August 6, 2014

The Atlantic Council's Africa Center cohosted a discussion with the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) on "The Evolution of Private Equity in Africa." Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham opened the event with welcoming remarks which were followed by an introduction by Africa Center Visiting Fellow Aubrey Hruby, who also moderated the panel. Michelle Kathryn Essomé, CEO of AVCA, provided context for the ensuing panel discussion that featured Walé Adeosun, founding partner and CEO of Kuramo Capital; Runa Alam, cofounder and CEO of Development Partners International; 'Tokunboh Ishmael, cofounder and managing director of Alitheia Capital; Papa Madiaw Ndiaye, founder and CEO of AFIG Funds;  Bobby Pittman, managing director of Kupanda Capital; and Sarah Alexander, managing director of The Abraaj Group.

Highlights from the panel discussion included participants agreeing that private equity in Africa is no longer in its infancy but rather "walks on two feet." There was further consensus that while Africa's capital markets are underdeveloped compared to other regional private equity markets—such as those in Latin America and Asia—their very underdevelopment presents abundant opportunities for growth. Speakers also highlighted the importance of closely partnering with African companies to foster effective management and sustainable business models.

Several panelists spoke candidly about the greatest mistakes of their careers and the resulting lessons learned, as well as discussed outcomes each expected and hoped for from the US-Africa Leaders Summit. Some analyzed the applicability of African investment models to other emerging markets, and predicted that a few of these innovative models would make their way back to the United States.

The panel concluded with a lively question-and-answer session with the diverse audience of private industry leaders, investors, and foreign and US government officials.

AVCA is a member-supported organization, with members spanning private equity and venture capital firms, institutional investors, foundations and endowments, international development finance institutions, professional service firms and academia. AVCA represents an industry of over 200 entities managing over $25 billion in assets in 54 countries.