With nearly US$9 billion raised to invest in Africa over the last two years, the continent's private equity ecosystem is reaching a new phase in its maturity, one that is marked by as many challenges as there are opportunities. Gone are the days of exuberance and the monolithically optimistic ‘Africa Rising’ sentiment. After the Chinese slowdown and the declines in commodity prices and currencies, vast differences have appeared among African markets in both macroeconomic outlook and “micro” opportunity sets on the ground.
How will fund managers deal with this highly differentiated landscape? Now that they have turned their discerning focus to capital deployment—navigating challenges such as valuation and pricing issues, currency volatility, political risk and future exit opportunities—it is critical to remain disciplined: there is much opportunity to be found, at the right time and structured the right way, for the smart investor to enhance value and drive sustainable growth.
Meanwhile, international limited partner interest in Africa remains relatively strong in spite of overall macro-economic challenges. Many African markets continue to be highly dynamic and the aspirations of their emerging middle classes have not diminished. Limited partners rightly expect continued strong risk-adjusted performance from fund managers who have enjoyed bumper years of fundraising on the back of their demonstrable track records.
FT and EMPEA’s Private Equity in Africa is the annual platform to gain the latest intelligence on the continent’s private markets, identify opportunities and risks and clarify uncertainties. This gathering’s debates and dialogues among Africa’s leading investors aim to demystify the highly differentiated investing landscape, identify ways to overcome challenges and access newly emerging opportunity sets. The private equity fundraising numbers for Africa reveal confidence on the part of investors in the opportunities available and the ability of the fund managers to capture them. We look forward to gathering the leading influencers from across Africa and around the world to hear their views on enhancing value and economic resilience to deliver returns.