Private equity in Africa moves beyond development funding
As governments across the continent are engaging in economic reforms and building their country’s infrastructure, new types of investors are starting to see Africa as a safe bet when searching for higher returns.
A good indicator of this new appetite is that the proportion of development funds investing in private equity funds active in Africa is shrinking compared with private sector investors. “Development foreign investment used to be well over 50% until 2004,” says Rod Evison, portfolio director responsible for investment in Africa at CDC, a UK government owned fund of funds that invests in private equity funds in emerging markets. “Now, as far as the bigger funds are concerned, it is well under that.”
Private equity funds investing in Africa are receiving capital from investors that would not have considered doing so until recently. “We are starting to see US pension funds dipping their toes into the African scene,” says Evison. While the investments are minuscule, they serve to gain an understanding of the market.
“I am pleasantly surprised by the interest I receive from funds of funds, endowment funds and pension funds, predominantly from the US,” says Sev Vettivetpillai, CEO of Aureos Capital, a private equity fund that invests in Africa.