The African Development Bank Wednesday held a workshop to convey the continent’s immense investment and partnership opportunities to Asian business leaders, particularly as the continent seems poised to return to economic growth in 2021 following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two-hour virtual event, held in English, Korean, and Chinese, offered participants an opportunity to learn more about the Bank and its operations. The webinar comes on the heels of the recently launched African Economic Outlook 2020 -Asia Supplement, which revised growth projections and outlook for Africa for 2020 and 2021.
“I take this opportunity to strongly encourage Asian private sector entities gathered here today, to partner with the Bank to take advantage of the multiple investment opportunities that exist on the continent,” said Samuel Higenyi Mugoya, the Bank’s Director for Syndication, Co-financing and Client Solutions Department, which co-organized the event, together with the Bank’s Asia External Representation Office.
In introducing the Bank, Takashi Hanajiri, Head of the Asia External Representation Office, provided an overview of the Bank and its history and components before providing a summary of its flagship Africa Investment Forum(link is external) initiative and the opportunities it offers. Referring to the AIF event held in Johannesburg in 2019, he said “So far the largest deal was a LNG project in Mozambique with a total cost of $24.6 billion,” adding, “many Asian institutions, both public and private, are sponsoring the project.”
Following a discussion of the Bank’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanajiri concluded on a positive note, noting “Africa’s growth will rebound to 3% in 2021 from -3.4% in 2020.”
Bank staff presented on the Bank’s non-sovereign operations and financial product offerings. Other sessions covered Africa’s immense potential in energy, particularly renewable energy, as well as agriculture, which remains the continent’s most important economic sector.
Director Mugoya praised Asian countries’ ongoing support for the Bank and Africa’s development. “There are four Asian member countries in the Bank, namely China, India, Japan, and Korea, that have been long-standing and strategic partners for almost 40 years. The Asian member countries have consistently contributed to the Bank’s capital requirements and supported the African Development Fund’s successive replenishments.” The African Development Fund is the Bank’s concessional window.
The webinar, which drew around 300 participants, closed with a question and answer session. Queries addressed such issues as the Bank’s representation in India, trade financing offerings and access to financing for women. Participating corporations and institutions included Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation, Export-Import Bank of India, JICA, Korea Eximbank, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), and Korea Overseas Infrastructure & Urban Development Corporation (KIND).
Africa’s huge and highly diverse continent has the second-largest population in the world and the second-largest land mass after Asia, offering tremendous investment opportunities for the Asian private sector. The Bank views Africa’s private sector as a critical engine of economic growth and development but Asian companies often lack information about the business climate.
Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa was the second-fastest growing continent outside Asia. Over the past decade, the continent has experienced the longest period of unbroken growth in per capita incomes since the 1960s.