A decade of panafrican infrastructure
Harithgeneral Partners celebratesits 10thyear in operation as Africa’s leading fund manager focusing on infrastructure development across the continent, with more than Us$1bn under management, spread across three funds
Harith is a Swahili word meaning “plough”, a name chosen to define the role of what has become Africa’s premier private fund for pan-african infrastructure development. “We see ourselves as an entity that prepares the ground for growth,” says CEO Tshepo Mahloele. “Looking across Africa, the opportunities for infrastructure development will be there for the next 50, even 100 years.”
Harith General Partners (HGP) celebrates its 10th year of operations, with more than Us$1bn in funds under management, spread across three funds: the Pan-african Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) 1; the $435m PAIDF 2 and the newest fund, Progeny, with $43m raised so far. PAIDF 1 is fully invested and is in the process of exiting some of its investments.
The genesis of the Harith story goes back more than a decade to former President Thabo Mbeki’s vision of an African renaissance, inspired by a new era of panafrican trade and social upliftment.
Mahloele was then steering the Public Investment Corp’s (PIC) Isibaya Fund and in 2006 announced his intention to leave the PIC to set up a private equity fund focusing on infrastructure. “I was going to relocate to Cape Town and even had an apartment, but I saw a much larger challenge ahead of me,” says Mahloele. “No-one in the private sector was tackling infrastructure development on the scale required to unlock Africa’s growth potential.”
At the helm of the PIC, Mahloele championed the N4 highway stretching from Maputo to Gaborone, which was among the first public private partnerships (PPP) utilising private sector investment funding for a major infrastructure project. The project was a runaway success, as evidenced by the economic regeneration of towns straddling the highway, such as Nelspruit. Here was proof of the economic potential that could be unlocked if private money could be put to the service of infrastructure development.
Mahloele abandoned plans to move to Cape Town, opting instead to form Harith Fund Managers, headquartered in Johannesburg, as a vehicle to bring much-needed equity investment into the infrastructure development space.
While the development finance institutions (DFIS) such as African Development Bank (ADB) were willing to back viable projects with debt, lack of equity participation prevented many worthy projects from seeing the light of day.
Mbeki breathed fresh life into a century-old pan-african philosophy championed by Africa’s first liberation president, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, who opened