I would like to take this opportunity to step back and take stock of all that has occurred in the last three to four months. With colleagues from across PIDG, I have been reflecting upon the huge effort that has taken place to keep originating new infrastructure projects and to continue developing those already in our varied pipelines. We have also examined the impact of our coordinated response to COVID-19 and our efforts to ensure the health and welfare of our teams, partners and of people living in the communities close to where we work.

I have been deeply impressed.

Very early on, PIDG mobilised a task force with ExCo level representatives of each PIDG investment company, PIDG Technical Assistance and the Head of PIDG Development Impact. The task force worked out what options were available to respond to the crisis, what we were best suited to do and what the priorities were. Early on, we chose to work closely with the companies and projects that we invest in, supporting them, their workers and their communities at a difficult time. In parallel, we started to look systematically at the impact of the crisis on our investments and at what new opportunities the crisis would open. For the immediate response, PIDG TA reallocated approximately US$1.5 million to support efforts to keep people safe and to enable communities to prepare for the potential impact of the virus. The objective was to use PIDG’s relationships on the ground and existing investments, to ensure the funding was well targeted, used effectively and without any unnecessary overheads or wastage.

For InfraCo Africa, this meant listening to our project teams and asking them the right questions. We wanted to quickly identify those initiatives that would, in the first instance, keep people safe. We also wanted to support our communities and projects through the current crisis and towards recovery. By working to keep our teams healthy and our projects on track, we are committed to ensuring that we continue to deliver the long term opportunities and development impact that are the foundation of our unique mandate.

As you will have seen on our website and social media over recent weeks, we have since secured grants to deliver safe water and handwashing facilities, to electrify rural health clinics, to deliver awareness training and to provide PPE and other essential supplies to our projects and communities in Chad, Zambia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Uganda and Ethiopia. These initiatives have been actioned swiftly by our partners on the ground and many communities are already benefiting. This timely response has thankfully enabled us to implement many initiatives before the virus is expected to peak in Africa.

But our work is just part of the picture. The statistics around PIDG’s collective COVID response really brought home to me what we can achieve when working collaboratively across the Group. In just over 100 days, PIDG TA has committed its support to 23 initiatives across 19 countries, directly reaching over 250,000 people.

Looking more closely, we see that PIDG support for workers’ PPE and the implementation of new  Health and Safety procedures has enabled 28,000 people to stay in work. Nearly 100,000 people in remote communities are benefiting from awareness campaigns aimed at dispelling myths and at promoting health messaging which is key to preventing the spread of the virus.  Linked to this push for prevention, 10,000 people will have access to new handwashing facilities. And should the virus strike, over 18,000 medical staff working at 234 clinics and 30 hospitals have been enabled – through the provision of PPE, power, water and equipment – to respond to its impact and that of other health conditions affecting  communities in their care.

By working together in a very nimble and targeted way we have been able to effect real change. Our COVID response is, I believe, a microcosm of the wider work of the PIDG.

We can galvanise the varied skills, expertise and financial instruments offered by PIDG and its Companies to deliver bankable opportunities; attracting private sector investment into critical infrastructure projects in some of the world’s most challenging markets.  We seek to deliver impact at increasing scale and pace and are looking to do more.

Whilst helping to mitigate the current COVID-19 crisis is a priority, I believe that maintaining momentum on our projects is of equal importance. As Africa shifts from crisis management to economic recovery, our work will be fundamental to enabling businesses to re-open and to attracting international investment into sub-Saharan Africa. To this end, InfraCo Africa is continuing to invest in the critical infrastructure needed to support economic development. We have recently signed a Shareholders Agreement to progress the Liberia Inland Storage Facility and have invested US$6 million to progress Bumbuna Hydro II, a major hydro power project in Sierra Leone. We have also issued significant contracts for tender and are continuing to work with our partners to progress our construction projects where possible around travel restrictions and health guidelines. We expect to announce new initiatives in  the coming weeks, including our first investment under a new equity investment vehicle established to focus on igniting innovation. COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of infrastructure for healthcare, transport and logistics, economic and social cohesion and our work feels more vital now than ever.

If you have an innovative infrastructure project or business that would benefit from our support, please reach out to my team: info@infracoafrica.com

Gilles Vaes

Gilles joined InfraCo Africa from Engie. He has 20 years of experience working in the private sector in the manufacturing and energy industries. His expertise ranges from engineering, operations and project development to strategy, business development and investments. Gilles is passionate about socioeconomic development models that improve living standards while not compromising environmental sustainability.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *