Efficient Infrastructure Development

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 17 April 2019   |   By Ricardo Kanono
Sebabole Sebabole

key to unlock Africa’s growth

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FNBB’s corporate and investment banking division, Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) on the 10th of April 2019 brought business leaders and key stakeholders under one roof to present the 2019 RMB Investment Attractiveness Rankings captured on the eighth edition of the Where to Invest in Africa report.

According to FNB’s Chief Economist and co-author of the report, Moatlhodi Sebabole, the Where to Invest in Africa report seeks to provide easily digestible data and analysis to firms considering investing in Africa and to point out new opportunities to those already vested in the continent. “To provide such insight, we assess each of the 53 African economies’ investment potential through the RMB’s Investment Attractiveness Index which overlays macroeconomic fundamentals with the practicalities of doing business on the continent,” said Sebabole.

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The RMB’s Investment Attractiveness Rankings focus area for 2019 was infrastructure and the selection was based on clients’ experiences and RMB’s own observations of operating across the continent. “It is apparent that the lack of efficient infrastructure is one of the major challenges to doing business on the continent and as RMB, we wanted to highlight drivers of African innovation which could overcome infrastructure gaps,” Sebabole highlighted.

Though the lack of efficient infrastructure remains a major challenge to doing business on the continent, its development is the key to unlocking Africa’s growth potential and serious investment is required to bridge Africa’s gaping infrastructure chasm. Sebabole noted that the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) most recent estimation of infrastructure needs is between US$130bn and US$170bn annually, but the continent’s available capital is insufficient to achieve this – with AfDB estimating the annual infrastructure spend on infrastructure at around US$45bn.

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“At RMB, we are Solutionist Thinkers and we believe that the African continent has abundant opportunities for investment. Resources will continue to play a leading role when it comes to attracting funds, particularly in the hydrocarbon, base and precious metals spheres. The agricultural sector will become a more enticing investment target as agro-processing increases and global food demand spikes. Given that private sector investment has been lacking, the continent could change this impediment through more business-environment reforms, increased infrastructure and financial-market development and trade openness. These will open up avenues for financing infrastructure through institutional funds like pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, project finance, bonds and infrastructure funds,” stated Sebabole.

Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa, the three largest markets in Africa by GDP (PPP), are among the top 10 in the 2019 RMB Investment Attractiveness Rankings. Together, these three markets make up almost 50% of Africa’s almost US$7trn market size.

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Botswana currently ranks 13th in RMB’s Investment Attractiveness Index and performed well on the stable economic outlook and ease of doing business, however, some of the key challenges include the country’s small undiversified market size with a GDP (PPP) of around US$40bn. “Although there has been some diversification of the economy away from mining, Botswana remains reliant on diamonds as they account for 87% of the country’s exports, posing risks to the revenue profile and developmental plans. Notably, the country is looking to overcome these diversification challenges by instituting several structural reforms with the view of improving its business and operating environment, coupled with the alignment of the national budget to cater for key infrastructural projects in the areas of water, energy, transportation and electricity,” indicated Sebabole.

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