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Carbon launches USSD service to enhance access to finance
February 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

Lagos, Nigeria, 24 February 2020 – Carbon, the Pan-African digital financial services company, has introduced a USSD service to its platform, making it even easier for individuals that have little or no access to smartphones or the internet, to access the financial services they need such as instant loans and easy-to-use payments.

This new service will allow existing Carbon customers to access instant loans and other payment solutions via USSD without requiring internet data. Prior to the launch of the USSD channel, Carbon’s financial services were only available to smartphone users via its Android and iOS apps.

Carbon is also launching simplified transaction processes for the new USSD functionality, that are faster and easier to use. Using the USSD code *1303#, customers (on MTN and 9Mobile) will now be able to quickly transact, encouraging more financial inclusion and making access to financial services possible in the absence of internet connectivity. 

Despite being practically forgotten in many parts of the world, USSD continues to provide an effective and efficient channel for delivering much-needed financial services across Africa. Mobile phone penetration continues to rise on the continent1, providing a platform for much-needed fintech innovation, but the high cost of internet data2 and the prevalence of feature phones3 means many are still excluded from the benefits of mainstream financial services. 

The new USSD channel will deepen Carbon’s market reach, allowing it to deliver innovative financial services to a wider range of consumers and giving them easier, quicker access to the funds and services they require to fulfil their needs.

According to Chijioke Dozie, CEO and co-founder of Carbon, “One of the biggest selling points of USSD is that it works with or without the internet, which is reassuring in the African context where internet data is expensive and inconsistent. As fintech continues to develop across Africa, and ingrains itself into people’s everyday lives, it is important to invest and innovate across the ecosystem, ensuring that individuals are not excluded from the benefits of financial inclusion.”

Carbon’s new USSD channel will also enable airtime recharge and funds transfer for existing customers. Bill payments, loans and onboarding of new customers via USSD will be added to the platform very soon.


Carbon, a product of OneFi, is Nigeria’s leading digital financial services platform that empowers individuals and businesses with access to credit, simple payments solutions, high-yield investment opportunities and easy-to-use tools for personal financial management. We are a global company of over 90 employees with operations in Nigeria, England and Kenya

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Next Steps to U.S.-Kenya Free Trade Agreement
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

A Kenya-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would build on the success Kenya has experienced in producing and exporting a range of value-added products to the U.S. market

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 20, 2020/ — Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) (https://www.CorporateCouncilonAfrica.com/) in partnership with Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) hosted a roundtable discussion with Kenyan and U.S. business leaders and government officials to explore how the private sector can support this bilateral effort and take full advantage of investment and trade opportunities that will arise from a Kenya-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

This comes as a follow up to the recent visit of H.E. President Kenyatta to the United States, where the U.S. and Kenyan Government announced the launch of talks aimed at establishing a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. If successful, it would be the first U.S. FTA with a sub-Saharan African nation and potentially a model the United States will use to enhance its trade and investment relationship with other African countries.

Ms. Florizelle Liser, President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), noted that a Kenya-U.S. FTA could build on Kenya’s success in trading value-added products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). “It is also an opportunity” she said, “for the private sectors of both the U.S. and Kenya to deepen trade and investment ties in key sectors from energy to banking, construction, ICT/digital trade, health, manufacturing and services trade.”

Ms. Liser mentioned that the roundtable today was the first of many that CCA plans on hosting with KEPSA as a long-time partner. “We would like to use this platform to provide regular updates on ongoing negotiations, ensure private sector participation and support, and extract real time opportunities for businesses.”

KEPSA CEO, Ms. Carole Karuga, in her opening remarks emphasized the importance of growth of the FTA between Kenya and the USA stating that the increased trade opportunity for export and import would lead to growth of business.

Ms. Karuga pointed out that Kenya is the leader of the East African Community and went further to underscore that Kenya, among the businesses in Africa participating in global trade, is leading the pact.

“Kenya should draw lessons from Morocco on the challenges and opportunities that are emerging with the free trade agreement between them and the US in order to learn and eventually do better,” she urged.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter who spoke at the event said: “We look forward to working together to create a free-trade agreement that allows Kenyan and American businesses to benefit from increased access to each other’s markets and one where both our consumers will enjoy greater prosperity though expanded choice and competition within the marketplace. A successful U.S.-Kenya FTA will stand as a landmark for East Africa and for all of Africa.”

