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AU Summit Africa Business Forum addresses ‘Making Development Investable’

Leaders from the African government, civil society, investment and business community, convened over the weekend in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the 37th African Union (AU) Summit and the Africa Business Forum (ABF) 2024, co-hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Google.

Africa investor’s CEO and Chair, Dr. Hubert Danso Chaired the ‘Making Development Investable’ roundtable.

Bankers Push World Bank to Unlock Secret Data For Climate Loans

As the finance industry faces mounting pressure to play its part in fighting the climate crisis in the developing world, bankers point to a significant hurdle—one the World Bank and other public sector financiers have yet to remove.

The problem, they say, is data.

Executives from banks, including Citigroup Inc., say they could offer better rates and access to some of the world’s most debt-stressed countries if the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corp., the European Investment Bank and a group of multilateral development banks grant them access to their data on $1.5 trillion in emerging market debt.

The Global Emerging Markets Risk Database, or GEMs, contains three decades of loan performance and default data from multilateral development banks. Commercial bankers contend that access would enable them to base their risk calculations on historic record, rather than proxy and perception. This, in turn, could allow them to charge less to lend and possibly offer financing in places and for projects they would otherwise avoid.

Currently, the data is only available to the consortium’s 24 member institutions, and despite pressure from the G20 and promises to reform, they've refused to share.

“I bet that we are calculating more risk than we need to, but we still don't have the GEMs data to prove it,” said Jay Collins, vice chairman of banking and public sector at Citigroup.

The MDBs have been promising to make the data available, and investors are tired of waiting. Asking MDBs to disclose the GEMs data is “like asking a turkey to vote for Christmas,” said Hubert Danso, chief executive and chairman of Africa Investor. “They’ve got all the nice answers and reasons why it can’t happen at the administrative level,” he said, but it’s ultimately an “antagonistic stance” that “undermines the private sector's ability to be a much bigger contributor.”

The growing debt crisis in emerging markets has brought the issue to the fore. Almost 40 poorer countries are in or at high risk of debt distress, according to the World Bank. One in every four is effectively priced out of international capital markets.

What’s more, many of those countries are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Of the roughly $2 trillion a year they’ll need in climate finance by 2030, up to 90% will have to come from the private sector, the IMF estimates —but that money is getting harder to access and increasingly expensive to borrow.

The GEMS data could show that investing in many of those places isn’t as risky as the commercial banks currently assume, said Christopher Marks, head of growth markets, innovative finance and portfolio solutions for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. That in turn “will lower the cost of financing and allow us to argue with the rating agencies that some of our private sector-financed activities could be rated more highly,” he said.

A spokesperson for the EIB, which founded GEMs in 2009 along with the IFC, said the consortium is “committed to the goal” of making the data accessible to investors and the broader public. GEMs recovery statistics in particular are “well on track” for publication by the end of March, which will be an “important step forward,” the spokesperson said.

Debate over the role of international development banks has become central to global efforts on climate. The way commercial banks see it, MDBs are supposed to lend in markets that the private sector considers too risky; for their part, the MDBs are expected to be prudent with the public’s money.

As a result, the two are often competing in medium-risk markets, with the public institutions at an advantage because of their historical data, the commercial banks say. That means public funds are being spent in countries and on technologies that private funds could take on at the expense of the places and products that they can’t.

“Public development financing should focus on jurisdictions, technologies and sectors where there is genuine financial additionality,” said MUFG’s Marks. “Too much public development money still flows into middle-income countries rather than focusing principally on more vulnerable jurisdictions.”

The EIB said it focuses on sectors and policy areas that are sometimes “not well served” by the market, and aims to lend alongside private sector investors, crowding them in, not out. A spokesperson for the IFC said it’s “vital that we remain engaged in middle-income countries.” That’s because it’s here where most of the extreme poor live and the IFC can help create jobs, economic growth and improve living conditions, the spokesperson said.

Making the GEMS data more readily available isn’t as simple as handing out logins and passwords, the EIB spokesperson said. The consortium’s steering committee says it wants to turn GEMs into a stand-alone entity, a move recommended by a G20 expert panel in 2022. That would ensure improved data governance and quality control. but it requires better collaboration among stakeholders, the panel said. Cleaning, standardizing and ensuring the accuracy of data across such a large group of institutions is, ultimately, a mammoth task.

Newly installed World Bank President Ajay Banga,  former chief executive officer of Mastercard Inc., has made improving collaboration with the private sector a core priority. He said in October that the group planned to start granting access to the GEMs data “in a matter of months.”

Citigroup’s Collins said that if Banga can deliver, it would be a “huge step forward” and finally “put this issue to rest.”

After all, for all the shared panels and public statements, it’s progress on tangible tasks like GEMs transparency that showcases true intent. “It's a question of commitment to the reforms senior policymakers have advocated for years,” Marks said. “Are these institutions willing to compromise a little bit of their existing business model to achieve that?”

Cheers to the New Year

Happy New Year,

2023 was a phenomenal year for climate and SDG’s investment leadership under Africa’s COP27 Presidency.

Ai was pleased to see its MDB Reform Roadmap recommendations endorsed by shareholders this year and to champion the institutional investor voice at President Macron's New Global Financial Pact Summit, President Ruto’s Africa Climate Summit, The UN General Assembly SDG Review, and at COP28’s Big  Stock Take.

