As part of its drive to address Africa’s vulnerability to climate risk, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) has created an independent asset management arm, AFC Capital Partners, with a debut offering: the Infrastructure Climate Resilient Fund (ICRF).
AFC Capital Partners plans to raise US$500m in the next twelve months and US$2 billion over the next three years. The ICRF will act as a direct investor and a co-investment fund to enhance the quality of African ports, roads, bridges, rail, telecommunications, clean energy, and logistics in the face of rising temperatures and sea levels due to climate change.
“AFC Capital Partners will enhance our firepower in driving integrated infrastructure solutions that are core to Africa’s development in the post-Covid era,” said Samaila Zubairu, President and CEO of Africa Finance Corporation. “The Infrastructure Climate Resilient Fund will enable us to support climate adaptation as well as projects that reduce carbon emissions and catalyze our continent to build back better, with more climate-resilient and sustainable infrastructure. And we are delighted to welcome Ayaan Zeinab Adams as CEO of AFC Capital Partners. She brings a wealth of experience to AFC and will enable investors to access meaningful exposure in Africa’s infrastructure market.”
As the former leader of the private sector arm of the Green Climate Fund under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as a former CIO and Senior Manager of the World Bank Group’s IFC, Ayaan brings 27 years of experience in climate response and investment to her new role.
The continent that has contributed the least to climate change is the most exposed because of housing, transport, industrial, and energy structures ill equipped to survive storms, floods, droughts, wildfires, and other hazards from extreme weather patterns.
According to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, without urgent intervention, the cost of structural damage caused by natural disasters will increase to US$415 billion a year by 2030 from between US$250-300 billion now. Damage to rail tracks, roads, bridges, seaports, and power grids will add to an infrastructure deficit currently at US$130–170 billion per year. The UN Conference on Trade and Development estimated that a total of US$2.3 trillion worth of infrastructure is needed across Africa.
AFC Capital Partners forms a core part of the Corporation’s five-year strategy, as set out in 2018 to expand its suite of pragmatic and innovative funding solutions by mobilising capital to drive the development of infrastructure that is resilient to the impact of climate change.
“Significant financing is urgently required to build physical infrastructure that will survive the forces of climate change,” said Ayaan. “The good news is that much of this investment is compatible with competitive returns for investors through leveraging the expertise, relationships, and blended finance models that have been tried and assessed for many years by Africa Finance Corporation.”
Ayaan played a key role in building the mandate of the Green Climate Fund Private Sector Facility and rapidly scaled its portfolio within three years to US$2.1 billion invested across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean. She previously also served as UK-based CDC Group’s Managing Director of Africa Funds.
The mandate of AFC Capital Partners is aligned to AFC’s in offering attractive investment opportunities to the global development finance and commercial investor community seeking long-term returns through structures that protect African built infrastructure from climate risks. The newly created fund, incorporated in Mauritius, will employ traditional project finance and private equity structures, supported by a blend of concessional finance, grants and “soft equity.”
“Our objective is to stay true to AFC’s track record, competency and investor interest without compromising on the ability to provide timely exits and a seamless entry by new investors on an arm’s length basis,” said Ayaan.