PS, State Department of Trade, Amb. Johnson Weru appreciated the synergy between Government and private sector, adding that the government is willing to walk this journey together with the private sector. “As we speak there is a government team that is also dissecting the deliberations that took place in Washington last week. Kenya has a great appetite for this opportunity.”

Dr. Ruth Kagia, Senior Advisor, in the Office of the President, appreciated the discussion that took place in Washington pointing out that this has the highest political support.

A Kenya-U.S. FTA would build on the success Kenya has experienced in producing and exporting a range of value-added products to the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), while enhancing two-way trade, strengthening commercial cooperation, and spurring investment into key sectors.

KEPSA and CCA signed an MoU to promote mutual interests through cooperation in the promotion of trade and investment opportunities in Kenya. This emphasizes on the need to explore opportunities between Kenya and the USA on the backdrop of the commencement of the negotiations on the free trade agreement between Kenya and USA.

Free trade increases prosperity for the citizens of all participating nations by allowing consumers to buy more, better-quality products at lower costs. It drives economic growth, enhanced efficiency, increased innovation, and the greater fairness that accompanies a rules-based system. These benefits increase as overall trade exports and imports increases

Corporate Council on Africa (https://www.CorporateCouncilonAfrica.com/) is the leading U.S business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S and African firms .

*SOURCE Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)

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Local content and market-driven policies set to shape energy investments in Senegal as African Energy Chamber concludes working visit in Dakar
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
NJ Ayuk of the African Energy Chamber with Senegalese President Macky Sall
NJ Ayuk of the African Energy Chamber with Senegalese President Macky Sall

The African Energy Chamber’s delegation advocated for local content as a pillar of the industry’s sustainability efforts

DAKAR, Senegal, February 18, 2020/ — As Senegal’s first oil and gas projects are under-development and first production is expected within two years, the African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) conducted this week a working visit in Dakar to promote investment into the country and support local content development and capacity building.

Led by Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk, the African Energy Chamber’s delegation advocated for local content as a pillar of the industry’s sustainability efforts and offered all its support to continue pushing and financing Senegal’s initiatives to build capacity and build a new generation of Senegalese oil & gas workers and managers. “Oil companies have an unmatched ability, and a profound responsibility, to support H.E. Macky Sall’s bold vision in shaping an economy that works for all Senegalese and preserves their freedoms,” said NJ Ayuk.

The team met with H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal; H.E. Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energies, Ousmane Ndiaye, Permanent Secretary of COS-Petrogaz; Aguibou Ba, Director General of the National Institute for Petroleum and Gaz (INPG) and the majority of the oil and gas operators and service companies.   

“Moving closer and closer to becoming a large-scale producer of oil and gas, Senegal’s story is an inspiring one. And, as a hotspot for oil and gas development, it is only fitting that the nation cements market-driven local content frameworks that are rooted in capacity building and are driven by the determination to transform practices in its energy sector,” declaired Nj Ayuk. “That is why initiatives such as the INPG are important in ensuring that industry revenue benefits the state while also guaranteeing employment for citizens. The INPG is a true social contract bringing the private and public sector together to plan for a prosperous future for Senegal,” he added.

The Chamber’s working visit coincided with that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during which state-owned SENELEC and GE signed an agreement for the development of 300MW of gas-to-power capacity, the modernization of Senegal’s power plants and the creation of a maintenance centre in Senegal. In line with the US’ interests to increase cooperation with Africa, the Chamber reiterated the industry’s call for continued improvements in the ease of doing business and better operating environments for foreign investors.

“President Trump dispatching Secretary of State Pompeo and US companies to Senegal is a brilliant move. US companies understand that investing in Senegal is good business and a sustainable corporate strategy. President Macky Sall’s government has built on positive trends to maximize foreign investments. This includes a commitment to transparency, improving safety and security, strengthening the macroeconomic environment, investing in quality education and skill development in science, technology and innovation, and avoiding the Dutch disease,” added Ayuk.

Last year, the African Energy Chamber and Centurion Law Group hosted a local content forum in Senegal, calling attention to local content development in the country. The ongoing visit serves as a follow up and a showcase of the Chamber’s continued commitment to the growth and development of African economies through ensuring that Africa’s natural resources benefit Africa’s people first.

“Senegal’s emergence as a key player in the oil and gas industry has been remarkable and, as this growth continues to surge, it is important that local communities have a seat at the table, It is also important that we continue to create an enabling environment investors and the oil sector. Cutting unnecessary red tape and fast-tracking project approvals will give the energy operators a boost,” said NJ Ayuk. “This, however, is a goal that is achievable only through the collaboration of the private and public sector. Local content is value creation and it is pertinent that Senegal put in place policies and frameworks that will see the its people benefit from its hydrocarbon industry,” he added.

