The Africa Sustainable Investment Forum (AfricaSIF) Launch Roadshow 2010 made its second stop, launching in Cape Town on Thursday. Investment industry body, Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA), hosted the event at their headquarters in Newlands.


AfricaSIF is an independent pan-African not-for-profit network, knowledgebase and advocate promoting sustainable investment across the continent.  Association for Savings & Investment SA hosted the launch and was chosen as a meeting place that embodies the AfricaSIF ethos, offering a multi-stakeholder forum for investment practitioners in Africa.


In his welcoming address, AfricaSIF co-founder Graham Sinclair said that AfricaSIF is a strategic new step in facilitating investment in Africa that purposefully integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors: “Africa needs capital, but it does not benefit from capital that does not develop our continent sustainably.”


“The AfricaSIF network aims to increase the quantity and quality of sustainable investment in Africa by attracting investment in the public, private and philanthropy sectors across asset classes, countries and stakeholders,” said Sinclair.


Speakers at the launch covered a range of experience on the ideas and actions behind sustainable investment in Africa.  Speakers at the launch included Sunette Mulder of ASISA, Meshach Aziakpono the Professor of Development Finance at University of Stellenbosch Business School, Futuregrowth Asset Management’s CIO Andrew Canter, Sibusiso Mabuza of RMB Asset Management, Kelebogile Moloko of Prowess Investment Managers + AfricaSIF co-founder, Senzo Hlangu of Portfolio Manager Long-Term Equity at Old Mutual Investment Group SA, Ralph Hamman the Professor and Research Director at UCT Graduate School of Business, and hosted by Graham Sinclair, AfricaSIF co-Founder and Principal at SinCo, the sustainable investment architecture firm.


“We have an effective market place, but need to go up one more notch to be the best. We need more forums to increase awareness - and sometimes need levers,” said Leon Campher, CEO of ASISA.


AfricaSIF seeks to change investment in Africa one investment at a time, asking questions like “what impact does sustainable investment have?” Impact is a hot talking point even as the South African government faces questions where the forecasted ZAR 1 billion in new taxes from the launch on 1 September in South Africa of a carbon tax on new vehicle sales will be deployed. Others have targeted heavy polluting firms like SASOL and question whether they are being properly valued for long-term risks.


“Given Africa’s new identity as a land of possibility, the marketplace cannot afford to overlook the importance of  incorporating sustainability issues in the quest for sustainable economic and social transformation,” said Kelebogile Moloko, CIO at Prowess Investment Management and co-founder of AfricaSIF. “AfricaSIF is well-positioned to be one of the strong institutional supports that ushers in Africa next evolution.”


“The tragedy of African resource curse can only be reversed through sustainable investment – investment that integrates corporate profitability with social values and environmental concerns”, said Meshach Aziakpono the Professor of Development Finance at University of Stellenbosch Business School. “It is commendable that AfricaSIF promotes such investment in Africa”


Sinclair adds that in 2009 approximately USD 6.9 trillion including USD 300 billion in emerging markets was invested integrating ESG factors, but wonders how much of this is in Africa. AfricaSIF will help keep score. Forthcoming studies by the IFC will shed some light, as will AfricaSIF’s bi-annual Africa Sustainable Investment Marketplace study to be released in December 2010. Private equity investors alone in the last 10 years private equity firms headquartered in Africa have raised over USD 10 billion in aggregate capital according to SinCo analysis.


Globally, the importance of new sustainable investment strategies is evidenced by the 245 institutional investors with over USD 64 trillion that support the Carbon Disclosure Project globally. Meanwhile, earlier this week on 1 September 2010 the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) announced registration of over 800 signatories managing more than USD 20 trillion. The PRI has more than 30 signatories in Africa from Kenya, Nigeria, Mauritius, and including the GEPF and PIC in South Africa.


“Africa may be characterized by three paradoxes: rich in resources, but poor in socio-economic development; very little greenhouse gas emissions, but likely massive impact of climate change; and dire need for investment, but too much of this is currently motivated either by short-term, adventurous returns or geopolitical resource wars. AfricaSIF is well placed to help tip the scales,” Ralph Hamman the Professor and Research Director at UCT Graduate School of Business.


AfricaSIF aims to attract new capital in new ways to Africa and help to grow sustainable investment on the continent by taking a long-term interest in Africa’s economic development.  


Investment practitioners have been supportive of the initiative locally and internationally: AfricaSIF has fielded membership enquiries from Australia, Europe, Middle East and the USA. All of the Steering Committee members offer their time pro-bono to this important new initiative.


Andrew Canter added that in Africa “industry members must take a strong, moral stand against corruption in government and, most personally, within our own industry. There is little moral ground to promote “Sustainable Investing” when our own industry is “playing ball” with corrupt practices.”


Earlier, Wanjiru Kirima, chairperson of the Principal Officers’ Association and AfricaSIF co-founder spoke of AfricaSIF’s role: "Over 400 members of Principal Officers Association are asset owners that are increasingly driving alignment of their fund managers and service providers toward the sustainable investment theme. AfricaSIF is a new element of the investment ecosystem that will play a vital catalytic role across Africa in accelerating this process."


The ASISA launch follows on the first launch event which was held at the JSE in Johannesburg on 9 June, 2010. The AfricaSIF Launch Roadshow moves on to events scheduled in 2010 for Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo/Tunis, Geneva, London, Paris, New York and Boston. The first annual AfricaSIF conference, ESGAfrica, is being designed and produced in partnership with global ESG specialist journal Responsible Investor and other partners, and scheduled for 1-2 December 2010.  


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