The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum (AIF) co-hosted a forum of 40 women leaders who are delivering high-quality solutions for Africa’s infrastructure needs. The forum took place during last week’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit, in Marrakech, Morocco.
During the forum, USTDA and AIF showcased how their existing partnership advances women-led sustainable infrastructure in Africa. The closed-door gathering brought together women leaders from Africa’s private sector, the U.S. government, and international development finance agencies. It also supported the U.S. government’s Prosper Africa initiative to increase trade and investment between African nations and the United States. “It is critically important to bring together women to talk about opportunities in infrastructure development and getting access to capital,” said Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA’s Director. “Our partnership with AIF will facilitate women’s entrepreneurship in Africa and spark the development of sustainable infrastructure in support of Africa’s long-term growth.”
AIF Senior Director Chinelo Anohu lauded the transaction-focused nature of the partnership. “Today, we have been discussing the obstacles to investment, and how to surmount them. We also considered how to build partnerships across agencies, and how to share deal flows and collaborate on the missing pieces that will enhance infrastructure investment to the continent. This is a collaboration that we will continue as we head to the Africa Investment Forum 2022 Market Days in Abidjan in November, and to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in December.”
Addressing the media after the women’s summit, Dana Banks, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor for the U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit, said, “the discussion was a true demonstration of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to Africa and commitment to focus on women’s empowerment in the run-up to the U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit in December.” Banks also announced that the focus on women, and on connecting project sponsors with capital, will be one of the pillars of the White House Summit.
In November 2021, USTDA and AIF signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support high-quality infrastructure solutions for sub-Saharan Africa. It draws on AIF’s capacity to mobilize capital and USTDA’s focus on assuring the bankability of deals through its provision of feasibility studies on a grant-making basis. The MOU has already led to a mutually beneficial collaboration to advance sustainable infrastructure projects that support Africa’s long-term growth, as the two organizations share their deal pipelines.
This partnership with USTDA will help AIF advance several of its ongoing priorities, including its “Women as Investment Champions” initiative, which was launched in 2019 and led to the establishment in 2021 of a stand-alone pillar for transactions that are not only founded and led by women, but also have a significant gender impact. The Women as Investment Champions initiative will be profiled at AIF’s 2022 Market Days, taking place from November 2-4 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The platform is expected to increase the proportion of deals that are women-led, and women impactful, as well as build upon AIF’s March 2022 unveiling of 45 projects worth up to $50 billion for its virtual boardrooms. Eight of these were women-led with a value of nearly $5 billion.
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