In February, Africa Finance Corporation, one of the biggest investors in infrastructure solutions in Africa, appointed new Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer, Sameh Shenouda. AGF’s Anna Lyudvig speaks with Mr. Shenouda about his investment philosophy, experience, infrastructure trends and more
The Cape to Cairo Road was an idea, birthed in the 1890s by British imperialists, for a pan-African highway, stretching from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo in Egypt. The N1 in South Africa forms the first section of this now famous project and runs from Cape Town to Beit Bridge at the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe. In his February 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged the role of infrastructure investment, including the rehabilitation of the N1, N2 and N3 highways, in helping dig the country out of its economic malaise. And he is right!
AGF’s Anna Lyudvig speaks with Tariye Gbadegesin, Managing Director & Chief Investment Officer at ARM-Harith about the current state of African infrastructure, the drivers of successful investing in Africa and more. With over 20 years’ experience, Tariye has mobilized over $3bn of capital for infrastructure projects in Africa. Tariye sits on the Millennium Challenge Council’s Advisory Board and is on the Advisory Committee on Infrastructure to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.
I penned an article for Africa Global Funds magazine in 2016, which addressed some interesting observations from the foreign exchange (FX) challenges that presented themselves in the African capital markets over the period from 2015 to 2017. At the time, I was employed as a capital allocator and the experience gave me pause-for-thought that perhaps the dealing terms of most funds with Africa ex-SA listed equity strategies need to be reviewed. Specifically, I argued that redemption terms focus on the risk of a decline in underlying market liquidity in times of stress but still fail to adequately address FX liquidity risk, which, when challenges arise, often last much longer than the 3-months redemption notice period that is typically applied.
The stress on financial research and market data strategies have never been higher. Market data strategies in organisations have been a common topic in recent years with most businesses trying to find ways to reduce their data spend. This topic has swiftly moved up the priority list with the impact of COVID-19 fundamentally changing the way we do business and increasing the cost pressures being exerted on firms.
2020 has seen the wholesale acceptance of high-tech solutions and it is now a given that everything is touchless, paperless, remote and in the cloud. The world is on Zoom, using cryptocurrencies to buy groceries at the tap of a smartphone, everything can be ordered online, and we’re all going on holiday inside our VR headsets.
In October 2019, Egypt’s government launched its first Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) named “Tharaa” (Arabic for wealth) to maximize the value of public sector assets. Africa Global Funds’s Anna Lyudvig speaks with Abdalla ElEbiary, Chief Investment Officer at The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE), to learn more about the fund, progress being made, investment plans and more.
East Africa is among the fastest growing regions in the world. The entire region has seen consistent GDP growth over the last decade, including in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The region enjoys political stability, and diversified economic activity including the emergence of oil and gas as new investment pillar. MLC identified East Africa as the most attractive in Sub Saharan Africa, and a high priority for development. Heri Bomani is Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer at German investment company MLC Properties. In this Interview, he provides insights on the East African real estate market and some of its undiscovered opportunities.
In 2012, rockstar-turned-activist Sir Bob Geldof addressed the SuperReturn conference in Berlin, urging the US and European PE industry to turn its attention to Africa. He highlighted the opportunities to generate returns while leaving behind “firms, farms and factories” essential for the continent’s development. Eight years later and many PE sponsors have been drawn by Africa’s expanding economic growth and its youthful and rapidly growing population. Fundraising for the continent reached $3.8bn in 2019 according to the AVCA, the best year since 2015, and the number of PE deals successfully executed has risen consistently.
Over the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in gender lens investing, a strong indication that the financial sector is working to balance a legacy of lopsided investments. Finnfund, a Finnish development financier and impact investor, has since April 2019 invested over €121m in companies that promote women’s empowerment in developing countries. “Investing in gender equality is important because globally, there are major differences in the status of men and women and their opportunities to participate. Finnfund assesses each of its investments before making a decision, taking into account whether the investment can be expected to promote gender equality,” says Ulla Huotari, Investment Manager at Finnfund.
The “narrative” around Financial Technology (fintech) in Africa is changing. Five years ago, discussion around fintech focused on the ecosystems; supporting start-ups in Cape Town, Nairobi and Lagos and elsewhere; the tech incubators; the number of fintechs (perhaps 500 by one count), and the number of African fintechs admitted to the prestigious Y-Combinator (or Y-C). Key players were a range of early-stage investors focusing on Seed rounds or Series A, including 12-J funds in South Africa, and a dozen or so VC-funds across the continent supported by development banks and some private, capital.
COVID-19 turned 2020 in a tough year for most investors – especially those in emerging markets like Africa. Not only is Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy expected to post its first recession in 25 years, the World Bank also warns between 13 and 50 million people in the region could fall into extreme poverty due to the pandemic.