The Global African Investment Summit’s Hardtalk session on the challenges of investing in Africa identified two key issues for understanding the misperceptions and overcoming the barriers for investment:
- the importance of Africans investing in Africa as the driving force to encourage more international investment
- the significant impact which dialogue and cooperation between the public and private sectors will have to develop the infrastructure and capacity that governments cannot do alone.
In some ways, these are two sides of the same coin. Africans, both in the public and private spheres, need to invest in establishing good governance, invest financially, invest in knowledge sharing and skills transfers. This will create an investment climate in which issues that were once perceived as risks are seen by the international business community as opportunities to grow their businesses.
Rwanda and Ethiopia were highlighted as models for development in a number of respects. In Rwanda, for example, increased dialogue and cooperation between neighbouring states, initiated by the Rwandans, has resulted in customs and logistics barriers being significantly reduced for very little cost, so that it now takes only 5 days, rather than 26, to move goods from Mombasa to Rwanda. On a continent where many of the 54 states are landlocked, and getting products to and from market is key, the positive impacts of changes such as this cannot be overestimated.
The Summit, which took place in London this week (chaired by Former President of Nigeria, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo), focused on all aspects of investment, from the role of private equity, institutional investors and entrepreneurship, to specific discussions around agribusiness, power and infrastructure. Leaders in government, including the Presidents of Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, Benin and Liberia, and the Prime Ministers of the DRC and Mauritius, attended and sat on the keynote panels. Countless other political figures and leaders of business and industry – seasoned executives and entrepreneurs alike – participated in panel discussions, working roundtables and project case studies.
The challenges being identified are not new – infrastructure and power shortages in particular were highlighted – however the ideas and solutions being proposed are varied and reflect the continued commitment to growth and sustainability, notwithstanding that ‘Africa Rising’ is no longer the buzzword.