In order to analyze the coordination relationship between investment potential and economic development and its driving mechanisms, this study integrated the entropy weight method, coupling coordination degree model, exploratory spatial data analysis, geographic detector, and geographically weighted regression model. The developed approach was applied using data from 51 African countries from 2008 to 2016. The results showed that: (1) While the level of economic development in the African continent has increased steadily, the overall investment potential needs to be improved. The mean economic development index rose from 0.116 to 0.151, but the economic gap among countries was still highly evident. (2) Uncoordinated development and barely coordinated development level were the dominant types of relationship between investment potential and economic development in African countries. The spatial distribution showed significant agglomeration characteristics; the sub-hot spot and sub-cold point regions maintained strong dependence with their hot spot and cold point counterparts. The hot spot areas gradually formed an agglomeration in Southern Africa and highly fragmented distribution in other areas. The cold spot areas formed a spatial distribution pattern of “one core and one belt” with some countries in Western Africa forming the core, while some Central and East African countries constituting the belt. (3) The coordination relationship between investment potential and economic development was influenced mainly by factors including economic base, residents’ living standard, industrial construction level, information support level, and business friendliness. Using geographically weighted regression coefficient distribution of indicators, the driving mechanisms of spatial distribution could be divided into five types: economic base driven, industry-driven, information application-driven, business convenience-driven, and consumer market-driven.
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