The European Investment Bank (EIB) has become a lead investor in Adlevo Capital Africa LLC, the first private equity fund dedicated to the high-tech industry in sub-Saharan Africa. The EIB’s USD 20 m (approx. EUR 15 m) equity investment will enable Adlevo to support the continent’s growing number of information and communications technology (ICT) enterprises.

The fund will focus on investments in high-growth firms with technology business models principally, although not exclusively, in Nigeria, West-Africa and South Africa where recent economic development fuels demand for ICT services. Adlevo hopes to address the limited availability of risk capital for African technology companies, recognising that underinvestment in the sector may hamper growth in emerging economies.

Plutarchos Sakellaris, EIB Vice President responsible for lending operations in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions said, “This is a landmark project for the EIB and for the African technology sector. We are confident that Adlevo’s experienced management will build a portfolio of investments which provide strategic support for technology companies. Moreover, we hope that this operation will act as a catalyst to develop private equity and foreign direct investment in the region.”

The Adlevo fund is of particular importance for the economies of sub-Saharan Africa due to its sectoral focus. Telephone subscribers in Africa represent only 16% of the population and internet penetration rates in Nigeria stand at only 5.9%, 11.6% in South Africa.

Unmet demand ensures that Africa offers significant investment opportunities in telecommunications, internet provision and support technology for the financial, health and education sectors. ICT investment will allow African businesses to gain competitive advantages and catalyse economic growth. Adlevo is the first pan-African fund that will target the ICT market in a systematic and dedicated manner.

In addition to supporting the high-tech sector, the Adlevo fund promotes the development of high-level Africa-based fund managers. Adlevo benefits from three sponsoring partners, two from Nigeria and one from South Africa, and will operate from offices in both countries. The management team has international venture capital and technology experience which, alongside good corporate governance practices, it seeks to transfer to the region. CDC Group, the UK government-owned fund of funds, will join the EIB as the other lead investor in Adlevo Capital Africa with a commitment of USD 15 m.

EIB Activity in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is instrumental in implementing the EU’s development and economic cooperation policy in countries outside the Union. The EIB has been a development partner in many African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries since 1963 through a series of lending mandates from the European Council. The current mandate is based on the Cotonou Agreement of June 2000.

EIB investment in the ACP regions support the alleviation of poverty and the development of sustainable economic growth. The Bank has two funding sources – EIB own resources and the Investment Facility, a revolving fund financed by the EU Member States through the European Development Fund. In 2007, the EIB invested EUR 869 m in the ACP region.

In the past five years, the Investment Facility has invested EUR 150 m in 12 equity finds targeting small, medium or large private enterprises in the ACP regions. Two thirds of this amount benefited Africa alone.