Africa faces a yawning gap between its infrastructure needs and its ability to attract the foreign investment required to finance projects. The continent’s leaders must recommit to creating a more favorable investment climate, one that can attract capital while limiting investors’ risk exposure.
JOHANNESBURG – As the US Federal Reserve embarks on the “great unwinding” of the stimulus program it began nearly a decade ago, emerging economies are growing anxious that a stronger dollar will adversely affect their ability to service dollar-denominated debt. This is a particular concern for Africa, where, since the Seychelles issued its debut Eurobond in 2006, the total value of outstanding Eurobonds has grown to nearly $35 billion.
But if the Fed’s ongoing withdrawal of stimulus has frayed African nerves, it has also spurred recognition that there are smarter ways to finance development than borrowing in dollars. Of the available options, one specific asset class stands out: infrastructure.
Africa, which by 2050 will be home to an estimated 2.6 billion people, is in dire need of funds to build and maintain roads, ports, power grids, and so on. According to the World Bank, Africa must spend a staggering $93 billion annually to upgrade its current infrastructure; the vast majority of these funds – some 87% – are needed for improvements to basic services like energy, water, sanitation, and transportation.
Yet, if the recent past is any guide, the capital needed will be difficult to secure. Between 2004 and 2013, African states closed just 158 financing deals for infrastructure or industrial projects, valued at $59 billion – just 5% of the total needed. Given this track record, how will Africa fund even a fraction of the World Bank’s projected requirements?
The obvious source is institutional and foreign investment. But, to date, many factors, including poor profit projections and political uncertainty, have limited such financing for infrastructure projects on the continent. Investment in African infrastructure is perceived as simply being too risky.
Fortunately, with work, this perception can be overcome, as some investors – such as the African Development Bank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and the Trade & Development Bank – have already demonstrated. Companies from the private sector are also profitably financing projects on the continent. For example, Black Rhino, a fund set up by Blackstone, one of the world’s largest multinational private equity firms, focuses on the development and acquisition of energy projects, such as fuel storage, pipelines, and transmission networks.
But these are the exceptions, not the rule. Fully funding Africa’s infrastructure shortfall will require attracting many more investors – and swiftly.
To succeed, Africa must develop a more coherent and coordinated approach to courting capital, while at the same time working to mitigate investors’ risk exposure. Public-private sector collaborations are one possibility. For example, in the energy sector, independent power producers are working with governments to provide electricity to 620 million Africans living off the grid. Privately funded but government regulated, these producers operate through power purchase agreements, whereby public utilities and regulators agree to purchase electricity at a predetermined price. There are approximately 130 such producers in Sub-Saharan Africa, valued at more than $8 billion. In South Africa alone, 47 projects are underway, accounting for 7,000 megawatts of additional power production.
Similar private-public partnerships are emerging in other sectors, too, such as transportation. Among the most promising are toll roads built with private money, a model that began in South Africa. Not only are these projects, which are slowly appearing elsewhere on the continent, more profitable than most financial market investments; they are also literally paving the way for future growth.
Clearly, Africa needs more of these ventures to overcome its infrastructure challenges. That is why I, along with other African business leaders and policymakers, have called on Africa’s institutional investors to commit 5% of their funds to local infrastructure. We believe that with the right incentives, infrastructure can be an innovative and attractive asset class for those with long-term liabilities. One sector that could lead the way on this commitment is the continent’s pension funds, which, together, possess a balance sheet of about $3 trillion.
The 5% Agenda campaign, launched in New York last month, underscores the belief that only a collaborative public-private approach can redress Africa’s infrastructure shortfall. For years, a lack of bankable projects deterred international financing. But in 2012, the African Union adopted the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa, which kick-started more than 400 energy, transportation, water, and communications projects. It was a solid start – one that the 5% Agenda seeks to build upon.
But some key reforms will be needed. A high priority of the 5% Agenda is to assist in updating the national and regional regulatory frameworks that guide institutional investment in Africa. Similarly, new financial products must be developed to give asset owners the ability to allocate capital directly to infrastructure projects.
Unlocking new pools of capital will help create jobs, encourage regional integration, and ensure that Africa has the facilities to accommodate the needs of future generations. But all of this depends on persuading investors to put their money into African projects. As business leaders and policymakers, we must ensure that the conditions for profitability and social impact are not mutually exclusive. When development goals and profits align, everyone wins.
New York, 17 October 2017 – The case for financing infrastructure and agricultural development was made at the United Nations headquarters during Africa Week.
