Interview: Said Ibrahimi

What have been the implications of CFC so far?

SAID IBRAHIMI: CFC was created in 2010 with the goal of becoming a leading international financial centre capable of attracting global capital flows, supporting economic actors and facilitating deals across the continent. This vision, initially promoted by King Mohammed VI, has created a positive dynamic, mainly due to Morocco’s location, its position as one of Africa’s leading investors, and the strong presence of its banking and insurance sectors across 34 African countries. Furthermore, CFC has taken steps to create a modern regulatory framework and CFC label, with the objective of bringing Africa closer to investors. With the support of national regulatory authorities, CFC acts as a catalyst in providing fast track services, a balanced business environment and strong credibility.

In what ways is CFC contributing to the growth of sustainable development financing in Africa?

IBRAHIMI: Sustainable development financing is a fundamental issue for the continent. Paradoxically, Africa is the smallest contributor to global warming but the most vulnerable to its effects, and it receives just 5% of global funds for climate change. We are pushing to increase our impact throughout Africa by orienting capital flows towards long-term, sustainable projects, such as our partnership with the Africa50 fund, which joined CFC at COP22 UN Conference on Climate Change, which has the long-term objective of investing $100bn in infrastructure and sustainable development in Africa. We also recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop green financial instruments with Shanghai’s financial centre, and several training initiatives are planned to further our expertise.

In September 2018 a 15-year green bond raised $35.8m to extend our environmentally friendly real estate programme. We view the development of these assets as an opportunity for African countries to facilitate the transition towards low-carbon economies.

We took an additional step to formalise our commitment to green finance by becoming a founding member of the International Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S). This initiative was created with the support of the UN Environment Programme to help these institutions play more pivotal roles in funding sustainable development. The first meeting of the FC4S took place in Casablanca in September 2017 and resulted in the 11 founding centres signing the Casablanca Declaration. FC4S now brings together 19 financial centres with the aim of engaging our African partners and creating associations between other financial centres on the continent to share best practices and collaborate in developing sustainable investment opportunities. We are continuing our efforts to promote global investments in green initiatives in Africa. We currently have a range of investment funds in our CFC member community, such as Global Nexus, Finance in Motion, Green of Africa and Nova Power.

How are CFC and other Moroccan entities promoting the uptake of financial technology (fintech)?

IBRAHIMI: The MoU we signed in June 2018 with Frankfurt Main Finance (FMF), the eurozone’s leading financial centre, will help reinforce business cooperation on fintech. The MoU is meant to promote growth by sharing best practices and exchanging information and expertise within the framework of the World Alliance of International Financial Centres, of which the FMF and CFC are founding members.

Fintech is a segment of focus because we believe it has the potential to revolutionise the sector with innovative and cost-effective solutions. In Africa, where levels of financial inclusion remain relatively low, demand is growing for new forms of access to funding services, such as mobile payments, transfer solutions, crowdfunding and microcredits. We hope that our work in fintech will help boost financial inclusion and bridge the financing gap for small and medium-sized enterprises.