Africa Focus: Spring 2021
Navigating a changing business landscape in Africa and beyond
As our last edition of Africa Focus was published in September 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, some progress had been made on the development, trial and authorization of COVID-19 vaccines. However, there was no assurance of efficacy or effectiveness, and there was profound uncertainty in our personal and professional lives, with unprecedented upheaval in the global economy.
This spring 2021 issue comes to you in a changed environment: Multiple vaccines have been approved; millions of vaccine doses are being manufactured and administered every day; and a return to normality feels no longer like a matter of hope, but of time. Therefore, while uncertainty in our lives and disruption in the global economy continues, we can perhaps permit ourselves to review the business and legal environment in Africa with a renewed sense of cautious optimism and against the backdrop of groundbreaking changes that raise important issues for companies and financial institutions doing business in Africa.
Nearly the entire African continent is involved with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a single trade and investment market with a combined GDP of close to US$3.4 trillion. Trading under these new arrangements started on January 1, 2021. At the same time, development finance institutions have mounted a robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic by harnessing support from international investors and aggressively funding infrastructure and development. Several sectors of Africa’s economy continue to offer private equity and venture capital investment opportunities, while multilateral development banks are successfully supporting post-COVID recovery and growth in key African sectors. Meanwhile, innovative technologies and new approaches to decommissioning mining assets are transforming Africa’s mining industry and enabling sustainable exits.
This sixth edition of Africa Focus begins with "Making the trading system work for Africa," which explains how AfCTA's plan for virtually all African nations to open their markets to each other may have arrived at exactly the right time to spark change. "African development finance institutions" discusses how African DFIs are achieving positive impacts by funding recovery responses, leading the way with sustainable lending and attracting commercial lenders to African markets.
The article "Private equity in Africa: Trends and opportunities in 2021" highlights several industries in Africa that remain attractive private equity and venture capital destinations, particularly for those focused on long-term investments, and "Ensuring sustainable exits from African mining" discusses how mining companies can improve the ways they decommission and close their operations as well as factors that mining companies, regulators and other stakeholders can consider when formulating rules to reflect environmental, social and governance principles.
In "European multilateral development banks in sub-Saharan Africa," we examine how multilateral development banks, including the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and others, are collaborating with other key stakeholders and acting as catalysts for growth.
Finally, in "African mining 4.0: An innovative sunrise for African miners," we discuss how new transformative technologies, rapidly becoming available to the mining industry, are ushering in a new era of increased productivity, efficiency, safety and growth for miners.
We welcome your suggestions for any topics to review in our upcoming issues. For now, we hope this issue of Africa Focus helps you navigate the rapidly changing business landscape and explore current opportunities for doing business and investing in Africa.