Global African Investment Summit ends with record number of bankable projects in Africa presented to international investors

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The Global African Investment Summit (TGAIS) closed yesterday after two days of high level panels and roundtables to explore investment opportunities in Africa. Over 500 of the city’s pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, private equity firms, asset managers, bankers, corporate, professional services firms and project developers convened at the Savoy Hotel to review the continent’s most bankable projects in power, transport infrastructure, agribusiness, natural resources and tourism.

The final day of TGAIS included panels and round tables on private equity, capital markets, transport and ICT infrastructure and financing’s Africa’s power sector.

Highlighting the growing interest of family offices in the region, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Chief Executive at E.L. Rothschild LLC, argued that Africa has “the opportunity to leapfrog all the technology legacies of the west,” making it an attractive destination for this typically conservative asset class that has previously had very limited involvement on the continent.

The Summit also highlighted the linear relationship between GDP growth and power. Bryant (ABC) Orjiako, Chairman of Seplat, recommended “Africa should start thinking about itself and develop the industry and infrastructure that will require us to consume our hydrocarbons in the continent. Gas is by far the most important investment opportunity in Africa to drive sustainable growth.”

Stressing the energy gap in the continent and the massive opportunities for investment, Scott Mackin, Managing Partner at Denham Capital Management LP noted that “if you take out South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa has the same level of electricity generation as Spain. If you include it, it is still equivalent to only Norway.”

In a session on deepening Africa’s capital markets,  Miguel Melo Azevedo, Managing Director & Head of Investment Banking Africa at Citigroup advocated for “big companies to list —especially in the sectors of power, telecoms, oil and gas—to bring size and depth to the market.”

Ibukun Adebayo, Co-Head Emerging Markets and Equity Primary Markets at the London Stock Exchange Group, suggested “more reform is needed for African exchanges to enable deeper participation by institutional and retail investors. Seplat raised 70% of its capital in London but most trading is done in Lagos. It’s a great example of dual listing and the symbiosis between local and international capital to create optimum value for the issuer.”

The need to deepen not just the continent’s financial infrastructure but its physical infrastructure was also highlighted. Tas Anvaripour, CEO of Africa50, believes African risk is exaggerated and that innovation in project structuring is needed to reduce the time taken to bring infrastructure projects to financial close. She called on investors “to have the courage to do large complex projects like Simandou in Guinea and the Tanzania-Kigali road”, noting that “Africa 50 is designed as a one stop shop for project finance, using a range of financial tools and acting as an honest broker to Governments and investors to get quality deals done better and quicker”.

Closing the event, Paul Sinclair, TGAIS Event Director, confirmed that “due to the success of this inaugural event, combined with the excellent response from participants, the Global African Investment Summit will be returning to London in November 2015.”

The Summit was opened yesterday by Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf and First Secretary of State William Hague and addressed by the Presidents of Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda, HE John Dramani Mahama, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni respectively, and the Prime Minister of Tanzania Mizengo Pinda. A hundred and thirty-six bankable projects worth a combined total of US$246 billion were presented during a series of sector specific project roundtable to an audience representing over US$265 billion in capital over the two days.