London, 20 April 2021: Global and African dignitaries, institutional investors, fund managers and entrepreneurs opened the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association's (AVCA) 17th annual conference today. The live virtual programme brought together more than 350 key private equity and venture capital practitioners from over 50 countries around the world, to discuss the trends and developments shaping Africa's investment landscape in 2021 and beyond.
Africa's resilience and recovery
H.E. Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, launched AVCA's virtual conference week. Introducing the theme "Resilience, Resurgence and Results" with a keynote address, he commended the private sector's role in pushing Africa's economy forward, building an inclusive and sustainable future. He continued, saying, “Closer collaboration and cooperation between the public and private sector is required to achieve Africa’s resilience and resurgence.”
The conference programme continued with a panel exploring Africa's revival post-covid, recovery timelines and the regional variation of its impact. Panellists, including Hurley Doddy, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Founding Partner, and Managing Director, Emerging Capital Partners, debated the role private investors should play in accelerating the continent’s recovery. Khaled Ben Jilani - Senior Partner, AfricInvest shared how private equity could safeguard the livelihoods of MSMEs in Africa. He underlined the areas best impacted by the pandemic, citing that new players in cross-border payments, digital lending, medical logistics, last-mile delivery and cross-border logistics will continue to be challengers to existing companies in years to come.
Genevieve Sangudi - Partner, Alterra Capital Partners, emphasised the importance of "active portfolio management" with partners, and the value creation opportunities in the market. She detailed how the pandemic had "created new and increasingly critical products and services that have helped us overcome revenue downturns by generating new business opportunities, direct-to-consumer strategies and shaping geographic expansions."
These insights were followed by a session unpacking a range of evolving themes and emerging opportunities in African PE, such as gender-lens investing and the growing trend of high exit/acquisition for African fintech start-ups. Fund managers examined the emerging economies in Africa with rising opportunities and the well-established African PE markets such as Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, and Morocco.
In a panel session, high-profile speakers including H.E. Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo - CON, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Federal Republic of Nigeria addressed the recent regulatory and policy changes affecting private investment on the continent with Emma Wade-Smith OBE, Her Majesty's Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for Africa at the UK's Department for International Trade and Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk, Director Private Sector, Trade, Employment and Digital Technologies, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. On the same panel, David Marchick, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), commented on direct equity investments made by DFC across the continent and shared expectations for US-African collaboration, saying, "We are interested in significantly increasing our US$4-5bn annual average of commitments to Africa by 20%."
New committees to bolster AVCA's advocacy
This year, AVCA celebrates 20 years of promoting investment in Africa. To mark the onward journey, the association announced its newly-established committees, the Institutional Investor (LP) Committee and the Venture Capital (VC) Committee.
The Institutional Investor (LP) Committee will support AVCA's Board and leadership to achieve increased commitments from local and global LPs to African private equity and venture capital. Committee members include Clarisa de Franco, Managing Director & Head of Private Equity Funds, CDC Group (co-chair); Richard Okello, Co-Founding Partner, Sango Capital (co-chair), Hassane Muhieddine, Chief Executive Officer, Axian; Angela Miller-May, Chief Investment Officer, Chicago Teachers Pension Fund; Anthony Njoroge, Africa, Regional Lead, International Finance Corporation; and Catherine Cax, Director of Investments, Soros Economic Development Fund.
Co-chairs of the Venture Capital (VC) Committee are Maurizio Caio, Founder and Managing Partner, TLcom Capital and Shruti Chandrasekhar, Head, SME Ventures & Startup Catalyst, International Finance Corporation. Khaled Ben Jilani, Senior Partner, AfricInvest and Ameya Upadhyay, Venture Partner, Flourish Ventures are the fellow committee members appointed. The central focus of the VC Committee is to advise AVCA on its aims to foster an inclusive ecosystem. Recruiting diverse VC members to join forces to address the most pertinent needs of the industry, such as exposure to capital from LPs in Africa and elsewhere, the committee will improve access to co-investors and talent for portfolio companies, and more.
As part of her closing remarks, Abi Mustapha-Maduakor, Chief Executive Officer, AVCA, added: “We are delighted to have convened major industry players and key decision-makers virtually at our conference this year. As we have witnessed over the past 12 months and heard from our speakers today, the global health crisis has revealed the resilience of our economies and communities. We are proud to play our role in enabling the African PE sector’s drive to discover new opportunities, results and returns.”
The landmark event is sponsored by leading investors and industry players across different geographies, including African Development Bank, Alitheia Capital, Adenia Partners, AFIG Funds, African Capital Alliance, AfricInvest, Alterra Capital Partners, Amethis, BFA Asset Management, CrossBoundary, Debevoise & Plimpton, DEG, DLA Piper, Emerging Capital Partners, FinDev Canada, FSD Africa Investments, Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund, Injaro Investments, LeapFrog Investments, Old Mutual Alternative Investments, Mediterrania Capital Partners, Sanne, Standard Bank Group.
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