Last month, Woodside Energy got the green light for its $4.2bn Sangomar oil project, Senegal’s first offshore oil venture where first production is expected in 2023, with a capacity to reach 100,000 bopd. The Phase 1 development concept for the Sangomar field is a stand-alone FPSO facility with subsea infrastructure. Meanwhile, works are ongoing at the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim FLNG project, whose phase 1 will see the commissioning of a 2.5 mtpa facility by 2022. This month, Kosmos Energy, BP, Petrosen and SMHPM signed an agreement with BP Gas Marketing for the supply of 2.45 mtpa of LNG over 20 years.

The MSGBC Basin has become sub-Saharan Africa’s hottest exploration frontier. Senegal is currently holding a licensing round to further attract investment into its acreages and boost existing reserves. The round is expected to generate tremendous interest from foreign investors and further confirm Senegal as a new African energy leader.

The African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) works with indigenous companies throughout the continent in optimizing their reach and networks. Our partnerships with international dignitaries, executives, and companies allow for relevant servicing to other international entities looking to operate within the continent.

The African Energy Chamber brings willing governments and credible businesses together to continuing growth of the African energy sector under international standard business practices.

*Source African Energy Chamber
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Africa Energy Forum 2020 to address Sustainable Development Goal on Energy (SDG7) and Impact of Energy Investment
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
Under the overarching theme “Investment & Impact,” the Forum’s 2020 programme puts sustainable development and the impact of power projects under the spotlight
BARCELONA, Spain, February 17, 2020/ — The 2020 Africa Energy Forum (aef) (www.Africa-Energy-Forum.com) will welcome Chairwoman Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, to officiate the opening sessions.

 Mrs. Ogunbiyi said: “Africa is a region full of promise and economic opportunity. Yet as we begin the final decade to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7, over 573 million people across Africa still do not have access to electricity which affects the region’s economic potential, health outcomes and prosperity. Now is the time we must all come together to increase investment, make bold commitments and create new partnerships that can deliver affordable, reliable, modern and sustainable energy for all Africans.”
 
The 2020 programme
 Taking place in Barcelona, Spain from 30th June – 3rd July, the 2020 agenda introduces dynamic sessions prioritising interactivity between panellists and delegates. Session formats include interactive Q&As, deep dives, roundtables and hard-hitting debates.
 
In line with the SDG7 goal of ensuring “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all,” aef will host a stream dedicated to unpacking Africa’s role in achieving SDG7, debating how the continent can meet energy demands in light of global sustainability goals.
 
The Tech & Tools stream will examine how the 4th Industrial Revolution is set to play out for Africa, discussing the future of battery storage, disruptive technologies and artificial intelligence in 2020 and beyond.
 
A special Project signing session on the opening day will see partners and sponsors sign power projects with public & private sector partners in front of a live aef audience.
 The EnergyNet Student Engagement Initiative returns to invite promising finance, law and engineering students from Africa and host country Spain to meet Energy Ministers, participate in workshops and learn about the opportunities for energy development in their respective countries.

 Networking highlights
 The Africa Challenge Cup will return to aef this June – a football tournament raising money for charity while providing an outstanding networking opportunity for sponsors and delegates. Barcelona is the ideal city to build on the success of the 2019 tournament and exceed our charitable contribution.
 
New for 2020, aef will host an Industry Quiz for teams of sponsors and delegates. Quiz rounds will take place throughout the agenda on the exhibition floor over the course of the 3 days. The wining team will be recognised with an awards ceremony and prize at the aef 2020 closing ceremony.
 
Over 2,000 decision-makers from the public and private sector are expected to attend the 22nd Africa Energy Forum this June. 
 
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Accor set to expand Ethiopia footprint with management agreement for new Ibis Styles hotel
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

Design-Led Economy Property in Addis Ababa to grow group’s presence to five properties countrywide

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, February 13, 2020/ — Accor (Accor.com), a world-leading augmented hospitality group, is expanding its presence in Ethiopia after signing a management agreement to open a new property under its design-led economy brand, Ibis Styles.

In a move that ramps up its ambitious development plans in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Group has partnered with private conglomerate, Yuluch Elyano Trading plc, to operate the 150-key Ibis Styles Addis Ababa, its fifth upcoming property in the capital, with a scheduled opening date of 2023.

