Bnkability recently held a Lunchtime talk on “Rethinking how investment deals are done in Africa using NLP”. This was hosted by the Department of Computer Science (Employer Talks), on Wednesday 1 August.
Speaker Background: Emem Rita Usanga
Emem is the Founder @bnkabilityAFR and also User Experience (UX) Design Consultant working with startups and scaleups as Mentor at Seedcamp and Techstars. She is also Co-Lead of TLA Africa, part of Tech London Advocate, championing London’s potential as a world-class hub for tech and digital businesses.
Problem: Bnkability aims to solve the problem of bankable infrastructure projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, using Machine Learning and an NLP platform that automates project vetting and due diligence, simultaneously delivering bankable projects. (NLP: Neuro Linguistic Programming).
Emem presented an interactive session presenting challenges in the application of NLP as a solution and invited attendees to propose possible solutions.
Background: With a $108bn annual infrastructure funding deficit over the next 10 years and a population anticipated to double by 2045, the need for infrastructure across the African continent is a pressing need. Governments acknowledge this can only be done in partnership with private investors.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):
As a previous attendee at Global African Investment summit a few years go, she realised that there was appetite for investments in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) but few deals been made or completed by private equity and venture capital firms. A major issue was that there was 7-9 years gap between commitment and disbursement of funds. Currently 3.5% of FDI goes to SSA, compared to 14% for SEAsia, this is because Development Finance Institutions have competing Investment opportunities.
For Sub-Saharn Africa (SSA) FDI Investment was $64bn with a $34bn funding gap. Projected population by 2050 is 1.3bn, with the rise of mega-cities Lagos, Addis Ababa, Cape Town.
SESSION: Rethinking infrastructure investment deals
Emem led the talk through a slide-deck presentation and explained the approach being envisaged ,through an input-output framework .
A focus of this discussion was that an NLP Engineer/Co-Founder is also sought to complete her team. This commercial opportunity would also be of interest if you want to help solve complex Machine Learning related problems, so contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sector focus: Initial sector focus is on Renewable energy and Agriculture.
Due Diligence: The due diligence process is quite expensive since most of the required information is not available in a digital format. Currently most African Governments have their information held on reams of paper! This aspect is currently being tackled by Asoko Insight who have a focus on mid-cap African Markets, and provide an automated verification process.
Risk Management: This needs to consider Anti-Money laundering (AML) issues and also consider financial, legal and political risks. Hence risk modelling needs to be done using machine learning to address regulatory framework.
Private Equity and Venture Capital: PE & VC companies have found the due diligence very cumbersome and expensive and see this issue as a bottleneck to investment deals disbursement.
The Event ended with an interactive audience session and networking.
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