World Bank-backed IFC plans to invest $10bn in Africa to support small businesses

Part of the funds will go to fragile and low-income nations to finance businesses in health, farming, affordable housing as well as the creative industry

Skyline of Nairobi, Uhuru Park in the foreground, Nairobi, Kenya, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007. Nairobi is the most populous city in East Africa, with an estimated urban population of between 3 and 4 million. Photographer: Casper Hedberg/Bloomberg News
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The International Finance Corporation plans to ramp up its new investments in Africa to $10 billion annually, in support of businesses it sees helping to drive economic recovery and growth on the continent.

The member of the World Bank Group plans to add about $1bn to the amount it invests every year until it hits the target, according to managing director Makhtar Diop. It invested and mobilised $6.4bn in Africa in the 12 months through June.

While government spending has helped African nations to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, weather-related disasters and conflict, the number of people in absolute poverty remains high. The IFC, venture capitalists and private equity firms are expanding or starting investments in Africa to create jobs and help boost household incomes.

“Investments in the private sector is an important factor to stabilise countries, revitalise the economy and contribute to reducing fragility,” Mr Diop said in an interview in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “For all crises, you have an opportunity. This Covid-19 crisis has opened an opportunity to strengthen regional integration in Africa.”

Part of the funds will go to fragile and low-income nations to finance businesses in health, farming, affordable housing as well as the creative industry. The IFC will also increase its investment in trade finance and in start-ups in sectors, including financial technology and energy, Mr Diop said.

Countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali that have suffered crises, including conflict, can use the lender’s de-risking facility to woo investors, Mr Diop said. IFC’s trade facility will focus on increasing business among nations under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

The IFC is also looking to support the development of vaccine plants, with Ghana likely to join South Africa, Rwanda and Senegal in expanding or beginning to set up hubs.

Updated: February 08, 2022, 3:36 AM