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The upcoming investment forum: Doing business in Africa

The upcoming Africa Investment Forum will draw attention to major investment opportunities in the continent, reports Ahmed Kotb

Ahmed Kotb , Tuesday 13 Aug 2019
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Egypt has successfully carried out its economic reform programme, and the African countries can benefit from this expertise, said Malinne Blomberg, country manager at the African Development Bank (AFDB), during a press conference in Cairo on Monday.

“We want to ensure the highest quality of projects that will contribute to the transformation of Egypt and all of Africa,” she said in the conference held to announce the launch of the second Africa Investment Forum (AIF) that will take place in South Africa in November.

She added that Africa was attracting increasing numbers of investors hoping to seize the opportunities provided by its growing population and fast-growing economies.

Blomberg said that the purpose of the forum was to mobilise investment for industry and trade, to scale up and strengthen supply chains, and to spread expertise, especially Egyptian expertise that she believes can benefit other African countries.

All of this will lead to more jobs, improved earnings, and ultimately a better quality of life, she said.

Sahar Nasr, minister of investment and international cooperation, said that the AIF was an important platform for attracting investment, as it was a great opportunity for high-level meetings between African governments, the private sector, and investment banks.

She said the forum was important for showcasing the projects and opportunities available in various sectors like transportation, renewable energy, housing and infrastructure in Africa. It also allowed for finding the needed finances for these projects, she added.

Nasr said that Africa was one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, with a 17 per cent annual increase in inter-African trade in 2018 to reach $159 billion.

She pointed out that the ministry was supporting private-sector projects, as well as infrastructure projects, implemented in the African continent. President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has also expressed his support for such projects as well as for increasing investment and trade with the African countries. “We are proud of our investments in Africa,” Nasr stressed.

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Director in Egypt Ibrahim Sagna said that the African continent still had many investment opportunities that had not been exploited. This was due to a lack of finance and a lack of readiness in the business environment and infrastructure in many African countries, he said.

However, Egypt’s business environment and infrastructure were ready to attract investment, and Egypt was playing a major role in attracting investments to other African countries, he said.

Sagna said that last year the AIF had showcased three major investment opportunities in Egypt to a total amount of $11 billion, and more are expected at this year’s Forum.

Pakinam Kafafi, chief executive officer of Taqa Arabia, a leading private-sector energy distribution company with installed power capacity reaching 1,000 Megawatts, said the AIF was a great opportunity to meet high-calibre stakeholders to share knowledge and discuss further partnerships and cooperation between the African countries.

“We are interested in further penetrating the untapped African market that is still full of opportunities and areas of expansion,” she said.

Kafafi added that the AIF offered investors access to a structured platform for bankable projects and was also a great medium to gather stakeholders, government officials, and companies to further discuss and facilitate areas of cooperation.

“I consider the AIF to be the Davos of Africa,” said Sherif Al-Gebaly, chairman of Enara Capital, an infrastructure platform specialising in developing investments and operating renewable energy utilities and assets.

The sheer size of the opportunities provided through the AIF was overwhelming last year, he said, adding that his company had established a total of $200 million worth of investments with a target reaching $1 billion through the installation of further utilities.

“It is not always easy to find the right partners and investors, and the AIF is a great opportunity to do so,” Al-Gebaly said.

A total of $47 billion worth of deals were discussed in last year’s AIF, with about 2,000 participants from 87 countries, including 400 investors from 53 countries in Africa.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 August, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Doing business in Africa

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