By Adedapo Adesanya
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has assured Indian investors considering Africa that the groundwork has been laid to accelerate the continent’s development.
The regional lender, at a virtual conference hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and its partners, called for Indo-African partnerships to go beyond government-to-government cooperation and extend it to private sector participation in order to speed up development.
The Conference on Innovative Financing Mechanisms for Doing Business with Africa took place on July 30, 2020, and attracted more than 600 participants from over 45 countries.
Besides Africa and India, there were also participants from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, representing businesses, governments, financial institutions, and business promotion agencies.
At the conference, the Acting Senior Vice President and CFO of the Bank, Mrs Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala, highlighted the business potential in Africa, noting that the continent had great prospects for investors, with a growing consumer market that Indian firms cannot afford to miss.
“The positive outlook for Africa is reinforced by the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to deepen regional integration across the continent and allow the free movement of people and trade across borders,” Mrs Tshabalala said.
Mrs Tshabalala said there was a tremendous opportunity for Indian industry to work together with the bank in sectors such as power generation and transmission, energy, agricultural transformation, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, technology, transportation, and industrialization.
The bank is seeking to expand the number of bankable projects in Africa and has set aside $100 million for project preparation activities in low-income countries. It is also keen to mobilize greater private sector participation in these projects from all countries, she added.
Also speaking, Mr Akhilesh Mishra, India’s Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, urged the private sector to consider investing in youth and startups because those sectors have enormous potential for employment generation.
He noted that, aside from the long-term funding traditionally provided as official development assistance, African countries will require more targeted short-term financing.
Buttressing the point, Mr David Rasquinha, Managing Director of the Export-Import Bank of India, underscored the need to expand Indian financial inflows to Africa by expanding the Indian banking network.
He said India and Africa could work together in areas such as healthcare and pharmaceuticals, the financial sector and infrastructure development.
Ms Nana Spio-Garbrah, the chief financing analyst from AfDB’s syndications, co-financing and client solutions department, spoke on the Bank’s capacity to mitigate risk for foreign investors, especially during this era of COVID-19.
Ms Spio-Garbrah also talked about the Bank’s Partial Risk Guarantee (PRG) and Partial Credit Guarantee (PCG), which has been upgraded to meet client needs better. She mentioned the Bank’s syndication services, particularly the A/B loan product, which allows B-lenders to benefit from the Bank’s Preferred Creditor Status.
She also mentioned the Co-Guarantee Platform – a new cooperative of four risk mitigation providers and the African Union, which collectively pools their capacities to de-risk African projects.
AfDB and India have a long-standing strategic partnership dating back almost 40 years to 1982 when India first joined the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional arm of the Bank Group and in 1983, the country became a shareholder of the Bank.
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