The Africa Investment Forum, a conference where the finest melange of the continent’s leaders and policymakers on one side -- and investors, big businesses, critical industry players on the other wing -- converge to discuss, decide and transact deals on exigent matters affecting Africa such as healthcare, food security, electricity, and transportation will take place this year from December 1 to 3 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. The Forum which began in 2018 is a solution-primed initiative to create targeted investments and capital for the continent to meet its infrastructural needs.
The Africa Investment Forum Market Days event brings together investors, project sponsors, transaction advisors, legal and other applicable professionals under ‘one roof’ to engage and continue the process of addressing the continent’s investment gap. The inaugural Africa Investment Forum 2018 (AIF2018) boardrooms convened investors, project sponsors, and transaction facilitators around 63 deals valued at $46.9 billion. Also, the platform mobilised investment interests across 49 of these boardroom deals worth $38.7 billion -- across 24 countries. The 2019 edition (AIF2019) upped the ante. AIF2019 featured 57 boardroom deals valued at $67.7 billion and succeeded in crowding-in investment interests across 52 deals worth $40.1 billion from 25 countries.
Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank; Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the European Investment Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Trade Development Bank set up the Forum as a transaction hub where real investment deals for Africa are concretised – so the Forum is essentially a dividend-deliverer and not a chatter assembly.
According to AfDB’s economic outlook on Africa (2018), the continent’s infrastructure needs amount to $130–170 billion a year, with a financing gap in the range $68–$108 billion. Clearly, Africa needs investment in critical infrastructure – power, transportation, water, agriculture, etc -- if it must industrialise and bridge the deficit, as well as reduce the unemployment of millions of youths. This underscores the viability of the Forum.
The theme of the 2021 edition is “Accelerating Transformative Investments in Africa”. Sessions focusing on the five investment sectors that received priority under the Forum’s Unified Response to COVID-19: agriculture and agro-processing; energy and climate change; health; ICT/Telecoms; and industrialisation and trade will be elemental to the programme.
In addition, sector-specific discussions at this year’s event will include energy and climate –including reflections on November’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, UK – agriculture and agro-processing; health; ICT and telecommunications; and industry and trade.
Nigeria has been a principal feature in the Africa Investment Forum since 2018. In the 2018 edition, out of the 63 boardroom deals presented at the Forum, Nigeria had five deals worth $7 Billion. This represents 14.9 percent of the total deals accounted for on the continent, and 43 percent of the deals accounted for in the region.
The AfDB, facilitator of the Forum, had said it would help Nigeria to bridge its infrastructure gap estimated to cost about $3 trillion in the next 26 years. According to Ebrima Faal, former director AfDB, Nigeria and director of operations committee secretariat, Nigeria’s infrastructure cumulative financing needs are estimated to reach $3 trillion by 2044 or about 100 billion dollars annually.
The Africa Investment Forum offers Nigeria a smorgasbord of opportunities to attract the needed investments to the country. And as always, a high-level delegation of the Nigerian government and captains of industry from Nigeria are expected to be at the Forum this year.
The Africa of the future will be driven by infrastructure. But to achieve that future, infrastructure-led investments are critical – most especially in this time of global economic peril brought on by the COVID pandemic.
Africa needs more accessibility for citizens within the continent; it needs better healthcare; it needs to achieve food security, have stable power supply, affordable internet connectivity, technology innovation, good transport system, and ensure the safety and security of its populace. It all starts with the right investments.
By Fredrick Nwabufo; Nwabufo is a writer and journalist