MIGA recently closed its second transaction supporting a project with an Islamic financing structure—the first was for a port project in Djibouti back in 2007. For this new project, MIGA provided political risk insurance to two financial institutions, Deutsche Bank Luxembourg and Saudi British Bank, for their $450 million financing to the Indonesia telecoms company PT Natrindon Telepon Selular, or NTS.
Private Sector Development
In June 2010 I posted a blog on political risks for investors in the Arab world. The blog (and associated Perspectives note) argued that it was probably a mistake to lump all Arab countries together, and that risks were idiosyncratic among nations. Overall, the note reflected the view at the time that most investors were fairly sanguine about the risks in the Arab world.
In retrospect of course, we have all been found out following the events that started in Tunisia in January and spread across the region. This week MIGA hosted a panel discussion on ‘Investment Opportunities in the Wake of the Arab Spring’ to try and take stock of these events and consider their implications for investors.
As part of the launch of the World Bank’s World Development Report, a distinguished panel (including MIGA’s own Edith Quintrell) convened at IFC to discuss the topic of Private Sector Growth and Job Creation. Jyrki Koskelo chaired the panel and asked for a lively and frank discussion. He got more than he bargained for.
In addition to Ms. Quintrell and Mr. Koskelo, the panel included:
- Arnold Ekpe, CEO of Eco
- Rosalind Kainyah, Vice President, External Affairs, Tullow Oil
- Justin Lin, senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank
- Jay Naidoo, World Development Report Advisory Council Member, and, most provocatively
- Mohamed Ibrahim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
I recently returned from Ethiopia where I visited a project that is being covered by MIGA’s political risk insurance. The project involves the privatization and expansion of an existing farm to cultivate and process passion fruit, mango, and papaya for juice exports. The newly formed company, africaJUICE Tibila Share Company, has taken what was essentially an abandoned farm and transformed it into a thriving enterprise.
The project introduced passion fruit to the community which is harvested and processed into juice in a new state-of-the art factory. The juice is then exported to markets in Europe and the Middle East. In addition to creating significant direct employment for a poor rural area (2400 employees), the project is developing a cadre of contract farmers who can earn a significantly higher income for this “in demand” product.
As I return from a week-long mission to Lebanon and Jordan, where I took part in a workshop to teach government agencies about MIGA's mission and products and met potential clients to discuss prospective collaboration, I am struck at how much unchartered territory there is for us in this ever-changing and turbulent region.
During the 18 days of the Egyptian revolution that began on January 25, I was glued to the news media -- and to Facebook, which proved to be a vital source of information quicker than any news agency -- to try to get news of what was happening and ensure that my family and friends back in Egypt stayed safe.
Here at MIGA, I’m responsible for fielding initial investor inquiries about our political risk guarantees, which is an interesting vantage point from which to note trends. Last year I blogged about the rising interest of foreign investors in Sierra Leone. Talking with investors around the world interested in emerging markets and examining MIGA’s Preliminary Application (PA) data, I see a similar trend emerging in Ethiopia. Investor interest has grown dramatically.
MIGA was created to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries by mitigating political risk. The agency offers insurance to private investors against
In Washington last Friday, I boarded a flight to Addis Ababa at 11:00 am. By the time I arrived in Johannesburg, Egypt’s president of 30 plus years was no longer in power. The pace of change in the Middle East and North Africa is mind boggling. Anyone doing business in the region is trying to grasp the implications, and the risk profile of doing business in some of the countries has suddenly changed.
In the meantime, sub-Saharan Africa is looking more and more attractive to investors. At least that was the consensus at today’s MIGA-sponsored seminar on managing political risk for cross-border investment. For too long, Western media has portrayed the region as a place of war and famine.
In the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis, one obvious truth is that locus of growth has shifted east. While the world frets over the stuttering recoveries in the USA and EU, most Asian economies have rebounded well, including a pick-up of FDI into and from these markets. The latest IMF World Economic Outlook expects growth in developing Asia to be 9.4% in 2010 and 8.4% in 2011. Contrast this with estimates for the USA of 2.6% in 2010 and 2.3% in 2011, and for the EU 1.7% in 2010 and 1.5% in 2011. A similar story will be found in the Global Economic Prospectsreport from the World Bank Development Economics Group to be launched on January 12.
A central question remains, however: Are these high growth rates and the high returns to investment, risk-neutral vis-à-vis investing in developed markets? Or other emerging-market regions? This question is pertinent for both commercial and political risk – but it is the latter to which I now turn.
MIGA recently sponsored its seventh symposium on political risk issues, in tandem with Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. We happily note that the symposium has established itself as the world's leading forum for cutting-edge assessments of the international political risk management industry, and this year it did not disappoint. A summary of the event is here.
I’ll concentrate on one trend that was noted clearly from the political risk insurance (PRI) providers, like MIGA, that were in attendance. All agreed that, since the international financial crisis, new business has mostly taken the form of obligor default products. For the PRI industry, an obligor is a country; this product is used when there is some sort of an agreement by which a government has financial payment obligations or guarantees with an investor. The product is suitable for certain types of transactions, for example public-private partnerships or power purchase agreements.
Les modifications de la Convention de MIGA, une nouvelle ère pour notre Institution ?
MIGA vient d’amender sa Convention. Et les clients s’en réjouissent. Objectivement, les changements qui ont été introduits dans notre Convention sont significatifs et devraient avoir un impact important.
En tant que Juriste et développeur d’affaires chez MIGA, nous voulons mettre l’accent sur les principaux changements :