Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, operating under the umbrella of the African Development Bank (AfDB), is holding its 2022 General Shareholders Meeting in Marrakech this July 19-20, 2022.
Speaking at the opening of the event, Moroccan finance minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui riterated Morocco’s call for the setting up of a new African investment model that leverages capital from private and institutional investors to make up for a drop in public investments on the back of the successive crises.
Private funds are needed to finance African infrastructure projects more than ever, especially in the current context where fiscal responses have been undermined by the response to Covid and inflationary pressures, she said.
The combined crises triggered by the pandemic, imported inflation and climate change pose a “quasi- extensile risk” for African economies, she said.
The Moroccan minister called for more intra-African solidarity and recalled Morocco’s investment effort in Africa in the sectors of banks, insurance, telecoms, construction, energy and agriculture.
“This cooperation is set to be strengthened with the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” she said.
AfDB President and head of Africa50 Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina said Africa needs private funds to meet infrastructure investments financing needs estimated at between 68 billion and 108 billion dollars.
Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé stressed that the use of private investment or public-private partnership (PPP) “is more necessary than ever, to allow public funds to be allocated in priority to investments that do not attract much interest from the private sector.”
The role of Africa50 is, therefore, more relevant than ever, as a driver of private and PPP investment in African infrastructure, said Ebobissé, recalling that this pan-African infrastructure investment platform has contributed to more than 16 large-scale, high-impact projects in Africa, with a combined value exceeding 5 billion dollars.
The projects covered energy, transport, information and communication technologies, healthcare and education.
“No nation in the world can develop, create jobs, protect its natural resources and provide opportunities for its people without proper infrastructure,” he said, noting that infrastructure is the key to building any strong nation.
For her part, Ms. Florizelle Liser, President of the Corporate Council on Africa, said that the continent can “fulfill the promise of a continental free trade area through strong infrastructure.”
She also stressed the importance of holding the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Marrakech, noting that the CCA works to encourage trade with Africa and to educate the U.S. private sector on the changing business climate in the continent.
“As the U.S. and African partners look to recover from the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s summit provides an excellent opportunity to explore the U.S. and African public and private sectors’ renewed commitment to building stronger economic ties and expanding and deepening the U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and business relationship,” Liser said.
On the sidelines of the event, the African Development Bank, Africa50 and the forum of African sovereign funds, led by Moroccan sovereign investor Ithmar, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to attract more funds to African infrastructure.
Under this agreement, the signatory parties agree to work together to boost financing and strengthen the acquisition of skills and expertise in the infrastructure sector.
The collaboration will also focus on research and project preparation, which are key to securing financing.
Following the opening ceremony, Africa50 shareholders gathered for a closed working session to review Africa50’s activities over the past year, approve financial reports, and discuss long-term strategy with management.
After six years of operation, Africa50 has become a key player in attracting infrastructure investment on a commercial basis in Africa to bridge the US$108 billion infrastructure gap.