Conveniently situated in a secluded location just off the city’s main thoroughfare, Bole Road, 1km from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and close to corporate institutions and embassies, the property will appeal to regional and international business travellers seeking stylish and affordable accommodation.

“Our partnership with Yuluch Elyano Trading provides Accor with an exciting opportunity to showcase the Ibis Styles brand in a market where demand for innovative budget hospitality concepts is being driven by the continent’s booming domestic travel sector,” said Mark Willis, CEO Middle East & Africa for Accor.

“The deal also marks another important step in our African development strategy, growing our Ethiopia pipeline to five properties strong, across a diverse range of targeted brands and strengthening our presence in a region we have earmarked for accelerated expansion.”

Mr. Goitom Girmay, Major Shareholder and CEO, Yuluch Elyano Trading plc, said: “Ethiopia is Africa’s fastest-growing economy, fuelled by significant investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, and visitor numbers to the capital are surging. This calls for high-quality accommodation operated by world-leading hospitality groups and our agreement with Accor to deliver a cutting-edge economy hotel brand in the dynamic capital aims to meet this market need.”

Ibis Styles Addis Ababa will offer 150 rooms, each featuring the brand’s signature Sweet BedTM by ibis concept, which is unrivalled in the economy sector, as well as an all-day dining venue, fitness centre and gym, meeting space options and a car park.

It is expected to become a destination for travellers and families who appreciate trendy boutique-style accommodation with creative and culturally relevant design, modern technology and home comforts. 

The hotel will join Accor’s growing pipeline of properties in Addis Ababa under brands including MGallery, Mercure, Pullman and Mövenpick.

Ibis Styles has already proven a popular concept in other fast-growing African markets including Nairobi in Kenya and Accra in Ghana, with a total of seven properties in operation in the Middle East and Africa and seven more in the pipeline.

Accor’s Africa portfolio currently comprises 159 properties (25,389 keys) with another 58 hotels (13,413 keys) in its development pipeline, growing its presence to 25 diverse brands.

About Accor:
Accor (Accor.com) is a world-leading augmented hospitality group offering unique experiences in 4,900 hotels and residences across 110 countries. The Group has been acquiring hospitality expertise for more than 50 years, resulting in an unrivalled portfolio of brands, from luxury to economy, supported by one of the most attractive loyalty programs in the world.

Beyond accommodation, Accor enables new ways to live, work, and play, by blending food and beverage with nightlife, wellbeing, and co-working. It also offers digital solutions that maximize distribution, optimize hotel operations and enhance the customer experience.

Accor is deeply committed to sustainable value creation and plays an active role in giving back to planet and community via its Planet 21 – Acting Here program and the Accor Solidarity endowment fund, which gives disadvantaged groups access to employment through professional training.

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On the Kenya-Tanzania border, the African Development Bank eases trade with One Stop Border Post
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

On the border between Tanzania and Kenya sits Namanga, a town of 16,000 residents where cross-border trade has thrived thanks to investment in a One Stop Border Post (OSBP).

In 2007, the African Development Bank provided financing of $108 million to Kenya and $77 million to Tanzania with the objective of easing the flow of people and goods across the East African frontier through road improvements and the construction of a OSBP.

The facility, located between Tanzania’s Longido District and Kenya’s Kajiado County, has contributed to improving trade and tourism on both sides of the border and is aligned to one of  the Bank’s “High 5” strategic priorities: Integrating Africa.

Naftali Elhudi Mzota, a bus driver who works for Impala Shuttles in Kenya, has been using the border crossing for 23 years.

“Previously, with the two borders, you had to go through customs and immigration in Tanzania, and then back to Kenya. It could take up to two hours,” he explained.

Now people from Tanzania and Kenya are able to move back and forth across the border much more quickly – a boost to the town of Namanga which derives much of its income from tourism.

Many tourists pass through this border crossing to visit the nearby Amboseli National Park. In the past, access was difficult, but with the financial support from the African Development Bank, up to 242 km of roads around the border town have now been upgraded.

“Before, the road was full of potholes,” Mzota recalled. “You couldn’t make the round trip to Nairobi and back in one day. Having a new road has changed everything.”

Edward Wilson Lyimo has owned a hotel for more than 20 years in Namanga, on the Tanzanian side of the border: “Thanks to this new border, road traffic has increased, businesses have become profitable. This border crossing has been very beneficial to us, we can now trade in both countries,” he said.

The OSBP project aimed to speed up movement across the border and facilitate trade, said Kenneth Bagamuhunda, Director General of Customs and Trade of the East African Community.

