Hope rises as Africa holds infrastructure investment summit

There is fresh hope of more investment in infrastructure on the African continent as a global law firm, Hogan Lovells,  leads sponsors list of an investment summit to be hosted by the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).

The summit, scheduled to hold in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on May 15 and 16, will feature a number of high-level participants from government and the private sector, including having the Presidents of Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda in attendance.

The Head of Hogan Lovells’ Africa Practice, Andrew Skipper, will lead high-level discussions on catalysing investment and leveraging success stories in the African infrastructure space.

The summit is already generating excitement among stakeholders in the industry, who are concerned about the state of infrastructure on the continent. While Africa may be the world’s fastest growing continent, access to basic infrastructure services remains a critical challenge across the continent, with studies showing that poor road, rail and port facilities add 30 to 40 per cent to the cost of goods traded among African countries. An often quoted World Bank report suggest that Africa needs to spend $93billion annually until 2020 to bridge its infrastructure gap.

This explains why AFC Live has been created to provide a platform to develop solutions that will fast track African and international capital towards infrastructure. Although investments in energy and in transport can offer better commercial and social returns than most investments, stakeholders however believe that creating the right structure to make these projects commercially attractive requires skill as well as political will and a conducive regulatory environment.

In this instance, the sponsors of the summit, Hogan Lovells, is believed to have the requisite knowledge and experience to help countries and clients navigate through. This is buoyed by the firm’s several decades spent working across the continent, covering almost 50 countries and a network of local law firms in all but two African countries. This has also helped the firm to develop an intimate knowledge of the continent’s business environments.

“We are thrilled to be the lead legal sponsor for this event because we believe in and want to support business on the continent. Infrastructure plays an incredibly important part in any country’s growth story and in Africa, it is vital,” Skipper said.

On the challenge of project funding, he explained that African-focused direct foreign investments (DFIs), Export Credit Agencies or foreign grant funds, cannot entirely fund the continent’s infrastructure needs.

Skipper further explained that international investors and commercial lenders need to adjust their thinking on a range of issues in order to encourage an appropriate view on acceptable risk allocation and investor returns in these sometimes complex markets.

He contends that by bringing financiers and investors together alongside project developers and fund managers, AFC Live aims to ensure that more capital, both African and international, can be deployed towards addressing the continent’s pressing infrastructure needs. “Hogan Lovells are proud to be a longstanding partner to investors, sponsors, developers and governments on this journey,” Skipper said.



Culled from thenationonlineng.net

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