CEO's Desk

Lynette Chen cropped

With upsets and shifts around the world being driven by the rise in protectionism in developed nations, Africa’s position, as well as its overall agenda, will not change. Infrastructure development is still critical, our economies need to grow and the standards of living for most Africans need to rise to match global averages. The only change is an increasing urgency to execute strategies and frameworks of the African Union as defined by NEPAD and the AU’s Africa Agenda 2063. The buffer that used to cushion many African economies may soon fall away as most developed nations look more inward for sustainable economic growth as opposed to off shore investments.

The NBF’s mission has never been more relevant to Africa’s development than at this moment. The integration of African economies to foster higher levels of intra-African trade and the mobilisation of local resources and investments to support infrastructure development and industrialisation are just a few of the areas we need to prioritise. African governments must now cooperate with each other and form stronger ties if they are to survive this wave of uncertainty in the global markets. 2017 could be the turnaround year for the African continent as the unstable global situation may finally force us to act in our best interest.


For the NBF, 2016 was an eventful year and the organisation made great progress with its programmes across the board.

The SADC Project Preparation Development Facility managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) awarded a grant to the NBF’s Afri-ID desk to conduct a pre-feasibility study on the North-South Corridor (NSC) rail project, which has been identified as a critical trade route for SADC that requires urgent attention and support to unlock trade volumes.

In addition, the NBF provided technical support to the SADC Secretariat’s Infrastructure and Services unit to accelerate the implementation of priority infrastructure projects. This was done to engage private sector so that it could provide input on the SADC PIDA Acceleration programme, which

comprises a priority list of cross border infrastructure projects that have been identified and approved by SADC Ministers of Transport. In partnership with the SADC Secretariat and its member states, SADC PPP Network, DBSA, the NEPAD Agency and the NBF, are working on the next phase which will focus on the acceleration of these priority projects to bank-ability and financial close.

Through the signed Memorandum of Understanding between the SADC Secretariat and NBF, the Southern Africa Business forum (SABF) has become the SADC Secretariat’s coordinating partner for mobilising private sector support and implement regional initiatives aligned to SADC’s Industrialisation strategy. The SABF working groups met regularly in 2016 to flesh out the challenges being experienced in each sector in order to identify solutions that will remove barriers to trade. The solutions being developed by the SABF working groups could become catalysts to identify key cross border value chains that will spur industrialisation in the region.

The African Corporate Governance Network (ACGN) grew its country membership from 16 to 19 members, by signing on the Institutes of Directors organisations of Algeria, Namibia and Senegal as new members. The Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) launched an additional three working groups on Water Stewardship (WS); Skills Development and Transformation (SDT); and Sanitation (SANI).

The NBF African Investment and Integration Desk (AVID) ran its first Private Public Partnership training programme through grant support from the UK Prosperity Fund, which focused on building capacity and skills of two South African Municipalities in order to identify and package infrastructure PPP projects. SA National Treasury and the University of Cambridge Business School are two of the NBF’s partners in this practical PPP training programme.

Finally, the NBF was contracted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to conduct a study on extra territorial large scale land based investments in Africa, so as to understand how companies from South Africa, China and India are investing in agriculture in Africa. The results of the study were presented at a workshop held in Beijing, China in November 2016 to gain perspectives on how these investments were demonstrating responsibility and acknowledging governance of tenure and inclusion of local farm dwellers in these investments.


As the CEO, I am proud of the work we have done and of the milestones we have reached. I take this opportunity to thank our Patrons and Board of Directors for their leadership, and our members and stakeholders for their continued support. I also want to thank the NBF team for their hard work and unwavering dedication. They have proven once again that it is not the size of the team but the size of one’s ambition that determines excellent results.

Over the years, the NBF, meaning both the staff and the stakeholders have consistently performed beyond expectations and work jointly to deliver results which have supported Africa’s development, thereby positively impacting the lives of many African citizens. My faith in the organisation and its potential remains strong and I am excited and energised by our successes and new programmes for 2017.

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