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The Growing Size of African Pension Pots

On the kampala skyline workers can watch their savings climb into the air. Pension Towers, an office complex financed by the state-run provident fund, will be one of Uganda’s tallest buildings. Work began in 2008 and has been marred by fatal accidents, corruption allegations and budget overruns. The skyscraper illustrates the growing size of African pension pots—and the challenge of investing that money usefully. This is a strange problem to have. The African Development Bank reckons that the continent needs $130bn-170bn of infrastructure spending a year to bring roads, water, power and internet to its people. Businesses are crying out for capital. What little they get often comes from foreigners, who are quick to pack their bags when things get tough. There is no such risk with local pension funds, which collectively manage around $350bn of assets in sub-Saharan Africa, according to RisCura, an investment firm. And yet many local funds say they struggle to find places to invest.