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FDI: Forum Reaffirms Africa’s Rising Profile

By Eric Ojo, Abuja

Participants at the 2015 Africa Finance and Investment Forum (AFIF) have reaffirmed the continent’s rising profile in terms of growth and attraction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

In the last ten years, the African continent has attracted ever increasing amounts of FDI, reaching an aggregate amount of $470 billion between 2005 and 2014, according to the African Development Bank (ADB).

The forum which was held in Cape Town, South Africa with a theme: “Access to Finance and Enterpreneurship”, also acknowledged that Africa is the second fastest growing area in the world behind south and east Asia, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth projected to reach 3.6 per cent in 2016.

The participants equally noted that it is not only the volume of investment that has increased in the continent, but diversity of investment flows and deals have also seen significant improvement as well.

“Where almost all investment went to extractive industries two decades ago, Africa now attracts ever more significant flows in the sectors of energy, telecoms, infrastructure, health and of course agriculture, as well as retail and financial services”, the Forum said in a statement made available to African Examiner.

The Forum further observed that Africa’s biggest economic challenge in 2015, is arguably no longer to attract investment, but rather, it is to ensure that investment flows benefit everyone, and to ensure that economic growth is inclusive.

The decision by the Brussels-based EMRC and its co-sponsors, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Investment Bank (EIB), German Development Finance Institution (DEG/KfW), along with Old Mutual Investments Group, Agri Academy, Pfizer, Rabobank Foundation, BlueCloud, ICD and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to host the event in Africa for the first time, clearly attest to the current trend in the continent.

The statement further explained that the impressive growth trajectory also influenced the decision to host the 2015 AFIF in the South African city of Cape Town, which is one of Africa’s emerging global centres of business and finance.

It added that the Forum brought together around 200 key players and decision-makers in the African finance and investment sector, as well as stakeholders from government and civil society from across the continent.

“The conference has become one of the most important annual international finance and investment gatherings on the African continent. AFIF 2015 included a Pre-Forum training on ‘Entrepreneurship/ Presenting a Business Plan’ in partnership with Eric Kacou, Founder and Managing Director of the Entrepreneurial Solution Partners”, the statement added.

It also disclosed that the 3-day Forum focused specifically on innovative financial solutions to foster the growth of Africa’s businesses, and showcased opportunities of the African continent in the key sectors of agriculture, health, infrastructure, water and energy.

The statement said one of the key events of the Forum was the initiation of a far-reaching Public-Private Dialogue on Impact Investment in Africa, a joint initiative by the UNDP and the African Union Commission (AUC).

It noted that the dialogue provided a platform through which representatives of the public and private sectors discussed concrete interventions to catalyze the impact investment sector and contribute towards the achievement of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and the recently ratified Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It was intended to initiate a continental discussion around the concept of impact investment, how to attract investors and how to foster enterprise, and specifically social enterprise, to the benefit of all Africans. The concept of impact investment which is driven by social and environmental purpose, rather than only by financial imperatives, is becoming increasingly well known in Africa and around the world”, it further explained.

The statement added that the Forum included a special session on ‘Access to Finance on Health’ for the first time and presented the Pfizer Health Entrepreneurship Award as well as a pitching session by the Innovation Hub (South Africa), which culminated in the nomination of Markus Labuschagne from Altis Biologics, South Africa.

“Behind the scenes, over 600 Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings were organized over two afternoons, allowing delegates to establish partnerships, close deals and translate the work at the Forum into tangible reality on the ground.

“AFIF’s traditional plenary sessions were complemented this year with several lively panel discussions involving key global experts on such topics as improving access to finance for SMEs, financing agriculture and agribusiness, financing infrastructure and energy projects, and financing Africa’s health care sector”, it stressed

The Forum also hosted the AFIF 2015 Entrepreneurship Award, sponsored by the Rabobank Foundation, which saw four selected projects (out of 49 applications) presented to the audience and selection committee.

The pitches were made by Mary Cherop Maritim representing Cherebut Foods (Kenya), Lazaro Mwakipesile managing director of Raphael Group (Tanzania), Adewumi Sule Owolabi from Aerobic Foods (Nigeria) and Wachira Kariuki of Classic Foods (Kenya). Lazaro Mwakipesile was named the overall winner and received a US$5000 cash prize as well as the commitment by the EMRC team to develop a one-year communication strategy.

The event, according to the statement, was concluded with the Cape Town Declaration on Impact Investment and the Declaration which is a UNDP initiative, is the result of the comprehensive dialogue held throughout the Forum and represents a reference for private sector, government and civil society to take action and leverage Africa’s economic potential.

“The Declaration calls on investors, governments and the private sector to catalyze and strengthen impact investment in Africa, notably by establishing an impact investment convening organ, by developing conducive and relevant regulatory frameworks, by establishing impact measurement standards, and by creating a dedicated African Impact Investment Fund”, the statement further explained.



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