Business chiefs look to ‘private equity and innovative investment’ to develop Africa’s infrastructure

Out-Law News | 23 Oct 2014 | 12:44 pm | 1 min. read

Chief executive officers from some of the world’s major companies are meeting in the US to discuss forms of investment and support that can be made available to Africa for development projects.

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD), which is hosting the ‘Frontier 100 Forum’ on Africa this week, said initiatives on the agenda include potential investment in information and communications technology (ICT), financial services, infrastructure and power generation across the continent.

IGD president and chief executive officer Mima Nedelcovych said: “This year, the forum is adding a special emphasis on the non-traditional and innovative investors, new to the emerging African markets.”

According to IGD, private equity “is a critical part of Africa’s economic growth, and foreign investors can provide guidance as well as capital for developing businesses on the continent”.

“Africa is without doubt open for business... it is true that Africa faces numerous challenges in drawing foreign investment, among them immediate concerns such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, as well as long-term infrastructure challenges,” the IGD said. “The Frontier 100 Forum is an invaluable platform for businesses and investors to share their experiences in overcoming challenges and turning their focus to the potential benefits of investment on the continent.”

IGD said: “African countries are working to stabilise and grow their economies, and no matter the type of government, all are interested in improving their markets. Sovereign equities and debts are excellent ways for foreign groups and individuals to contribute to African development while benefitting themselves from the process.”

A Frontier 100 leader and partner at professional services firm PwC Nigeria Farouk Gumel said: “The role of IGD in Africa is a very serious one. There is a thin line between competition and collaboration that is not usually seen. Therefore, having a platform for companies who may be competitors outside to come together, share experiences and identify areas of synergy and collaboration is important.”

The Frontier 100 African business delegation is also holding talks with representatives of US government agencies including the US Trade and Development Agency and the Export-Import Bank of the US. The bank said last August that it had authorised a record $1.7 billion in financing to support US exports to sub-Saharan Africa over the past 10 months.

Earlier this year, 20 US businesses took part in a Department of Commerce trade mission to Africa, which focused on investment opportunities in the energy sector. Among deals announced was the selection of US renewable energy company SEWW Energy by the Electricity Company of Ghana to lead a $25m per year upgrade and expansion project in the Greater Accra Region.