1) Please tell us more about your organisation, The African Trade Insurance Agency, and your activities in the DRC and region.
African trade Agency (ATI) is multilateral financial institution launched in 2001 by African countries with the support of the World Bank, and more recently, the African Development Bank. ATI’s main objective is to promote increased trade and investments into its member countries by providing investment and trade credit risk insurance products. ATI is rated ‘A/Stable’ by Standard and Poor’s, which ranks us as the highest rated insurer in Africa.
In DRC, among others , ATI facilitated the rehabilitation and the extension of airports and aerodromes by covering an international bank against the risk of non-payment by a sub-sovereign for the amount of US$ 10 Million ; ATI supported pre-export finance by covering syndicated international banks against non-payment by a mining company in Lubumbashi for US$ 110 million; and ATI provided a cover against non-payment of a mining company in favour of an international bank for the amount of US$ 15 M. ATI supported similar transactions across Africa within its member states.
2) Any specific projects in the energy sector you are particularly excited about?
ATI has a large program supporting clean energy projects thanks in large part to an initiative that is sponsored by the European Investment Bank. The program is designed to boost ATI’s capacity to become a specialty underwriter of renewable energy projects across Africa. This initiative supports investors, project sponsors and others involved in all aspects of this sector. In 2014, ATI supported several projects including a geothermal plant in Kenya, where we covered a US$ 5 million investment; ATI covered a US$300 million investment into the Lake Turkana wind power plant, which is the largest wind power facility in Africa; ATI supported a credit finance facility for US$ 50 million for the importation of oil in Malawi; and ATI facilitated the importation of oil in DRC by providing non-payment cover to the foreigner supplier. We are currently assessing a large energy project in DRC valued at US$ 800 million, which is part of an even larger pipeline we are working on in the country.
3) What are the main challenges in project finance in the mining sector in this region? In DRC in particular?
The main challenges faced by investors in Africa and DRC in particular are political instability/political perils. Hence the need to provide comfort to these investors with availability of guarantees on their equity/loans against political risks. This is critical. ATI is the only African organization offering this unique solution to investors. We are working to transform these challenges into opportunities for the continent.
4) What surprises you about this sector?
Despite the challenges, the mining sector is still attracting investors, Africa is fast becoming the new and brightest destination for investors, which was not the case 10 years ago.
5) At the Katanga Mining Week you are part of the programme. What will be your main message at the event?
The first message goes to domestic and international suppliers to mining companies in DRC. ATI is at their disposal, with a strong credit rating of ‘A/Stable’ by Standard and Poor’s, they can supply goods and services to mining companies on a credit basis with peace in mind. To investors, ATI is also at your disposal to secure your investments against any action or inaction of the Government in any host country.
6) What are you most looking forward to at Katanga Mining Week?
To inform suppliers, investors, bankers that, with ATI, doing business in DRC doesn’t have to raise anxieties. We are hoping to change this notion because, with protection from us, this can be a suitable business environment.
7) Anything you would like to add?
I would like to encourage the organisers to keep up the good work and to ensure that this remains an annual event. It is a good forum, where valuable experiences can be shared and solutions obtained for a broad range of challenges.