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Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the largest number of people in extreme poverty — about 400 million, more than the rest of the world combined. The region also has more conflict-affected countries than any other.

Yet it is a continent of vast opportunity for businesses, according to Shaping the Future of Africa, a new IFC report. By 2030, 100 million people are expected to join Africa’s middle- and high-income groups, boosting the total to more than 160 million. Household consumption and business spending are growing rapidly — and could total $5.6 trillion by 2025.

Bovima Photo: Karel Prinsloo/IFC

That means the private sector has a crucial interest in addressing the region’s most urgent development challenges — its inadequate infrastructure, its rapid urbanization, and its need for jobs that can lift people out of poverty. IFC plays a comprehensive role here — by helping businesses improve productivity and establish links to broader markets, by expanding financial and social inclusion, and by boosting prosperity in ways that help limit conflict.

In FY18, our long-term investments in sub-Saharan Africa totaled $6.2 billion, including $4.6 billion mobilized from other investors. Our clients supported more than 278,000 jobs, created opportunities for more than 1 million farmers, and treated more than 1.4 million patients. One-third of our global advisory program was in the region.

Bovima Photo: Karel Prinsloo/IFC

Sub-Saharan Africa needs to create a large number of jobs to keep up with its rapid population growth — a challenge small and medium enterprises are best suited to address. In South Africa, we designed the SME Push Program, which is creating partnerships with the country’s largest banks to channel up to $3 billion in investment into SMEs over the next seven years. Under the program, we agreed to lend up to $200 million to FirstRand to be used to support small and medium enterprises.

In Zambia, we finalized financing — including $25.3 million in blended-finance support — for the construction of the country’s first large-scale solar power plants under the World Bank Group’s Scaling Solar program. Low-cost renewable power from the two plants will help offset a drought-induced decline in hydropower. We also expanded the program to Senegal, where we are helping the government add 60 megawatts to the country’s power-generation capacity — at tariffs 60 percent lower than those that prevailed in the past.

Zambia, $25.3M in Blended Finance for the Construction of the Country's First Large-Scale Solar Power Plants Under the World Bank Group's Scaling Solar Program

IFC provided $7 million in financing — half of it blended finance — to Bonne Viande de Madagascar, or BoViMa, to revitalize the country’s dwindling population of Zebu cattle. The company is building a modern feedlot and slaughterhouse that will create an export market for Zebu beef and goat meat, helping rebuild the country’s cattle industry and creating jobs. Meanwhile, a World Bank initiative will train veterinarians, rehabilitate laboratories, and help provide better animal care, allowing Madagascar to issue internationally recognized animal health certificates. Zebu meat will be shipped overseas through a modern port at Tolanaro, partly funded by the World Bank.