7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Investment Pitches: Government and investors engagement to foster investment environment

Investment Pitches: Government and investors engagement to foster investment environment

debate
D6
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 14:00 to 15:30

Key points

  • African governments and foreign private and public investors must find common ground in their expectations.
     
  • Peace and stability are vital, but are only a starting point.
     
  • Countries are investing heavily in transport and energy infrastructure.
     
  • Investors need details of minimum investments and land guarantees.
     
  • Female entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are key to the future.

Synopsis

Ministers from Guinea, Uganda and the Côte d’Ivoire described their countries’ heavy investments in road and energy infrastructure to a panel of some 11 investors from the private and public sectors, including the European Investment Bank, during a session of the EU-Africa Business Forum. 

The three governments, having achieved a degree of peace, security and stability that are essential for further foreign direct investment (FDI), are trying to promote their countries on the strength of improved road, rail and sea transport links as gateways to eastern and western Africa. In response, investors questioned them about land rights, credit for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), repatriating profits versus reinvestment, and the opportunities for female entrepreneurs.

Uganda, the only land-locked country, stressed the construction of a new railway system that will cut some freight journeys from 21 days to just three. One Indian private investor said this would be a “game changer.”

Guinea pointed to its 2,000 rivers as potential source of hydro-electricity as well as transportation, while Côte d’Ivoire pointed to the country’s two ports and Uganda singled out roads as part of a bid to encourage its burgeoning tourism industry to travel by land rather than air, so as not to miss out on the landscape and nature.

The investment panel of bankers and private businessmen and women were keen to hear from each country about any rules on minimum foreign investment, and how secure their land and tenancy rights were.

The three ministers stressed there was no minimum investment requirement and that property rights, both for purchases or rentals, were protected, whether for a few hundred acres or hundreds of square miles of agricultural land. In terms of red tape, all three stressed the simplicity of setting up a business, in as little as a day, compared with up to 12 months in the past.

Conscious of the civil wars and unrest elsewhere in Africa, the ministers were keen to stress that their countries were peaceful and secure. One noted that investment capital can run away at just one gunshot. Several investors were keen to be reassured that SMEs were as welcome as huge multinational corporations.

In terms of gender equality and female entrepreneurship, Côte d’Ivoire has a US$17 million fund set up by the First Lady, which has already benefitted 110,000 businesswomen – with an apparent default rate lower than that of male-run businesses.

Insight

While Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea might lag behind Kenya and Rwanda as favoured destinations for FDI, they are probably the next rung of the ladder and possibly offer greater investment possibilities.

Organised by

    Riccardo Ridolfi
    Absolute Energy Capital LLP
    Robert Zegers
    AfDB
    Umulinga Karangwa
    PTA - COMESA, Investments
    Chantal Colle
    Entrepreneur and Presidential Advisor to H.E. Alpha Konde
    Vimal Shah
    CEO
    BIDCO Africa
    Heike Ruettgers
    Head of Mandates Management
    European Investment Bank
Photo gallery

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