IFA chairperson and chief executive Neil de Beer. Photo: Supplied

CAPE TOWN – Investment Fund Africa (IFA), an investment fund with a primary focus on Africa, has announced that it has secured $6 billion (about R85bn) for the first phase of its drive to develop infrastructure in Africa.

This was announced by the investment fund’s chairperson and chief executive Neil de Beer in a wide-ranging interview. 

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De Beer, who hails from Cape Town explained that this project-focused business was inspired by the lack of modernisation, infrastructure and the backlog that Africa has as whole on infrastructure six years ago when he was involved in business on the African continent.

“The lack of African investment and the lack of infrastructure development from an African perspective was shocking. And what happened was very clearly was the Chinese, the Europeans and Americans, as well as the International Monetary Fund, are not helping in that regard. 

“But the normal suspects of investment in the continent was not matched by a shadow African fund that could also compete and say wait a minute, we are not the only continent at this moment outside Europe that is being attracted to but we are being fiscally colonised,” said de Beer.

“I realised that we are not going to have anything left in the next 30 to 50 years for my son and my daughter’s future if Africa doesn’t benefit and, therefore, created this unique infrastructure fund that would go into countries and actually compete in funding for our own projects,” he said.

The IFA is an African-owned infrastructure development fund for countries only on the African continent.

De Beer explained that the IFA had a macro-strategy with a micro-implementation philosophy. So although there were 55 countries on the continent that needed to benefit the IFA only focus on six countries at a time.

The IFA uses the brick strategy, which De Beer explains: “If you throw a brick into the Atlantic Ocean, it will hardly make a splash but if you throw a brick into a bathtub you get quite a wave.

“So what decided to do first is to find countries where the IFA can achieve three things: impact, visible action and implementation and ensure that the results make a fundamental infrastructural difference.”

Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Mauritius are among the IFA’s Quarter 1 achievement where the investment fund has lobbed the IFA brick.

De Beer expressed gratitude to Dr Iqbal Survé, Sekunjalo and Independent Media chairperson, for mentoring him. 

“I needed help, I needed a mentor I needed someone to tell me that whatever I was going to do would be okay. So Survé and I met several times at the Vineyard Hotel, near Newlands and he took time out to discuss IFA with me. And that’s how I got started,” he said.

“We are committed to collaboration, and our international regulated fund manager will bring that same focus on collaborative opportunities to the IFA’s portfolio development. Where the required level of project finance is greater than the funds prudential sovereign or sector limits, partnerships will be offered to other approved funds, and – beyond this – we will always look for transactions that provide other, like-minded investors and local financial institutions an opportunity to participate and add value,” de Beer concluded.

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