When small steps become giant leaps

Big plans do not necessarily produce the best results. One organisation is seeking to improve Africa's investment climate through a series of achievable initiatives. Andy Thomson reports

In a recent ranking of business climates in Africa by the World Bank, Zambia came seventh overall but only 15th for the ability to enforce contracts – a weakness that computerisation projects aim to address

Economy Ease of doing Enforcing
business rank contracts rank
Mauritius 1 10
South Africa 2 13
Botswana 3 17
Namibia 4 2
Kenya 5 19
Ghana 6 5
Zambia 7 15
Seychelles 8 7
Swaziland 9 24
Uganda 10 21

A joint partnership between Gaborone, Botswana-based private equity firm, Venture Partners Botswana, and the Botswana Medical Aid Society has purchased a 90 percent stake in Medical Rescue Internat ional Botswana, completing the delisting of the South African nation's emergency medical service provider. MRI Botswana, also based in Gaborone, specialises in executing emergency medical rescue operations throughout the country.

Pan-African private equity firm Emerging Capital Partners has invested $30 million in West African utility holding company Finagestion. Through its subsidiaries, Finagestion owns significant water and power interests in both C^te d'Ivoire and Senegal, providing drinking water to 13 million Africans and power to 10 million. Separately, the firm has returned two times its original investment with the $26 million exit of SOMDIAA, a Central African producer of sugar flour and animal feed.

The appointment of former UK cabinet minister Baroness Amos to the board of Nigerian private equity firm Travant Capital Partners has provoked accusations within the UK media that a £15 million (€17 million; $22 million) commitment from CDC, a UK government-owned fund of funds, was influenced by Amos's connections. CDC made the commitment to Travant's debut fund last year. Amos, who headed up the Department for International Development (DFID) for sixmonths during 2003, joined Travant in 2007.