23 May 2014

Africa: AfDB Launches Africa50 Initiative

Photo: African Development Bank Group
Maximizing Africa’s Blue Economies, AM2014, Kigali.

The African Development Bank's 49th Annual Meetings launched the Africa50 initiative, which seeks to mobilise resources from governments and private investor to finance infrastructure delivery in Africa for the next half a century.

The AfDB president Dr Donald Kaberuka said the Bank had remained loyal to the dream of its founders - to be an Africa-owned and dynamic financial institution - while it managed to attract shareholders from countries and groups outside Africa.

"We must reinvent and re-engineer our development financing model. On this continent, pools of savings are not insignificant. Pooling a bit of our economic sovereignty for collective good is what will define our ability to make progress," he said.

To kick-start the process, Africa50 targets raising $3 billion through the AfDB in equity capital in order to establish credibility with governments, private developers and financial markets.

It would then attract new investors to provide an equity investment of $10 billion, thereby attracting $100 billion worth of local and global capital.

Dr Kaberuka said the financing for the infrastructure fund would benefit from the resources and growing financial power of African countries.

"A future that is dependent on foreign goodwill is no future," Kaberuka said as he called on African governments to invest in the Africa50 Fund.

AfDB officials say the Fund will be structured "as a developmentally-oriented" but "commercially operated entity".

Shareholders in the Fund will benefit from interests raised in the financing mechanisms while critical infrastructure projects will be funded in the process to uplift millions of Africans out of poverty.

According to the AfDB, the Fund's immediate objective is to shorten the time between the conception of a project and its financing-from the current average of 7 years to less than 3 years, thereby implementing a large number of infrastructure projects in Africa in the short-to-medium term.

More commitments

Following the decision by the AfDB's Board to provide starting equity, which Kaberuka described as "a cornerstone investment," the Africa50 was launched in Kigali yesterday and incorporation steps to attract more equity started immediately.

Speaking on the opening panel, both President Paul Kagame and the Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, the chairperson of the African Union, welcomed the Africa50 project.

Africa50 will focus on high-impact national and regional projects in the energy, transport, ICT and water sectors, according to AfDB officials.

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