US, Germany, UK target Africa for increased trade at African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association conference

Investor and trade interest in Africa remains strong despite challenges around Covid-19, senior officials from the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom said at the recently concluded annual conference of the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.

Representatives of the three nations spoke during a panel session held as part of the conference, held 20-21 April, 2021. The virtual event highlighted some of the recent regulatory and policy changes affecting private equity in Africa. It also discussed the impact of international public policy on trade and foreign direct investment in Africa’s private sector.

The panel consisted of UK Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith; David Marchick, Chief Operating Officer of the US International Development Finance Corporation; Tania Rodiger-Vorwerk, Germany’s Director of Private Sector, Trade, Employment and Digital Technologies; and Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo. The discussion was moderated by Abdu Mukhtar, Director of the Industrial and Trade Department at the African Development Bank.

Marchick said the US was committed to supporting Africa’s production capacity, particularly when it comes to vaccines. The latter has become a burning issue in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We average somewhere between $4 billion to $5 billion of investment a year. We want to increase that. Somewhere a little north of 20% of our allocation has been going to Africa, which we want to increase. So, if you take $5 billion a year, and 20% of that, that is a billion. I would like to see that substantially increased in the next few years in climate, in health, in technology and in infrastructure,” Marchick said.

Wade-Smith said Africa was definitely on the UK’s radar. “We are working really closely with governments to create that enabling environment, spotting whether there might be regulations that need updating or implementing more concretely and regularly, and I am really working with investment promotion agencies across the continent to help to create the right projects in the right way that will inspire those investors to come flooding back into Africa,” she said.

On the home front, Adebayo said Nigeria was “doing quite a lot” to enhance investment prospects. He cited the country’s newly-launched Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, which has been driving reforms such as those related to the energy industry. The government of Africa’s largest economy is also digitalizing trademarks and patents.

“We want to go beyond just exporting crude oil and agricultural products. What we intend to do is we try to set up special agro-industrial processing zones, the idea being to add value to our products before exporting. We invite investors to come and set up processing companies in Nigeria,” Adebayo said.

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