Chair of the Africa Group, Mr Mohamed Siad Doualeh, Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations, made the call to look at ways to mobilse resources, investment, capacities, skills and technology in order to facilitate agricultural and infrastructure development in Africa.
As envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and Agenda 2063, partnerships will be the essential means of implementation for these development frameworks. In this context, African leaders have prioritised domestic resource mobilisation, through enhancing economic growth, improving the tax system and expanding the tax base, and curbing illicit financial flows while promoting public-private partnerships, and leveraging remittances, financial markets and pension and sovereign wealth funds.
Financing infrastructure and agriculture projects requires an enabling environment that includes adequate skills in project preparation and management, the availability of adequate financial products and institutions, a business friendly environment, adequate hard and soft infrastructure including the legal framework, comprehensive risk management, and political leadership.
H.E Jakaya Kikwete, Former President of Tanzania , reiterated the need for resources to be increased for agriculture and infrastructure. “Since the Maputo declaration was made in 2003 through Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme [CAADP], many governments have increased their budgetary allocations to agriculture. However, mechanisation is still lacking and a number of challenges still remain. Therefore, more investment in agriculture and infrastructure is needed to achieve inclusive growth,” he said.
Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency, concurred with H.E Kiwete in stating that agriculuture in Africa was revitalised through CAADP. “As the development agency of the African Union, NEPAD implements continental strategies and builds coherent plans through frameworks such as CAADP for agriculture and PIDA for infrastrcuture,” Dr Mayaki said. “ These and other continental frameworks are embeded in Agenda 2063 through which regional and national coherence is built,” he added.
Dr Mayaki went on to state that energy is a good example of the link bewteen agriculture and infrastructure. “More bankable projects are needed to attract the much needed investment in infrastrutre, ensuring that returns are high and risks are low. NEPAD Agency’s desrisking report shows that Africa is not as risky as was perceived,” Dr Mayaki said.
“With the underutilisation of resources, coupled with population growth, Africa has not yet achieved self-sufficency in food security,” Prof Victor Harison, Commissioner for Economic Affairs at the African Union Commission stated.
The Commissioner also remarked that rural infrastructure is essential to accelarate agricultural development, emphasising that infrasturure and agricultural developement are prerequisites for meeting goals in Agenda 2063 and SDGs.
World Bank Senior Vice President, Mr Mahmoud Moheildin’s presentation showed that following a sharp slow down, recovery is underway in Africa, South of the Sahara. GDP in the region is expected to strengthen to 2.4 percent on 2017/18 from 1.3 percent in 2016. However, growth in cereal yields in Africa has been consistently lower than in other years, with infrastructure deficit holding back growth
Prof Al-Amin Abu-Manga, Member of the African Peer Review Panel of Emminent Persons concluded that, “Africa has reoruces, what needs to be strengthened is governance thereof.”
There is sometimes pleasing news about the progress of our continent. Recently, for example, a report of the Malabo-Montpellier Panel was published as part of the Forum for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRF), which met in Abidjan. This report, entitled “Food: How can Africa build a future without hunger or malnutrition?“, reported that many African countries have been able to drastically reduce malnutrition over the past 15 years. But what is stressed above all by the food security experts involved in this study is that these good results have been achieved through strong political will in each of the states concerned.
Disparities remain large by country, but the report points out that the proportion of people suffering from hunger has declined overall from 28 to 20% in Africa between 1990 and 2015. However, the total number of people is increasing due to population growth which is indeed a multiplier of the problems of our countries (see previous articles).
According to the report, “some countries have made remarkable progress. Senegal, Ghana and Rwanda all reduced the number of people suffering from malnutrition and the number of children suffering from stunting by more than 50%. Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Togo have achieved reductions of more than 40%. “
Panel Co-Chair Joachim von Braun explains that “Governments are able to fight malnutrition when they put it first in their agenda and in their inter-ministerial implementation programs and in close collaboration with partners. Investment is needed for crisis prevention and the development of programs to build resilience to climate stress“.
Several initiatives are highlighted in the Panel’s report because they have borne fruits in countries as varied as Angola, Senegal or Ghana. In Angola, a multisectoral
It should be remembered that malnutrition is not just hunger. Indeed the fact of eating poorly and not eating enough, has long lasting and profound consequences on the physical, but also mental development of children, and these consequences will always be there when these children become adults, especially intellectually. Secondly, there are obviously consequences of malnutrition that are part of public health. This question must therefore be taken very seriously by the rulers.
