The second day of the Africa Partnership Conference (APC) on October 3, 2023, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Balaclava, Mauritius, showcased a compelling array of speeches and discussions under the theme, “Unity in Partnership: Fostering Sustainable and Inclusive Investment.” Hosted by the Economic Development Board (EDB), this flagship conference brought together investment promotion agencies (IPAs), venture capitalists, fund managers, development finance institutions (DFIs), investors, and entrepreneurs for two days, all sharing a common vision of advancing investment in Africa.
The conference spotlighted innovative financing mechanisms, including impact investing, blended finance, and green financing, which can direct funds toward sustainable development projects. These approaches align financial incentives with environmental and social goals, attracting a broader spectrum of investors while fostering positive impacts on people and the planet.
Moreover, the role of digital technology in revolutionizing investment financing in Africa was emphasized, with a particular focus on fintech innovations, mobile banking, and digital platforms that democratize access to finance and promote financial inclusion.
Mauritius' Commitment to African Prosperity
In his opening address, the Honourable Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, Minister of Finance Services and Good Governance of the Republic of Mauritius, underscored the significance of unity in Africa and the commitment of the Government of Mauritius to the “Mauritius for Africa” agenda. He emphasized the role of the Mauritius International Finance Centre (MIFC) in attracting high-quality foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa.
The Minister announced Mauritius’ initiative to establish an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework for Africa in collaboration with the African Development Bank. This framework aims to assure investors that funds directed through Mauritius adhere to sustainability standards. In his closing remarks, he emphasized the imperative of collective efforts and strategic actions to create a sustainable and inclusive investment environment in Africa, with a focus on unlocking the continent’s immense potential for growth and development.
Unity in Investment Financing
In his welcome address, Mr. Issa Mohamad Soormally, Vice Chairman of the Economic Development Board, commended the collaborative spirit that characterized the first day of the conference. He stressed the pivotal role of investment financing in driving economic progress, job creation, and community development. Mr. Soormally acknowledged that accessing finance for investments, especially in emerging markets, remains a significant challenge. The APC aimed to explore solutions and establish partnerships to bridge this financing gap and unleash Africa’s full potential.
Mr. Soormally also highlighted Africa’s annual infrastructure development gap estimated at USD 150 to USD 200 billion, underscoring the need for a favourable investment climate established through cooperation among governments, financial institutions, and the private sector. He emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in efficiently delivering critical infrastructure projects.
Mr. Soormally urged all participants to translate the conference’s discussions into tangible actions. He quoted Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, in emphasizing the need to “run faster not to fall behind in this global race” to reshape Africa’s investment landscape for inclusive, sustainable, and impactful investments.
Commonwealth's Support for Collaboration
In a special address, Mr. Luis Franceschi, Assistant Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, emphasized the APC’s role in promoting collaboration among various stakeholders. He praised Africa’s economic momentum and the development of the Africa Free Trade Area, highlighting the potential for creating robust markets.
Mr. Franceschi also discussed the Fintech landscape in Mauritius and its potential replication across the continent, applauding the government’s efforts in establishing an enabling environment for the Fintech sector.
UNCTAD's Focus on SDG Projects
Mrs. Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), focused on the importance of creating an enabling and inclusive investment environment in Africa to address the investment shortfall for SDG projects. She proposed three key reforms to increase private and international investment for such projects, including reducing the cost of capital through blended financing and updating investment promotion policies.
Mrs. Grynspan highlighted Africa’s multidecade opportunity boom, driven by factors such as growing intra-Africa trade, youth population, entrepreneurship, innovation, and renewable energy resources.
Throughout the two-day event, a series of insightful panel discussions unfolded, covering critical topics such as “Unleashing Investment Opportunities & Reviving Intra-Africa Trade,” “Financing African Projects: Driving Investment, Development, and Sustainable Growth in Africa,” and “Trade Financing as a Catalyst for Development in Africa.”
Participants also delved into subjects including “Navigating the Path toward Sustainable Development and Prosperity in Africa,” “Breaking Africa’s 3% Glass Ceiling,” “Expanding Footprints into Africa & The Success of Mauritian Companies on the Continent,” and “The Mauritius International Financial Centre (MIFC): Paving the Way toward Inclusive Growth in Africa.”
In addition to these enriching discussions, the event featured the presentation of projects by Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), reaffirming the commitment to advancing development and investment opportunities across the African continent.
Closing Remarks by Ken Poonoosamy, CEO of EDB Mauritius
Mr. Ken Poonoosamy, the CEO of EDB Mauritius, delivered the closing remarks during the evening session of the APC Conference. In his address, Mr. Poonoosamy emphasized that this remarkable conference serves as tangible proof that the partnership between Mauritius and Africa is embarking on a journey filled with promise and potential. The conference has provided a platform for discussions and exploration of opportunities for collaboration and growth across the continent.
During his closing statement, Mr. Poonoosamy also expressed his sincere gratitude to the international speakers as well as all the representatives and staff of the EDB who helped to make the APC a success. “To all, thank you for sharing your insights and expertise throughout the conference. Your contributions have greatly enriched the event by fostering meaningful dialogues and facilitating the exchange of innovative ideas”, he added.