Unrest in Libya has gone from bad to worse, thousands have been killed in Ivory Coast clashes and Nigeria is about to take on elections that could rock the already volatile oil-rich country.
With Egypt's economy battered after the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak and governments like Zimbabwe rife with corruption, the outlook for stability in the world's poorest continent is bleak.
Yet, when it comes to the continent's future, many economists are echoing the same message: invest. And investors are actually following the advice.
Inflated commodities prices -- oil is trading at its highest in more than two years -- have swelled returns on the resource-rich continent, full of untapped reserves of metals such as gold, platinum, copper and iron ore. That, coupled with a growing middle class of more than a billion people means huge economic potential, said Johan de Bruijn, a portfolio manager at Emerging Markets Management, an investment firm based in Arlington, Va.
"It's absolutely inevitable that despite any kind of political upheaval or cross border risk, the world attention is focusing more and more on Africa, " de Bruijn said.
Investors are starting to view more developed emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, China and India, which have brought back soaring 150 percent returns since the global meltdown, as overvalued, says Richard Marston, the director of a center for international financial research at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
As a result, they are now moving to frontier markets: the less developed emerging economies such as markets in Africa.
"You have a bit of a scramble right now from investors who want to be the first and want the reward of being first," said Bobby Pittman, the vice president for infrastructure at the African Development Bank, which provides loans and grants to promote investment in Africa.
Nile Pan Africa Fund, one of a few U.S. based actively managed mutual funds focusing exclusively on Africa, has seen some of those rewards. It outperformed the S&P 500 stock index by 16 percentage points in its first eight months since going public in April 2010.
Some of the world's biggest corporations are also eyeing the continent's potential: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is finalizing plans for its billion-dollar takeover of a South African retailer.
To be sure, investing in Africa isn't for the weak-hearted, especially those who can't endure short-term volatility.
High-reward investment destinations come with high risks. Aside from the conflicts currently rolling across North Africa, the continent is facing more than a dozen presidential elections this year. The continual political unrest is a reminder that the continent may not be as stable as investors would wish. The Nile Pan Africa Fund, for example, fell 4 percent in the first quarter of 2011.
What makes Africa even riskier than other emerging market funds is that -- aside from South Africa -- it's made up of relatively small markets, said Karin Anderson, a mutual fund analyst for Morningstar.
"Given all the volatility we can expect this year, it seems like a very difficult place for most investors to stick with," Anderson said. "You're kind of playing a couple of sectors in a couple countries, which means more volatility and goes against the idea of adding diversification to a portfolio."
Anderson also said Africa doesn't have the depth, trade valuing, regulation levels and corporate government levels of other emerging markets, making it harder for fund managers to determine which firms to invest with.
But some experts say that investors with long-term views will ride out the risks.
Indeed, even the turmoil in northern Africa could be a positive for investment down the road.
"As a result of these demonstrations, you're getting change in governments in North Africa," said Mark Mobius, chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets, which manages $54 billion in emerging market funds. The Templeton frontier markets funds -- ones focusing on emerging markets with less liquid markets such as in Africa -- have increased 12 fold to $1.2 billion since they opened two years ago.
Mobius added, "The biggest barrier to growth in these countries is the governments -- governments taking too big a share of the wealth and not using if efficiently." Better corporate governance means better disclosure, which makes it easier to predict when to invest and when to withdraw, he said.