The upcoming African Venture Capital Conference (AVCA) to be hosted by the Botswana International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) and Venture Partner Botswana (VPB) is envisaged to put Botswana on the radar screens of international investors looking for investment in Africa, IFSC said Friday.
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, IFSC top officials said that the conference will provide an opportunity for international investors to see the country and, at the same time, identify opportunities that exist within the country.
“There is an increasing interest to invest in Africa and IFSC is the gate-way into Africa,” the Chief Executive Officer of IFSC, Alan Boshwaen, said.
“We believe that they will identify opportunities in Botswana, such as Public/Private Partnerships (PPPS) and government initiatives like the building of airports,” he added.
Billions of dollars are currently scouting for suitable homes across Africa, especially in mining, energy and government promoted infrastructural projects that have some good returns. And at the back of that there is a Dutch financial institution, FMO, which has invested in a number of countries from South Africa up to Tunisia, presenting itself as the key sponsor to the conference.
“We have targeted people who are to attend the conference, such as accountants, financial experts, fund managers and lawyers, among others,” Letsebe Sejoe, IFSC business development executive officer, said, adding that he is adamant the deliberations and outcomes of the conference billed for March 16- 18th 2008 at the Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC) is bound to be a success and will benefit both Botswana IFSC and Botswana significantly.
The conference is also expected to indirectly benefit other sectors, such as tourism ÔÇô through hotel accommodation, food and entertainment during the stay of international participants. Over the two-days, the conference is expected to directly generate over P 1 million into the tourism sector.
“Deliberations and key outcomes of the conference will guide the Botswana IFSC in the facilitation process aimed at enhancing the global competitiveness of our offering in this sector,” Sejoe said. “For example, we will be guided in terms of legislative amendments to make our offering more competitive vis-├á-vis other competing jurisdictions. We have, in the past, successfully secured the exemption of IFSC from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and the denomination of the share capital in convertible currencies.”
Sejoe added, “As another outcome, Botswana should start appearing on radar screens of international investors looking for investment opportunities in Africa, in sectors such as resources and mining infrastructure and future government Public Private Partnership projects.”
An important annual gathering held in various African capitals, the Botswana AVCA conference will serve as a network forum for regional and global fund managers and investors interested in Africa.
Earmarked to embark on strategies aimed at uplifting economic initiatives, Botswana is thus fortunate enough to host a conference of such magnitude.
“The conference will provide an opportunity to highlight the strategic economic initiatives that our government and the private sector have embarked upon to an international audience of key investors. These initiatives, of course, include tourism, the mining industry and the Botswana International Financial Services Centre,” Sejoe asserted.
Formed in 2000, AVCA is a non-profit organization whose mandate is to promote, develop and stimulate private equity and venture capital in Africa. Its membership (90 full and associate members) is growing and has over 5 billion Euros currently under management. The key financial institutions currently providing these significant amounts of capital are, among others, Development Financial Institutions (DFI’s), the World bank, FMO (the Dutch Agency), Proparco (French), CDC (Commonwealth countries) DEG (German) and DBSA (RSA). According to the executive officer, these financial institutions also include a growing list of private investors such as Kingdom Zephyr, which is owned by Crown Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia who visited Botswana.
A dedicated agency that aims to drive the promotion of Botswana, the International Services Botswana IFSC industry believes the upcoming ACVA conference comes at an opportune time, a time when investment flows into Africa are growing and significant investments are being made in the African energy sector, mining and resources, telecommunications sector, including cellular and other infrastructure sectors, such as transportation.