Continental Business Network: Managing investment risks in public infrastructure

23/05/2016
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Defining and managing investment risk in African domestic and regional infrastructure projects is critical to development and growth of the continent.

About US $92 billion is required to finance public infrastructure projects in Africa annually, Barclays Bank Africa Head, Public Sector Affairs, Zienzi Musamirapamwe, said.

The private sector is expecting private sector capital especially institutional investors, to provide significant funding for infrastructure projects.

Musamirapamwe said it was important for private sector involvement in the financing of both domestic and regional infrastructure for Africa to achieve its desired growth.

She said this at the second Continental Business Network (CBN), which is part of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group’s 2016 Annual Meetings in Lusaka.

The theme of this year’s meetings is “Energy and Climate Change”, and draws on one of the African Development Bank’s “High 5” priority areas, namely to “Light up and Power Africa”.

It also reflects the New Deal on Energy and the key resolutions from the recent United Nations (UN) climate talks (COP21) on global warming.

“The key issue here is an investment gap….we are talking about the investment gap of about US $92 billion annually, which we need to close this gap. There is need for closer collaboration not only with the private sector but the Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to help finance this public infrastructure,” she said.

According to CBN report, securing institutional finance was critical, given the reduced amount of long term bank debt available for infrastructure projects.

It further indicated that mobilising private capital requires a paradigm shift aligned with institutional investment mandates and investment criteria.

“Working together, the private sector and public sector need to proactively create an effective and efficient project development ecosystem that results in significant scaling up of pipelines of bankable and investable infrastructure projects,” the report indicated.

Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said African countries were struggling with bridging the gap of budget deficits.

“On infrastructure, you must acknowledge that the region is facing social and economic challenges. We have a responsibility of trying to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth. Many countries are suffering from budget deficits so try discuss issues of structuring,” Nasr said.

She said in order to attract private-sector investment, there was need to have in place supportive infrastructure such as roads, water and sanitation and power.

Nasr added that for private-sector investment to flourish there was need for a condusive investment environment.

She said there was also need to identify the risks associated with public infrastructure financing.

Governments need to restructure and streamline project development processes, optimise the roles of all participants and innovate with risks – mitigating solutions to deliver development impact, thereby securing long-term affordable finance from pension funds, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds.

The AfDB event brings together some 3,000 delegates and participants, and features 40 official events, in addition to the Annual Meeting of the Bank’s Board of Governors, which constitute the core purpose of the meetings