There is need to rebrand Africa, to give it a better, truer image or in the words of the President for the African Development Bank (AfDB)) Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina to change the narrative on Africa to attract increased investments into the continent.
Granted the head of AfDB specified the Africa rebranding be specific for the USA but the idea stands true in general, the World needs to see Africa differently. The assertion comes ahead of the upcoming “Africa Investment Forum 2021.’
To be held this December (1-3), the event is one of the biggest flagship initiatives of the African Development Bank that is designed to attract billions of dollars in investment for strategic development projects across the continent.
“The annual forum has come to be an invaluable platform during which the Bank successfully attracts critical investment for the continent’s infrastructure, agriculture and health care system needs among others, especially as Africa seeks to rebound from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the president explains.
So what is to be expected at this year’s Africa Investment Forum? For one, more investment that is for sure. The AfDB sees Africa as the world’s newest investment frontier and since the event was not held last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s edition is expected to be very fruitful.
A new approach this year is emphasis on the growing consensus that the private sector is an indispensable part in providing the scale and speed needed to urgently address bottlenecks across many sectors.
Expected to attend are, project developers and investors including pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and private equity firms. Investment sector under consideration include health care, energy and climate, agri-business, and ICT and telecommunication sectors.
A major investment that is expected to be settled during this year’s event is the construction of a 45USD million vaccine production plant in East Africa. The plant which is already pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) will produce at least three types of vaccines including one for Covid-19.
“Africa cannot, and Africa must not, outsource the health security of its 1.3 billion people to the generosity and the benevolence of others. Africa must ensure health security for its people, and I will say that we must look at health, from the perspective of a healthcare defense system,” asserted AfDB president.
In fact the president was adamant that Africa must develop its indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. He said this was important not only for Covid-19, but also for other viruses to come after Covid-19.
“As part of efforts to revamp Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure, the African Development Bank is investing $3 billion dollars to support pharmaceutical and vaccine production on the continent,” he announced.
Another highly anticipated investment is in the agribusiness sector for the scaling up of a dairy milk production and packaging company in Southern Africa. Valued at 50.2 USD million, the investment is of strategic value for the country since it will create jobs and increase skills development.
During the course of the three day, the event, organizers will focus on mobilizing institutional finance as well as the role of innovations such as fintech and cryptocurrencies.
In the last edition of the event, back in 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa, 57 deals were signed worth a whopping $68 billion, which represents Africa’s largest single foreign direct investment.
Already, the Africa Investment Forum has 118 deals in its pipeline from all eight founding members, with an investment value of over $110 billion.
It is with this backdrop that the bank’s President Dr. Adesina is advocating for set of an arm of the bank in Washington.
“It is very important that Africa’s voice be heard. We are a responsive and solutions bank at the heart of Africa’s development, and at the core of our work as a multilateral development bank, there is a very clear strategy to fast-track Africa’s development,” he said.
In the past five years, the Bank, through its High 5s (top 5 development priority areas), has positively impacted the lives of 335 million people; 21 million people have gained access to electricity; 76 million to agricultural technologies to ensure food security, and 12 million people have gained access to finance through investee companies that the Bank itself has invested in.
The Bank is also spearheading efforts to help Africa tackle climate change and has so far doubled its allocation for climate finance to $25 billion by 2025 with 40% of its total financing going to climate finance.
“We are increasingly applying more of our resources to climate adaptation,” Dr Adesina said. “Today, 67% of all our climate finance is in adaptation, which is the highest of any international financial institution in the world.”
He highlighted the Desert to Power project, a $20 billion investment by the Bank and its partners to create the world’s largest solar zone in the Sahel. It will help to develop 10,000 megawatts of electricity and provide electric power to 250 million people.
The Bank has also invested over $40 billion in infrastructure, working closely with the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development.
“We have equity in the African Development Fund of $26 billion. But we can go to the capital market and raise an additional $33 billion that we can use to scale up support for African economies, especially low-income countries,” Dr Adesina went on to point out and singling out the United States Treasury as a much needed support partner.