The Executive Vice-President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Mr David Bohigian, has expressed the commitment of the corporation to continue making an impact with its investments in emerging markets in Africa and beyond
That confidence comes on the back of what he described as commitment reflected in the bi-partisan support in the United States (US) Congress for OPIC and its work.
“It’s clear on both sides of the aisle, people understand the importance of OPIC’s mission; whether that was Chairman Corker on the Foreign Relations Committee or Ranking Member Coons, I think both are committed to the development of finance and its role in the world in the 21st century,” he said.
Mr Bohigian was speaking via telephone to journalists following his visit to three West African countries: Ghana, Togo and Cameroun.
“People want to deepen trade ties, they want to deepen investment ties, and OPIC is at the forefront of that,” he stated.
He indicated that OPIC was very focused on impact investments because it formed a core of its work, especially as a successor to the US Marshall Plan which was introduced after World War II to help European economies recover.
“The ability to create investment and opportunity throughout the world is something OPIC has been doing with impact investing for almost 50 years. OPIC’s goal is to advance US foreign policy and development, and we think the investments that we’ve made have helped stabilise societies and have helped stabilise families,” he noted.
He stated that Germany’s recent announcement of a Marshall Plan for Africa was a demonstration of how a country could go from being an aid recipient to one of the economic powerhouses of the world, able to create its own programme to promote trade investment. “That is what success looks like,” he said.
OPIC has in its global portfolio more than $23 billion, which Mr Bohigian said was all for impact investing. This includes $3.5 billion in its current portfolio of private equity that helps create more entrepreneurial environments and helps grow companies throughout the world, as well as investments in political risk insurance; helping to unlock investments that otherwise wouldn’t be made.
“The goal of OPIC has always been to have an impact, not just in Africa but across Latin America, Europe, Southeast Asia and beyond,” he pointed out.
Mr Bohigian reiterated OPIC’s commitment to Africa, which holds about $7 billion of its investments.
“We look to operate in markets that help countries develop by investing in those markets, and we are extremely encouraged by the potential Africa is showing. There’s strong economic growth, there’s amazing demographics and the reforms being adopted to improve the business climate are helping innovation throughout the continent,” he emphasised.
His recent visit highlighted some of these investments in Ghana, Togo and Cameroun. In Ghana, OPIC, through its client, the GHL Bank, is helping to develop affordable housing at Apollonia City.
In Togo, the delegation toured an OPIC-supported power plant which has tripled the amount of power available in Togo; both reducing blackouts and helping to create a multiplier effect across the economy; while in Cameroun, they visited the Magrabi ICO Cameroun Eye Institute, a facility that provides affordable eye care.
OPIC is helping provide in excess of 18,000 cataract surgeries over the next five years to help cure blindness.