The Africa Infrastructure Development Association (AfIDA), whose creation has been driven by a group of industry heavyweights headed by the Lagos-based Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), was formally launched at the Africa Investment Exchange: Power and Renewables meeting in London on 21 November.
AFC chief executive Andrew Alli said the initiative was intended to fill a gap by providing a forum for developers and investors to engage constructively, rather than competitively, in tackling critical issues that are holding back private infrastructure provision in Africa. Open to developers of any size, it will work with key stakeholders including governments and utilities by providing training and other services, by “increasing levels of transparency” and giving the industry a greater voice in its dealing with governments and other interest groups.
AFC executive director and chief investment officer Oliver Andrews – an AfIDA founding board member – sees the association as a mechanism to build trust between governments and private developers, who too many African politicians still think are there only to exploit them, rather than promoting long-term development.
Alli said that while power projects had provided an initial focus, AfIDA’s all-embracing outlook would include companies investing in transport, industry, agriculture, healthcare and other sectors. AfIDA intends to “champion effective change in the industry by connecting members with training, detailed market research and networking opportunities”. It will “seek to shape policies and the delivery of projects by advocacy, benchmarking and stakeholder engagement”. Paul Biggs, a founding partner of law firm Trinity International, said he hoped AfIDA would provide a forum to resolve key industry issues – for example, what is an appropriate developer fee – and around the standardisation of power purchase agreements. It could also provide a vehicle for government departments, parastatals and other stakeholders to learn from each other, and for the industry to lobby governments on critical issues such as the level of sovereign guarantees they can make available for projects.
With a constitution drawn up by Trinity, AfIDA is structured as a not-for-profit body incorporated in Mauritius, with an advisory council providing broad strategic guidance and a secretariat, now being established, to implement operations. With early support from the Netherlands’ FMO, AfIDA’s pioneer members also include African Infrastructure Investment Managers, Blackstone Group-backed infrastructure investment company BlackRhino, FMO/Phoenix InfraWorks’ Climate Investor One, Germany’s DEG, UK-based developer eleQtra, Johannesburg-based private equity investor Harith’s Climate Investment One, the International Finance Corporation, InfraCo Africa and The Abraaj Group’s power development subsidiary Themis Energy.