“It was a challenge, he acknowledged. “Now it takes about 30 minutes to cross the border. We have a very good relationship with the African Development Bank. They have supported us in the renovation of the infrastructure. Today, we have 10 single-stop border crossings. We are going to duplicate this initiative on other borders, such as the border with Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.”

Sarah Keiya, who has been selling souvenirs to tourists for 10 years in Namanga, has benefited from the new border arrangements.

“Before, we didn’t make good money,” she said. “We were afraid to move around, we were afraid to approach tourists. Now we see them as friends. They are our family and they buy products from us. Since the border post was built, we are respected. We manage to finance our children’s education.”

The single-stop crossing at Namanga has been used to develop infrastructure around the border and improve conditions for the movement of people and goods – a model that will be replicated elsewhere. “This was one of our key objectives,” said Kenneth Ogoga, Kenya’s immigration officer.

*Source AFDB

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Financial inclusion in West Africa gets a boost with new $10m raise by Aella Fintech
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Aella has made a visible impact on the lives of more than 300k borrowers across its Employer Backed and Direct to Consumer Verticals, who now have access to simple financial products

Aella co-founders, Akanbi Wale and Akinola Jones
Aella co-founders, Akanbi Wale and Akinola Jones

LAGOS, Nigeria, February 10, 2020/ — Focused on improving financial inclusion for West Africa’s low-income segment, a Nigerian fintech start-up, Aella (https://AellaCredit.com/) has raised a $10m debt financing round, from HQ Financial Group (HQF), Singapore-based private company specializing in new material science, semiconductor and blockchain financial investments. This debt financing round is Aella’s second raise and will bolster the company’s commitment to serve the underbanked population in West Africa and other emerging markets.

Aella was founded in late 2015 by Akin Jones, CEO (right) and Akanbi Wale, CTO (left) in Lagos, Nigeria and has remained committed to building trustworthy credit for emerging markets with an initial focus on Nigeria and the Philippines, where the company is licensed to operate. Aella has made a visible impact on the lives of more than 300k borrowers across its Employer Backed and Direct to Consumer Verticals, who now have access to simple financial products.

For millions of poor and low-income households, entrepreneurs, and nascent businesses in West Africa without access to financial institutions, micro-lending fintechs like Aella provide a broader array of financial products — savings, insurance, payments and specialized loans, focused on lifting many out of poverty. Aella plans to use this funding to scale its lending operations and expand its product base into payments.

“Lack of access to credit and financial services has been the main impediment to MSME growth and poverty reduction in several emerging economies. Aella’s commitment to providing trustworthy credit to millions of people in the world’s emerging markets is improving financial inclusion, enabling MSME expansion and accelerating economic growth and this raise will allow us scale our expansion across Africa quickly”, said Aella CEO, Akin Jones.

Aella will also invest in new products including a blockchain-based lending market called Creditcoin, to build borrower creditworthiness and aid in the acquisition of one million additional users by the end of 2020, making it the largest blockchain backed financial services project that is currently operational.

“We are building a one-stop app for all transactions partnered with regulated industry leaders to help distribute products faster, better and cheaper to end-users in Nigeria and across the markets we plan to launch. This app will allow users access multiple financial services at low costs compared to what is currently available in market”, Jones added.

Sun Han Gyu, Chief Executive Officer of HQ Financial Group said “We are excited to announce our partnership with Aella Credit which will significantly aid in the proliferation of micro-loan services to the underserved African populations who are unable to access banking services. HQF is impressed with their outstanding growth with very low default rate in the micro-loan business in Nigeria and look forward, through this initial investment of $10m to new growth opportunities in Africa and South Asia”. HQF has deployed over $70m in investments since 2015.

Aella previously raised $2m seed funding at the US startup program, Y Combinator from seed investors including Micheal Seibel of Y Combinator, Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, Bill Paladino (former head of Naspers eCommerce), Tae Oh, Shawntae Spencer (former San Francisco 49ers Cornerback), VY Capital, 500 Startups, Gluwa and others, which enabled it invest in digitalization and technology.

Over the last two years, the company has achieved significant growth with a 2-year compound annual user growth rate of 674%, over 193% increase in revenue and maintained a single-digit default rate. Aella was also recognized by Amazon as one of the world’s leading financial organizations pioneering the use of facial recognition technology for customer authentication and credit scoring.

