A continent we can bank on

A continent we can bank on

"a pioneering initiative that showcases the continent’s success stories"

Commentary by Arunma Oteh, Treasurer, World Bank

I commend London Stock Exchange Group and its partners for Companies to Inspire Africa, a pioneering initiative that showcases the continent’s success stories to global investors, policymakers and other important stakeholders.

The companies profiled not only generate vital employment opportunities and contribute to sustainable economic growth, but are also bastions of best practice and good corporate governance. They have also had to weather the challenges that African private entities often have to contend with, notably a difficult operating environment, weak infrastructure and inadequate access to finance. These challenges must be urgently tackled to foster the much-needed critical mass of companies that will enable the continent to realise its widely acknowledged economic potential.

Progress is being made. Underpinned by prudent macroeconomic management, a better investment climate and stronger institutions, Africa has been one of the world’s fastest-growing regions in the last 20 years. The World Bank Doing Business 2017 report confirms that a number of African countries continue to take steps to improve the business environment.

While insufficient progress has been made to close the infrastructure gap, it presents investment opportunities, especially with respect to Africa’s huge untapped renewable energy resources. Since London Stock Exchange Group has a track record of supporting capital markets worldwide, it is uniquely positioned to facilitate access to finance for eligible African companies. As the operator of AIM, for example, it has over the past 22 years helped many international companies, including African ones, to raise equity capital, broaden their investor base and enhance their brand. It will be important to develop world-class domestic capital markets to complement the possibilities that AIM offers.

The initiative also underscores the unique investment opportunities that Africa has to offer in the diverse sectors that the companies represent, notably consumer services, healthcare, financial services, industry, telecommunications and renewable energy.

I remain optimistic about the economic prospects of Africa because of its unexploited natural resources, its youthful population and the excellent examples that the companies in this report represent. I have no doubt that the continent remains poised to become a global economic powerhouse if we can nurture many more companies to inspire Africa.