Published March 2, 2023

2 minute read

Uncovering South-South Investments in Emerging Markets with IFC

In the "Uncovering the Potential of South-South Investments in Emerging Markets" session, industry leaders discuss driving capital to emerging markets through South-South investments.

Session Speakers: 

Gavin Serkin

Gavin Serkin

Founder & Managing Editor, New Markets Media & Intelligence

Khawaja Aftab Ahmed

Khawaja Aftab Ahmed

Regional Director - Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan, IFC

Nardos Bekele-Thomas

Nardos Bekele-Thomas


Obaid Amrane

Obaid Amrane

CEO, Ithmar Capita


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Key Takeaways

  • South-South investment is critical for emerging markets, with the UAE a standout performer. 
  • Collaboration with the UAE is essential for governance and planning for implementation.
  • Infrastructure development is vital for emerging markets to unlock the potential of South-South cooperation.
  • Sovereign funds are vital in emerging markets, targeting economic impact and acting as safe brokers.
  • Decarbonization is essential for emerging markets, with technologies such as big data and related technologies having great potential to help them reach their targets.
  • South-South cooperation can promote regional investment with initiatives such as SheWinsArabia and investment-related events with numerous countries.

South-South investments in emerging markets were discussed during a session in partnership with IFC at Investopia 2023. The session featured a cross-section of regional speakers, including Nardos Bekele-Thomas, CEO of Africa Union Development Agency; Obaid Amrane, CEO of Ithmar Capital, Morocco; and Khawaja Aftab Ahmed, Regional Director – Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan at the IFC. The session, moderated by Gavin Serkin, Founder & Managing Editor of New Markets Media & Intelligence, explored how to mobilize capital to convert discussion into actual initiatives and energy that will translate to deals.

Khawaja Aftab Ahmed highlighted the UAE’s role as a powerhouse for investments, particularly in South-South investments. During the World Government Summit 2023, the IFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Masdar and AdfD to mobilize $1.5 billion to invest in renewable energies and climate-resilient projects, especially in Africa. He also emphasized the importance of South-South investments and how his job involves helping large conglomerates invest outside of the region through various products, including policy reforms, debt management, and advisory services.

Nardos Bekele-Thomas emphasized the critical sectors for the African Union, including manufacturing and promoting the manufacturing of health in Africa, blended finance, and access to the carbon market. She explained the shift in the African Union’s work and activities resulting from the Dakar Financing Summit, which focuses on integrated corridors to bring DFIs and the private sector to development projects. She also invited the UAE to support African infrastructure development and promote African trade, which could be a whole market for South-South cooperation.

Obaid Amrane discussed sovereign funds in emerging markets and their economic impact. He mentioned that most sovereign funds in emerging markets are development funds that target economic impact and act as safe brokers. He also emphasized that SDFs put development at the heart of their projects and get involved in the early stages of projects with key stakeholders such as DFIs.

The panelists also discussed various financial instruments, including blended finance, public-private partnerships, and donor money, as potential tools to mobilize capital in emerging markets. They also highlighted the importance of infrastructure development in emerging markets, particularly in critical sectors such as water, transport/rail, and IT. They discussed how emerging technologies, including big data and related technologies, have great potential to help emerging markets reach their decarbonization targets.

In conclusion, the session highlighted the potential of South-South investments in emerging markets and the critical role that financial instruments, infrastructure development, and emerging technologies play in mobilizing capital and achieving economic growth and development. The panelists emphasized the importance of collaboration between regions regarding governance and planning for implementation and the need to focus on emerging markets and Africa as potential markets.

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