The bottom line was $208-billion at the Africa Investment Forum in Sandton this week.
The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, said the forum was a “game changer” and what distinguished it from any global exchange forum was that it was not just another talk shop, but 100% transactional.
Adesina said the forum had 306 project transactions worth $208-billion, which have been developed.
And investors and promoters discussed 60 projects and deals worth $40-billion with the aim of fast-tracking closure and removing policy and regulatory constraints.
The recurrent theme was: Africa is making a transition from aid to investment through collaboration with the private sector and the removal of policy and regulatory barriers to trade.
Several heads of state and government officials attended the forum. President Cyril Ramaphosa was joined by heads of state, including Sahle-Work Zewde from Ethiopia, Macky Sall from Senegal, Alpha Condé of Guinea, Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo, Nigeria’s vice-president Yemi Osinbajo and the prime minister of Cameroon, Philémon Yang.
According to the Development Bank’s 2018 Africa economic outlook, financing of $600-billion to $700-billion is needed, of which $130-billion to $170-billion would be used for clearing infrastructure backlogs.
Ramaphosa said governments would not be able to bridge this gap alone, but that co-operation with the private sector was an integral part of growing economic activity and infrastructure development.
The president has been on a drive to attract investment since he was elected in February.
In October, South Africa held its first investment summit, which garnered R290-billion in investments and R400-billion in investment pledges towards his goal of raising $100-billion in investments over five years. In April South Africa joined 44 countries in signing the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which aims to create a single African trade and customs market.
Ramaphosa said there was a need to change perceptions about the risks of doing business on the continent.
“If we are to unlock capital flows, we have to develop sound policy and regulatory environments, strengthen our financial institutions, improve governance and deal decisively with corruption,” Ramaphosa said.
Tebogo Tshwane is an Adamela Trust reporter at the Mail & Guardian