• Friday, March 01, 2024
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Africa needs skilled ‘infrapreneurs’ to dent $200bn infrastructure gap – Awofala


Poor and inadequate infrastructure remains a major obstacle to Africa achieving its full economic growth potential, but to secure the required financing there needs to be public-private partnerships, collaboration, and innovative solutions, experts say.

Femi Awofala, head of Infrapreneur, Project Finance Accelerator, and CEO, The African Catalyst, said despite the opportunities sowed by this bleak situation, investors have so far been reluctant to direct their funds towards infrastructure projects.

This is majorly due to costs, perceived risks, and a weak business environment, making private investment in Africa’s infrastructure development unattractive to investors.

Experts at the International Institute for Sustainable Development say in addition to the generic challenges associated with funding infrastructure development in Africa, there are environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, which are further exacerbating the region’s infrastructure gap.

As a result, “There is a need for updating the skills of investment professionals and financial analysts involved in infrastructure projects across the continent,” said Awofala.

Read also: Nigeria @ 63: Entrepreneur urges govt to arrest inflation, provide infrastructure

This he said birthed ‘The African Catalyst’, an infrastructure development enabling platform that helps infrapreneurs – infrastructure entrepreneurs – to scale their businesses, expose them to industry news, updates, and developments, as well as connect them with the right enablers and investors at the appropriate stage of their businesses.

The organisation is providing the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources needed in the facilitation and deployment of infrastructure investment, In collaboration with Brickstone Africa, it is organising training courses which are designed for aspiring infrapreneurs and enablers with little or limited project finance knowledge.

These training courses, the organisation say will be delivered by leading industry experts to deliver transformational skills, tools, and practical working knowledge of the key areas of project and infrastructure finance and expose participants to real-life case studies, opportunities and challenges of project finance and PPP markets.

“Modern project finance transactions require a high level of expertise in building financial models which are reliable, bankable, and flexible to accommodate the changing requirements occurring during the life of a project,” said Awofala.

He said the courses are self-paced and 100 percent online, with course learning schemes and content authored and delivered by industry-experienced instructors.

The TAC Training Courses offers a robust course module covering important experience and practical examples in areas such as project finance, risk allocation, contract mechanics in project finance, project development stage, pre-financing stage, and bankability, the firm said in a release.

“Quantifiably, we have trained over 500 infraprenuers and enablers from different countries across the globe, and ultimately, set them up for success in the industry.

“To deliver efficient and high-quality product service experience to our students, we expand our course offerings, deepen our understanding of the latest project finance and infrastructure trends and developments, and improve our mode of delivery each year.

“We have opened applications for our next training batch, and this year, again, we’re set to train hundreds of infraprenuers and enablers. We believe anybody can make an impact”, Awofala said.

The Programme is co-hosted with Brickstone Africa and is part of the Brickstone Infrastructure Acceleration Programme (Brickstone InfraLAB), designed for the African Infrapreneur Developing Projects.