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“With this conference, we are providing an opportunity to hear from investors who have succeeded in Africa.”

Terhas Berhe

On 22 February, the London Stock Exchange will host a high level conference that will bring together investors, financiers and key players in a bid to highlight the attractions and examine the challenges of investing in Africa.

The African continent today offers some of the best investment opportunities in the world and has one of the fastest growing economies. The International Monetary Fund has raised its economic growth forecast for African to 6.8% this year from 5.7% in 2006. Africa’s longest expansion in more than three decades is fuelling demand for capital from overseas.

Finding Creative Solutions to Doing Business in Africa

Africa is on the move, with economic growth at 5-6% over the last 5 years. The African continent is still considered among the most difficult business environments in the world but offers a huge market of around 800 to 900 million consumers. One high profile champion of Africa’s investment potential was Victor Osalador, Chief Financial Officer of United Bank for Africa (UBA) and its Executive Director for Risk Management and Finance.

ReConnect Africa spoke to Terhas Berhe, Managing Director of Brand Communications, the UK based financial communications company focused on Africa and the Middle East. The African Investment Finance and Conference, organized by Brand Communications, is in association with the Commonwealth Secretariat and in partnership with IC Publications and is scheduled to feature speakers including Stephen Jennings, CEO of Renaissance Capital, Celtel founder Mo Ibrahim and David Lenigas of Lonrho.

“In the last two years, investment in the West has been stagnant or in decline. The next major investment frontier will be in Africa,” says Berhe. “With this conference, we are providing an opportunity to hear from investors who have succeeded in Africa; who can talk about where the best investments projects are and how to minimize risks.”

Addressing the Afro-Pessimists and Sceptics about Africa

ImageAcknowledging the risks pertaining to any high return opportunity, Osalador noted however that in Africa “the challenges are diminishing by the day.” He highlighted the speed at which the market is growing and stressed its long-term potential. “If you are able to go in there for the long haul, you will make your brand very strong very quickly.”

From Negative to Positive Branding

Selling the story of investment in Africa is not easy for many reasons, says Berhe. “There is still scepticism about investing in Africa, primarily because of a lack of information and awareness. What this conference will provide is a platform for investors, financiers, economists and strategists from the global financial community to highlight the opportunities across Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The Africa Investment and Finance Conference will address a number of key topics including the macroeconomic framework and investment outlook, doing business in sub-Saharan Africa, Africa's capital markets, the private equity landscape, market developments, Africa’s banking sector, infrastructure financing and foreign direct investment opportunities in Africa.

There is no shortage of investment success stories from Africa, insists Berhe. “For instance, take a look at Emerging Capital Partners and Ecobank, both of whom will have speakers at the conference. Emerging Capital Partners’ investment in Ecobank produced returns of 300% following Ecobank’s successful listing in 2006, an outcome you are highly unlikely to find in any matured market and which is also rare in other emerging markets. But this opportunity does exist in Africa.”

Globally Renowned Speakers and Panelists

“Speakers at the conference will be talking about their experiences as investors,” says Berhe, and the line-up is indeed an impressive one.


“Sub-Saharan Africa is a second once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Jim O’Neill, the Head of Global Economic Research at Goldman Sachs and who first coined the acronym BRIC for the new emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China, will be addressing the role Africa can play in future investment strategies.

Discussion panels will feature some of the biggest private equity investors, including Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al-Amoudi and Thomas Gibian, CEO of Emerging Capital Partners.

Another highlight of the conference is the keynote speech which will be delivered by Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique and the recipient of the inaugural award for Good Governance established by Mo Ibrahim.

Also speaking will be Stephen Jennings, whose company Renaissance Group has announced its intention to open investment banks across Africa, and who will be addressing the topic of opportunities for private equity in Africa. It was Jennings, who was reported by Bloomberg as saying that “while Russia was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, sub-Saharan Africa is a second once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The Africa Investment and Finance Conference promises to be an informative and unique opportunity to hear from leading financiers and investors, says Berhe. “The African Investment and Finance Conference is a must-attend event for anyone who is likely to be sourcing or seeking capital from the global investor community for Africa.”

For further details about the conference and information on how to register:  www.africaif.com
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