The curtain fell on a three-day marathon investment marketplace, on Friday, with transactions worth billions of dollars sealed.
The Africa Investment Forum ended on a high note with the closing panel comprising heads of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) unanimously lauding the unique initiative, calling it an exceptional gathering that "exceeded all expectations."
President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina told the more than 1,000 delegates, "The needle is shifting, pointing to the right direction, pointing to Africa. I am thankful for the investors, I am thankful for the confidence they have in Africa. Africa has grown up. Africa is not going to be developed by aid. It will be developed by investment and I think you are beginning to see it.¨
Participants from DFIs, institutional investors, sovereign wealth, equity and private sector CEOs from across the continent congregated in Johannesburg, South Africa to attend the first ever transaction-based Forum on the continent.
At midday Friday, of 61 transactions valued at US$40.4 billion tabled for discussions in boardroom sessions, 45 deals worth over US$32 billion secured investment interest. Final numbers will be disclosed in the coming days.
President Adesina described the outcome of $32 billion worth of transactions as a big success. "I could not be happier... but we don't want to congratulate ourselves. The responsibility that lies on our shoulders is so huge. This is just the beginning.¨
The presence of seven African heads of state and heads of governments also sent a strong signal to global investors that Africa's leadership is committed to creating a conducive business environment for investment to land on a smooth runway. President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa; President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia, President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea; President Macky Sall of Senegal; President Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana made the trip to South Africa for the Forum. Other officials included the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo; the Prime Ministers of Rwanda, Edouard Ngirente and Cameroon, Philémon Yang, as well as ministers representing the Kingdom of Morocco, Cote d'Ivoire, Tanzania, Niger, and Gabon. In attendance also were Governors and Board members of the African Development Bank.
Ethiopia's President Sahlework Zewde, first woman President to hold that position in the country told delegates at the official opening ceremony: "The Africa Investment Forum is fundamental to changing the narrative on Africa. Looking at Africa only through the lens of peace and security is not getting us anywhere. We have to address perceived risk (on the continent) and have to change this mindset."
Energy, infrastructure, food and agribusiness opportunities and transactions attracted high-level from global and African investors, positioning the Forum as the next big investment frontier, and on Global and African investors' radars.
Africa-to-Africa investment emerged as a key take away from the Forum. Gauteng Premier David Makhura highlighted $6 billion worth of South African deals signed, and the $ 2.6 billion MOU signing with Ghana for a Skytrain project in Accra.
"We are very proud that South African companies are investing in other African countries. This is very fulfilling," Makhura said.
Several investors and participants are looking forward to next year's edition: "It's actually quite heartwarming to see what we have witnessed here over the past two days ... If we start with 80%, imagine what we will do in the next five years. With this kind of start, African people have every reason to be hopeful," said Patrick Dlamini, CEO. Development Bank of South Africa.
The African Development Bank convened forum, in partnership with the Africa Export-Import Bank, Africa Finance Corporation, Africa50, Development Bank of Southern Africa, European Investment Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and Trade and Development Bank, brought together global and continental investors, leading private sector leaders, development finance institutions, globally recognizes sports executives, and a number of young tech entrepreneurs.
The next edition of the Africa Investment Forum is scheduled for November 2019.