African Investment Forum: Africa remains attractive for investors, despite sometimes complex local and geopolitical situations | African development bank

The African continent has enormous potential and remains an attractive destination for investors, despite complex national contexts and geopolitical changes, say experts at the Africa Investment Forum’s Market Days 2022.

Africa faces external shocks that have a negative impact on its growth and socio-economic development. The Covid-19 pandemic has compromised the sustained growth that the continent has been experiencing for 25 years, and the Russian-Ukrainian war threatens the populations with a serious food crisis.

The panelists raised these points on Thursday, November 3, 2022, during the Forum held from November 2 to 4 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

During the session entitled “Trade and investment: how can Africa be more competitive in the global context? Souleymane Diarrassouba, Ivorian Minister of Commerce, Handicrafts and Small and Medium Enterprises; Benedict Okey Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank); and Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, delivered opening remarks.

Other speakers were Admassu Tadesse, President of the Eastern and Southern Africa Development and Trade Bank; Rajakumari Jandhyala, President of YAATRA Ventures (a platform offering investors a specific approach to deploy capital in energy, infrastructure and value-added opportunities in Africa and emerging markets); Mohan Vivekanandan, Director of the Development Bank of Southern Africa; and Bernard Ayitée, Chairman and CEO of Obara Capital (investment fund offering alternative solutions and financing to businesses and African countries).

Africa’s potential in the global economy is growing. Most of its population is made up of young people; a quarter of the world‘s population is expected to live in Africa by 2050, and the African free trade area is progressing. Almost two-thirds (65%) of unused arable land is in Africa, which is also rich in minerals (including cobalt, lithium which are essential for producing batters, and Africa is the world leader in agricultural products such as cocoa, coffee, cotton, essential oils, mahogany).

Minister Diarrassouba highlighted Africa’s relatively low production costs: “Africa is the most profitable region in the world, according to the OECD. Investors from the continent and beyond must seize its enormous investment opportunities”.

Benedict Oramah called on African countries to redouble their efforts to make the free trade area fully operational so that Africa no longer lags behind other regions in regional integration.

Wamkele Mene argued that the free trade area, which represents a market of 1.3 billion consumers, will increase Africa’s global competitiveness for foreign direct investment and free up trade flows.

He said some transaction costs had already fallen since the agreement came into force and urged countries to develop their value chains in productive sectors, including agriculture, mining and energy. Mene also announced the third inter-African trade fair in November in Abidjan.

The session outlined ways in which the continent can leverage ambitious trade policies and innovations in financial services to facilitate capital flows to development projects. Delegates highlighted the significant progress made by banking institutions in investing in infrastructure.

“We can keep hope. The levels of collaboration and co-financing are high,” Tadesse said, citing investments in gas projects in Mozambique and thermal power in Tanzania.

YAATRA Ventures gave the example of its energy security investments in Uganda, pointing out that African investors’ perception of risk differs from that of Western investors.

Panelists agreed that while African financial institutions have a fundamental role to play for long-term investors on the continent, it is up to African countries to create an enabling environment to attract domestic and international investors.

Africa Investment Forum 2022 – PLENARY SESSION, Trade and Investment – How Africa can be more competitive in a global context

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