Saudi Arabia has committed hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and investments to African countries as Riyadh seeks to expand its political influence on the continent.
Saudi Arabia has committed hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and investments to African countries, as Riyadh seeks to expand its political influence on the continent and take advantage of the commercial opportunities that are available in Africa.
Speaking at the Saudi-Arab-African Economic Conference in Riyadh yesterday, a forum which has brought together leaders from 50 nations in the Middle East and Africa and aims to strengthen ties between the Kingdom and the African Union (AU), the Saudi Arabian finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan emphasized the diplomatic and economic importance the government has placed on Africa.
“We have established partnerships with Africa to expand in several sectors and the Kingdom supports more than 400 projects in the African continent,” he said. “The Kingdom is keen to consolidate its relations with the African continent, which is one of the most important axes for the future of the global economy.”
Al-Jadaan went on to note that African markets are also “one of the priorities of the Public Investment Fund,” the Kingdom's $700bn sovereign wealth fund, while Saudi investment minister Khalid Al-Falih added later that PIF will soon make some “game changing ”investments in Africa.
The government itself has also taken steps to increase its economic ties with Africa. Al-Jadaan announced yesterday that the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) will sign agreements worth 2 billion Saudi riyals ($533m) with African countries, with support being targeted at countries in debt distress, such as Ghana.
The SFD also announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC). The two organizations will jointly develop and co-finance sustainable development projects in Africa in a bid to close the continent's infrastructure gap. Almost 60% of SFD's financing for developing countries is in Africa already, having financed over 400 projects in 47 countries worth $10.7bn.
"William Phelps, who works in Riyadh for Lagos-based venture capital fund Adaverse, tells African Business that investments in Africa are a crucial part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plans to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil and expand its political power globally.
“Considered in light of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, it is not surprising to see the Kingdom pursue sustained partnership, investment and economic collaboration in Africa. “Saudi Arabia is increasingly becoming a global superpower, strengthened by its world-leading expertise in key industries and a long-term development plan that will see domestic industries flourish over the next decade,” says Phelps.
Article source: african.business