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African funds smooth the road to growth

Private-equity funds are uncovering new ways to invest in Africa

A senior executive at a fund manager has an interesting take on aid and investment. "Investing in industry in Africa through funds is undoubtedly better than donating money to a charity that provides aid to the country," he tells Euromoney. It's maybe hard to seem sincere in the middle of a three-course meal at a City of London restaurant – particularly when the statement is followed by discussions on fund fees and double-digit returns. But he has a point, and an increasing number of institutional and private investors are realizing that they can support growth in local African economies, and receive the returns they are looking for, by investing in African funds or businesses.

Increased media attention on Africa as a result of the Commission for Africa's report released in March, and the agenda of the G8 summit has stirred the social conscience to play a part in reducing poverty in Africa. Long-term aid work, however, has revealed shortcomings in simply donating money. Reports that only a small proportion of donations ends up in the hands of those who need it most, and evidence of the creation of a dependency culture, have caused people to look to long-term solutions for the continent.

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