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AFIF 2009 opens in Amsterdam

By pierre coetzer

Amsterdam, 14 December
The 2009 edition of the Africa Finance and Investment Forum (AFIF), organised by Brussels-based EMRC, was officially opened this morning at the ABN AMRO Conference Centre in Amsterdam. The forum’s theme this year is “Partnerships for Growth & Development”, and aims to link investors from all over the world with business partners across the continent.

Welcoming several hundred delegates from 43 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas, Idit Miller, Vice-President and Managing Director of EMRC, urged the delegates to fully take advantage of the opportunity that AFIF is providing and to “maximise the benefits of the one-on-one business meetings”. The core purpose of AFIF, she said, is to “bring those who need financing together with those seeking opportunities for long-term partnerships and development - finding synergies, and sharing a vision”.

Several key organisations are supporting EMRC’s endeavours and contributing to make this year’s edition of AFIF a great success: they include the Netherlands Development Finance Company FMO, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Investment Bank (EIB), Heineken, BiD network and Clifford Chance. These organisations have all painted an upbeat picture of the African investment climate.

The CEO of the Netherlands Development Finance Company FMO, Mr. Nanno Kleiterp, told delegates that FMO’s US $ 1 billion investment portfolio in Africa was producing “better returns at the moment than investments in Latin America and Asia. The African continent has been very resilient in the face of last year’s global economic crisis”.

Echoing his remarks, Mr Tim Turner, Director of the private sector at the African Development Bank (AfDB) told the audience that “Africa is no longer an aid destination but an investment destination”. AfDB, he said, has been expanding its business links and many opportunities are opening up in areas which prioritise good governance, infrastructure and socially responsible investment.

On his part, Mr Thomas De Man, President for Africa and the Middle East at Heineken, was clearly impressed with EMRC’s networks and pulling power on the African continent, remarking that AFIF was “one of the few conferences on Africa held in the European continent that attracted so many Africans. This is what it’s all about” he said, adding that investing in Africa needed to focus on expanding opportunities and creating jobs, and highlighting the importance of partnerships in creating productive business clusters around the continent.

Mr Martin Curwen, Director-General of the EIB, concluded the opening ceremony with a very thorough and precise analysis of the overall economic situation of the continent. He stressed that the global crisis has “delayed but not derailed growth on the continent. Economic policies are increasingly consistent and diversification has started. Africa must maintain this momentum to address its core challenges, among others with the assistance of institutional investors”.

As part of the proceedings of the afternoon, EMRC and AfDB jointly held a special session on innovation, entrepreneurship and competitiveness to present the delegates with the 4 projects that were shortlisted this year for the EMRC-AfDB Project Incubator Award. The winner of the US $ 15,000 Project Incubator Award will be announced tonight during a Gala Evening in the winter garden of the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, a ceremony that will be attended by the delegates, government officials, ambassadors, as well as media officials and business leaders.

Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa / Modernghana.com

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