DVK Founder Deepak Kuntawala topped off a week of meetings with Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and significant others as the chief host of a spectacular event at the Jumeirah Carlton in Knightsbridge.
The event was to launch the DVK Africa Development Fund, which will provide investment to various countries from the east of the continent to the Horn of Africa. At the invitation of the Somalian President, His Excellency Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Deepak Kuntawala allied with one of his longtime partners, Hussein Al-Ishaqi, co-chairman and founder of Somalia’s Direct Investment Advisory, and founder of two funds dedicated to investment in Somalia, to develop the funds and create an infrastructure to enable them to operate.
Deepak began the evening by talking of how he was born in Africa and had always hoped to return and add value. Two years ago he was invited by the Kenyan Vice President to create a number of projects in his country, the first of which were investment vehicles for trading commodities.
The two funds DVK is setting up are:
1) a one billion dollar fund to bring development and build a viable infrastructure in key African nations like Somalia, and
2) a general fund for trading designed to include the diasporas interested in investing in East Africa.
The first fund has already raised a third of its target, with Qatar and Canada as major investors. This fund is going to be regulated and Shariah compliant. International law firm Mishcon de Reya will be establishing it and two of its senior lawyers were present at the Jumeirah event. Senior auditors will have oversight.
Deepak mentioned in passing that top Indian companies like Reliance and others from China and the Gulf are also focusing hard on the ports of east Africa to establish a dominant position there, eyeing up the commodity-rich region.
DVK has been selected to establish and run the funds since the company has a successful track record in Africa, China and other territories.
His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia sent a personal message for the President of Somalia which Deepak read out at the event.
Modest Hussein Al-Ishaqi, who has been mandated by various Middle East royal families to raise investment, got up briefly on stage to thank DVK.
Deepak told the audience that the scope of the fund will widen to include commodities, trade, finance and private aviation with a view to flights being made available to Mecca from Islamic African countries.
One of the night’s other speakers was Adam Yusuf, co-founder of the African Development Fund. His story was moving. Born in Kenya to Somalian parents, Adam came to the UK as a refugee.
He expressed passion about the new emerging Africa. He reminded the audience that Africa held the largest gas reserves in the world and also warm, welcoming people who always want to help. Real Co. also spoke of investing in farms and agriculture in Somalia and Kenya.
During a spellbinding Q and A session Deepak spoke of three words that embody his principles; vision, belief and faith, how he appreciates the Tata model of business, and moved some of the audience when he described in detail for the first time in public what happened in Mumbai 2008 when he and his father were caught up in the terrorist attacks and managed to escape.
During the event, Deepak told the audience that 60% of the world’s uncultivated land is owned by Africa, providing opportunity for investment in agriculture.
The continent has infrastructure needs of $80 billion, and over the last decade investment in the region has exceeded any aid taken. Oil reserves in West Africa alone exceed that of Kuwait, and at 110 billion barrels, are on par with Iraq.
He also said that diamonds, cobalt, gold, uranium, copper, and iron ore are all areas in need of investment.
Three musical acts performed during the show; the London Community Gospel choir, the X Factor’s Jahmene, and Somalian singer Maryan Mursal.