The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, made $4 billion worth of investments in sub-Saharan Africa over the last year and look set to continue pumping money into sectors as diverse as banking, retail and transport.

The IFC claimed that investments made over the last fiscal year benefited infrastructure, health, education and agribusiness on the continent, with investment clients receiving $1.2 billion mobilised from other investors. The various investments are expected to generate power for 1.54 million new customers, support 23,000 farmers, improve health services for 50,000 patients, and reach 10,000 students, while also creating 25,500 new jobs across 123 projects in 35 countries. This investment push looks likely to continue, with the IFC last month alone announcing that it was putting money into Nigerian retail group Persianas, airline Kenya Airways and Diamond Bank Nigeria Plc.

In a statement, the group confirmed the scale of its investments over the last year, with IFC Director for West and Central Africa Yolande Duhem pointing top strong economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa and saying the IFC was “proud to contribute to that growth”.

“Projects spanned a range of activities, such as increasing finance for farmers and entrepreneurs, improving health and education services, finding renewable energy solutions, building public private partnerships in infrastructure and supporting investment climate reforms,” said the statement. “Public and private development partners provided $57.8 million in additional funding to support these programs.”

“We have increased our support for Africa’s entrepreneurs and large companies, and helped governments improve the business environment,” said Duhem. “Our investments and advisory work have improved infrastructure and boosted financing to small enterprises. IFC remains positive on Africa’s future.”

There seems no desire to scale down this investment, with a raft of announcements made just last month on further projects for the corporation. The IFC’s strategic focus remains on supporting key sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, health and education. This focus saw it announce a $124 million investment in Persianas Group to support the retail firm’s growth in Nigeria. Persianas, developers of the Palms Shopping Mall in Lagos, plan to use the funds to further develop three or more retail and mixed-use centres in commercial cities in Nigeria.

Kenya Airways has also earned the support of the IFC, with advanced talks underway over $60 million loan that forms part of a $400 million finance package the World Bank’s investment arm plans for Kenya before June 2013. The IFC has a $600 million financing budget for the East African Community (EAC) and has so far invested $360 million in Kenyan companies.

The banking sector has also become a target for the IFC. It is to boost the availability of loans to small and medium-sized businesses in Nigeria by buying $70 million worth of convertible loans from the country’s Diamond Bank Plc, which is expected to further boost both the bank itself and Nigeria’s recovering banking sector.

Both the IFC and its beneficiaries are positive about the effects of the Diamond Bank investment and others that the group is making.

Speaking about the investment, IFC’s Marcos Brujis said: “The investment provides a unique opportunity to support Diamond Bank’s expansion into key economic sectors that have relatively low banking penetration,” said the IFC’s Marcos Brujis of the Diamond Bank investment. Meanwhile, at the Persianas Group, chairman Tayo Amusan was excited about the impact of IFC investments on his company as well as the sector as a whole.

“IFC’s investment in Persianas demonstrates a commitment to supporting Nigerian entrepreneurs and is critical to preparing Persianas for our next phase of growth. This investment will help real estate development contribute to more jobs in businesses offering safe and healthy consumer products and services,” he said.


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