Financing African development

3 July 2007

The Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund, a new Nepad project launched at the African Union summit in Ghana on Sunday, has already raised US$625-million for investment in large-scale African development projects – and aims to reach its $1-billion target within the next 12 months.

An initiative of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), supported by the South African government and the Public Investment Corporation, SA’s state-owned pension funds manager, the fund will leverage investment in the priority sectors of African economies, including infrastructure, finance and agribusiness.

Sunday’s launch event in Accra, Ghana was officiated by Ghanaian President and African Union chair John Kufour and attended by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Last month, the fund signed investment agreements worth $625-million. Speaking after the signing in Johannesburg, fund trustee and Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Brian Molefe said the fund aimed to reach its initial target of $1-billion within the next 12 months.

South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, also speaking at signing, said that infrastructure development would unlock Africa’s economic potential. “The Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund puts money on the table to drive the infrastructure process forward.”

According to Moneyweb, South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund is the biggest investor in the fund so far with $250-million, followed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa with $100-million and SA banking group Absa with $70-million.

Financial services group Old Mutual plc and the African Development Bank invested $50-million each, with other investors including SA’s Standard Bank, Liberty Group and Metropolitan Holdings and Ghana’s Social Security and National Insurance Trust.

South Africa’s Department of Foreign Affairs said last week that Ghana’s government had made firm commitments to the fund, while other African governments had expressed interest in making contributions.

“The South African government has also mobilised the private sector to partner the continental effort of ensuring that African countries can take ownership of their developmental initiatives and square up to the challenges facing the continent,” the department said in a statement.

Fund CEO Tshepo Mahloele told Moneyweb that the fund could take direct stakes in projects, or buy shares of companies involved in infrastructure projects. Molefe said the fund had identified 20 projects it was looking at investing in.

SouthAfrica.info reporter and BuaNews

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