17 April 2012 – South Africa has been a model for good investment environment in the region, says the African Development Bank’s (AfDBs) Neside Tas Anvaripour, head of infrastructure finance in the private sector department. “Over the past decade, South Africa has shown political stability and a consistent regulatory environment and the size and strength of the country’s capital markets and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is a testament to that. While the investment environment in Africa continues to improve, South Africa, as well as Namibia, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Tanzania, Tunisia, Ghana, amongst others, stand out as gateways into the continent,” she says.
According to Anvaripour, Africa has been one of the continents least affected by the economic downturn. “Over the last couple of years, Africa is home to six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world and the growth rate for Africa as a whole has been approximately 7%, on the back of strong commodity prices. Additionally, the continent is witnessing a growing middle class and greater economic stability quelling previously held misconceptions about the region.”
She says these factors in conjunction with the African markets’ low correlation to the economic activity, has provided impetus for investor interest in the African growth story. “This interest has resulted in an increase in private equity activity and funds raised on the continent. Many would argue that the global economic recession has made investors more cognisant of the opportunities in Africa.”
Anvaripour says if deals are structured properly, there are enormous opportunities for private investors to realise long-term, risk-adjusted terms in Africa. “The Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model is viable and proven and can become a widely adopted, effective model for financing infrastructure projects in Africa. Having supported the PPP model in Senegal, we are now looking at improving PPP opportunities in Mauritius and a number of other African states.
“As the estimated financing requirement to close Africa’s infrastructure deficit amounts to about US$45 billion every year, there exists an incredible opportunity for investors willing to come to Africa. Given governments’, international finance institutions’, and development finance institutions’ dedication to the success of these projects, as well as the proven success of the PPP model, it surprises me that more people have not taken advantage of these opportunities.”
Anvaripour is a headline speaker at the upcoming African Utility Week where more than 5,000 utility professionals and energy experts will gather in May at the Expo Centre in Johannesburg. Other speakers at the event will include Brian Dames, CEO, Eskom Holdings, South Africa; Paul Reiter, executive director. International Water Association, The Hague, The Netherlands; Pakaj Gupt, World Bank, United States; Ronald Chauke, Electricity Regulator Reform, National Energy Regulator of South Africa; and Monique Koning, head of division, project finance and guarantees, European Investment Bank, Belgium.