Africa50 Fund aims to catalyse infrastructure development
Made in Africa Foundation (MIAF) has partnered with African Development Bank (AfDB) to co-manage and market initiatives that will catalyse funding for Africa's largest infrastructure delivery vehicle created-to-date, the Africa50 Fund.
With the critical objective of reducing the timing required to develop infrastructure projects in Africa, Africa50 is the result of experience and innovation. Over the past five years, AfDB has delivered over $5.4 billion in critical infrastructure investment in Africa through private sector and public-private partnership financing.
MIAF was born when internationally renowned Ghanaian-born designer Ozwald Boateng and leading Nigerian entrepreneur Kola Aluko of Atlantic Energy realized that a few hundred million dollars of investment could change the course of economic development for the whole of Africa. The alliance between MIAF and AfDB aims at raising $500 million for Africa50's project development arm by the first half of 2014.
The historic alliance between MIAF and AfDB will be launched formally at the NASDAQ today. On hand to kick-off the effort will be Oscar-winning actor and longtime MIAF supporter Jamie Foxx; Grammy-winning musician, producer and entrepreneur Jay-Z; Mr. Boateng; Mr. Aluko; African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Diamini-Zuma; and Sam Kutesa, Uganda's current Minister of Foreign Affairs and the next president of the United Nations General Assembly. This will be followed by a working lunch for MIAF hosted by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times, which will also include Nigerian billionaires Tony Elumelu and Wale Tinubu; MIAF CEO Chris Cleverly; Chinese private–equity giant Patrick Zhong of the Fosun Group; ex-UK Foreign Secretary and International Rescue Committee CEO David Miliband; and other African leaders (TBA for security reasons).
Africa50 will be comprised of two funding arms: Project Development and Project Financing. The first of these arms, Project Development, will be sponsored by MIAF and AfDB and supported by the investment expertise of the US-based investment advisory Capri Global Capital, LLC, founded by African-American fund manager Quintin E. Primo III. The AfDB, Mr. Aluko and Capri Global Capital will work as a seamless team to develop unique and impactful financing and investment strategies that will develop the untapped potential of the continent.
At a recent meeting of African Central Banks in Mauritius, the AfDB President Donald Kaberuka explained that "to increase the rate of infrastructure delivery in Africa we need to speed up project preparation and project development. The critical objective is to shorten the time between the idea and financial close from a current average of seven years to less than three years."
Tas Anvaripour, head of Africa50, notes, "African infrastructure projects are increasingly capturing the attention of investors worldwide. However, the number of bankable infrastructure projects brought to market is still insufficient, even though they offer an excellent way to diversify investment portfolios and steady, long-term, and above average returns."
Having closed over 40 large infrastructure private sector projects in the past five years, AfDB strongly believes in the infrastructure opportunities latent in Africa. Primo concurs, noting that "Capri Global Capital, along with the AfDB, MIAF and Kola Aluko, believe that the promise of Africa is now. The extraordinary growth potential of the continent cannot be truly unlocked until critical infrastructure investments are conceived, championed and delivered. But these projects must not be charity. Rather, they must be commercially viable projects in which investors can responsibly invest. And ideally, they should not only be high impact, but offer attractive risk-adjusted returns."
Boateng adds compelling perspective to the effort, noting that "Africa has reached a moment in time where Africans on the continent, and in the wider diaspora, are looking to effect a positive and permanent transformation of their continent that will, in turn, transform the growth potential of earth as a whole. With only 10 percent of Africa's trade done between countries on the continent, compared to 60 to 70 percent in Europe and elsewhere, infrastructure—from railways that connect us and lights in the dark to clean water and homes worthy of the name—will enable Africa to achieve its full growth potential."
Aluko agrees that "the African Development Bank and Made In Africa Foundation initiative will act as a catalyst for growth across sectors and provide employment and spread wealth, focusing on commercially viable infrastructure projects that will build Africa – we have a duty as Africans to support our continent's development."