Ahead of the historic summit of African leaders that will take place in Washington from August 4-6, take a look at some key facts about Africa that illustrate the challenges and opportunities the continent faces today, and the ways OPIC is helping Africa prepare for the future.
Among the many challenges of supporting a growing population is the challenge of providing education. OPIC has helped to address this challenge by providing financing to a chain of schools in Kenya designed to be affordable for low income families, using a highly-scalable model of standardized curriculum. The project is expected to educate 300,000 children by 2022. Read more
OPIC has a long history of supporting major infrastructure projects in Africa, and in recent years has provided financing and/or political risk insurance to support the construction of a gas-fired plant in Togo, a solar power plant in South Africa and expansion of a geothermal power plant in Kenya. OPIC has also committed $1.5 billion to support additional energy projects through President Obama’s Power Africa initiative. Read more
Food: The food shortages that have long plagued Africa have been reduced but remain widespread. About 240 million people in Africa suffer from undernourishment even though 60 percent of the world’s undeveloped arable land is in Africa.
Among the many factors that limit agriculture production is a shortage of clean water. In Ghana, OPIC political risk insurance is supporting a project to rehabilitate municipal water purifications systems, which will significantly increase the availability of clean water. Read more
Health care: Africa carries a disproportionate share of many communicable diseases from HIV/AIDS to Malaria, as well as illnesses stemming from malnutrition. But Africa’s limited healthcare system must also address a rise in non-communicable diseases from cancer and cardiovascular disease to diabetes. The World Health Organization projects that the world’s largest increases in deaths from non-communicable diseases are occurring in Africa.
One of the ways OPIC is supporting improved access to quality healthcare in Africa is by providing financing to a nonprofit investment fund that provides loans to many of the small health clinics throughout Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. These clinics serve large numbers of low and middle-income people but struggle to access traditional bank loans to buy equipment and maintain and expand their facilities. Read more
Technology: While only seven percent of Africa’s population has access to the Internet, Africa is rapidly adopting new technologies such has mobile banking, which has leapfrogged traditional banking in remote regions with limited physical infrastructure.
By providing financing to banks with a presence in Africa, OPIC has been able to support microfinance and small business lending to thousands of individuals and small businesses, including many in rural areas who had previously been unbanked. Read More
Investment climate: Not long ago Africa was considered one of the least desirable places on the planet for investors. A combination of government reforms and a growing consumer class has helped changed that. This year Africa ranked in second place, behind North America, on an Ernst & Young list of the world’s top destinations for foreign investment.
Many of the same trends that have contributed to a dramatically improved investment climate in Africa have influenced the sorts of investments that OPIC supports. A decade ago OPIC began working with Helios Investment Partners, a pan-African private equity firm that was founded and managed by Africans. OPIC’s support for Helios funds has in turn supported many small businesses that have been able to expand and created jobs. Read more