African financial services firm to assist, advise India Inc

By Shubha Singh, IANS,

New Delhi : African Finance Corp (AFC) is planning to join hands with Infrastructure Development Finance Corp (IDFC) to provide investment advice and financing to Indian companies seeking to invest in infrastructure projects in Africa.

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AFC President and CEO Andrew Alli said the cooperation agreement with IDFC was expected to “start off soon” and hoped to work with “one to two companies in the first year.”

“Financing capacity in Africa is quite high,” Alli told IANS, seeking to dispel the impression that there was a shortage of financing in African countries.

He gave the example of the recent instance of eight Nigerian banks jointly providing financing worth $650 million for the expansion of Etisalat Nigeria, the main mobile telecom operator in the region.

Main One submarine fibre optic cable system launched last year was an AFC infrastructure project fully African-conceived, financed and executed. It has enhanced connectivity between West Africa and Europe through fibre optic cables between Portugal, Ghana and Nigeria.

AFC is a private sector-led investment bank and development finance institution based in Lagos, Nigeria. Its shareholders include several African financial institutions, the Central Bank of Nigeria and private and corporate shareholders.

It is partnered by Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Liberia, Guinea and Ghana.

Africa has a huge requirement of capital for its infrastructure development which cannot be met by foreign aid alone. AFC was set up in 2007 to help mobilise and channel capital to infrastructure projects in Africa. It is now the market leader in its field.

The institution focuses on power and renewable energy, transport infrastructure from roads, rail, aviation and ports, manufacturing and heavy industry, telecom and oil and gas exploration and production.

The power sector would be one major area of interests to Indian companies, Alli said.

“We advocate platform strategy for investment across Africa, rather than projects for a single country. This helps in diversification, increases the scope of project and makes financing the project easier,” he said.

AFC helps prospective investors identify where to invest and also offers its expertise and insight into African infrastructure as well as local knowledge of political risks. It also offers project development and management, trade and equipment financing and technical advisory services

As Indian banks are establishing themselves in Africa, it was also time African banks were allowed to set up branches in India as it would facilitate trade with India, the AFC president suggested, Alli said.

A couple of African banks had opened offices in China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the recent years, he added.

(Shubha Singh can be contacted at [email protected])