Executive Interviews

Erik Wandrag, Senior Investment Director: Energy, Harith General Partners

December 2016


Could you give a brief description of your role, including the best thing about it?

I am responsible for our existing energy portfolio as well as new investments in the energy sector. What i really enjoy about it is that it is very much like building puzzles - you have to find the right pieces and make them fit; what I really love about it is the interesting people you meet in the process. It is also pretty amazing to point at something concrete and say to my tow sons: "Hey, we did that."

What do you think are the key challenges for investment in West Africa?

1. The availability of credit support underpinning sovereign commitments

2. Currency inconvertibility challenges.

3. Election cycles are typically shorter than project development timelines 

Do you think there has been a shift in investment patterns and focus within West Africa
since the drop in oil price and in what ways have they changed?

Absolutely. Apart from the evident and obvious reduction in the size and number of investements, there is also significantly less appetite for early development of projects. We also see a lot of projects coming onto the market at notable discounts to what sponsors where previously asking. In addition the focus has also shifted somewhat to countries that are less reliant on oil revenues. 

In the context of the foreign exchange inssues in Nigeria, to what extent is there a need
for a balance between foreign and local investment into infrastructure in West Africa?

Being able to raise substantial local debt would make a massive difference. By far the largest portion of cashflows generated by any project goes towards servicing debt. If this can be repaid in local currency, it would ease the burden on available foreign currency tremendously. This will attract additional foreign equity and increase the roll-out of projects in conjunction with local equity partners.  

If you were to take a music album, a book and a piece of artwork or film to a desert island what would they be?

Music album: Dire Straits - Brother in Arms. Or Bob Marley's Greatest Hits - it is an island after all. 

Book: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All 5 parts - it may be a long stay.

Artwork: A picture taken from the top of the Empire State Building. If I was in New York, I would want a pitcure of a deser island. 

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