Development finance institution of the United States government known as, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), launched its ‘Connect Africa’ initiative in July which will mobilize more than $1 billion to projects in Africa. The projects support transportation, communications, and value chains in Africa over the next three years, according OPIC.
The announcement comes as OPIC’s President and Chief Executive Officer Ray W. Washburne embarks on his first official travel to the continent. “Africa is home to many of the world’s fastest-growing economies and presents both a great need for investment and a great opportunity for American businesses,” Washburne said. “But, too many barriers remain to the flow of goods and services. By focusing on connectivity, we’re not only helping build means for economic development, but also laying the foundation for future trade partners.”
Sub-Saharan Africa has been a priority region for OPIC for several years and, as a share of OPIC’s portfolio, has grown from nine percent in 2002 to 22 percent in 2013. During the past decade alone, OPIC has supported over $1 billion in power projects across Africa, and currently has more than $4 billion in investments there.
Connect Africa will focus on three areas in order to further integrate Africa into the global market:
Transportation and Logistics
- Infrastructure development supports commerce by making it easier and more efficient to move goods within countries and across borders. Connect Africa will focus on facilitating investments in roads, railways, ports and airports, as well as logistics, including elements such as vehicles, warehouses, and cold storage units.
Information and Communications Technology
- Technology is transforming the way people work, communicate, access information, and educate their children. The initiative will focus on technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications, including internet, wireless networks and mobile phones.
- Africa requires greater investment in order to better take advantage of global and regional value chains. The initiative will focus on facilitating investments supporting processing raw materials and helping products reach consumers.
During his travel, Mr. Washburne will travel to Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya where he will meet with Heads of State and visit several OPIC projects supporting economic development in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is a region of focus for OPIC, comprising more than one-quarter of the Agency’s $23 billion active portfolio.
As part of its Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal, the Trump Administration highlighted the need for the United States Government to modernize its approach to development finance to help grow aspiring partners, promote economic relationships, and increase investment in regions important to American interests.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets.
Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign direct investment, fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities.
OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyzes new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity investment fund managers.
OPIC services are available to new and expanding businesses planning to invest in more than 160 countries worldwide. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers, according to the press statement from OPIC.
Source: New Business Ethiopia