NAIROBI, Kenya — Bob Geldof, the Irish singer who made his name masterminding the Live Aid concerts to raise money for victims of Ethiopia's 1984 famine, and who is more famous now for his aid activism than his music, has just raised a $200 million private equity fund targeting opportunities in Africa.
Geldof is chairman of "8 Miles" named for the distance between the southern tip of Europe and the northern edge of Africa. According to the company "Africa offers a vast range of investment opportunities, together with a population of approximately one billion people already generating average economic growth across the continent of 6 percent per annum since 2001."
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8 Miles' backers aim to invest in agribusiness, retail, the health sector, telecoms and financial services, all sectors that it says "will help provide jobs, skills and growth."
In a statement Geldof said "Africa is now a continent of extraordinary business and investment opportunity. Private equity is one way to support the enterprise and dynamism of the people of the continent and help provide the jobs and skills that are needed."
Geldof is still betting on Africa's growth but was forced to scale down his original plan to raise a $1 billion fund after investor appetite was hit by the global economic downturn. He now says the fund will close at $450 million likely at the end of this year. Geldof is not alone in seeing opportunity and profits in Africa and a number of other private equity houses are currently raising capital to specifically target African investments.