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

Financial Mail - - CORPORATE REPORT -

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

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