By Belinda Ayamgha, GNA
Accra, Feb. 1, GNA - Mr David Bohigian, Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) says OPIC is committed to continue making impact with its investments in emerging markets in Africa and globally.
He said this commitment was reflected in the bipartisan support in the United States Congress for OPIC and its work.
“It’s clear on both sides of the aisle, people understand the importance of OPIC’s mission-whether that was Chairman Corker on the Foreign Relations Committee or Ranking Member Coons, I think both are committed to the development of finance and its role in the world in the 21st century,” he said.
Mr Bohigian was speaking via telephone to journalists following his visit to three West African countries: Ghana, Togo and Cameroon, where he said they were received very positively. “People want to deepen trade ties, they want to deepen investment ties, and OPIC’s at the forefront of that.”
He stressed that OPIC was very focused on impact investing, as it formed a core of its work, especially as a successor to the US Marshall Plan, which was introduced after World War II to help European economies recover.
“The ability to create investment and opportunity throughout the world is something OPIC has been doing with impact investing for almost 50 years. OPIC’s goal is to advance U.S. foreign policy and development, and we think the investments that we’ve created have helped stabilize societies and have helped stabilize families.”
He stated that Germany’s recent announcement of a Marshall Plan for Africa, was a demonstration of how a country could go from being an aid recipient to one of the economic powerhouses of the world, being able to create its own program to promote trade investment. “That is what success looks like” he said.
OPIC has in its global portfolio, more than $23 billion, which Mr Bohigian states, is all impact investing. This includes $3.5 billion in its current portfolio of private equity that helps create more entrepreneurial environments and grow companies throughout the world, as well as investments in political risk insurance; helping to unlock investments that otherwise wouldn’t be made.
“The goal of OPIC has always been to have an impact, not just in Africa but across Latin America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and beyond” he said.
Mr Bohigian’s reiterated OPIC’s commitment to Africa, which holds about $seven billion of its investments, which is up over $5 billion over the last 15 years. “We look to operate in markets that help countries develop, by investing in those markets, and we are extremely encouraged by the potential Africa is showing. There’s strong economic growth, there’s amazing demographics, and the reforms being adopted to improve the business climate are helping innovation throughout the continent,” he said.
His recent visit highlighted some of these investments in Ghana, Togo and Cameroon. In Ghana, OPIC, through its client, the GHL Bank, is helping to develop affordable housing at Apollonia City.
Reforms at GHL Bank, he said, had helped to reduce mortgage wait times from more than a year to only weeks since its work with OPIC The reforms that GHL Bank has undertaken not only help people started. “So not only are rates lower and more affordable, but the process of getting a loan has become much more accessible for thousands more people.”
In Togo, the delegation toured an OPIC-supported power plant which has tripled the amount of power available in Togo; both reducing blackouts and helping to create a multiplier effect across the economy while in Cameroon, they visited the Magrabi ICO Cameroon Eye Institute; a facility that provides affordable eye care.
OPIC is helping provide upwards of 18,000 cataract surgeries over the next 5 years to help cure blindness.