Africa’s finance institutions, development partners collaborate to promote bankable projects

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By Temitope Ponle

Abuja, Oct. 21, 2020 Africa’s largest development finance institutions said they would use their cooperation with development partners to promote bankable projects in the continent.

They made this known during a panel to discuss their organisations’ roles in a post COVID-19 environment, according to a statement from African Development Bank (AfDB) on Wednesday.

The institutions are; Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) and Africa50.

It said AfBD’s acting Senior Vice President, Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala, was joined by Samaila Zubairu, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AFC; Admassu Tadesse, President and CEO of TDB, and Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50 for the session.

The statement said the session, organised by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and the Atlantic Council, was moderated by Edward Burrier, DFC’s Executive Vice President of Strategy.

The DFC, inaugurated in 2019, with an investment cap of 60 billion dollars had selected Africa as a priority region for future investments.

The finance institutions noted that a sustained and collaborative approach among development partners would among others scale up project development activities and boost the number of bankable projects in the continent.

They added that the projects would attract investors’ interest and contribute to closing the infrastructure finance gap in Africa.

The panellists highlighted the importance of project development and a supply of bankable projects as being key for private sector investors.

They said that the project development required an active approach in investing capital into the early stages of project preparation and accepting the risk.

They identified these elements as one of the most important deterrents to attracting foreign investment into Africa.

They also said that most of the participating institutions offered a wide variety of financial instruments and products to help de-risk such investments.

Zubairu spoke of the AFC’s Kigali Innovation City (KIC) technology hub project which was already changing the narrative about Africans only consuming technology rather than being developers.

“Its risky business, but extremely impactful,” Zubairu said.

Tadesse also added that the “blended” returns of dividends and the development impact of some of these projects made any risks worthwhile.

Also, Ebobissé said: “we develop very close relationships with our government shareholders and as a result project implementation is speeded up, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Africa50’s unique niche is focused on solving Africa’s infrastructure gap through a strong emphasis on both the project development and project financing of infrastructure projects.

“The institution ensures a healthy supply of bankable projects through the mainstreaming of project preparation activities.’’

Tshabalala, however, spoke on how the AfDB’s High 5 priorities represented a significant investment opportunity for U.S. investors in a variety of projects spanning several sectors.

The sectors included energy, agriculture and food security, regional integration and private sector.

She noted that AfDB and DFC were currently collaborating on energy projects in Senegal and Madagascar.

“We see that as the beginning of our stronger engagement and partnership,” she said.

Tshabalala also highlighted the growing partnership on the Africa Investment Forum with the other institutions represented on the panel and their collective efforts to bring bankable projects to private sector investors.

She further added that sovereign lending was crucial “especially in the development of basic infrastructure that is a pre-requisite for development’’.

According to the statement, this also includes the provision of concessional financing to transition countries through the African Development Fund.

The bank also engages in enhanced policy dialogue and provides knowledge products which enable governments to create the right environment for private sector investment.

Tshabalala added that the bank had “over the years been increasing our direct investment in the private sector which has grown to become a significant component of our overall lending portfolio.’’

In an earlier panel moderated by DFC’s CEO Adam Boehler, African Heads of State shared their insights on opportunities for trade and investment.

The panel included Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal, Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, who was represented by his Chief of Staff.

The statement said no fewer than 2,000 participants were in attendance.

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