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Promoting and Protecting Investment in Africa

On Wednesday 11th October SABI Group Managing Director Henry Sands joined an Addleshaw Goddard hosted panel on Promoting and Protecting Investment in Africa held in conjunction with the Business Council for Africa (BCA).

Preceded by an address delivered on behalf of the UK Minister of State in the Department for International Trade, the panel also brought together Ghanaian High Commission Counsellor Kofi Addo, Diageo Legal Counsel James Edmunds and Addleshaw Goddard’s Head of Investor State Dispute Resolution Sarah Vasani.

Together the panel explored what is and what is not working when it comes to attracting investment to the continent. Sands warned the audience against being drawn in by rhetoric and hype, calling for a reality check. He cited recent UNCTAD figures showing that FDI flows to sub-Saharan Africa declined by 7 per cent in 2016 to US$45 billion as indicative of the scale of the challenge ahead.

Commenting on the UK’s approach to facilitating investment in Africa, Sands warned the Department of International Trade against spreading its resources too thinly. He proposed the prioritisation of strategic markets to yield greater results both for the UK as it prepares for Brexit and for African countries looking to attract more FDI.

On the part of African governments, Sands counselled that the focus must be on getting the basics rights citing power and transport infrastructure as fundamental to the equation.  

While he applauded the moves made by the recently elected Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo as a step in right direction, Sands stressed that there is a long road ahead if Ghana is to reach its potential and unlock the benefits for all its citizens. 

Addressing investors, Sands advised there is no substitute for getting on the ground as soon as possible. Drawing his comments to a close he reiterated the huge potential of Africa but cautioned that hard work and a commitment to learning to walk before trying to run are a must.