From November 14th to 17th, 2022, the sovereign wealth funds members of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF) met in Baku, Azerbaijan, for the 14th General Assembly of the IFSWF.

The capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, hosted the General Assembly of the International Sovereign Wealth Funds Forum (IFSWF) from November 14 to 17, which brought together the heads of the Sovereign Wealth Funds members of the IFSWF.

This forum is an opportunity to consult, network, and work with representatives of financial institutions and major funding agencies.

This edition celebrates the reunion of members since the 2019 meeting, hosted by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation in Juneau. Previous meetings were held in a virtual format due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SOFAZ (the Sovereign Wealth Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan), managing $47 billion, hosted the inaugural meeting of the Forum in Baku in October 2009 and ever since then, an annual meeting is scheduled between Sovereign Wealth Funds members of the IFSWF. Out of the 197 countries in the world, only about 50 countries, including Djibouti, have managed to set up sovereign wealth funds.

This 14th meeting was attended by the heads of 36 SWFs, representatives of international institutions, and key private sector partners of the IFSWF; giants in the buy-side world such as Franklin Templeton or BlackRock (which manages $10 trillion in assets under management) were present.

Among the participants, were present the two Sovereign Wealth Funds of Singapore ”GIC” ($700 billion under management) and ”Temasek” ($400 billion under management), the Sovereign Wealth Fund of China ”CIC” ($1,250 billion under management), the Sovereign Wealth Funds of the Emirates ”ADIA” and ”Mubadala”, the Qatari Sovereign Wealth Fund ”QIA”, the Sovereign Wealth Funds of Australia and New Zealand, to name a few. It was therefore a unique platform to position Djibouti and its young Sovereign Wealth Fund, thus fulfilling its mission to contribute to the influence of Djibouti on the international financial scene.

Indeed to date, only 6 African countries are members of this international organization (IFSWF), which now includes the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Djibouti, which was represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Slim Feriani.

A large number of Sovereign Wealth Funds members of the IFSWF and in attendance in Baku, manage funds that are equal to or greater than their economy and are therefore a strategic resource for the present and future generations of their respective countries. These funds have accumulated this significant amount of funds by sometimes investing in their country but also and especially outside their country.

The representatives of the main African Sovereign Wealth Funds took part in a panel discussion on the theme “Africa’s attractiveness: the wind of change”. Moderated by Ithmar Capital, the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Morocco, the panel discussion focused on several topics:

– Collaboration and investment partnerships

– Long-term sustainability and climate change

– Governance, stakeholder management, and talent

Questions were raised on the conditions for attracting more co-investment. On the role of different stakeholders in a given country in maintaining an investment dynamic by attracting more direct investment, particularly in equity.

The Sovereign Wealth Funds have made a point of considering environmental, social and governance issues.

The International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds is a global network of Sovereign Wealth Funds whose objectives are to

– build valuable collaboration among members

– promote a better understanding of the business of funds

– improve decision-making practices to ensure transparent and accountable operations

During the brainstorming session, the future of Africa was discussed at length. The attractiveness of the African continent and the investment opportunities remain strong. Some suggest that African countries invest massively in renewable energy. These investments should be considered as the “lever” of sustainable development.

The work of the IFSWF in Baku took stock of the progress made by the host country over the past 30 years, since the acquisition of its independence.

The Sovereign Wealth Fund of Azerbaijan has become an active investor in the International Capital Market.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Slim Feriani said “Today Azerbaijan’s GDP is about $54 billion reflecting an economic boom over the past 20 years. A result not without effort since Azerbaijan’s sovereign wealth fund “SOFAZ” (which manages $47 billion) won the 2007 UN Public Service Award for improving transparency, accountability, and responsiveness in public service. An example for member countries to follow,” emphasised Dr. Feriani.

“With its strong convening power, the IFSWF, through these meetings, enables SWFs to maximize their power for economic transformation and to ensure sustainable investments for future generations. Strong partnerships will be built as a result of this high-level summit. It was also an excellent opportunity for me to introduce and market the FSD and Djibouti to a very large international audience,” concluded Dr. Slim Feriani.

The participants in these meetings in Baku, finally decided that Madrid will host the next assembly in 2023 and the Sultanate of Oman in 2024.