High-profile keynote speakers include the likes of South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and chairperson of the Africa Union, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
We interviewed Liz Hart, managing director of Infrastructure Africa, to find out what some of the highlights are at this year’s conference, and what the general sentiment of investors doing business in Africa is right now.
As always, content is king. Our content sets us apart from other infrastructure events because those setting the programme and agenda for Infrastructure Africa 2016 are Africa’s leading infrastructure investors. With this year’s African Development Bank (AfDB) partnership, we are hosting the Africa Inclusive Infrastructure Forum (AIIF) during the conference which focuses on empowerment of women in the infrastructure space. Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, the AfDB Special Envoy on Gender, and several of her high profile colleagues will present the case for inclusive infrastructure. In addition, with the challenges being faced by South Africa’s economy, there is a big focus on regional opportunities for South African businesses and a call to action for South Africans to look beyond our borders for new business opportunities.
How has the conference been developed since last year’s event?
The event is now in its fifth year and continues to grow year-on-year. This year welcomes the partnership of the African Development Bank (AfDB). Other partners include the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), and the NEPAD Planning & Coordinating Agency (NPCA). We continue to have many corporate sponsors. We have the highest level of endorsement of any infrastructure event on the continent. It has become the go-to event for infrastructure players on the continent and it plays an important role in networking and catalysing new business opportunities across Africa.
What is the general sentiment of investors doing business in Africa right now?
Although growth in sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) has relatively slowed, two-thirds of the region’s economies are still growing at rates above the global average and SSA remains the second fastest-growing region in the world in the foreseeable future. Africa is actually one of only two regions in the world in which there has been growth of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects over the past year.
What are some of the bottlenecks for infrastructure development in Africa?
Many businesses think of countries or regions in Africa as single-driver opportunities, which when buoyant, offer great short-term opportunities, but when depressed, signal the time to leave. But sub-Saharan Africa’s mining and energy belts that were initial drivers of development have opened up support infrastructure opportunities that offer growth prospects in the longer term. The years ahead will be challenging, not because the opportunities are not there, but because the opportunities are likely to be more uneven than before and will require a long-term investment view.
What trends are currently driving Africa’s infrastructure sector?
Low commodity prices have tempered the desire of many companies to involve themselves in Africa, but this is, arguably, the best time for those with longer-term ambitions to integrate their operations into key development nodes.
There is an evolution of infrastructure development that takes place over the longer-term and the underlying drivers will be highlighted at the Infrastructure Africa 2016 conference on 9 and 10 June 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre. With discussions on specific project development opportunities from infrastructure players operating on the ground, the Infrastructure Africa offers businesses the opportunity to set their regional strategies for long-term growth.
In which African countries are we seeing the most progression? What’s driving this development?
In Tete, Mozambique, for example, coal and infrastructure projects have slowed, but there are agri-industrial and support infrastructure opportunities. There is also a much broader regional, national and sub-national opportunity that is unfolding from Southern to East Africa, which is becoming an energy corridor.
How important are public-private partnerships in developing Africa’s infrastructure sector?
In the face of growing international competition in sub-Saharan Africa, South African-based companies need to take a long-term strategic view of the region. Companies need to develop a local presence and integrate their strategies with the evolving economies and underpinning infrastructure in the region. A local presence does more than wave a flag: it demonstrates commitment to the future, it allows for in-country intelligence gathering and goodwill (and ultimately contracts) from project developers and government. Without the presence of private sector companies in the region, there will be no partnerships with governments and therefore no development.
What is the most critical sector for infrastructure development in Africa? Why?
The importance of digital infrastructure in leapfrogging Africa’s economies cannot be overestimated, but without physical infrastructure that provides access to water, food, electricity and healthcare, the continent cannot attain the quality and standards of life set out by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). So all sectors of infrastructure are critical for life whether it be water, transport, power and then ICT & telecommunications infrastructure which are necessary for job creation and remaining globally competitive.
The formation of a special hub to drive multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment was announced at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, on Wednesday.
The Sustainable Development Investment Partnership (SDIP) announced the creation of a dedicated Africa hub which will play a role in ensuring that 16 African infrastructure projects with a combined worth of over $20-billion will come to life.
The SDIP is an initiative hosted by WEF and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and started in September 2015 with an initial membership of 20 institutions, which had since grown to 30, and includes among others, the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), the Senegal Strategic Investment Fund (FONSIS), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC).
The SDIP, said Terri Toyota, Head of the Foundations Community and Development Finance and member of the Executive Committee of WEF, aimed to mobilise funding for infrastructure projects on the African continent to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals “through blended finance, an innovative approach to development finance that combines funding from private investors and lenders, governments and philanthropic funds”.
Group Executive for Strategy at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) Mohan Vivekanandan said that the DBSA believed that “the SDIP initiative and its goal of delivering $100 billion in infrastructure projects within the next five years, will make a meaningful contribution and also help build local capacity and solutions by bringing together African and global private- and public-sector organisations.” In addition to mobilising the 16 infrastructure projects, the hub would, said Toyota, “facilitate the exchange of best practices across its network of institutions”.
