IFC Plans to Boost Africa Investment to $4.3 Billion in 2013

The International Finance Corp. expects to invest at least $4.3 billion in sub-Saharan Africa in 2013 with a focus on energy and transportation, said Jin-Yong Cai, executive vice president and chief executive officer.

That’s an increase from a record $4 billion put into the region this year, he said in an interview in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, yesterday.

The World Bank’s lending unit aims to be “the key facilitators or catalysts for private-sector development which is the fundamental driver for economic growth,” said Jin-Yong, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner who was appointed to the IFC post in August. “Africa is our priority globally,” he said.

The IFC has invested across the continent this year, from a hotel in Burundi to power projects in Kenya. Growth in the region of 840 million people is forecast at 5.4 percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2013, outpacing global projections, according to the International Monetary Fund.

In Senegal, where electricity shortages caused riots in 2011, key impediments to economic growth include the cost and supply of energy, Jin-Yong said. Senelec, the country’s national power utility, has debts of 150 billion CFA francs ($294 million), according to a company report.

Economic Bottlenecks

“I don’t know any other places where the electricity price is so high, but even with that high price the supply is not sufficient,” he said.

Jin-Yong met with Senegalese government officials to discuss areas where investment can improve growth.

“We are looking at several key sectors, not only private-sector participation, but to fundamentally deal with some of the key bottlenecks in this economy.”

The IFC also plans to invest in agribusiness and transportation, Jin-Yong said. “Unless you have decent infrastructure, you can’t have scale, and if you don’t have scale, you can’t really achieve any competitiveness in the business,” he said.

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