This raise marks the conclusion of the start-up’s evolution to a full-service lending and payments platform, poised to play a greater role in providing a wide bouquet of financial services across Africa. Aella is focused on expanding across Africa and South East Asia enabling users to access a wide range of fast, convenient, and secure financial services. The company’s application will allow users to have access to loans, invest safely and securely, affordable insurance plans, bill payments and peer-to-peer money transfers.

Aella is a leading African fintech start-up based in Lagos Nigeria with offices in San Francisco and Manila. The company focuses on simplifying finance in emerging markets by offering access to loans, bill payments and, in the immediate future, affordable insurance plans and other similar services that are simple and safe. Aella aims to make a significant contribution to Africa’s fintech ecosystem by helping to build a sustainable digital economy.

* Aella

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As Africa’s Biggest Economy Hosts the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, Here Are Three Sessions to Watch Out for
February 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

The event, which is highly touted to be the official government-endorsed event has been designed to be the rendez-vous for Nigeria and indeed, Africa’s oil and gas sector

By Blossom Ozurumba*

Three years after the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria took the final decision to approve the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), an African Petroleum Technology and Business Conference, the third edition of the event is set to hold in its capital city, Abuja from 9 – 12 February 2020. The event, which is highly touted to be the official government-endorsed event has been designed to be the rendez-vous for Nigeria and indeed, Africa’s oil and gas sector where principal decision-makers from the public and private sectors exchange innovative ideas.

The African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/), as the credible voice of the African petroleum industry and the foremost African advocacy association representing all facets of the African oil and gas industry, will be on the ground to bring you the front row access to the over 20 sessions that will hold in the 4-day event.

Here are 3 of the top-recommended sessions to watch out for, which we believe will have a wide global impact and firmly place the West African country on the top burner, and certainly on the continent.

Launch of the National Gas Transportation Network Code

Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources, in conjunction with the Department of Petroleum Resources, will formally launch the National Gas Transportation Network Code as part of the opening events of the NIPS. Nigeria recently proclaimed the year 2020 as its year of gas, a move that NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber noted could become “the most relevant political action anyone has taken in Nigeria in years”. The National Gas Transportation Network Code aims to ensure that the wrong quality of gas does not go into the pipeline, in addition to guaranteeing gas pipeline integrity, open access to pipelines and common understanding on metering. It is also expected to provide a uniform platform in terms of guidelines for agreements between buyers and sellers which will ensure transparency and eliminate existing bottlenecks. We look forward to the launch and hope that it will rightly position Nigeria to experience 2020 as its Year of Gas. Please read the official announcement here (http://bit.ly/2H9PceL).

Ministerial Session: Technology, Policies and Investment – A Conversation

This is perhaps the most important session as it will bring together Oil and Gas Sector cabinet Ministers from Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, THE Republic of Congo, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria, and the OPEC Scribe in a genuine and honest conversation that will perhaps speak to the overarching theme of this year’s conference: “Widening the Integration Circle”. It will seek to provide a high-level response to such questions as: how Africa can evolve into a significant actor on both the regional and international energy stage and how oil-producing and oil-consuming countries can better cooperate in Africa, amongst others.

Governors’ Forum: What More Can We Expect from the Oil Bearing States?

This session will put the Governors’ of oil-bearing states in Nigeria on the spot during the Governors’ Forum segment to match the opportunities as oil-bearing states and interrogate their various roadmaps on what should be and where they are headed to. The discovery of oil and gas deposits in Nigeria has been viewed as both a blessing and a curse for the Nation with the insecurity seen as the greatest challenge right next to environmental degradation. The expected outcome of this session will be the new solutions that will be proffered to create a conducive environment for the investments that will grow the Nation’s hydrocarbon reserves and drive development.

Last Words

James Shindi, the Managing Director of Brevity Anderson, the event producer, in reference to the conference, recently stated that “It has been our tradition from inception. We gather the best brains and key policymakers from across the continent to chart the way forward and posit strategies for the management of Africa’s huge hydrocarbon resources.” We look forward to this year’s edition and will be on the ground to appraise the delivery. You can download the conference agenda when you click here .

*Blossom Ozurumba volunteers as the Energy and Resources Correspondent for the African Energy Chamber in Nigeria. She also leads a multicultural team as the Technical Assistant on Media and Strategy to the Nigerian Cabinet Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. Blossom graduated from Coventry University, England and earned a degree in Environmental Management. She can be reached on LinkedIn .

