Swedfund CEO, Maria Hakaanson, embarked on a groundbreaking visit to the African Development Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan earlier this month, signaling a fresh era of cooperation and strategic partnership.
The visit not only solidified existing ties but also opened doors to innovative opportunities for both entities.
During her visit on September 14th, Hakaanson led a high-powered delegation, including Kitanha Toure, Regional Director for West Africa, Fredrik Linton, Chief Business Development and Special Operations Officer, and Ann-Caroline Andersson, Chief Administrative and HR Officer.
The Swedfund delegation engaged in extensive discussions with key figures at the African Development Bank, including Senior Vice President Swazi Tshabalala, Director for Portfolio Delivery and Impact Yvette Glele, and others.
Even Ousmane Fall, the Bank’s Director for Non-Sovereign Operations and Private Sector Support, joined the meeting via video feed.
Metaphorically, the stage was set for a fruitful dialogue that could redefine the contours of cooperation between the two institutions.
Tshabalala, extending a warm welcome to the delegation, emphasized Sweden’s crucial role as a partner that has consistently come through for the Bank’s regional member countries in times of need. She underlined the significance of this ongoing collaboration.
In response, Hakaanson expressed her aspirations for the visit to cement Swedfund’s partnership with the African Development Bank. She highlighted the recent establishment of Swedfund’s office in Abidjan, demonstrating their commitment to expanding their footprint in West Africa, especially in Ghana and Nigeria.
Hakaanson delineated Swedfund’s investment priorities, with a substantial focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. The fund’s portfolio spans critical sectors, including energy, renewable energy, financial inclusion, and food systems.
Swedfund’s Project Accelerator also plays a pivotal role in nurturing sustainable enterprises.
Notably, Hakaanson cited Swedfund’s contribution to the Bus Rapid Transit initiative in Abidjan, exemplifying the fund’s engagement in supporting public sector projects through feasibility studies.
Tshabalala identified potential synergies in the energy sector, echoing the African Development Bank’s commitment to ensuring universal electricity access for Africans. She expressed a keen interest in technical assistance from Swedfund to bolster national electricity utilities’ capacities.
Furthermore, the Senior Vice President highlighted the Bank’s initiatives, such as Affirmative Finance Action for Women (AFAWA), aimed at enhancing capital access for women-owned businesses.
She stressed the need for more impactful collaborations in this sphere, noting that AFAWA had approved over $1 billion in investments.
Fredrik Linton, Swedfund’s Chief Business Development and Special Operations Officer, explored avenues for bilateral and multilateral coordination. He mentioned the Africa Resilience Investment Accelerator (ARIA), a platform where both Swedfund and the African Development Bank are partners. Through ARIA, Swedfund invests in businesses in fragile and transitional states.
Neneh Mbye, Division Manager for Legal Services at the African Development Bank, highlighted the institution’s trust funds supporting project preparation facilities. She expressed a warm welcome to potential Swedfund investments in these initiatives.
Herve Pekam, Division Manager for Resource Mobilization at the African Development Bank, acknowledged Sweden’s previous contributions to the Bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship Trust Fund.
He also discussed the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIBs) in African countries, a concept Swedfund might consider investing in, citing the ongoing support for a YEIB in Togo.
As the Swedfund CEO and her delegation departed Abidjan, a renewed sense of partnership and cooperation lingered in the air. Their visit not only explored new horizons but also heralded a promising era of development collaboration between Sweden’s state development finance institution and the African Development Bank.