Johannesburg - Irish rock star Bob Geldof has raised $200m for his “8 Mile” African private equity fund, cementing a shift in his global anti-poverty crusade from rich world debt forgiveness to promoting private enterprise.
“Africa is now a continent of extraordinary business and investment opportunity,” Geldof, who has become one of Africa’s most astute and knowledgeable economic commentators, said on Monday.
“Private equity is one way to support the enterprise and dynamism of the people of the continent and help provide the jobs and skills that are needed.”
The fund, named after the shortest distance between Europe and Africa, will invest in companies that promised to provide jobs and long-term growth.
Commerical agriculture, consumer and retail firms, health, telecommunications and financial services are among the main sectors it is looking at, the statement added.
Besides institutional and private investors, the fund’s backers include the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the African Development Bank and the CDC, Britain’s development finance arm.
Geldof’s announcement is the latest example of the private equity industry training its sights on Africa, home to more than a billion people and many economies growing at 6% a year or more.
US firm Carlyle Group has opened offices in Johannesburg and Lagos and is expected to announce the closing of its first Africa fund soon. London-based Helios is likely to deploy capital after closing a $900m Africa fund in June last year.
Boomtown Rats frontman Geldof shot to global prominence in 1980s as organisers of the Band Aid and Live Aid concerts that raised millions of dollars for African aid.
He also led a major push in 2005 to get rich countries to write off debt to the poorest African countries and double their aid spending by 2010.