AfDB-backed equity fund briefs potential investors at TICAD Summit

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An African Development Bank (AfDB) infrastructure fund launched to mark half a century of Africa's struggle towards economic and political maturity has stepped up its effort to secure investments from foreign and local wealth funds, social security funds and banks.

Alain Ebobissé, Chief Executive Officer of Africa50, said the Fund provided international development institutions with an opportunity to provide funding to governments with weak credit rating.

"We can raise significant capital which we can channel towards long-term savings in Africa," the Fund's CEO told a roundtable on the role of private sector in Africa's economic transformation at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Africa50 plans to form partnerships with local banks, stock markets, the national social security funds and private equity funds to get funds for long-term projects, Ebobissé said during a meeting of the African and Japanese entrepreneurs to discuss ways of raising funds to finance projects in Africa.

"Development finance institutions can support non-credit worthy governments to access funds for economic development. The development finance institutions like the AfDB need to be involved at an early stage of project conceptualization. We need to build on the pipeline of bankable projects," Ebobissé said.

The new fund has set ambitious targets of increasing the threshold of at least US $30 billion worth of Africa's share of foreign infrastructure investments from US $8.5 billion currently to rival other regions of the world, such as Latin America which attracts investments worth US $30 billion.

"It is possible to increase our share to the level of Latin America to support projects. We need the governments in Africa to implement policies which are predictable. The government policies must be predictable to secure the long-term investments," Ebobissé told the entrepreneurs.

The Africa50 Fund, a pan-African Fund supported by the AfDB to raise US $830 million for onward investment in Africa's infrastructure, is currently backed by 23 African countries, which have contributed to its initial capital injection.

"This is the newest financial institution in Africa," Ebobissé remarked. "The new financial facility aims to raise part of the US $90 billion required by the African countries annually to bolster investments in Africa's water sector, roads and railway connections to create the required environment for economic growth in Africa."

The CEO said the initial 23 African state shareholders including two Central Banks. The shareholders have allowed the fund to operate commercially. The CEO said the Fund would raise significant capital from savings in Africa.

Currently, the Africa50 Fund plans to concentrate its borrowing from international pension markets for onward lending to the private sector. "We need to scale up and do more. It is possible to increase," Ebobissé said.