Unveiling the results of the Forum’s virtual boardroom sessions, African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said Africa was clearly back for investments as the COVID-19 pandemic gradually receded.
“In 72 hours, you all connected, you struck deals and you created success,” he told the 500 project sponsors, investors, deal brokers and government representatives from around the world who took part in them.
The three-day virtual boardroom meetings showcased 40 projects across several sectors.
Expectations had been high following the postponement of the Africa Investment Forum’s Market Days – Africa’s premier investment platform and event – last December. The event was pushed back to March because of the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
COVID-19 also caused the cancellation of the 2020 Africa Investment Forum Market Days.
The Africa Investment Forum is a multi-stakeholder investment platform. It is an initiative of the African Development Bank Group and seven other partners, all of which sourced potential transactions from their pipelines for boardroom sessions.
Describing the mood in the boardroom sessions, Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50, said: “There were real and exciting deals that were transacted during this forum. We’re seeing a lot of interest from the private sector in various sectors, including power – particularly renewables, the ICT and telecom sector, and healthcare. We need to make sure we speed up the implementation of that so that success will generate more success.”
The outstanding results from the virtual boardrooms confirmed robust interest in a range of economic sectors that offer a high return on investment as well as high social impact for Africans.
Key sectors included transport, gas and energy, healthcare, agriculture, information and communication technology. Specific boardroom sessions focused on Africa’s creative industries and women led businesses.
The largest investment opportunity in the boardroom sessions was the Lagos-Abidjan highway corridor project valued at $15.6 billion and led by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission.
Once completed, this public private partnership project will link Abidjan to Lagos via Accra, Lomé and Cotonou along the West African coast.
The highway will reduce travel times by 50 per cent. It will give landlocked countries access to ports and “make a meaningful impact on the lives of over 500 million people in West Africa,” Adesina said. “The African Development Bank Group has provided more than $40 million for feasibility studies to prepare the project for investment.”
The $50 million Makbel Dairy Farm drew interest from more than 20 prospective investors. The agriculture project in Angola has the potential to create over 2,000 direct and indirect jobs and transform Angola into a net exporter of milk products. Two prospective equity partners expressed interest in taking a combined 45% shareholding in the project.
Dr Adesina stressed the importance of growing women businesses and affirmed the African Development Bank Group’s commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs. He said that the African Development Bank had established a $1 million women’s advisory facility, the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program. AFAWA is supporting women-led businesses with advisory services. “Women-led businesses must grow and dominate across Africa,” Adesina said.
A healthcare sector project, a $67 million Mobihealth Telemedicine initiative, is an innovative digital health transaction.
It is also led by women and involves the setting up of a fully integrated proprietary telemedicine platform and construction of telehealth clinics. Healthcare has emerged as a key priority of Africa Investment Forum partners since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2022, the African Development Bank produced a healthcare infrastructure strategy as part of its plan to mount a health care defence system for Africa.
Energy projects also drew interest. A $232 million liquefied natural gas project in Guinea includes the construction of a large-scale LNG receiving terminal and distribution network to transport natural gas to end-users.
Following the unveiling of results, Adesina and the heads of the Africa Investment Forum partner organizations spoke about boardroom projects and Africa’s economic recovery.
Admassu Tadesse, President Emeritus and Group Managing Director/CEO of the Trade and Development Bank said: “The momentum has come back. The rebound has happened and of course now we need to sustain it by ensuring that these key projects start to happen.” Tadesse cited a “green share” instrument that the Trade and Development Bank had worked on that will drive the climate finance agenda.
Representing Development Bank of Southern Africa CEO Patrick Dlamini, Group Executive Mohan Vivekanandan said: “A lot of the capital that we need is here on our continent. It is about us creating the opportunities for that capital to flow, because once that happens it will create investment opportunities, jobs and sustained economic growth.”
Denys Denya, Executive Vice President, Finance, Administration and Banking Services at the Africa Export-Import Bank, representing the institution’s President, Professor Benedict Oramah, said: “We are excited by the fact that government ministers and policymakers participated in the Africa Investment Forum boardroom sessions, because we need the public sector and the private sector to work together to deliver on these projects that are urgent for our continent. The Lagos-Abidjan highway is very critical for us because we are a trade finance bank.”
Speaking for Africa Finance Corporation President and CEO Samaila Zubairu, Senior Director Taiwo Adeniji said: “As a founding partner, the Africa Finance Corporation remains committed to the Africa Investment Forum, which continues to play a key role in catalyzing projects on the continent. Given the acute infrastructure deficit in Africa, support for the Forum is critical in unlocking the substantial investments required to address the deficit.”
Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, represented EIB President Werner Hoyer. Fayolle said he was impressed but not surprised by the outcomes from the boardroom deliberations. He also said that the European Investment Bank had launched a new arm, EIB Global. He said: “EIB Global wants to do more investment projects in Africa. It will strengthen engagement, partnerships and new investment across Africa, and we are very pleased to do that with the optimism I heard tonight.”
Dr Adesina thanked the partners and participants. “The Africa Investment Forum virtual investment boardrooms delivered for Africa. Now let’s turn our eyes to the Africa Investment Forum 2022 Market Days which will take place physically in Abidjan from the 2nd to the 4th of November 2022. As we build up to this event, let us keep the deals coming.”
The Africa Investment Forum’s eight founding partners are: the African Development Bank, its host; Africa 50; the Africa Finance Corporation; the African Export-Import Bank; the Development Bank of Southern Africa; the Trade and Development Bank; the European Investment Bank; and the Islamic Development Bank.