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Asia Poised to Play Integral Role in Africa’s Future Growth

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Weaker global outlook and the impact of Brexit have created uncertainty around growth prospects. The impact weighs heavy on world economic outlook with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting advanced economies will grow by only 0.2% from 1.9% to 2.1% and hold steady in 2017. Against this backdrop of lethargic economic performance, some developing economies still show strong growth potential.

Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to post growth of 4.1% in 2017 and 5.2% in 2018, demonstrating resilience in the face of the global economic slowdown and subdued commodity prices. Africa’s structural growth drivers which include its attractive demographics, urbanisation and rise in consumerism remain intact. The rising middle-class with increasing purchasing capacity and growing consumption are attracting investors’ attention in markets like South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. The growth of FinTech firms and online lenders in the region is also helping to support the middle-class segment by enabling better access to credit. The power sector is another example of attractive opportunity in the continent – Africa has about 13% of the world’s population, but half of this population does not have access to electricity. In comparison, over 80% of the Indian population has access to electricity.

African economies which are currently performing well include Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Kenya, Senegal and Ethiopia. Senegal, for example, is outperforming with a growth rate of c.6.5%, the highest it has achieved in over a decade. These economies have in many ways benefitted from lower energy and commodity prices while on the other hand, the larger economies of South Africa, Nigeria and Angola have been severely impacted by the slump in commodity prices. Their medium term prospects however remain good.

Given this mixed picture, how will Africa continue to achieve its maximum growth potential?
The West and Western multilaterals have historically played a significant role in Africa’s growth with the EU being its biggest trading partner. But the relationship between Asia and Africa has grown exponentially over the last decade. China has materially invested into Africa. Japan too has shown its interest in ramping up African investments and will be hosting the Tokyo International Conference on African Development for the first time in the African continent, focusing on ways to improve Africa’s health system. Opportunities for other Asian countries to participate in and support Africa’s growth will continue to evolve.

In the wake of European growth uncertainties following the Brexit decision, this trade partnership diversification and closer ties with Asia, could prove to be prudent in the long-term and Africa is likely to look increasingly to the East for investment and expertise. China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is designed to promote the connectivity of the Asian, European and African continents and their seas to enhance trade linkage.

While the long-term investment potential of Africa looks promising, the near-term landscape for Africa-Asia trade presents many challenges. Africa’s diverse markets remain poorly understood: there are 2,000 dialects and 54 countries all with different consumer needs to consider. Africa-Asia trade patterns also reveal the trade imbalance where investment flow is in one direction – from Asia to Africa. In order to achieve sustainable economic benefits there is a need for strategic commitment and key partnerships. There must be new determination to turn around the varying levels of conditions ranging from infrastructure to red-tape challenges that persist for growth to be sustainable.Investing in Africa presents diverse challenges and requires strategic commitment and local insight to ensure success.

– Kaushal is Regional CEO, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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deVere to Position $2bn in Environmental Investments in 5 Years

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One of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations has doubled its commitment on positioning assets under advisement into environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments.

At the beginning of the year, deVere Group, which operates in more than 100 countries globally, said it would aim to have $1bn in socially responsible investment vehicles within five years.

The game-changing financial powerhouse now says its target is “$2bn or more” within the same time frame.

deVere’s dramatic doubling of its pledge comes as world leaders, industry chiefs and experts head to Glasgow this weekend for the start of COP26, an event seen as a critical turning point in the struggle to avert the worst effects of climate change.

CEO and founder of deVere, Nigel Green, says: “Climate change – and the major, far-reaching fallout of it for economies and communities around the world – is the greatest risk multiplier. There’s no question that it is the defining issue of our time.

“In the 2020 annual risk report from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the top five risks in terms of probability were environmental, and the top four of five risks in terms of impact were both social and environmental in nature.

“Our climate is changing at a quicker rate than previously predicted. We’re already noticing the impacts of human-created global warming.”

He continues: “As a society, we have a small window of opportunity to slam on the brakes to save our planet.

“But this takes determination, honesty and resources. It requires unprecedented levels of investment, which is why deVere is now aiming to position $2bn into ESG investments within five years.”

The deVere CEO and founder says the new target is achievable as investors, keen to get ahead of the curve “as well as earn profits with purpose”, are receptive to the opportunities as the world scrabbles to mitigate the environmental, economic and social fallout of the current situation – “a situation which is likely to be a constant risk.”

In addition, the latest research “underscores that the majority of environmental, social and governance investments are continuing to outperform their non-sustainable counterparts and have lower volatility.”

As well as its $2bn commitment, deVere is one of 18 founding signatories of the UN-backed Net Zero initiative, the international alliance of powerhouse global finance companies that will help accelerate the transition to a net zero financial system.

Its membership means it is committed to “aligning all relevant products and services to achieve net zero greenhouse gases by 2050 and to set meaningful interim targets for 2025.”

The organisation has also confirmed that it “aims to significantly speed-up its own meeting of these Science Based Targets to reduce operational emissions in line with limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Centigrade.”

