To help Africa find the path to its long-deserved economic fortune, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is championing a regional investment market, the African Investment Forum (AIF), to accelerate continent’s economic transformation.
The AfDB said it is providing a collaborative leadership for a new 100 percent transactional initiative, The AIF, which provides Africa’s best opportunity to encourage accelerated economic transformation.
“The African Development Bank is working with the world’s leading financial institutions to de-risk investment through the platform and make it a springboard for Africa’s economic transformation,” a statement from the bank read.
Akinwumi Adesina, president of the AfDB, told key government and private sector leaders Tuesday at a breakfast session on the sidelines of the 2018 Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan that the AIF would be exclusively about transactions and investment deals.
“This is not a talk shop. There will be no political speeches. It provides an open platform to organise efforts among multilateral institutions, governments and private sector to improve a pipeline of projects capable of transforming the continent,” he said.
The first Africa Investment Forum will be held from November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It will then be held yearly to enable and facilitate interactions to broker and accelerate deals, for candid discussions with policy-makers to shape the business and regulatory environment, as well as to track the implementation of commitments.
Adesina noted that the cost of doing business in Africa is improving.
“Last year, and the year before, at least 30 percent of all the business and regulatory reforms that were done globally were not done in Asia. They were not in Latin America. They were done in Africa. If you look at what is happening in terms of foreign direct investments coming to Africa, it continues to rise. Why are they rising?
“This is because of the greater political stability that is found on the continent,” he said. “So there is a lot of optimism about our continent and in fact there is a discussion among our leaders towards an Africa beyond aid.”
He highlighted Africa’s human and material resources, stressing how they could be harnessed to make Africa the powerhouse of the world.
“I think that the sovereign wealth of Africa is actually not being invested in Africa. It is being invested outside of Africa. And if Africa doesn’t invest enough, then who is going to invest? One of the reasons this happens is because people have a perception of risk. But the issue is not risk. It is about how you manage risk,” he highlighted.
On the AIF platform are the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, among others, who are working with the African Development Bank to set up a “mutualized co-guarantee platform” to de-risk investments.
“We also have those that are working on pipelines – Africa50 and others – that are very actively involved in this,” Adesina said.
Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, stressed that the bond market should be a strong part of the new move to mobilize resources for Africa’s economic transformation and lauded the idea of the African Development Bank and partners coming together through AIF to de-risk investment.
“The reality for the world is that Africa has to be, and will be, the best place to invest in future. What do we do for ourselves so that we unlock our own potential for investments? I think the emphasis now is on increasing infrastructure so that we open up the continent for investment opportunities to be properly exploited,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of one Africa’s largest distributor of consumer goods, Massmart, Kuseni Dlamini, called attention to the need for Africa to move from risk to opportunities and to take advantage of the many investment opportunities presented on the continent.
“The time to talk transaction is indeed now. I think that Africa has a lot to offer and we need to take advantage of opportunities,” he said.
Tigui Camara, chief executive officer of Tigui Mining Company, said she was delighted that the African Development Bank was leading the investment initiative and called for more support for women in the informal sector.
Alain Ebobissé, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa50 – the Pan-African infrastructure investment platform – called on African Governments to create the right environment to attract investors to the continent.
The breakfast session was well attended by top Government officials, industry leaders and financial institutions, includingBenedict Okey Oramah, the President of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
The Africa Investment Forum will focus on improving the ease of doing business in Africa by advancing and promoting investment-friendly regulation. It will also champion ethical business practices in Africa.