Andrew Alli, The President and CEO, Africa Finance Corporation

The last decade has been a tale of mixed fortunes for Africa. When the AFC was founded in 2007, the Continent was enjoying unprecedented growth. Between 2000 and 2010, GDP growth in Africa averaged 5.4%, or US$78 billion, way above the global average.

Despite this progress, infrastructure development remains a key challenge to delivering sustainable growth. For example, across the Continent, two-thirds of Africans currently have no access to power. As a result, studies suggest that as much as 2.1% of GDP is lost annually.

The infrastructure investment gap, and the impact on the growth of African economies is clear to see, and bridging this gap is what we at the AFC set out to do. In the ten years since the AFC was established, I am proud to state that we now have 14 member countries, and have invested approximately US$4 billion across 30 countries in Africa.

In such a challenging environment, innovation has been key to our success: engineering African solutions to African challenges.

One such solution has been “platform vehicles”, where multiple assets are put into one investment vehicle to generate scalable infrastructure investment. By merging the key companies within asset portfolios, we can create a dedicated company better able to attract the higher levels of investment often required.

Additionally, Africa suffers from an ‘infrastructure paradox’ – where there are plenty of projects, but only very few are bankable. By acting as financier and project developer, we can ensure more infrastructure projects get off the ground and reach financial close.

In 2016, AFC and its partners also launched the Africa Infrastructure Developers Association (AfIDA). A think tank and network of project developers, AfiDA leverages the experience of its members to improve capacity, such as by providing template agreements, advising regulators and governments, and developing industry standards.

However, our proudest achievements are our investments which are today delivering tangible benefits to communities and helping to transform African economies, especially those that are helping to rebuild post-conflict territories.

In 2017, the AFC was part of a consortium that invested US$205 million in Guinea-Conarky to develop a Bauxite mine, one of largest investments in the country since the Ebola crisis. We are proud to be helping countries take advantage of their natural resources and create desperately needed employment.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that sub-Saharan Africa grew by just 1.6% in 2016, far below what is required to meet the challenge of rapid population expansion. For many of the hardest-hit countries, the underlying reason for slow growth has been an overreliance on commodities.

Several economies in the region have however demonstrated impressive levels of growth, especially Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. For many of these countries, their success has relied upon their ability to diversify their economies and build value add industries that create jobs and growth, and key to this is added infrastructure investment.

In this context, our near term strategy is to become a US$5 billion Corporation. We believe that our unique position as both a financier and project developer will enable us to attract investment to African infrastructure opportunities from more markets around the world, involving more investors in delivering a brighter and more prosperous future for Africa.

We hope you’ll join us on this journey.