Why U.S. Investor Michael Milken Is Bullish On Sub-Saharan Africa

By Dana Sanchez Published: February 8, 2016, 3:26 pm
Michael Milken. Photo: bridgespan.org

Human capital is the world’s best investment, which is why Africa — with its youthful demographic — is such an attractive place to invest, said investor and philanthropist Michael Milken.

Milken spoke at a Tiger 21 conference in Los Angles, according to a report in FinancialAdvisorMagazine.

Half the population is under age 18 in 15 sub-Saharan African countries, according to the U.N.NationsPopulationFund.

Tiger 21 is a North American peer-to-peer learning network for high-net-worth investors. Its members collectively manage $35 billion in investable assets, according to the Tiger21  website. Members are entrepreneurs, CEOs, inventors and executives with backgrounds in financial services, real estate, industrial and consumer goods, legal services, entertainment and medicine.

A former junk-bond king, Milken was convicted in 1990 for securities fraud,  CNBC reported. He’s considered one of Wall Street’s most successful come-back stories, and is now the chairman of an institute that bears his name.

Milken’s “people-power” approach is full of optimism for technology, Africa and an aging population, according to the report. Milken is bullish on sub-Saharan Africa, were he says advances in heath and human services will mean people can live longer and economies can thrive.

Technology and medical research are areas of interest to Milken, who found out in 1993 that he had cancer. He was told he had 12 to 18 months to live, according to FinancialAdvisorMagazine.

Improving health care is the No. 1 priority for most sub-Saharan countries who responded to a Pew Research Center survey released in September, according to CNBC.

Medical research and public health have been two of the primary drivers of global growth but sub-Saharan Africa has yet to benefit from that, Milken said at the Milken Institute’s annual summit in 2015.  The summit is geared towards human capital and how financial markets can address urgent social and economic problems.

Milken speaks highly of immigrants: 50 percent of the scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley are first-generation immigrants, he told a crowd of 600-plus at the Tiger 21 conference.

Milken made a name for himself as head of junk bonds at Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1980s and later pleaded guilty to six felony charges of securities fraud and conspiracy, NYTimes reported. He was banned for life from the securities industry.

He has done a lot to restore his image.

 

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