bauxite, cobalt, industrial diamonds, manganese, phosphate rock, platinum group metals, and zirconium.
Now oil is becoming increasingly prevalent as well.
As you can see in this chart at right, the Chinese have earned considerable goodwill on the continent through major investments in infrastructure projects like roadways and power transmission.
A study by KPMG, a global audit, tax, and advisory services firm, revealed that in 2012, 16% of Africa's exported commodities (by value) made their way to China and came from 23 different African nations. Nearly one-third of China's imported oil is African.
Last September China's Tianjin Minerals inked a deal worth $990 million for 16.5% of a Sierra Leone iron ore mine owned by African Minerals Ltd. In 2012, Shandong Iron & Steel Group forked over $1.5 billion to help finance African Minerals' operations.
This Is the Most Lucrative Mega-Project on Earth
So finding ever more resources has become a top priority.
That's why the World Bank has committed $200 million to a five-year fund and has been meeting with mining companies and governments from sub-Saharan Africa.
About the Author
Peter Krauth is the Resource Specialist for Money Map Press and has contributed some of the most popular and highly regarded investing articles on Money Morning. Peter is headquartered in resource-rich Canada, but he travels around the world to dig up the very best profit opportunity, whether it's in gold, silver, oil, coal, or even potash.