It was all systems go on 10 October when Muzi Kubeka, Local Partner in the Johannesburg office of White & Case LLP, featured as a panellist at the Infrastructure Africa Business Forum 2018 held at the glittering Sandton Convention Centre. The panel discussion focused on the topic Improving project bankability is key to bridging Africa's infrastructure gap – Project preparation and due diligence which was attended by approximately 70 delegates. The topic's significance is underscored by the fact that of the 25 countries with the lowest infrastructure scores in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Index, 19 are in Africa. At the opening plenary session, Sean Cleary, a former diplomat and Strategic Adviser to the World Economic Forum, outlined three key areas - infrastructure, human capital development and policies - which Africa needed to get right to ensure a prosperous future.
Muzi Kubeka's session was moderated by Nigel Gwynne-Evans, Chief Director: African Industrial Development of the Department of Trade and Industry. Alongside fellow panellists from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Clinton Climate Initiative's Island's Energy Program, Global Infrastructure Hub and Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC), Muzi addressed the need to close the infrastructure gap and create jobs in Africa by preparing a pipeline of bankable sustainable infrastructure projects that can attract financing for implementation. With half the intended projects still at the conceptual stage, it is vital that governments create legislative, regulatory and institutional environments in order to attract private investors. Gwynne-Evans specifically emphasised that there is no shortage of capital looking to invest in good projects, and that the main challenge in developing projects is the expectation gap between the politicians/project sponsors and the private sector/project developers.
Talking points included discussion on how to tackle the lack of technical capacity for project preparation, accelerating the efficacy of PPPs rather than simply relying on the public sector and/or donors, increasing bankability through countries' ability to demonstrate political commitment by government towards the sort of stability that would attract investors, and a look at new innovative mechanisms that are available in the market which can support project bankability.
Muzi Kubeka was well positioned to offer an expert opinion on the challenges facing project bankability on the African continent in that he specialises in infrastructure, energy, project finance, public private partnerships, lending and syndicated lending, trade finance and export credit finance. He acts for sponsors, development finance institutions, infrastructure investment funds, South African and international banks, advising on projects under both South African and English law in South Africa and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.