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said: “Uniting the world’s banks and financial institutions behind the global transition to net zero is crucial to unlocking the finance we need to get there – from backing pioneering firms and new technologies to building resilient economies around the world.

Mr Green concludes: “The clock is ticking and after decades of inaction our planet hasn’t got the luxury of time.

“We all need to be taking more action and at a quicker pace.”

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President Muhammadu Buhari Set to Travel to Saudi Arabia for Investment Conference

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President Muhammadu Buhari would today (October 25, 2021) travel to Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia to participate in an investment conference organized by the Future Investment Initiative Institute

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in a statement released on Sunday in Abuja stated that the President would be joined at the event in Riyadh by Nigerian captains of industry, Banking executives, energy experts and other prominent investment experts to discuss the future of investments in Nigeria.

Themed, ‘Invest in Humanity’,  the three-day event is scheduled to hold from October 26-28. According to Future Investment Initiative Institute, more than 250 speakers from around the world would be in attendance, including the U.S Department of the Treasury former Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samoura and the Standard Chartered Bank Group CEO, William Winters.

Shehu statement further said President Buhari would be accompanied on the trip by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resourced, Chief Timipre Sylva, the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno, Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, Mr Uche Orji and the Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

Participants from the private sector include Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, the Founder and Chairman of Oriental Energy Resources, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the Chairman and CEO of Dangote Group, Wale Tinubu, the Group Chief Executive of Oando PLC, Abubakar Suleiman, the Managing Director/ CEO of Sterling Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe,  the CEO and Group managing director of Access Bank Plc among others.

The Future Investment Initiative Institute is a Non-profit organization run by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund. The main focus areas of the organization include sustainability, healthcare, artificial intelligence and robotics.

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Africa Investment Forum: Projects Worth $140m on the Table to Boost Vaccines and Healthcare in West and East Africa

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Members of the Africa Investment Forum team showcased two projects during a virtual investor roundtable as the continent looks to boost its healthcare sector and attract much-needed investment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The projects, jointly worth around $140 million and located in East and West Africa, were previewed for potential investors.

The roundtable, held 21 October, is part of a series of events organized by the Africa Investment Forum and hosted by the Atlantic Council to drum up interest in the Forum’s upcoming Market Days, where a range of investment opportunities will be unveiled. The invited participants represented the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.

The first opportunity, with a project cost of $96 million, is for the development of a 250-bed specialist hospital offering world-class healthcare services in a West African country. Feasibility studies have been undertaken and the land has been secured. The second, entails the construction of a $45 million WHO-prequalified vaccine production plant in East Africa that will be capable of routine production of three vaccines, including for Covid-19.

After the presentations, a panel of investors provided their insight on investing in Africa’s healthcare sector. The panelists were Rhulani Nhlaniki, sub-Saharan Africa Cluster Lead at Pfizer; Jean-Philippe Syed, Principal with private equity firm Development Partners International; Afsane Jetha, Managing Partner & CEO at private equity firm Alta Semper Capital; Stavros Nicolaou, Senior Executive – Strategic Trade at Aspen Pharmacare; and Dr. Dumani Kula, Chief Operating Officer for Africa with Evercare Group, a healthcare company. Aubrey Hruby, a Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, moderated.

Syed said the African hospital sector, and in particular health tourism, had suffered as a result of pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Nicolaou said Africa’s disease burden—the highest of any continent—made preventive care, including vaccines, all the more important for Africans. The need for pharmaceuticals will increase the requirements for partnerships that can overcome constraints such as research & development.

Other challenges mentioned by the participants include overcoming cold chain and last-mile-delivery issues, and ways to scale up pilot technologies, such as the use of drones to facilitate vaccine delivery.

Health is one of five priority investment sectors under the Africa Investment Forum’s Unified Response to Covid-19 (https://bit.ly/3nnig7l) pillars. The others are agribusiness, energy and climate change, ICT/Telecoms, and industrialization and trade.

At a panel discussion organized by the University of Edinburgh last week, Africa Investment Forum Senior Director Chinelo Anohu referenced the East Africa vaccine plant project in the context of Africa’s current limited access to Covid-19 vaccines. Through trade and investment, particularly in its pharmaceutical sector, the continent can avoid vaccine inequity, Anohu said.

“What we’re looking to provide with the Africa Investment Forum is a co-investment platform where you mobilize domestic investors, mobilize project sponsors for the continent, and then mobilize international investors, those who are looking to make an investment and get a profit,” Anohu said.

The Africa Investment Forum aims to channel investment into Africa. Its 2021 Market Days, to be held on 1-3 December,  will showcase transformative investment opportunities from across the African continent, many with the potential to drive Africa’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Africa Investment Forum was launched in 2018 by eight founding partners: The African Development Bank, Africa 50; the Africa Finance Corporation; the African Export-Import Bank; the Development Bank of Southern Africa; the Trade and Development Bank; the European Investment Bank; and the Islamic Development Bank.

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