First-of-its-kind, Asset Owners Forum South Africa officially launches through the support of USAID and the World Bank
The Batseta Council of Retirement Funds for South Africa (Batseta), in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank, and MiDA Advisors (Mobilizing Institutional Investors to Develop Africa’s Infrastructure), is pleased to announce the launch of the Asset Owners Forum South Africa (AOFSA or the Forum).
The AOFSA is a first-of-its-kind collaboration of local pension funds to support a common goal of investing in South African infrastructure and real assets for the benefit of their members, while maximizing the positive socio-economic impact of those investments.
The Forum has been founded by 12 of the largest pension funds in South Africa with collective assets approaching R3 trillion (US$200 billion) and aims to align key investments in infrastructure and other alternatives for economic and social impact.
“Given the current environment, this is a clarion call to action for pension funds to align and seek synergies and mobilise long-term capital to provide resources for development of our local infrastructure. This should be done by generating sufficient risk-adjusted returns for our members to retire on while developing a sustainable world for them to retire into,” said Ndabezinhle Mkhize, Chairman of the AOFSA and Chief Investment Officer of Eskom Pension & Provident Fund.
A further key goal of the Forum is to invest over R3.75 billion (US$250 million) in long-term projects over the next five years by pooling assets from pension funds including small and medium-sized funds.
There are currently more than 5,000 pension funds in South Africa, according to the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, with total estimated assets of R4.6 trillion, or US$306 billion.
Unpacking the 2021 Mercer Report on Infrastructure financing in sub-Saharan Africa, Jolly Mokorosi, AOFSA Vice Chair and Independent Trustee, notes that there has never been a better time for asset owners to invest in infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa. Rebounding from the Covid downturn means robust macroeconomic growth on the continent, while deepening capital markets and potential partnership opportunities with local institutional investors, afford excellent potential for international asset owners.
“The timing of the launch of this Forum couldn’t be more auspicious” poses Roselyn Spencer, Managing Director of MiDA Advisors. “Given Mercer’s research and the current proposed amendments to Regulation 28 of the Pension Funds Act, we see investment opportunities arising at exactly the moment that institutional investors need to be taking advantage of them.”
As a major contributor to the success of this Forum, USAID has provided resources to support implementation partners like MiDA Advisors in providing advisory support, capacity building, and technical assistance to develop the Forum’s framework to unlock and mobilise private capital in South Africa. This support aims to drive local investments in infrastructure and facilitate two-way, objective-focused investment between U.S. investors and South African pension funds.
“We see this as enormous progress in local pension funds making a difference in the lives of their communities. It is a step forward for funds to unite as co-investors to develop the economy,” said Radesh Maharaj, Chairman of Batseta
The Asset Owners Forum South Africa was officially launched on Friday, November 19, 2021, in South Africa. Following the launch, Forum members will focus on project consideration and analysis for investment.