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African investment is the future,' Sir Bob tells NAPF conference

16 October 2014

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Fund managers were urged by Sir Bob Geldof to focus their attention on Africa instead of China at this week's annual conference of the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF).

The Irish musician, activist and investor told delegates that demographics and market forces in Africa present opportunities for managers that far exceed those in China.

"Investment is relatively quick, it is far easier to invest in Africa than it is in China," he said.

Sir Bob, who is well known for his support of African business, said opportunities are "everywhere" on the continent and he criticised investment managers for ignoring investments that would be beneficial to their own businesses and Africa's growing economies.

"It is like a joke. You go there and there are 1,000 opportunities presented, this is the last continent to be built," he said.

He pointed to investments in UK infrastructure and housing projects by yield-hungry managers as examples of strategies that benefit both business and society, calling on pension managers to make similar moves in Africa.

Sir Bob is chairman of buyout company 8 Miles, named after the shortest distance between Europe and Africa, which is focused exclusively on making private equity investments in Africa.

This year 8 Miles has invested a 21.5% stake in Egyptian industrial and manufacturing firm Eagle Chemicals Group, and a majority stake in Ugandan agribusiness Biyinzika Poultry International.

Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent on the planet and within five years will have the largest working age population in the world, Sir Bob said.

"Whether you like it or not you will be looking at asset classes you never even considered in your wildest dreams," he said.

Elsewhere at the conference, the NAPF unveiled its pre-election manifesto, including the creation of an organisation to oversee future pensions legislation – the Independent Retirement Savings Commission.

Chief executive Joanne Segars said the manifesto will ensure the "long-term interest of savers, not the the short-term interest of politicians.

First published - 16.10.14