Canada Missing in Africa; Teachers’ Talks South Africa

Africa Business and Investment Forum: Part 2

April 27, 2010

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story_images_building-stagesTwo panels at the Africa Business and Investment Forum tapped into frustration on the part of African business leaders with Canada’s low profile on the continent. Canadian banks and investors appear to be missing in action when it comes to the region according to some speakers and delegates.

During a session on banking in the region, Adamassu Tadesse from the Development Bank of Southern Africa asked, “Where are the Canadian banks in Africa?” While other international banks have a high profile in African countries, Canadian banks are virtually absent he said. In the same session, John Ngumi from Standard Bank echoed Tadesse’s frustration and explained that Canadians in Africa are too low profile and are missing from the table when it comes to key business opportunities. “Canada does not jump to mind when I think of countries to go to” for financing, partnerships etc. As Dutch, French, English and Chinese banks and investors lead the way; Canada doesn’t seem to be at the table.

Another panel on capital markets in Africa did highlight the views of one major Canadian investor on the continent — Jonathan Hausmann from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan discussed why South Africa is the only African country the Plan’s invested in so far. “Institutional investors look for liquidity, durability of financial he looks for in emerging market regions. “South Africa has created a durable macroeconomic framework,” said Hausmann noting the country’s credible inflation targeting regime and fiscal stability. “This has put South Africa in the same camp as Canada” with low public debt to GDP ratios – something that has become increasingly important in light of what has happened in Greece. South Africa is also benefiting from what Hausmann called a “super cycle” as a result of high demand for commodities and the rise of China.

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