JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, will dedicate a senior staff member for South Africa in 2013, aiming to leverage the country’s position as a business hub and strategic U.S. partner into new investment opportunities for American and African companies.
In the past two years OPIC has made significant efforts to expand its work in Africa, resulting in an extraordinary 300 percent increase in the agency’s commitments to the region last year. Whereas Africa comprised only four percent of OPIC’s global portfolio of loans, guarantees and political risk insurance in 2001, today it stands at a full 22 percent.
“OPIC’s focus on Africa reflects both its strategic importance to the Obama Administration and also the growing interest of U.S. investors in the continent” said OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield. “We are very bullish on Africa, and we expect that the dedication of a senior staff member for South Africa will mean new opportunities for OPIC to support investment to key African countries through its financing and risk mitigation instruments.”
U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips said, “We are excited that OPIC has chosen South Africa for this commitment of resources in Africa. As the continent’s economies continue to grow, and its middle classes increase their spending power, ever more investment opportunities will present themselves to U.S. businesses. Having OPIC resources engaging in southern Africa’s business gateway will enhance our ability to bring those opportunities to realization.”
The OPIC staff member, along with other U.S. Government personnel, will also help OPIC implement the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (US-ACEF), a new program which aligns the resources of OPIC, the State Department, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the U.S. Agency for International Development to catalyze private sector investment in clean energy projects throughout Africa. US-ACEF is expected to catalyze hundreds of millions of dollars of new OPIC financing, as well as additional private sector investment, in clean energy projects.
OPIC is currently providing $629 million financing and political risk insurance to projects in South Africa, in the financial services, construction and power sectors. Last month, OPIC’s Board of Directors approved $250 million in financing for the agency’s first solar power project in the country, a 60-megawatt plant with SunEdison that will help diversify the country’s electricity generation beyond its heavy coal concentration and in the process create jobs and displace approximately 140,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in its first year alone.
Over its 40-year history, OPIC has committed more than $7.6 billion in financing and political risk insurance to 460 projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. Those projects have delivered nearly 2700 megawatts of new electrical power across the continent; hundreds of thousands of new housing units; thousands of loans and microloans for African entrepreneurs; and the construction of railways and port facilities, miles of new roads and other physical infrastructure critical to the continent’s economic growth.
OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds.
Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 150 countries worldwide. To date, OPIC has supported more than $200 billion of investment in over 4,000 projects, generated an estimated $75 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 276,000 American jobs.