Rock Star Bob Geldof Spearheads U.S. Private-Equity Push Into Ethiopia

Via the Wall Street Journal, a report on increasing private equity interest in Ethiopia:

A number of high-profile investors have recently shown up here. KKR , the New York-based private-equity firm, last summer bought control of a rose farm, Afriflora, for about $200 million, its first investment in Africa. Blackstone plans to build a $1.35 billion pipeline to bring gasoline to the capital, Addis Ababa. Hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones is backing a $2 billion geothermal power project.

The investors are following in the footsteps of Irish punk rock singer turned activist Bob Geldof, whose Live Aid concerts 30 years ago this summer raised about $145 million for the victims of a devastating Ethiopian famine. Mr. Geldof now chairs 8 Miles, a London-based private-equity firm that invests in Ethiopia. 8 Miles raised a $200 million fund in 2012; Mr. Geldof put in a few hundred thousand dollars.

“They don’t have to die in vast numbers before we pay attention,” Mr. Geldof said in an interview. “The potential rewards in Africa are far greater than anywhere else.”

8 Miles, named for the shortest distance between Europe and Africa, made its first investments in Ethiopia in 2013, including state-owned Awash Winery. 8 Miles plans to double production at the company, add nonalcoholic drinks such as grape juice and increase exports, said partner Doug Agble. The firm also backed Ethiopian entrepreneur Eleni Gabre-Madhin in 2013 to build commodity exchanges across Africa.

The private-equity firms are part of a historic shift: Global foreign direct investment has overtaken Western aid on the world’s poorest continent. Private-equity fundraising for sub-Saharan Africa hit $4 billion last year—more than triple what it was in 2013. 8 Miles plans to start raising a larger second fund next year, Mr. Agble said.

In Ethiopia, Western aid in 2013 was $3.83 billion, still far higher than the value of inbound investment at $953 million. But investors say more investment is sure to follow.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 at 2:54 am and is filed under Ethiopia.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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