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Africa Investment Forum 2022 – 3rd edition with an outlook of African optimism

The 2022 edition of the Africa Investment Forum Market Days – the continent’s leading investment platform – has drawn $31 billion in investment interest from African and global investors. This has exceeded organizers’ expectations and confirmed the renewed optimism that comes with the recovery of African economies 

By Issiaka N’Guessan, in Abidjan

“Despite the challenges, we are not afraid, and neither have we despaired nor lost hope. We are excited and committed to a collective goal… accelerating the closure of deals to transform Africa and its investment landscape.” This is how President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, welcomed the results of the 3rd edition of the Africa Investment Forum.

A total of $63.8 billion in investment interest by 2022

The event, held in Abidjan from November 2 to 4 under the theme “Building Economic Resilience through Sustainable Investments,” resulted in $31 billion in interest from African and global investors. Combined with $32.8 billion from the rescheduled 2021 Africa Investment Forum Market days—which took place as virtual boardrooms in March this year—the forum has mobilized a total of $63.8 billion of investment interest in 2022. This far exceeded the expectations of the organizers, namely the AfDB and its partners – Africa50, Afreximbank, the African Finance Corporation, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the European Investment Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the Bank for Trade and Development (East Africa).

This is more than an encouraging sign, despite a complex and gloomy global situation, which confirms the optimism of the participants. Among them were President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia, the Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, the Vice President of Liberia and the Vice President of Tanzania. There were also potential investors, and private decision makers, several hundred participants from the world of finance, politics, and institutions who gathered to reflect on the mobilization of financial resources for the financing of several economic sectors on the African continent, as recalled by the Ivorian Minister of Planning and Development, Kaba Nialé. “Faced with a global economic environment and the most difficult capital markets, African countries are more than ever in need of significant resources to finance transformative projects that can build their resilience and sustainability. This is true in vital sectors such as agriculture, energy, security, industry, infrastructure, etc. This is a strategic issue of sovereignty, stability and economic recovery. While stressing the importance of the Africa Investment Forum as “an excellent opportunity”, she urged potential project sponsors and investors to discuss and agree because the context is ideal for investment on the African continent. “To foster the unfolding of its potential and take advantage of its assets, it is now that we must invest” and “be bold in closing deals.”

“Africa is the ideal investment destination”

A message reaffirmed by hosts of the meeting. “Africa is the ideal investment destination,” said Dr. Adesina, with figures in hand. The return of confidence in Africa is confirmed by a level of foreign investment that has reached US$ 89 billion in 2021 or double that of 2020 which was US$ 40 billion against US$ 47 billion in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The president of the Bank has even assumed the role of salesperson of the opportunities offered by the continent. “The future of electric cars in the world depends on Africa because it has the largest sources of cobalt in the world, with massive sources of lithium in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Ghana, Mali, and Democratic Republic of Congo, etc.” 

“Africa is not as risky as you think”

Otherwise, there are many great opportunities, provided that Africa is appreciated at its true value. “Africa is not as risky as you think. Perception is not the same as reality.” It is a transformed continent, which reassures, with incentive tax frameworks and buoyant economic sectors, added President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa, stressing that “the perception of risk has changed.” He, however, recognized that “governance was not what it should be” but that “our countries are experiencing improved governance.” “We need to change the prism through which we look at Africa,” urged Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia, inviting the rest of the world to “change the narrative around the continent. We must change this paradox: rich continent-poor population”. Patrick Achi, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, put forward the demographic argument: “with 2.4 billion inhabitants by 2050, the largest market will be Africa,” he said. That is a reason to believe in Africa, which will have 60% of the world’s population “young while that of the rest of the world will be aging”.  Enough “to see Africa with a sense of confidence,” Prime Minister of Cabo Verde Josee Silva Correa indicated.

“Africa is the investment frontier in the world – today and in the future. Invest in Africa today, benefit from its great future”

This is also played out on the continent. Tiémoko Meyliet Koné, Vice President of Côte d’Ivoire considered that the private sector has an important role to play in the development of Africa. He cited Côte d’Ivoire, where ¾ of the financing of the National Development Plan, estimated at 105 billion US dollars (NDP 2021-2025), or 4300 billion CFA francs are expected from the private sector. According to him, Africans must “ensure (their) food and economic sovereignty”. For Justin Meyliet Koné, this means creating the “investment environment necessary for the transformation of Africa”. Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo acknowledged that it is necessary to “create the conditions to protect investments.”

According to Moody’s Analytics, quoted by Dr. Adesina, Africa has had over 14 years the lowest default rate on infrastructure projects in the world (5.5%), compared to Latin America (12.9%), Asia (8.8%), Eastern Europe (8.6%), North America (7.6%), and Western Europe (5.9%). While comparing the Africa Investment Forum to an air strip making landing on the African continent “soft”, he highlighted the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), “the largest free-trade zone in the world connecting economies worth $3.3 trillion.” He said, in conclusion, “Africa is the investment frontier in the world – today and in the future. Invest in Africa today, benefit from its great future. And the AIF is one of the mechanisms. Since its inception in 2018, the platform has mobilized over $100 billion in investment interests.

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