Again, thank you for your partnership with Ai’s Call for Climate Investment Statesmanship to Address the Private Capital Mobilization (PCM) Market Failure for Africa, emerging markets, and developing countries through Institutional Investor-Public Partnerships (IIPPs).

A glance into our events & publishing this past year

New Global Financial Pact Summit Paris:

Watch Dr. Hubert Danso speaking to the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance at the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact.  

Unlock our hidden Gems: Costs to Developing Countries of MDBs Not Democratizing Investor Access to GEMS Risk Database

The world is facing the enormous challenges of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and acting on the climate crisis with urgency and at scale. Emerging markets and developing countries (EMDC’s) need your climate investment statesmanship now more than ever. To succeed, investment and finance must increase everywhere, but especially in the emerging markets and developing economies (EMDC's).

We are well aware of, and grateful for, the special role and responsibility of your institutions in this context. MDBs crucially have the potential to mobilize private finance at more competitive pricing and investment at levels many times higher than in the past. Only with your support and your institutions working collaboratively not competitively, will we achieve the scale of private capital mobilization that is required to ‘close the SDG and climate financing gap’.

Time is running out. Read the full report

 

Presidential Day – Africa Climate Summit 2023

The inaugural Africa Climate Summit, championed by HE President Ruto, aimed to address the increasing exposure to climate change and its associated costs, both globally and particularly in Africa.

With the expectation of escalating climate crises in terms of frequency and intensity, urgent action is required to mitigate these challenges.

Read more

 

Africa investor announces GEMs3.0 at COP28 Finance Day in Dubai

Africa investor (Ai) unveiled the GEMs3.0 initiative today during COP28 Finance Day. Over the past decade, more than 500 private investors have asked the MDBs and DFIs to make the Global Emerging Markets Database (GEMs) database available to allow investors to gain a deeper understanding of investment risk in Emerging Markets and Developing Countries (EMDC’s), helping to increase their investment in these countries. Forced by the alarming public evidence of the tens of billions of dollars of lost opportunities and direct costs to EMDC’s of Multilateral Development Banks (MDB’s), not releasing the GEMs database to investors and credit rating agencies, MDBs have grudgingly committed to providing access to GEMs data in January 2024, through the GEMs2.0 initiative. Read more

The UN General Assembly SDG Review New York:

Africa investor (Ai) participated in the 78th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) attended by over 130 heads of state and government and the UN Climate Week activities, under the theme ‘We Can. We Will.’ This year’s Climate Week was bigger than 2022, which was the most impactful, ambitious, and far-reaching one to date, with institutional investors, heads of state and governments, business leaders, policy change makers, local decision takers, and civil society representatives using the week as a rallying call to triple clean investments, find new solutions, take concrete action, explore new opportunities and solutions, and break down barriers to private capital mobilization at scale. This will lead to the just and optimal integration of emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) into the value chains of the $10trn per annum and growing, global green industrial economy. Read more


The COP28 African Investment Leaders Earthshot Summit showcases investments to support the Nairobi Declaration mobilize private capital at scale

With more than $100trn of domestic and global institutional assets represented at the Summit, influential public and private sector investment leaders gathered at the COP28 Africa Investment Earthshot Leaders’ Summit, in the first major international gathering of institutional investors following the Africa Climate Summit. The aim is to shape an African investment Earthshot Investment Allocation Plan for the Nairobi Declaration and to mobilize private capital at a scale that can be deployed at speed, through Institutional Investor-Public Partnerships (IIPP’s) that can optimally marry African regional and global energy market demand, with Africa’s industrial and Just Energy Transformation and growth.

Hosted by the COP28 Presidency, in association with The African Union Development Agency (AUDA), The AU Continental Business Network (CBN), Africa Investor (Ai) Group, and The Energy Nexus Network (TENN), the Summit underscored that Green industrialization with global commercial, technology partnerships, and long duration offtakes, are the only way that Africa can leapfrog from a $9bn to a $7trn participation in global green value chains. Read more


Africa investor NDC Investment Award Winners announced at COP28

Africa investor (Ai), a leading international investment group, today announced that African Governments and business leaders, were honoured at the Africa investor (Ai) NDC Investment Awards, held on the 5th of December 2023 at COP28, during The COP28 Africa Investment Earthshot Leaders Summit & NDC Investment Awards at Expo City Dubai, UAE.

These first-of-their-kind NDC Investment Awards, sponsored by the African Green Infrastructure Investment Bank (AfGIIB), were designed to recognize achievements across the main NDC 10 project sectors and reward the governments, institutions, and individuals, driving transactions and improving the investment readiness and ambition, of Africa’s NDC projects requiring $3trn of investment by 2030. The 2023 NDC Investment Awards were profiled at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, with the Best Shortlisted NDC projects comprising 160 projects, representing over $35bn of NDC financing and investment opportunities, from 43 African countries and all 5 African sub regions, announced during Climate Week at the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Read More   The COP28 Big Stock Take Dubai

Onwards to 2024:

Let’s make 2024 The Year of PCM at Scale and Deployment at Speed, for African Green Industrial infrastructure as a globally competitive investable asset 

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