AVCA’s Annual Conference launches in Marrakech and highlights potential of PE in Africa

Murray Grant


High-profile keynote speakers, panellists, and investors have opened the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s (AVCA) 15th Annual Conference in Morocco. The conference is hosting the top 600 private equity leaders, who represent over $US1.3tn in assets, as they discuss the key trends shaping the continent’s investment landscape in 2018 and beyond.

Sunday’s successful fourth annual GP-LP Summit co-chaired by Hurley Doddy, managing director, founding partner, co-CEO, Emerging Capital Partners; and Murray Grant, managing director, CDC Group provided a platform for fund managers and investors to discuss pertinent issues facing the African private equity and venture capital industry.

Lamia Boutaleb, secretary of state to the Minister of Tourism, Air Transport, Crafts and the Social Economy, Kingdom of Morocco gave a keynote speech on private equity opportunities in the tourism sector, before taking part in a conversation where she heralded the progress of Morocco and underlined the positive outlook for investment in the country. Brahim Benjelloun-Touimi, group executive managing director, BMCE Bank of Africa also remarked that “there are opportunities to be leveraged in sectors such as education and healthcare, which previously were not in the spotlight”. A panel with Albert Alsina, founder and CEO, Mediterrania Capital Partners and Ziad Oueslati, managing director and co-founder, AfricInvest, discussed North Africa’s growing stability, with the latter highlighting that “North Africa has had some turbulent years but investor confidence has been restored and the region has become increasingly appealing”.

In an interview with Nigel Wellings, partner, Clifford Chance and Murray Grant, managing director, head of Intermediated Equity, CDC Group highlighted the company’s focus on supporting businesses that are commercially successful and have a powerful development impact through the creation of jobs. He also stressed that “job creation and sustainability must be at the heart of investing in Africa”.

On a panel session focused on the power sector, Wale Shonibare, director, Energy Financial Solutions, Policy and Regulation, African Development Bank (AfDB), commented that Africans “need to be able to trade energy across countries and prioritise on building connections and power pools”. This served as an important prelude to the upcoming AfDB’s closed-door roundtable on the Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI) programme. The FEI programme aims to finance small-scale energy projects with the objectives of aggregating capital, structuring bankable projects and accelerating delivery with a view to increase access to clean energy across Africa.

A panel with Patrice Backer, chief investment officer, AFIG Funds and John Opubor, managing partner, Coronation Capital discussed their sourcing strategy for companies with great potential, while a session with Sébastien Boyé, chief investment officer, Investisseur & Partenaires focused on private equity in fragile and conflict-affected situations.

In a keynote interview, Dr Boutheina Ben Yaghlane Ben Slimane, general manager of La Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations underlined that “African pension funds are vital for supporting SMEs, which are a key driver of growth in Tunisia”. This led to a wider discussion on the importance of the pension funds in Africa, and how other deposit funds like CDC Tunisia are leveraging long-term investment opportunities for diversification and attractive returns.

Michelle Kathryn Essomé, CEO, AVCA, added: “AVCA’s landmark annual global gathering comes at a time of consistent private equity deal activity and demonstrates that there is confidence in African private equity despite challenges in previous years. We believe in the power of private capital, and we will continue to serve as the catalyst and voice for private equity in Africa. Africa is the most exciting and attractive frontier and emerging market in the world.”

The landmark event is sponsored by leading investors and industry players across different geographies including Adenia Partners, ǼLEX, AFIG Funds, African Capital Alliance, African Development Bank, Africa Finance Corporation, African Infrastructure Investment Managers, Africa Legal Network, AfricInvest, Amethis, Asoko Insight, Àrgentil Capital Management, Casablanca Finance Authority, CDC Group, Clifford Chance, Coronation Capital, Development Partners International, DLA Piper; FMO, Goodwell Investments, International Finance Corporation, L.E.K Consulting, Mediterrania Capital, TNP, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, and Verod Capital.