*Courtesy of Africa Energy Chamber

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$38M Cashew Value Chain Project for The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau Unveiled
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food For Progress (FFPr) Regional Cashew Value Chain Project is implementing a $38 million, six-year project in The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau which will enhance the regional cashew value chain to improve the trade of processed cashews in local and international markets. 

On January 29, 2020 U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia R. Carl Paschall and The Gambia’s Minister of Trade, Regional Integration, Industry and Employment, Lamin Jobe, spoke at a launch ceremony in Dakar, Senegal for the USDA’s Food for Progress regional cashew value chain project, also called the Linking Infrastructure, Finance, and Farms to Cashews (LIFFT-Cashew).

At the launch event, numerous government officials, as well as private sector leaders from The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, discussed the regional integration of the cashew value chain.

The United States was represented by both the U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia, Richard Carlton Paschall III, and the U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Tulinabo Salama Mushingi. Both U.S. Ambassadors emphasized the need for collaboration between the three countries.

Ambassador Paschall highlighted the importance of creating opportunities for producers and processors to boost economic development and working together to meet the needs of local and international markets.

In his remarks, Ambassador Paschall said: “I believe that government policy that encourages market-led development and regional integration of the cashew sector, through the private sector, is critical to integrate the cashew value chain and achieve the project’s goal.  This will help stimulate economic development and incite the creation of jobs here in the region by meeting market demand requirements.” 

Ambassador Mushingi echoed this message by reciting the well-known proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

In turn, the government representatives of the beneficiary countries stressed the importance of adding value to their region’s cashew sector, as only approximately 5-6 percent of their produced cashew nut is processed locally. 

Facilitating the processing of cashew nuts within the region will create new jobs and increase incomes, attract more investment to the cashew sector, and create sustainable socio-economic development.

After the opening ceremony, workshop participants discussed key issues for the cashew sector, including access to finance, market linkages between cooperatives and processors, organic certification, and government strategies to facilitate regional integration. 

During the group breakout session, government officials discussed regional integration and the three governments’ roles in supporting cashew value chain actors. 

The private sector group, which consisted of farmer cooperatives, processors, investors and financial institutions, discussed the challenges and opportunities they face, the importance of linkages between the value chain actors, and the support they need from their governments in supporting collective sales, processing and exports.

These private sector participants and government officials will continue their collaboration as project LIFFT-Cashew progresses to pave the way for increased regional integration of the cashew value chain and increased trade in processed cashews.

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Cameroon: Opportunities are not given to startups that have nothing -Entrepreneurs say
February 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The event focused on examining governmental support to entrepreneurs in Cameroon, access to finance, tax registration requirements and declaration procedures for SMEs in Cameroon
The event focused on examining governmental support to entrepreneurs in Cameroon, access to finance, tax registration requirements and declaration procedures for SMEs in Cameroon

Entrepreneurs have said they face difficulties accessing finance as financial institutions require bankable projects or collateral to finance projects. As such, opportunities are not afforded to startups that have nothing.

The entrepreneurs were speaking during the 2020 Small Business and Entrepreneurship Networking Forum organized by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Centre of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation at ActivSpaces, Immeuble Tecno, Boulevard de la Liberte Akwa, in Douala.

The forum organized with support from the Canadian Funds for Local Initiatives had as theme “The Pivotal Role of Business Networking to Entrepreneurs in Cameroon” and focused on examining governmental support to entrepreneurs in Cameroon, access to finance, tax registration requirements and declaration procedures for SMEs in Cameroon as well as accessibility of business Consultants to Entrepreneurs in Cameroon.

Panelists speaking during the event encouraged participants to implement functional ideas instead of copying from developed countries and forgetting about practicality. Participants also suggested government supports incubation projects in public & private structures to ensure ideas can be transformed to concrete projects.

The panelists equally made known that networking is one of the very important pillars of construction development. It is a consistent effort that brings together entrepreneurs and other agencies to engage in developmental efforts.

“It was actually a wonderful time of exchanges, and we actually spoke much and had to put an accent on the recent regulation and legislation in the finance sector in Cameroon, and the CEMAC Sub Region,” Tataw Kenneth, moderator on the module on access to finance

“We were trying to let our entrepreneurs know how they can raise finance without necessarily depending on banks and microfinance. What I mostly told them was to be able to do startups by gathering funds themselves. They could start with the little they have and then later in they may invest the profit, or they could go partnering; you partner with somebody maybe who has the same idea with you.”

“With the little you have maybe you can make it, or maybe you do investment that is you have the idea, but you can have somebody who has the finance and is ready to partner with the business and make it grow,” Yvonne Ngem, facilitator.

