What is the potential for infrastructure-related investment in East Africa and why?
AH: Developments such as the push toward integration under the East African Community banner and its particular emphasis on building the infrastructure necessary to promote intra- and inter-regional trade have seen the potential for infrastructure-related investments increase tremendously.
Heikal: up to $400m to deploy
Infrastructure investment, in Africa in particular, is not all about low returns and long horizons and it is about more than seaports, airports and roads. It is about gas distribution. It is about river transportation and logistics. And it is about all those industries that support growing demand for infrastructure, such as cement.
How is the region viewed by other investors? Are there misunderstandings about what the region offers?
AH: As we look to deploy $200 million to $400 million in new capital across East Africa in 2010 to 2012, we are mindful that while much of the world looks at Africa as a pure “commodities play” — leveraging high global commodity prices against relatively accessible untapped natural resources across the continent — we as African investors see it differently. Our view is that African investors must take the lead on large-scale infrastructure and industry investments that will catalyse economic development and have a multiplier effect across regional economies.