Project Finance in Africa: A regional overview

A summary of the trends, significant deals and challenges in the region at present.

Reproduced with permission from Law Business Research Ltd. This article was first published in Getting the Deal Through - Dominance 2018 (Published: April 2018). For further information please visit www.gettingthedealthrough.com.

What have been the trends over the past year or so in terms of deal activity in the project finance sector in your jurisdiction?

Yves Baratte: 2017 was a fairly busy year for projects in all sectors in Africa. It was a good year for power projects with the renewables sector taking the lead in many jurisdictions, aided by falling technology prices and support from development finance institutions (DFIs) and governments committed to green energy. The most commonly used technology was solar PV, as evidenced by the number of solar projects that reached financial close in 2017, including in Egypt and Zambia.

Atrayee Basu: Global commodities prices rebounded in 2017, according to the World Bank’s Commodity Markets Outlook report issued in October 2017, prices for energy commodities increased by 28% and the metals index jumped by 22%. This was reflected in greater deal activity in the mining sector on both the development and financing sides, although we are still far from the levels seen a decade ago. Activity levels in the oil and gas projects space are still depressed, with slow progress being made in the development of many projects subject to a few high-profile exceptions. We did, however, see good levels of activity on the M&A side of the oil and gas sector, with some players (especially the majors historically present in Africa) selling assets, and smaller players or new entrants reinforcing their positions.

Paul Bugingo: We’ve also seen a strong level of activity in the energy and infrastructure sector, especially in eastern Africa, with a number of port, rail and free trade zone related projects moving forward, with increasing investments coming from China, the Middle East and Europe.

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