Worldwide, SDIP has reviewed projects representing $30-billion in value, over half of which were located in Africa. These African projects had a combined value of over $20 billion. Toyota said: “The SDIP Africa Hub is an important first step to accelerate the engagement of SDIP members on the continent. We envision the hub building local capacity to advance blended finance best practices for infrastructure investment and ensure a consistent pipeline of projects for the initiative from Africa.” WEF Africa is taking place in Kigali from May 11-13 and is expected to attract over 1 200 delegates.
PRETORIA, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) — Foreign ministers from African countries on Thursday said bilateral ties with China have a promising future given the political goodwill and sincerity from both sides.
The foreign ministers whom spoke to Xinhua on the sidelines of the 6th ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Pretoria, South Africa said Beijing will be a critical partner in the endeavor to accelerate Africa’s socio-economic transformation.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the ministerial conference that was a precursor to the FOCAC Heads of State summit to be held in Johannesburg from Friday to Saturday.
African foreign ministers who attended the forum emphasized that strong bilateral cooperation with China is key to achieve long-term growth and shared prosperity in the continent.
In her opening remarks, South African Minister for international relations and cooperation, Nkoana Mashabane, said that Sino-Africa cooperation has evolved to cover issues that address poverty alleviation, peace, security, health and ecosystems protection.
“Our relationship with China has addressed major issues ranging from education, health, tourism and infrastructure development. Ours is a true friendship that has stood the test of time,” Mashabane remarked.
She added that China’s involvement was crucial to help African countries realize the UN sustainable development goals and the African Union’s agenda 2063.
The blossoming Sino-Africa cooperation provides a durable solution to the continent’s endemic challenges like poverty, infrastructure and skills gap alongside an under-developed industrial sector.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that China’s assistance was crucial to boost industrialization in Africa.
“We have a nascent industrial sector and require China’s help in areas like capacity development and technology transfer to enable us establish industrial parks,” said Ghebreyesus.
He added that China’s model of rapid economic transformation in the last two decades was an inspiration to African states aspiring to transition from agrarian to industrial powerhouses.
“We can borrow China’s best practices like manpower development and harnessing of innovations to drive industrial growth,” Ghebreyesus told Xinhua.
The landmark FOCAC summit to be held in Johannesburg will strengthen Sino-Africa bilateral cooperation in strategic areas like industry, infrastructure development, energy and cultural exchanges.
Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said that China is a critical ally that will help African countries realize peaceful and inclusive development.
“There is no question China is an important ally for the African continent. The country has global influence and FOCAC summit presents us an opportunity to review our friendship with Beijing,” Mushikiwabo remarked.
She was upbeat Sino-Africa cooperation will be elevated to new heights in order to help address the continent’s pressing challenges.
“We look forward to major undertakings between China and Africa. We expect China to help us develop infrastructure and link up the continent,” Mushikiwabo told Xinhua.
The theme of the sixth FOCAC summit to be held for the first time in the Africa is in tandem with the continent’s ambition to realize prosperity, peace and cohesion.
Somali Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer said the landmark summit will lay a strong foundation for future cooperation with China.
“Our expectations for the FOCAC summit are high. We expect China and African countries to come up with a blueprint to guide future development of this continent,” Omer remarked.
He added that in future, Sino-Africa cooperation should focus on development of modern infrastructure alongside social amenities like education and health.
Leaders of major global travel and tourism associations on Monday have welcomed the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Global Travel Association Coalition (GTAC), which represents the leading public and private bodies in the Travel and Tourism sector, attests to the global importance of the SDGs and the role of the travel & tourism sectors in their realisation.
Speaking on behalf of GTAC, David Scowsill, President of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said:
“Travel & Tourism is a sector which collectively contributes nearly 10 per cent of the world’s GDP and one in eleven of all jobs on the planet. Over one billion people cross international borders each year, a number expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030, while at the same time, billions more travel domestically. This is a sector which will play a very significant role in making progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Like the Sustainable Development Goals themselves, the Travel & Tourism sector is global and action-oriented. It consists of millions of com panies – from the smallest hostel to the largest airline – which together forge an industry which encourages sustainable economic growth, creates jobs, promotes opportunities across society and alleviates poverty.
“Travel & Tourism has the potential to contribute directly or indirectly to all of the goals. In particular, as one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world, Travel & Tourism is well-positioned to foster economic growth and create jobs throughout the world to meet Goal #1 “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”.
Tourism has been included as a specific target in Goals #8, #12 and #14 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth, sustainable consumption and production and the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources.
“The Sustainable Development Goals will play a major role in framing our world for the next generation. The Global Travel Association Coalition, representing the major public and private bodies in the Travel & Tourism sector, welcomes their adoption and commits to contribute to making them a reality.”
Goals 8, 12 and 14 specifically mention the role of tourism:
- Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all includes as Target 8.9 “By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.
- Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns includes as Target 12.b to “Develop and implement tool s to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism which creates jobs, promotes local culture and products”. The Sustainable Tourism Programme (STP) of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) aims at developing such SCP practices, including resource efficient initiatives that result in enhanced economic, social and environmental outcomes.
- Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development includes as target 14.7 “by 2030 increase the economic benefits of SIDS and LCDs from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism”.