A simple example: contrary to what one might think, Africa is also threatened by obesity. Experts reminded us: “The consumption of low-cost, low-nutritional foods, as well as the reduction of physical activity in the middle class, increase the levels of obesity. The estimated prevalence of obesity among children is expected to reach 11% by 2025.
Finally, the report points out that despite these encouraging results, much remains to be done. “Significant challenges still need to be addressed. To achieve the goals set out in the African Union’s Declaration of Malabo and Agenda 2063, governments must learn from their past successes and redouble their efforts to address the triple scourge of hunger, malnutrition and obesity on the continent, “ said co-chairman of the Panel, Dr. Ousmane Badiane.
Climate change is of course a particularly important threat, but also urbanization, which is causing a lot of pressure on food producers.
Africa often makes headlines in the international media for poaching, which I deplore and strongly condemn. By 2015, a Minnesota dentist had provoked an international outcry by shooting down the famous Cecil lion in Zimbabwe during a “big game sport hunt”. But we forget that poaching does not only kill animals, it also kills our fellow citizens. A few weeks ago, famed South African elephant advocate Wayne Lotter fell in ambush in Dar Es Salaam, killed in cold blood by two hooded men. Wayne Lotter was an icon of the honorable fight for the protection of wildlife in Africa, but let us not forget that every day thousands of people are involved in this cause, sometimes at the risk of their lives.
The trap would be to believe that these events, although repetitive, remain only isolated incidents. One could imagine that they are the act of some scattered traffickers or hunters with the archaic mentality of cowboys. The development of reserves and the strengthening of wildlife protection laws would almost lead us to believe that everything has been done to avoid the extinction of certain species on the African continent.
On 7 September, the NGO TRAFFIC published a study on illegal ivory trade in five Central African countries [i]. This study is overwhelming for two reasons: not only are more and more powerful criminal networks at work, but they benefit mainly from the weak governance of some African countries. While states have actually passed stricter legislation against ivory trade with increased enforcement efforts, small retailers and sculptors are the main victims. However, these initiatives remain insufficient in a context where transnational underground criminal networks increasingly take up ivory trafficking.
One of the factors explaining in particular the virtual disappearance of the local markets where ivory was sold for clandestinity is the new takeover of Asian traffickers, essentially Chinese, present from end to end of the chain of this shadow trade. Asia is the central source of demand for ivory, but supply is mainly in Africa. Faced with these transnational crime networks, states must deploy all means to prevent poaching and arrest these criminals. Unfortunately, a member of the NGO, Sone Nkoke, explains that traffickers regularly “benefit from the weakness of state governance as well as from collusion, confusion and corruption of authority”. Without the complacency and corruption of high-ranking people, it is indeed difficult to imagine that such trafficking can take place.
The problem of the illegal trade in ivory is a perfect example to illustrate the complexity of acting in a globalized world. At the local level, states must effectively strengthen their governance and law enforcement, raise awareness and involve local communities in these issues, which are ecological and human disasters. But transnational crime requires, as the name suggests, a global response. Cooperating with Asian countries to dismantle these trafficker networks and incite them to prohibit ivory trade is fundamental to the hope of saving African elephants. Surely, Beijing’s commitment to close its domestic ivory market by the end of the year is going in the right direction.
Protecting African elephants from extinction is therefore more than an ecological issue. It is also a human drama unfolding before our eyes. Poachers and criminals do not hesitate to assassinate our fellow citizens by the greed of “white gold”. But it is also a matter of political sovereignty: as long as these traffickers are rampant in Africa, they will be a reflection of our failure to enforce and respect the law. Can a State that is not capable of protecting its wildlife be capable of protecting its fellow citizens? Surely, this is a question that all our governments must ask themselves today.
For the past few days, economists and analysts have been cautiously pleased that two economic locomotives in Africa are returning to positive growth rates. Nigeria and South Africa, which have competed for years as the continent’s leading economies, are experiencing a growth rate of 0.55% and 2.5% respectively.
These numbers are positive, but is that enough? These statistics are only a reflection of a situation at a given moment, the expression of some interesting performances in certain areas, in particular agricultural or mineral raw materials. The economic agency Bloomberg explains in this regard that “both economies had agriculture largely to thank: in South Africa, a bumper corn harvest following the worst drought in more than a century saw the sector surge 34 percent from the prior quarter, while in Nigeria, where farming vies with industries as the second-biggest contributor to GDP, it increased 3 percent from a year earlier despite the period being in the planting season”. In both countries, as in others, growth remains fragile. A slight change in world prices (cereals, oil, for example) can reduce the economy.
