A resplendent gold bow tie, a focused stare, and a wry smile, Dr Akinwumi Adesina proudly steps onto the stage of the African Investment Forum to announce a record year: In 72 hours, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and its partners managed to mobilize $31bn in investment interest from African and global investors.
Combined with $32.8bn from the rescheduled 2021 AIF—which took place virtually in March this year—the forum has doubled its capital mobilization with a total of $63.8 billion of investment interest in 2022.
The president of the AfDB, who initiated the forum in 2018, did not conceal his joy following the announcement of a ‘record year’ in terms of investment.
“In Nigeria, we have a song that says ‘everything na double double’,” said Adesina, before dancing on stage with Côte d’Ivoire’s prime minister Patrick Achi, in front of a beaming audience.
What might look like an American roadshow is in reality a very nascent forum which tries to be innovative in the way it portrays African presidents to international investors.
“It’s a very new way of doing business in Africa, where the heads of state act as CEOs and you can leave your Excellencies at the door. Just get in there and do excellent projects,” says Adesina.
Since its first edition, the AIF has had a reputation for mobilizing vast sums of capital for big infrastructure projects across the continent.
The $24 bn Liquified Natural Gas Project of Mozambique, the $15.6 bn Lagos-Abidjan Highway, or the $2.6bn Ai SkyTrain in Accra, are all deals that came out of the ‘invitation-only’ boardrooms settled alongside the event.
Four years ago, the AIF helped secure 52 deals worth $40bn in investment. Since then, Dr Adesina and his colleagues – Africa50, Afreximbank, African Finance Corporation, European Investment Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Trade and Development Bank, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa – are on a mission to market the continent’s untapped financial potential to African and international investors.
The vast networking event brings together African entrepreneurs, decision-makers, bankers and even athletes – Masai Ujiri, president of the basketball team Toronto Raptors, promoted investment in sport businesses – in a bid to assure investors that “Africa is not as risky as you think” and “perception is not the same as reality,” as Adesina puts it.
Published on: African Business
Publication Date: 07/11/22