A top line-up of speakers from the financial community launched the Africa Sustainable Investment Forum (AfricaSIF- http://www.africasif.org) on 9 June at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (www.jse.co.za).
Speaking at the launch, AfricaSIF co-founder Graham Sinclair said it is a strategic new step in facilitating investment in Africa that purposefully integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors: “Africa needs capital, but it does not benefit from capital that does not develop our continent sustainably. AfricaSIF aims to attract new capital in new ways to Africa and help to grow sustainable investment on the continent by taking a long-term interest in Africa’s economic development.
“2010 is set to be a landmark year for Africa. With the world’s eyes on the FIFA World Cup kicking off in SA in just two days’ time, massive infrastructure development is taking place and the knock-on effects for the economy and business are immense. Africa has about the same number of potential consumers as India or China. After 40 years of sub-par growth, Africa’s GDP grew at 5% for five straight years from 2002, putting Africa back on the global investment radar.”
AfricaSIF describes itself on its website as “a network, knowledgebase and advocate for sustainable investment in Africa. We are currently developing an independent, pan-African not-for-profit network of investment practitioners promoting sustainable development on the continent by attracting investment in the public, private and philanthropy sectors across asset classes, countries and stakeholders from the platform at africasif.org.”
Speakers at the launch included Jay Naidoo (Chair of both Development Bank of South Africa and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), Judge Mervyn King (Chair of the Global Reporting Initiative and King Commission), Simon Harford (Partner: Africa, Actis), Tim Turner (African Development Bank Director), Corli le Roux (Legal Counsel for the JSE), Wanjiru Kirima (Chairperson of the Principal Officers’ Association) and JP Fourie (South African Venture Capital Association).
“AfricaSIF is a pioneering network which believes in the triple bottom line of people, profit and planet,” said Simon Harford, whose company Actis has over 60 years’ experience of private equity in Africa. “AfricaSIF’s work lays the foundations upon which strong, long-term and sustainable businesses are built.”
“This initiative launched at the JSE will create a network of best practice on ESG factors in investment for the continent,” said AfDB’s Tim Turner.
Sinclair adds that analysis in March 2009 indicates approximately $6.9 trillion, including $300 billion in emerging markets was invested integrating ESG factors, but wonders how much of this is in Africa. “AfricaSIF will provide services and opportunities for our members to work together to align investment profitability with social and environmental responsibility in Africa. We are also working on the first ever report on the state of sustainable investment in Africa, scheduled for release in December 2010,” he says.
AfricaSIF was hosted at Africa’s largest stock exchange to emphasise the practical nature of AfricaSIF, a network as a meeting place for the whole investment value chain, attracting capital to sustainable businesses across asset classes.
“The over 400 members of Principal Officers Association are asset owners that are increasingly driving alignment of their fund managers and service providers toward the sustainable investment theme. AfricaSIF is a new element of the investment ecosystem that will play a vital catalytic role across Africa in accelerating this process,” said Wanjiru Kirima, chairperson of the Principal Officers’ Association and AfricaSIF co-founder.
“Our members are actively seeking opportunities to deploy investment in clean tech and other sustainability themes in Africa”, said SAVCA’s JP Fourie. “We look forward to working with and in the AfricaSIF network”.
Further launch events are scheduled to take place in Cape Town end June, Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo/Tunis, Geneva, London, Paris, New York and Boston. The first annual AfricaSIF conference, ESG Africa, is in partnership with global ESG specialist journal Responsible Investor (www.responsible-investor.com) and other partners, and scheduled for December 2010.
With thanks to African investor (http://www.ainewswire.com).