Counting the cost of Africa’s infrastructure needs

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 March 2014

ADB manr river 5Since the start of the global recession in 2007, doubts have been expressed as to whether African economies can weather the storm, and the impact the recession could have on the continent’s infrastructure development and growth.

Whilst several African countries, especially those economies that are driven by petro-dollar, have been able to continue the expansion of their pre-recession infrastructure development programmes through massive borrowing, others have been less fortunate and less certain.

And it is this uncertainty throughout most of Africa, that analysts believe to be holding back the high levels of foreign investment, which many had expected in support of the agriculture, tourism, fisheries, and manufacturing sectors.

Africa needs to break the cycle of under-investment caused by decades of bad governance, low skills, poor education levels, and bad politics.

According to the World Bank, it is estimated that the continent would need over US$75 billion per annum over the next ten years, in order to begin to address some of its most desperate infrastructure requirements – including operation and maintenance costs.

Africa is not short of ideas and strategic plans as to how to spend money. What it is short of, are reliable investors and partners that are willing to put their money where their mouth is and be prepared for the long haul.

And in Lagos, preparations are underway for a major summit, Which will bring together policy makers, politicians, business leaders and academics from across the continent to discuss Africa’s investment needs and priorities.

Cynics may understandably argue, that the continent is awash with volumes of similar summit reports, gathering dust on ministerial shelves, which have made no difference whatsoever to peoples’ lives. So what is different about this summit?

afcAccording to the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) – an African led multilateral development financial institution, whose mission it says is “to improve African economies by proactively developing and financing infrastructure assets”, this Summit, titled; ‘AFC Live: Bridging the Infrastructure Divide’, responds to the need to open a dialogue to address the scale of Africa’s infrastructure requirements and its investment deficit.

The Summit will take place on 25th March, 2014, at the Eko Hotel in  Lagos, Nigeria.

The impressive list of keynote speakers lined up for the summit, include; Jim O’Neill – economist and former Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, best known for coining the ‘BRIC’ and ‘MINT’ acronyms; Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of Finance and Economy; Professor Chinedu Nebo – Nigeria’s Minister of Power; Patrick Achi – Minister of Economic Infrastructure, Côte d’Ivoire; Cristina Duarte – Minister of Finance, Cape Verde; Jim Yong Cai – Executive Vice President and CEO of International Finance Corporation; Tony Elumelu – Chairman of Heirs Holdings; Diana Layfield – CEO Africa, Standard Chartered Bank; Dr. Nkosana Moyo – Mandela Institute for Development Studies; and Funke Opeke – CEO Main One.

afc3Commenting on the importance of the Summit, Bayo Ogunlesi – Chairman of AFC, said that:“The summit is a key opportunity to for a broad range of stakeholders, from national governments to the indigenous and international private sector and donor partners, to contribute to the development of constructive solutions to the deficit in infrastructure investment in Africa which continues to hold back economic growth on the continent.

“The Africa Finance Corporation is committed to serving as a catalyst for growth in infrastructure development in Africa, by focusing on investments in the sectors that are critical to economic growth on the continent and attracting new investment partners and country members.”

Discussions are expected to focus around the need for Africa to take the lead in bridging the massive investment divide, through innovative, joined up and holistic approach to accessing international capital.

afc2Economist – Jim O’Neill, said: “I am delighted to be participating in the AFC’s inaugural summit which promises to address an important agenda. If Africa is to reach its potential as the home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, then infrastructure will play a vital role in making that happen.

“This conference provides an excellent opportunity to gather some of the most important figures in the region in order to discuss how this can be achieved. The AFC plays not just a vital role in brokering these discussions but also in financing and advising some of most transformative infrastructure projects on the continent.”

Delegates will in particular, look forward to lively debates across key issues, including; ‘Building the New Africa – action plan for the next decade’; power sector; transport sector; and natural resources.

afcAbout AFC:

•   AFC ( is an African-led multilateral development financial institution, established in 2007, whose mission is to improve African economies by proactively developing and financing infrastructure, industrial and financial assets.

•   AFC is involved as an investor, developer and financier of various infrastructure projects, and is gaining recognition as the benchmark institution for financing the development of infrastructure projects in Africa.

•   AFC’s current authorized share capital is USD2.0 billion with shareholders’ funds of USD1.24 billion and a 2013 funding programme of USD700 million.

•   AFC is the second highest investment grade-rated multilateral financial institution on the African continent, with an A3 (long term) /P2 (short term) foreign currency debt rating by Moody’s Investors Service.

AFC’s projects:

•   AFC is the lead investor in the award winning Cabeolica project, a USD90 million, 26MW landmark renewable energy wind power project in Cape Verde.

•   AFC is the Technical Adviser to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the CBN’s USD2.0 billion Power and Aviation Intervention Fund (PAIF).

•   AFC is a partner with Vigeo Holdings Limited and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited for the acquisition of power distribution assets, and a lead financier in the acquisitions of the Kainji and Ughelli power generation plants in the current Nigerian Government power sector privatisation round.

•   Additionally in Nigeria, AFC made investments to support marginal field operators in the up and mid-stream oil and gas sector companies such as Neconde, FHN and Seven Energy.

•   AFC is also the lead investor in Cenpower Generation Company Limited (Cenpower), which is implementing the Kpone IPP project – a 340 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine power plant in Tema, Ghana.

•   AFC is the lead investor in the Main One fibre optic cable project, enhancing West Africa’s connection to Europe and the rest of the world through faster and more technologically advanced broadband capacity.

•   AFC provided a USD50 million convertible debt investment in ARM Cement Limited (ARM), the second largest cement operator in Kenya to support expansion initiatives across Eastern and Southern Africa including; development and construction of a lime plant in Tanzania and expansion of ARM’s cement capacity in Kenya. The transaction marked AFC’s first bilateral investment in Kenya.

•   AFC provided financing for Ethiopian airlines fleet expansion in the acquisition of Africa’s first Boeing 777 airline.

•   AFC also invested in the Bakwena toll road project in South Africa, and in the EURO 270 million Konan Bedie Toll Bridge in Côte d’Ivoire; the signature Transport PPP project in Francophone Africa, underscoring its interest in investing in PPPs/PFIs in its focal sectors across the African continent.

•   AFC launched a landmark USD15 million project development facility with the Dutch Development Bank FMO in January 2013, to fund early-stage equity investments in projects under development pre-financial close, in the infrastructure sector across sub-Saharan Africa.

•   The AFC has established partnerships with national, regional and international organizations and with sponsors that are active in the infrastructure space in Africa.

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