by Mbali Ndaba

SA's infrastructure projects

Investors to be convinced of Africa's bankable infrastructure projects

The Infrastructure Africa Business Forum is geared toward SA's marketability

Africa has a population of over one billion, with a growing middle class and an increasingly demanding consumer market. It’s no longer just a commodity’s play. Africa has been shielded from the rich world’s problems and, according to World Bank statistics, continues to grow at rates above 4% in most countries. 

Despite Africa’s marketability, investors will need to be convinced about the bankability of infrastructure projects on the continent . The 2013 Infrastructure Africa Business Forum, to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre on 16 and 17 July, aims to address this issue.  

The Infrastructure Africa Business conference and exhibition, now in its second year, is about tangible wins for those in the Southern African Development Community infrastructure space. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) Planning and Co-ordinating Agency, the Nepad Business Foundation (NBF) and the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development – all partners to the upcoming Infrastructure Africa Business Forum – are committed to taking Africa’s marketability and growth potential and translating them into bankable projects by providing a platform for public and private sector players to oil the machinery of their interactions.

“R68 billion a year is what needs to be spent every year for Africa to overcome its current infrastructure deficit,” says NBF chairperson, Stanley Subramoney. “There are many exciting infrastructure projects on the table for infrastructure development in Africa and now is the time to buckle down and push for their implementation.” 

“A key focus of the conference will be a projects round table session aimed at unlocking the business potential of infrastructure development in Africa,” says Liz Hart, managing director of Siyenza, organiser of the event. “The forum will discuss actual infrastructure projects with the project owners. This will provide businesses an opportunity to expand their operations into Africa and to grow their business. 

"This is particularly important, as many events do not discuss actual projects, but the round table as well as the conference are geared toward showcasing projects both large and small and providing the access to markets that business is looking for.”

Africa has a unique population pyramid. It has the largest number of children and the smallest number of elderly. Around 2030, Africa could have the largest working-age population in the world. This young population will be urbanised, have disposable income and is growing in its hunger for consumer goods, which is creating new markets and new demand. “With this growing middle-class population will come new opportunities for businesses. The resources are immense – both in human and commodity terms,” says Subramoney.

This offers investors vast opportunities to develop untapped sectors of the African continent for a young market that promises a big return on investment. The key is finding the right partnerships.

“Africa is looking for smart partnerships; partnerships where she can leverage off the best that is to be offered globally and the best that is to be offered locally to create winning solutions. We believe that this year’s Infrastructure Africa Business Forum is the ideal setting for catalysing these winning solutions,” says Subramoney.

The two-day conference boasts a lineup of international and national infrastructure experts and promises to be the networking platform for local and African businesses that wish to further the development of Africa’s infrastructure development in a way that builds people and profits.

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Issue 39