A Roundtable Discussion with OPIC's Managing Director for Africa
On October 18th, 2018, the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in partnership with Cohen & Gresser LLP hosted a roundtable discussion with Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in Washington DC. OPIC is a self-sustaining U.S. Government Agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets. The session began with welcome remarks by Florizelle Liser, President and CEO of Corporate Council on Africa. Kwaku Andoh, Partner at Cohen & Gresser, LLP introduced the speaker, Worku Gachou, Managing Director of the Africa region at OPIC.
Mr. Gachou gave a presentation on the overview of OPIC’s global footprint and centered on the company’s projects in Africa. He introduced the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act of 2018. The new development finance corporation will increase the maximum contingent liability, focus on low-income countries and lower-middle-income countries, provide a new equity product, provide greater flexibility in supporting projects, and allow for local currency lending. He added that OPIC currently has a $5.9 billion investment in Sub-Saharan Africa and gave example scenarios of how OPIC might engage in an Africa project, based on structured finance, political risk insurance, and investment fund. He also highlighted that Africa consists of more than one-fourth of OPIC’s active portfolio across 168 projects. OPIC acknowledges that Africa presents both a great need for investment and a great opportunity for investors. Since 1974, OPIC has committed $15.7 billion in support across 723 projects in Africa in a range of sectors. The firm believes that investment in connectivity will support economic growth and shore up regional security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr. Gachou highlighted the challenges, solutions, and impacts of two of OPIC’s projects in Africa: Ionics water project in Algeria and Contour Global project in Togo. He ended the session by pointing out that OPIC is a key partner in the U.S. Power Africa Initiative aimed at doubling the number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa with access to electricity. To date, OPIC has committed $2.1B towards 22 projects, surpassing its initial pledge of $1.5B. OPIC anticipates mobilizing another $4.2 billion from private investors.