This is Prof Mark Swilling's sixth year serving on the Board of The Development Bank of Southern Africa, serving as Chair of the Board from January to September 2019. Prof Swilling will serve as Deputy Chair for the next three years, and as Chairperson of the Infrastructure Delivery and Knowledge Committee (IDKC) of the Board. Prof Swilling made the following comments in terms of the DBSA and his role as the new Deputy Chair:
“The DBSA has traditionally played a major role in development finance in general, but infrastructure funding in particular. It came through the state capture years unscathed, with clean audits every year and no reports of wasteful or unwarranted expenditure. It has R90 billion worth of assets, and it lends around R15 billion per annum. In 2018/2019 we disbursed R9 billion, which is low because of adverse economic conditions. At its AGM on Friday 27th of September we announced a net profit of R3.1 billion (which we re-invest in development projects) and a pipeline of approved projects of R39 billion for the forthcoming year. We employ about 600 staff, and our cost to income ratio is a remarkable 23% (which is way below a commercial bank). My personal agenda has been to promote green investments and the adoption of what we now call our “development position". With regard to the former, we now have nearly R20 billion invested in renewable energy and we have become a designated agency of the Global Climate Facility that has made available $100 million for green investments, which we have matched. With regard to our newly adopted 'development position', DBSA has shifted from being a purely infrastructure investment bank to a proper development bank, i.e. the 'D' in DBSA is no longer a small 'd'. To this end we have established an Angel Investment Fund to make high risk low interest investments in SMMEs, in particular women-owned businesses; as well as a Social Impact Fund for generating social and environmental returns on financial investments. We are also seeding a new generation of local “D-Labs", i.e. innovative development labs for promoting entrepreneurship and employment in poor rural and urban areas. We are also managing the National Infrastructure Fund announced by the President, starting off with a R400 million project preparation facility provided by National Treasury. This is a strategically important initiative because it is a blended finance vehicle whereby private sector funding is attracted into infrastructure investments by public sector investments that take on more risk and require lower rates of return on investment. As Deputy Chair I will have more time to focus on the strategic guidance of these new green and developmental activities via the appropriate board committees (in particular the IDKC), with less time spent on the wider stakeholder management that is the responsibility of the Chairperson"