The European Investment Bank offers advice for venture capital in Africa

BERLIN — Germany has positioned African economic development at the center of its G-20 presidency, with a particular emphasis on encouraging more private investment in the continent. Ahead of the heads of state summit today in Hamburg, dozens of potential investors gathered in the capital, Berlin, to learn more about how the investment landscape is changing on the continent and how some entrepreneurs are harnessing innovations to help grow sustainable companies.

Participants described a landscape big on ideas — especially ideas that could have a significant positive impact on communities — but short on the access to technology and funding needed to turn those ideas into sustainable companies.

“What we see is that institutional investors are much more interested than in the past,” said Gunnar Muent, director of the innovation and competitiveness department at the European Investment Bank. Along with the German federal ministry for economic development and the German-African Business Association, his institution was one of the organizers of Africa Day. “Of course, given their limitations in terms of exposure to this kind of risk, they are still hesitant.

Still, there are opportunities, including in addressing some of the shortcomings in the business environment. For example, the private sector could fill a gap in demand for better skills training in management and technology. Another opportunity lies in improving digitalization. Investments such as these could help mitigate future investment risks.