Gates urges Norway to place investments from USD800 billion fund to Africa, Asian projects

By Rizza Sta. Ana

Nov 15, 2013 08:25 AM EST

In his visit to Oslo prior to meeting top officials of the government of Norway, philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said the state of Norway should be spending more in the poorest of countries. Norway is one of the world's biggest investors and has a USD800 billion oil fund to investment in certain projects or ventures.

Gates said sub-Saharan Africa and Asia needed the investments to alleviate problems in medicine and agriculture. The Microsoft founder also said Norway could choose to spend on infrastructure projects or acquire equity in small businesses.

Gates said, "Norway is by many measures one of the richest countries in the world and you can afford to take some of that money and help out people in other places. "The area where you may get this dual benefit is ... in sub-Sahara Africa and some of the countries in Asia. That's an asset class, which could absorb, if it was well managed, an additional $10 billion... I'm not talking about a gigantic amount."

According to a Reuters report, Norway was able to accumulate the biggest wealth fund in the world. The wealth fund was reportedly amassed by saving its surplus on oil revenues and operates as a type of endowment. This means that the state of Norway only get to spend the returns. Reuters said the wealth fund was expected to surpass USD1 trillion in this decade. Norway currently owns 1.25% of all equities in the world, which is seen as huge considering the country's population is only 5.1 million, said Reuters.

Reuters also said Norway has been working on a full review of its wealth fund, which includes its investment strategy. Critics said the fund was big and that Norway would need to diversify away from the usual investments like in stocks, bonds and real estate. Moreover, Norway would have to break up its investments into specialized vehicles, added critics.

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