The Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) made a bold investment when it acquired the South African tire company Tiger Automotive in 2014. The acquisition signaled Carlyle’s interest in the rapidly developing African market, but it wasn’t the first time the firm had dabbled in African business. Only two days before, the company announced that it had acquired an 18 percent stake in Nigeria’s Diamond Bank for $147 million.

Both deals gave investors a vote of confidence in a promising but uncertain region. Africa is still a risk for investors, but it’s becoming less so for companies that want to stay globally competitive. Firms from France, the U.K., the Netherlands, China and India are already on the ground in Africa, creating fierce competition. American companies like Carlyle took note of the rising investment trend and are now making their own moves into Africa’s markets. Here are five of the most noteworthy deals of the past year that reflect growing opportunities in the region:

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