South Africa has been a model for good investment environment in the region, says the African Development Bank's Neside Tas Anvaripour, Head of Infrastructure Finance in the Private Sector Department. The AfDB executive is a headline speaker at the upcoming African Utility Week where more than 5000 utility professionals and energy experts will gather in Johannesburg in May.
Says Anvaripour: "over the past decade, South Africa has shown political stability and a consistent regulatory environment and the size and strength of the country's capital markets and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is a testament to that. While the investment environment in Africa continues to improve, South Africa, as well as Namibia, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Tanzania, Tunisia, Ghana, amongst others, stand out as gateways into the continent."
Increase in investor interest in Africa
According to the AfDB's Anvaripour, Africa has been one of the continents least affected by the economic downturn: "Over the last couple of years, Africa is home to 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world and the growth rate for Africa as a whole has been approximately 7%, on the back of strong commodity prices. Additionally, the continent is witnessing a growing middle class and greater economic stability quelling previously held misconceptions about the region."
She says these factors in conjunction with the African markets' low correlation to the economic activity, has provided impetus for investor interest in the African growth story. "This interest has resulted in an increase in private equity activity and funds raised on the continent. Many would argue that the global economic recession has made investors more cognizant of the opportunities in Africa."
Tas Anvaripour says if deals are structured properly, there are enormous opportunities for private investors to realise long-term, risk-adjusted terms in Africa: "We can help with the structuring. Come help us with the investment & sector expertise. The Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model is viable and proven and can become a widely adopted, effective model for financing infrastructure projects in Africa. Having supported the PPP model in Senegal, we are now looking at improving PPP opportunities in Mauritius and a number of other African states. Again, the AfDB is here to help."
"Given that the estimated financing requirement to close Africa's infrastructure deficit amounts to approximately USD 45 billion every year, there exists an incredible opportunity for investors willing to come to Africa. Given governments', IFIs', and DFIs' dedication to the success of these projects, as well as the proven success of the PPP model, it surprises me that more people have not taken advantage of these opportunities."
IFIs=international finance institutions
DFIs=development finance institutions
Investor or maverick
During this year's African Utility Week, taking place at the Expo Centre in Johannesburg, Tas Anvaripour will address African energy ministers, financiers and utility professionals during the investor-focused Infrastructure Investment track. Says the AfDB executive: "it isn't often that people get to play a role in a growth story like the one currently taking place in Africa. Whether you are an investor, public sector player, or a maverick, there are various roles that you can play throughout the exciting narrative of this region. Take the opportunity and enjoy the experience."
This year's conference and exhibition will also address other utility services such as Metering, Renewables, Water, Large Industry, Transmission & Distribution/Smart Grids, Generation and Waste Management. Some 5000 of the continent's utility professionals, energy regulators and utility service and technology providers are expected at the largest utility gathering of its kind on the continent.
More speaker highlights from African Utility Week:
• Welcome address: Brian Dames, CEO, Eskom Holdings, South Africa
• Keynote address: Paul Reiter, Executive Director. International Water Association, The Hague, The Netherlands
• Pakaj Gupt, World Bank, United States
• Ronald Chauke, Electricity Regulator Reform, National Energy Regulator of South Africa
• Monique Koning, Head of Division, Project Finance and Guarantees, European Investment Bank, Belgium
Conference: 22-23 May 2012
Exhibition: 21-23 May 2012
Pre-conference workshops: 21 May 2012
Site visits: 24 May 2012
Event location: Expo Centre, Johannesburg