Africa50 outlines investment projects

Participants at the meeting this week in Kigali. Africa50 is a special-purpose vehicle for infrastructure financing in Africa. / Courtesy

Africa50, a special-purpose vehicle that finances infrastructure projects across Africa, on Wednesday, announced more than ten high-impactful projects it plans to invest in.

This was during its fourth annual general shareholders meeting in Kigali.

“Africa50 has a solid pipeline of 12 infrastructure projects ranging from roads, railways, power and power transmission lines, as well as ports and communication cable lines, among others,” said Adesina Akinwumi, the chairman of the organisation.

These projects could help bridge the existing infrastructure financing gap, on the continent, which is estimated to be between $68 and $180 per year.

As the continent embarks on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, Adesina, who is also the President of the African Development Bank, insisted that such projects will help establish connectivity.

“This will help bring down the cost of doing business in Africa and help the continent to be more competitive,” he said, adding that this will enable the continent to grow faster and attain double-digit GDP growth rates.

Africa50 was created by the African Development Bank and some African nations to address infrastructure deficit on the continent. It started operations in 2016.

It currently finances medium to large-scale projects that are financially attractive.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Africa50, Alain Ebobissé, some of the power projects financed by Africa50 have already reached financial close, while others are in operation and delivering electricity to businesses and populations across Africa.

This includes a 120-megawatt Malicounda power plant in Senegal, Scatec Nigeria power plant with generation capacity of 100 megawatts, Nachtigal hydropower plant in Cameroon with capacity to produce 420 megawatts, and Benban solar power plants in Egypt.

“In only three years of active operations, Africa50 is recognised as an important player on Africa’s infrastructure scene. We have invested, or are considering investing in majority of our 27 shareholder countries,” he noted.

New projects

The chief executive said they have started working on new sectors like transport and Information and Communication Technologies.

In Rwanda, the firm is investing in the Kigali Innovation City; in Madagascar, it is considering investing in a major hydropower project, while in Democratic Republic of Congo, it is assessing several projects, including a railway-road bridge linking Brazzavile to Kinshasa.

In Guinea, the firm plans to invest in an airport, broadband public-private project, and in deep seaport projects, while in Kenya, it is working on a project that could become the first major independent power transmission project in Africa.

“This will pave the way for private investment in power transmission, a sector that has generally been financed by the public sector,” said Ebobissé.

Experts say that Africa’s infrastructure needs will continue to grow at a faster pace than governments can mobilise financial resources to meet them. With this, and given the large infrastructure gap, Africa50 seeks to grow its capital beyond the current $871 million capital.

“We are doing this by increasing the number of shareholder countries by at least two new shareholders per year,” he said.

The number of shareholder countries on Wednesday increased to 28 after Zimbabwe joined.

The firm also plans to start raising additional capital from private funders and development finance institutions to get at least $1 billion from the African market and beyond.

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