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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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Verdant Capital Advises WIOCC on USD80 Million Equity Capital Raise

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Edmund Higenbottam, MD of Verdant Capital - Investorsking.com

Verdant Capital has advised WIOCC Holding Company Limited (or “WIOCC”) on an USD 80 million equity capital raise.  USD 75 million of equity was invested by CAPE IV, a fund managed by leading African private equity fund manager African Capital Alliance.  The balance was invested by management and an existing shareholder.

The equity raised has been supplemented by a debt capital raise.  The total capital raise of USD 200 million will be used to expand its connectivity within Africa and internationally, and through Open Access Data Centres (or “OADC”) – a newly created WIOCC Group company – to launch a network of pan-African data centres optimised to serve the needs of the cloud provider and wholesale community.

As well as introducing a strong new investor into the company, the capital will be used to support WIOCC’s expansion strategy across Africa and accelerate its investment in enhancing the continent’s digital infrastructure. Strategic investments in the new Equiano and 2Africa international subsea systems will augment and complement WIOCC’s existing core network infrastructure, cost-effectively adding multi-Terabits (Tbps) of capacity and significantly increasing its options for delivering the high-availability solutions demanded in markets across Africa. WIOCC’s terrestrial strategy, which includes deployment of metro and national networks in key locations, will be extended to include new countries and metropolitan areas, increasing its portfolio of end-to-end solutions for clients across Africa.

Part of the capital raise will be used in funding OADC, which is creating a transformational interconnected pan-African network of open-access, carrier-neutral data centres. First-phase locations will house key submarine cable landings in Lagos, Durban and Mogadishu, supporting the drive to land international submarine capacity directly into carrier-neutral data centres. Each will provide clients with bespoke colocation facilities and ultra-reliable, seamless connectivity directly into new international subsea systems, eliminating the costs and risks traditionally associated with terrestrial backhauling. Construction and fit-out is underway in Lagos and Durban, with both to be launched early in 2022, whilst the Mogadishu data centre will be ready before the end of 2022. Further phases of deployment will deliver more than 20 new data centres in strategic locations throughout the continent, focusing on major connectivity hubs in each country.

African Capital Alliance was attracted to the investment by the clear vision to develop high quality and synergistic assets and solutions to support its long-term client partnerships. The investments will further position WIOCC to take advantage of the accelerating migration of infrastructure and services into the cloud, driving demand for data transmission, storage and processing in wholesale, enterprise and consumer end-markets in Africa, and bringing forward realisation of WIOCC’s vision to make an enduring contribution to Africa’s communications.

The successful capital raise further strengthens Verdant Capital’s track record as a leading advisor on transactions for or involving pre-eminent private equity firms in Africa.

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Investment Opportunities in Africa in Full Display at IATF’s Investor Forum

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Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021

The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021, which is currently taking place at the Durban International Conference Centre, will be hosting tomorrow, 18 November, its Investment Day. Organised under the theme “Unlocking Investment and Accelerating Deal Flow in Africa”, the Investor Forum is a full day dedicated to showcasing Africa’s investment potential and showcasing investment-ready projects. The Investment Forum will also feature sector specific parallel sessions on: Agriculture, Logistics, Technology and Tourism.

IATF is Africa’s biggest in-person B2B and B2G event of the year and seven Heads of Government attended the opening ceremony. The message was loud and clear that there is the political will and engagement to make the African Continental Free Trade Agreement a success and that at the heart of this is developing intra-African trade and investment.

IATF has featured three days of debates and discussions to help overcome the obstacles holding back trade such as the cost of moving goods and cross-border payments. Afreximbank has developed some specific products to help deal with these structural issues: the Afreximbank African Collaborative Transit Guarantee Scheme (AACTGS) and the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System (PAPSS). A full day of deliberations focusing specifically on the Automotive Sector and the Pharmaceuticals Industry to help grow domestic manufacturing is also taking place.

The Investor Day will focus on investment opportunities on the continent and unlocking cross-border investment by African national champions, focusing on some key sectors and learning from investors and companies who are committed and invested in the African continent.

Confirmed speakers include: Hon. Ms. Bogolo Joy Kenewendo, Global Economist, Kenewendo Advisory and Former Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Botswana; Mr. Amr Kamel, Executive Vice President, Business Development & Corporate Banking, Afreximbank; Dr. Acha Leke, Senior Partner and Chairman, McKinsey & Company, Africa; Mr. Akol Ayii, Founder and Chairman, Trinity Energy; Mr. Paulo Gomes, Chairman, Orango Investment Corporation; Ms. Ndiarka Mbodji, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Kowry Energy; Mr. Abdou Souleye Diop, Managing Partner, Mazars.

“I have always been a believer in the development of national champions and for these national champions to be the locomotive of private sector investment across the continent. We’re seeing it but the examples are still too seldom. The pandemic has highlighted the necessity to become self-reliant and this will require cross-border collaboration,” said Omar Ben Yedder, Project Lead on the Investment Forum and Publisher of African Business magazine. “This Investment Forum is built on this same spirit of cooperation, bringing together projects from across the continent to present the investment potential in Africa,” he added.

To coincide with the dates of the event, the IATF 2021 Investment Forum team, in coordination with African Investment Promotion Agencies, is making available an IATF 2021 Project Book, a compilation of investment ready projects across multiple sectors. The IATF 2021 Project Book can be downloaded here.

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Investors, Prepare Now for Trek Towards Normalised Interest Rates

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Interbank rate

As the Bank of England signals it will soon implement tighter monetary policy, investors should review their portfolios to ensure they successfully navigate increasing complexities, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.

The comments from deVere Group’s Nigel Green come as the UK’s central bank kept interest rates on hold on Thursday, defying market expectations that it would be the first of the world’s major central banks to hike rates following the pandemic.

The Bank of England decided to keep interest rates at an all-time low of 0.1%, rather than raise them to 0.25%, in a 7-to-2 vote.

Mr Green says: “After putting out hawkish signals recently, the Bank ultimately opted not to go for the interest rate hike that the markets had fully priced in, sending sterling falling to a one-month low.

“However, crucially, the BoE did leave the door open to the likelihood of raising rates ‘over coming months.’

“We believe this is the central bank’s way of prepping investors and households that inflation has become a concern and that growth has become slower due to supply side bottlenecks – and, therefore, to expect an interest rate hike as early as December.”

He continues: “Should this happen, stock and bond markets could correct sharply. Investors would be well-advised to stay in the market, but they should review their portfolios to ensure that they are properly diversified across asset class, sectors, regions and currencies.

“This will ensure they are best positioned to mitigate the downsides and seize opportunities arising from the likely volatility.

“The current scenario might normally drive investors to increase their exposure to fixed-income, but it’s almost universally agreed that stocks will continue to outperform bonds. There’s no real alternative at the moment.

“Plus, the growing inflation issue means cash will be eroded in a bank.”

The Bank of England has lifted its inflation forecast, and now sees consumer price inflation peaking around 5% next April, before dropping again. This is more than double its 2% target and an increase from the 3.1% in September.

The deVere CEO concludes: “This is the hardest time to be an investor and worst time not to be.

“There are real opportunities to be had, but navigating the territory is set to become more complex in coming months as we move towards a new era of interest rate normality driven partly by inflation fears.”

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