Inaugural summit organised by the African Development Bank, which is headquartered in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Photo: Reuters
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa yesterday pledged its readiness to host the inaugural Africa Investment Forum that aims to raise billions to plug the continent’s infrastructure gap.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the government viewed the summit as another opportunity to bring investment into the country.

“We have no doubt that it will have the desired development impact. South Africa is not only a gateway for investment on the continent, but it is also a leading African investor,” Nene pointed out.

Gauteng will host the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) inaugural investment forum in November. The Abidjan-based lender said the forum sought to raise funds for the continent’s mammoth infrastructure gap.

Africa needs between $130billion (R1.63trillion) and $170bn a year to bridge its infrastructure deficit, the bank said.

AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina said Africa urgently needs to industrialise in order to boost its economic prospects.

“Africa should invest in its own development if it wants others to do so. This will not be a political platform. There wouldn’t be speeches. It’s about transactions,” Adesina said.

“Africa is not a poor continent. It has vast amounts of resources of which the potential simply has to be unlocked. We intend for this to be an investment market place to do transactions with impact.”

Last year, the Boston Consulting Group/Africa Finance Corporation said in a report that the infrastructure gap in sub-Saharan Africa amounted to about $100bn in yearly infrastructure investment.

It pointed out that countries in this region were losing 2.1percent of their annual GDP growth due to inadequate infrastructure.

The AfDB said it wanted to catalyse private-sector investment in Africa by bringing in developers, strategic investors, venture capital funds, pension funds, global sovereign wealth funds, and insurance companies to invest in the continent.

It said it had identified five priorities that are crucial for accelerating Africa’s economic transformation: light up and power Africa; feed Africa; industrialise Africa; integrate Africa; and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Gauteng premier David Makhura said South Africa would need $100bn over the next 10 years for infrastructure development. “The African Investment Forum will be a place where we want to bring in a pool of capital for projects. Africa has the potential.”