By the time it was almost over on Friday November 9, at least 45 deals worth $32 billion had secured investment interests.
About 61 transactions valued at $40.4 billion had been tabled for discussions in boardroom sessions and many agreed that the outcome was beyond expectations.
Africa set for massive investments
The President of the African Development Bank, Mr Akinwunmi Adesina, described the outcome of $32 billion worth of transactions as a big success.
“I could not be happier,” he said, “but we don’t want to congratulate ourselves. The responsibility that lies on our shoulders is so huge. This is just the beginning”.
For three days in Johannesburg, South Africa, seven African heads of state and heads of government, representatives from Domestic Foreign Investments, institutional investors, sovereign wealth, equity and private sector CEOs from across the continent joined about a thousand others for the first ever transaction-based Forum on the continent, the Africa Investment Forum.
On the first day, Mr Adesina lamented that while Africa needs about $170 billion for infrastructure financing, over $131 trillion was sitting with institutional investors looking for where to invest.
The problem is not lack of funds, but a myriad of problems investors face in Africa, including rampant corruption, legal challenges and lack of transparency and bottlenecks around contractual obligations.
But the presence of seven African heads of state and governments was meant to send a strong signal to global investors, that Africa’s leadership was committed to creating a conducive business environment on the continent.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa; President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia, President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea; President Macky Sall of Senegal; President Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana made the trip to South Africa for the Forum. Other officials included the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo; the Prime Ministers of Rwanda, Edouard Ngirente and Cameroon, Philémon Yang, as well as ministers representing the Kingdom of Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Niger, and Gabon. In attendance were also Governors and Board members of the African Development Bank.
Ethiopia’s President Sahlework Zewde, who is the first woman President in her country, told delegates at the official opening ceremony: “The Africa Investment Forum is fundamental to changing the narrative on Africa. Looking at Africa only through the lens of peace and security is not getting us anywhere. We have to address perceived risk (on the continent) and have to change this mindset.”
Energy, infrastructure, food and agribusiness opportunities and transactions attracted high-level attention from global and African investors, positioning the Forum as the next big investment frontier, and on Global and African investors’ radars.
Africa-to-Africa investment emerged as a key take away from the Forum. Gauteng Premier David Makhura highlighted $6 billion worth of South African deals signed, and the $ 2.6 billion MOU signing with Ghana for a Skytrain project in Accra.
“We are very proud that South African companies are investing in other African countries. This is very fulfilling,” Makhura said.
Several investors and participants are looking forward to next year’s edition: “It’s actually quite heartwarming to see what we have witnessed here over the past two days … If we start with 80%, imagine what we will do in the next five years. With this kind of start, African people have every reason to be hopeful,” said Patrick Dlamini, CEO. Development Bank of South Africa.
The African Development Bank convened the forum, in partnership with the Africa Export-Import Bank, Africa Finance Corporation, Africa50, Development Bank of Southern Africa, European Investment Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and Trade and Development Bank, brought together global and continental investors, leading private sector leaders, development finance institutions, globally recognizes sports executives, and a number of young tech entrepreneurs.
The next edition of the Africa Investment Forum is scheduled for November 2019.
Simon is a renowned international journalist, founder and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.