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The Time is Now for Global ESG Regulation: deVere CEO

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Nigel Green - Investors King

A global regulatory framework for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is now urgently required, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The ‘call to action’ from Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as major financial institutions are handling a massive uptick of inflows into the sector but at the same time facing accusations of inconsistency in their approach to sustainable impactful investments.

Mr Green says: “Environmental, social and governance investing is this decade’s ultimate investment megatrend – and it has been accelerated since the pandemic began.

“There’s been a dramatic increase of inflows into the sector from both retail and institutional investors as it has become clearer than ever that human health is reliant upon healthy ecosystems; that we need to ensure the sustainability of supply chains; and that those companies with robust corporate governance and good business practice fare better in difficult times and are ultimately best-positioned for the future.”

He continues: “The trend is unlikely to slow down in a post-pandemic world. Millennials, who are statistically more likely to seek responsible investment options, are set to become the major beneficiaries of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth – an estimated $30trillion over the next few years.

“In addition, recent research reveals that the majority of environmental, social and governance investments have outperformed their non-sustainable counterparts over the last year and have had lower volatility.

“This will only serve to attract more investors.”

Given the continuing and increasing demand, Mr Green says that the regulatory landscape must reflect the situation.

“Regulators need to catch-up.  Initiatives that began in the EU are now spreading worldwide, but much more needs to be done, at a faster pace and with a joined-up approach. There remains a startling lack of consistency in definitions and data.

“Considering the momentum of the sector, the time is now for the establishment of a global regulatory framework for ESG investing.”

This, he says, will provide greater protections for those investors who are looking for profits with purpose. It will also help to reduce ‘greenwashing’, which is where an investment or company gives an inaccurate impression over its green, socially responsible or corporate credentials.

The deVere CEO concludes: “A robust standardised regulatory framework would make the sector even more attractive, which will then help investors reach their financial goals whilst proactively protecting people and the planet.”

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

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President Buhari - Investors King

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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Africa Investment Forum

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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On Opportunities for Investors as Togo Streamlines Business Procedures and Develops New Infrastructure

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Togo business - Investors King

Togo’s economy has been resilient and strong during the Covid-19 pandemic. The economy has continued its robust growth trajectory despite the health care and logistics challenges. While some countries in West Africa registered negative economic growth in 2020, Togo’s GDP expanded by 1.8%.

Although this was a stark drop compared to the more than 5% annual growth recorded in the past five years, the IMF and other international groups commended Togo’s performance. Furthermore, Togo has continued to attract foreign direct investment during the pandemic due to the continuous improvement of the business climate, which is a result of five years of aggressive reform and strong government commitment.

For example, it is now possible to set up a business in four hours online with all the required documents in place. Land regulations have been simplified and transfer of ownership is faster. In addition, several financial reforms have stimulated the business environment. As a result, Togo was one of the 10 most improved countries on the World Bank’s 2020 ease of doing business index, jumping 40 places after making it easier to start a business, obtain construction permits, pay taxes, access credit and register property. This progress began in 2019, when Togo moved up 19 places on the index. The performance achieved in 2020 made Togo the top reformer in Africa and the third globally.

GDP growth of 4.8% is expected for 2021, and the average target for the following five years is 7%, reflecting the effects of planned infrastructure projects and related directives. This growth relies on the active participation of the private sector, foreign investors and the restoration of confidence in the broader regional economy.

To what extent did the health crisis undermine the stability of the financial system?

MIVEDOR: During the crisis the Central Bank of West African States took steps to support the regional economy; provide liquidity to areas in need; and ensure that refinancing, restructuring and business support was made readily available. Despite the slowdown in demand caused by lockdowns, movement restrictions and business challenges – particularly prevalent in the airline industry and the tourism sector – financial services proved resilient and responsive to the drop in consumption. The government has taken appropriate measures to support the financial system and weaker businesses in order to maintain a steady level of production and provide financial facilities to firms in need.

Several anchor projects have been implemented despite the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. These projects should build up the ecosystem for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and propel the economy forwards. The Industrial Platform of Adetikopé (Plateforme Industrielle d’Adetikopé, PIA), which was launched in June 2021, will invigorate SMEs in the surrounding area and provide an array of opportunities to foreign investors seeking exposure to the Togolese economy and the wider ECOWAS market.

Certain projects were conceived and completed during the crisis despite logistics and supply chain challenges. For example, the region’s first data centre opened in Togo in June 2021. The data centre will stimulate the national economy by improving connection speeds, creating jobs, providing new services and generating alternative revenue streams.

What role will special economic zones (SEZs) play in Togo’s future?

MIVEDOR: SEZs are catalysts for industrialisation in Togo and a pivotal part of the country’s economic recovery. Togo has already experimented with free zones and SEZs in terms of job creation, and the government understands the importance of creating spaces where SMEs can expand their operations, gain access to capital and grow. The manufacturing sector – and textiles in particular – is poised to take advantage of SEZs.

The PIA hosts a multidisciplinary zone that services the industrial and logistics sectors, providing entry points to hinterland countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and offers a one-stop shop for companies to establish operations in an environment conducive to business. Operationally, the PIA acts as a single point of access to facilitate business transactions and address queries. Together, these features mean lower costs of production for businesses operating out of Togo, as well as a competitive edge against international players.

In terms of job creation, the leading economic segment is the textile industry. We are expecting 15,200 new jobs from the first companies located in the PIA, which will increase to 30,000 in the years to 2026. While cotton is the most important product in terms of value addition and job creation, soybeans and organic soy are up-and-coming niche markets.

In terms of energy availability and cost, the energy mix is maturing to include more green sources and reach a 50:50 mix of renewable and non-renewable power. We are ramping up energy capacity to 100 MW in the surrounding area through the Blitta solar power plant, which currently has 50 MW of clean energy capacity. Togo’s energy quality is high, and the cost relevant to neighbouring countries is competitive. One of the founding principles of SEZs is to create jobs, and efforts are under way to improve energy infrastructure to maintain Togo’s attractiveness in the region and help meet this objective.

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