The Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC), a US development finance organization, has committed up to $100 million in initial funding for a sub-Saharan debt fund to be managed by Standard Bank of South Africa. The Standard Africa Development Fund is soliciting additional capital, and Standard Bank is planning to introduce the fund, which will focus on corporate debt, in the third quarter of 2008. The fund will invest in both local and foreign-currency-denominated debt in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Africa is attracting significant interest from foreign investors due to the better management of the countries’ economies and the abundance of mineral reserves on the continent,” says Alia Yousuf, head of emerging market debt at Standard Asset Management, a Standard Bank subsidiary based in London. “Many of Africa’s economies are experiencing their strongest growth in recent decades, supported in part by the commodity boom but also due to the increased government investment in these countries,” Yousuf says.
US president George Bush announced in February that OPIC would support five new African investment funds with a combined target capitalization of $875 million, including the sub-Saharan debt fund. Last year OPIC pledged $250 million to three other African funds.