- The event has been postponed over the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron.
- This marks the second year running that the vital investment forum has been disrupted due to the coronavirus, with last year’s event cancelled.
- This year’s Africa Investment Forum was meant to showcase118 deals in its pipeline from all eight founding members.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has postponed the 2021 Africa Investment Forum (AIF) until further notice.
Delegates had already started preparations to travel to Abidjan for the event that had been slated for December 1, 2021.
The event has been postponed over the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron.
What is Omicron?
The heavily mutated Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa on Nov. 25, with the first cases identified in neighbouring Botswana and later cases reported in Tshwane, the municipality in which Pretoria is located.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the new variant is likely to spread internationally and poses a very high risk of surging infection rates that could have ‘severe consequences’ in some places, meaning the world must prepare.
This marks the second year running that the vital investment forum has been disrupted due to the coronavirus, with last year’s event cancelled.
However, there is no indication that was given as to when the conference would be held.
Delay of investment deals
A buffet of deals worth $110 billion to help economies on the continent rise to their feet after a bitter recession will have to wait, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina told reporters in Abidjan, at a pre-event press conference on Monday.
“It’s very important that we put the lives of people first. We have to be sensitive and we have to be responsible,” he said.
“Several billion dollars of investment projects were scheduled for investment board rooms with project sponsors and investors at this edition of the Africa Investment Forum. Unfortunately, with rising global travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 Omicron variant, and heightened concerns for health and safety, it is necessary, regrettably, to postpone the event. The health and safety of everyone comes first.”
Three days of sessions were intended to mobilise investment and explore policy environments in Africa’s burgeoning telecoms sector, manufacturing, energy and climate change, health and infrastructure to help buoy African economies reshaped by the lingering pandemic.
One of the forum’s flagship events, Market Days, which was also cancelled last year due to Covid-19, was meant to set up the stall for a pipeline of projects that are ripe for investment.
One such project is for a $96m specialist hospital in West Africa offering 250 beds and world-class healthcare. Another is for the construction of a $45m WHO-approved vaccine production plant in East Africa, designed to produce three vaccines, including one for Covid-19.
Before the announced postponement, a preview of agribusiness deals worth nearly $400m outlined projects in the agriculture sector, including one which requires $345m in capital for the construction and operation of a food market that will serve about 15 million people in Africa’s largest food exchange zone.
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At Market Days 2019 in Johannesburg, fifty-seven deals worth around $68bn were discussed, including a strategic liquefied natural gas development project in Mozambique that was Africa’s largest single foreign direct investment. AIF 2020 did not take place due to Covid-19.
This year’s Africa Investment Forum was meant to showcase118 deals in its pipeline from all eight founding members.