On September 19 in New York, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobisse and COO Carole Wainaina headlined an investor roundtable organized by the Africa Expert Network. They were joined by two dozen senior executives from Invest Africa, the US Chamber of Commerce, Delphos, Baylis Emerging Markets, Rubicon Infrastructure, Meyer Brown, Panel Point Global, Kezenergy, Impala Energy, and Yaatra Ventures, among others.
Mr. Ebobisse explained how Africa50 can leverage its excellent relations with its shareholder governments to speed up infrastructure development, lessening political risk and helping overcome project development hurdles. Although still building the investment team, Africa50 already has excellent deal flow and has signed three agreements for power plants in Nigeria, Egypt, and Senegal. Being a small, flexible institution, it can adapt to changing circumstances more rapidly than larger development finance institutions.
The audience of veteran infrastructure investors emphasized the need for early stage project development support in the form of capital, knowledge, and coordination. Responding to concerns that Africa50 could crowd out private sector financers for the good projects, Mr. Ebobisse emphasized that its mandate is the opposite: to crowd-in in private sector investment. Moreover, the mission of Africa50’s Project Development arm is to develop a pipeline of viable, bankable projects that will attract private investors.