South Africa sees Africa Investment Forum as vehicle for economic growth

The Africa Investment Forum (AIF), African Development Bank’s new platform to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment to key development sectors on the continent, has received commendation from South Africa’s business leaders.

Members of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), Bank officials and representatives of the business community attended a joint panel discussion on Wednesday 25 July, on attracting private sector investment into Africa. The event was held on the sidelines of the 10th BRICS Summit, which opened the same day in the South African business hub.

South Africa will host the maiden convening of the AIF, which is scheduled to take place November 7-9 in Johannesburg. Key global companies, financial players, and public officials will be invited to address the continent’s critical infrastructure investment gaps, through sourcing funding for bankable projects, brokering infrastructure deals and providing innovative financial solutions.

The session focused on how governments, multilateral institutions and the private sector could together accelerate development on the continent and find solutions to infrastructure gaps, healthcare, schools and food security.

“The AIF is a unique platform for investment, finance, transparent transactions, and a genuine African marketplace for closing deals to accelerate the economic development of Africa,” Josephine Ngure, deputy director-general of the Bank’s Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office told participants.

According to Bank estimates, about US$130 billion to US$170 billion a year is needed to fund infrastructure development across the continent, including natural gas, ports, roads, railways, fibre-optic and wireless telecommunications.

“These are huge numbers which, with growing populations can only become larger. The fact is, there is no individual benefactor, nor government, sovereign wealth fund, or multilateral development bank, that can provide the resources to meet Africa’s critical economic development needs alone,” Ngure said.

Johnny Muteba, CEO of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce in Johannesburg noted that the biggest problem for Africa was a lack of belief in itself.

“The West sets the agenda… Africa needs to better communicate its innovations and promote its brand internationally,” he said.

Also speaking at the forum, Alan Mukoki, CEO of Sacci, said being able to assess the risk to capital was the most important issue facing potential investors, especially for complex and costly infrastructure projects.

Mukoki added that regulatory structures for banks and other financing bodies needed to be reviewed in the context of capital costs.

In May, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene endorsed the upcoming AIF event, while thanking the Bank for selecting South Africa to host the inaugural event.