The political and security situation can also affect investment, and therefore growth capacity. And then the situation of these two countries is very different: Nigeria is the leading producer of crude oil and the most populous country in Africa today and needs at least 3% growth just to absorb the growth of its population. I am not even talking about creating enough jobs for all the young people who arrive every year on the labor market.
South Africa remains the most industrialized country on the continent, but its population, so its market, is not very large. The country already has important infrastructure, including nuclear power plants, and significant natural resources, but is it sufficient to maintain a high rate of growth that ensures a better standard of living for all?
The link between growth and the well-being of populations, which might seem obvious, is not an absolute rule. The example of Nigeria is enlightening, because if the country finally emerges from one of the worst economic phases of its history, it should be remembered that between 2004 and 2010, when its economy grew on average 8.32% per year, observers noted with surprise that the level of poverty was increasing from 54.7% to 60.9% of the population.
The growth of the economy does not mean an equitable distribution of wealth. Nigeria is no exception to a trend seen elsewhere, namely the widening gap between the very rich and the very poor, and the large increase of the very poor share of the population.
Only long-term growth-sustaining programs and equitable redistribution of the fruits of this growth can lead to an improvement in the situation over time.
As we talk more and more about the second liberation of Africa and economic liberation, one cannot avoid thinking also of Africans who represent more than half of the continent’s population: Women. Should we also consider this question in terms of a new liberation, an emancipation? Would not it be more constructive to look at the situation of the 410 million African women today, and then to see how to help them more?
Recently, I was struck by a figure – according to UNICEF, if all girls in Africa went to primary school, maternal mortality would be reduced by 70 percent. That would be 50,000 lives saved each year. What would be the implications of this with regards curbing of sexually transmitted diseases, or improving children’s daily diet? The prospect is mind blowing.
Access to education for girls, which varies greatly from country to country, remains a priority. We need to identify weak links and bottlenecks in order to ensure access to education for girls and young women. More than a bet on the future, it is an economic and political necessity. That is particularly true when we take into account that about 28 million girls and teenagers, who are of school age, will probably never go to school for even a single day in their lives…
The issue is also economic because women represent half of our continent’s human resources. In agriculture, 40 percent of agricultural work is carried out by women, but yet they produce 80 percent of food in households. It should also be pointed out that unemployment affects them more than men: 10.6 percent of women are unemployed, compared with 8.2 percent men, according to the World Bank.
In Africa too, disparities are significant, for instance in Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi, where the number of women in the fields exceeds 50 percent. In Ethiopia and Niger, on the other hand, they account for only 29 percent and 24 percent respectively of the overall workforce. According to FAO, “Enabling women to participate more effectively in agricultural activities means reducing the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition in all its forms. It also improves the well-being of children and families, which contributes to training human capital for future generations and long-term economic growth.”
On the other hand, thanks to quotas such as those in Burkina Faso and Rwanda, the representation of women in parliament has increased significantly. In sub-Saharan Africa, women’s representation was 22.3 percent in 2015, compared to only 8 per cent in 1995. At the global level, the figure is 22.1 percent. This is a big step forward for Africa.
However, much remains to be done. Equality is not yet a reality despite the progress made. Violence against women, genital mutilation and forced marriages remain a reality. As the UN stresses, “Despite the adoption of innumerable international conventions and protocols that reaffirm gender equality, discrimination and prejudice hold back the emancipation of African women. In virtually every sector of activity, women on the continent are still struggling to gain recognition of their right to live in dignity.” This at a time when we are talking about the necessity to reduce births in Africa. How do we do it without involving women?
Initiatives exist to highlight and promote the role of women in this new phase of our history. The Women Advancing Africa Forum, organised by Mrs Graça Machel in Tanzania this summer, aims to celebrate the central role of women in shaping African development and their capacity to lead social and economic change. The aim is to ensure that women on the one hand are emancipated and participate directly, but also to ensure they are recognised, in the development of Africa, in making positive strides towards “The Africa We Want.”
Africa recently experienced an unusually long spell of steady growth. Sadly, it is a well-known fact that our economies failed to ensure the equitable sharing of the benefits of one of the highest growth rate in the world. So we are today in a specific context of a general decline in commodity prices and a consecutive slowdown in growth in Africa. This downward trend in commodity prices may be a constraint, but I would also like to see it as an opportunity because both public and private stakeholders will have to be more innovative in order to unlock new sources of endogenous growth, wealth and inclusive employment with greater spill over effects for the region’s economies.
