East African countries in $8b investment plan

By VINCENT OWINO

East African states will jointly benefit from at least $8.77 billion worth of investments in transport, healthcare, energy, and agriculture among other sectors, from deals made at the 2021 African Investment Forum concluded on Thursday.

The three-day event was organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in partnership with other finance organisations including Africa Export-Import (Afrexim) Bank and African Finance Corporation among others, yielded a total of $36.2 billion from 43 investment deals for the entire continent, 37.5 percent short of the expected $58 billion.

For East Africa, the largest deal inked during the forum is the $3.3 billion railway corridor that will run from Dar es Salaam through Bujumbura to Kinshasa in DR Congo, with an extension to Kigali, which will be done as a public-private partnership project.

“There is a lot of political support and goodwill for this, I can’t wait to see this railway,” said Dr Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB president and chair of the forum that was attended by 11 heads of states, including Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, and DRC’s Felix Tshisekedi.

“This is all part of improving the regional integration, and also accelerating the Africa Free Trade Area. It is going to drive down the cost of moving things,” Dr Adesina added.

Other deals closed during the forum are an unspecified amount that will facilitate vaccines production in Kenya and agricultural investment to improve East Africa’s food security, especially wheat and grain production.

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In West Africa, a four to six lane highway corridor connecting four countries, that will cost $15.6 billion, got the largest share of all the investment deals.

The highway will run from Lagos in Nigeria, through Lorne in Togo and Accra in Ghana, to Abidjan in Cote d’Ivore.

It is expected to “support 75 percent of the trade in the west African region, reduce transport cost by 48 percent, increase inter- and intra-regional trade volume by 15 to 25 percent, and impact the lives of over 500 million people,” Dr Adesina said.

In total, West Africa will get $16.92 billion investment expenditure, 47 percent of the total amount of deals inked at the forum.

Central African countries will get $4.27 billion, Southern Africa ($5.44 billion), and North Africa ($804 million).

Across the continent, the energy sector will get the largest share of investments, worth $19.44 billion. This includes expansion of renewable energy sources, development of liquefied natural gas infrastructure, and to develop electric vehicles manufacturing infrastructure.

The agriculture sector benefited from $9.868 billion worth of investment, healthcare got $452 million, and creative industries got $1.5 billion, which includes a $5 million film academy to be set up in Nigeria.

Women-led businesses will receive a boost of $4.94 billion in investments from the forum, out of which $1 billion will be used to set up a women’s advisory facility by the AfDB.

“We will remove obstacles in the ways of businesses of women, because women businesses should never remain small,” said Dr Adesina.

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