Addressing the challenge of employment and wealth in the rural world is crucial for Africa’s development. The situation is highly paradoxical: Africa imports the equivalent of USD 50 billion in food each year, even though more than half of the world’s uncultivated arable land is on the continent and 60% of the population still lives in the rural world! The development of this agricultural potential, at a high productivity and competitiveness level, is essential if Africa is to feed 2.5 billion people by 2050.
Today, the challenge is to identify new tools for sustainable economic growth, this time based on principles of inclusion and equity, while maintaining a steady growth rate. Meeting these conditions will enable African economies to cope with a population that is still booming and with the ever-growing number of young people looking for education, training and jobs. These challenges are set against a backdrop of climate change and resource depletion, calling for the use of production techniques that are tailored to environmental challenges.
The principles of inclusion and equity imply adopting spatial and territorial approaches and policies that ensure rural areas benefit from the same developments and initiatives as urban areas; that responsible investments are made in rural areas; and that women and young people have access to the factors of production, especially training, land, water, finance, renewable energy, markets and income that reflects the fruits of their labour.
There are promising signs that private sector money is finding its way towards more inclusive development models. Conservation finance is one of the most exciting corners of agriculture development in emerging countries today. Conservation finance strives to reach three major and complementary goals to finance the agro-ecologic transition by calculating three different kinds of returns: economic, environmental and social.
These new investment projects are based on limited land acquisition and partnerships with farmers networks that are empowered with new techniques. The new actors take care of their production and of its transformation and ensure an access to the market, whether locally or internationally. Private investment in agroforestry businesses is a big driver for the intensification of farmer’s activities while restoring degraded lands, protecting forests and raising farmers’ incomes.
The African public sector should invest more money in incubators and accelerators to channel funding and technical support at the beginning of the cycle of these projects. This investment will pay off because the incubators could create a network of agroforestry start-ups with the infrastructure, knowledge and access to the funding needed to realize their concept. The consequences in terms of employment and resource developent could be tremedous. In this regard, the support of international governments and donors will also be essential. The progressive transition from solidarity systems to mixed market systems will help to stimulate investment and the development of structural activities capable of laying the foundations for this much-needed change.
Renewing public policies on the basis of local development would also help to tackle the root causes by providing appropriate solutions to ensure people settle and remain in their areas of origin. The empowerment of local authorities should be based on their specific characteristics, their ecosystems, their cultural heritage and their know-how combined with technological innovation and learning, especially for young people and women.
The governance of our natural resources and the financial resources they generate are the cornerstone of our structural change; they require appropriate solutions at the continental, regional, national and local levels, the most critical ones being the regional and local levels. Change will be sustainable when it happens at these two levels.
I thank the "Rencontres Économiques d'Aix-en-Provence" for inviting me to this new edition. Exceptional guests and exciting debate. The video of my speech during the round table: From a world of inequalities to a world of solidarity - coordinated by Pierre Jacquet, member of the Cercle des économistes, and moderated by Béatrice Mathieu, Deputy editor of L'Express, with Jacques Attali, President of Positive Planet, Pierre-André Chalendar, President and CEO of Saint-Gobain, Esther Duflo, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Geoffrey Lamb, Senior Advisor of the Bill & Merinda Gates Foundation, Is available by clicking here.
I am sharing an excellent article from my friend Calestous Juma on leapfrogging progress via The Breakthrough website:
ithin two years of its launch in 2007, money transfers through M-Pesa, a cell-phone-based mobile banking application, already equaled the equivalent of 10 percent of Kenya’s GDP. What started as a local system to serve populations too poor for traditional banking has since grown into a global industry, one that threatens to disrupt traditional banking systems around the world. Today, M-Pesa’s network includes 30 million users across 10 countries, and its services have expanded to include international transfers, loans, and even health care.1
Image credit: CNN, “M-Pesa: Kenya’s mobile money success story turns 10” (2017), http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/21/africa/mpesa-10th-anniversary/.
The wide adoption of mobile phones in Africa, along with applications like M-Pesa that it has enabled, has created remarkable technological enthusiasm on the continent. Symbolizing the great potential that lies in technological catch-up and leapfrogging, M-Pesa has served as an inspirational example of what Africa could accomplish in other sectors like energy, education, health, transportation, and agriculture. Indeed, countries such as Rwanda are already using drones to transport medical supplies, while the dramatic drop in the cost of solar energy points to the widespread adoption of the technology across Africa.
Full article here