To a participant, “… It was a lucrative programme as opinions were shared on how businesses can grow. Entrepreneurs need to be strong to be able to move ahead as things in Cameroon are done manually. We are looking at avenues where things will be done automatically. We need young entrepreneurs to take things further as we are in a new decade.

Ndikomnui Nigel, Consultant and Tax expert said “many people need to know how to register their taxes, and how to do about it, so they should not get stuck at the level of the declaration procedures. This is a consistent education that needs to be done to educate entrepreneurs.” 

Panelists all left with the wish that the Foretia team keeps organizing such events for entrepreneurs, so they can get information on various aspects discussed. To them, many governmental supports are not well known by the entrepreneurs because there is a lack of communication.

According to the Small Business and entrepreneurship Center (SBEC), entrepreneurial and small business networking has substantially increased in volume during the last years. The interest has been driven both from the entrepreneurial side, where businesses inter-link rapidly and form network configurations and from the policy side, where governments have implemented a variety of policies to encourage economic growth through self-employment and to support small businesses.

Participants and panelists at the conclusion of the 2020 Small Business and Entrepreneurship Networking Forum organized by SBEC
Participants and panelists at the conclusion of the 2020 Small Business and Entrepreneurship Networking Forum organized by SBEC

Entrepreneurial and small business networks usually represent dispersed and varied networks with uncertain boundaries and resource-based or role-based division of labor. They are comprised of autonomous agents that are linked to each other via various formal and informal contracts, who design collective strategies and share information. In addition, create partnerships with government agencies, banks, and Microfinance Institutions to access finance. 

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Mozambique: Oil and Gas Chamber installed to boost the industry
January 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

A group of entrepreneurs announced on Thursday the establishment of Mozambican Oil and Gas Chamber, a non-profit organization that aims to promote the Oil and Gas industry, upstream and downstream in the national market, as well as all aspects inherent to the growth of the industry and its efficient operation.

The organisation will be chaired by Florival Mucave, an influential Mozambican businessman with experience in the industry. He was head of mineral resources and hydrocarbons at the Mozambican private business association, the CTA, where he played a key role in the elaboration of the local content law that requires oil and gas companies to use Mozambican suppliers.

The Constituent Assembly of the organisation was concluded on Wednesday in a meeting that took place in Pemba City, gas-rich Cabo Delgado province.

Mucave told Pan African Visions that the Chamber will foster relations between members and their counterparts, national or foreign public or private institutions, and develop a platform of companies providing goods and services, with basic information about the company and details of its products and services.

It will also “create an oil and gas sector specialist knowledge centre, focused on training, knowledge transfer and technology,” said Mucave adding that it will also “identify and publicise existing credit lines for national companies in the oil and gas sector.

One of the barriers to the contracting of national companies in projects related to natural gas has to do with the lack of certification in matters of quality and in some cases of professionalism.

However, the Mozambican Oil and Gas Chamber will also support national companies, providers of goods and services within the oil and gas industry, to obtain the ISO necessary verification, Mucave said.

The statutes of the organisation seen by Pan African Visions indicates that an unlimited number of regularly constituted commercial entrepreneurs with tax and social security status and other private law institutions may be members of the Chamber.

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“AFSIC – Investing in Africa” 2020 set to have huge momentum
January 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

The 8th Annual AFSIC – Investing in Africa forum, scheduled for May 5th -7th 2020 in London, has already confirmed over 300 top level speakers and panellists including a huge range of Africa’s most important investors, dealmakers and business leaders, who will unpack the increasing global investment momentum into Africa’s growing public and private sectors and highlight new growth opportunities across the continent.

The AFSIC 2020 agenda is specifically investment focused, with several of the most experienced and successful asset management firms investing in Africa sharing insights into where smart money is investing, and business leaders running some of Africa’s most exciting growth companies showcasing new investment opportunities, with focussed streams in Fintech, Financial Services, Infrastructure, Energy, Education, Agriculture and Real Estate.

With ABSA Corporate Investment Bank, FSD Africa, CDC Group and Moodys heading up an impressive group of supporting sponsors, the forum will be an excellent follow up to the British Government’s UK-Africa Investment Summit which took place this week to create sustainable UK-Africa partnerships.

FSD Africa, one of AFSIC’s lead sponsors, announced a £90m commitment from UK Aid this week to initiate a new phase of financial sector development, part of an ambitious £320m UK Aid package to strengthen Africa’s financial markets.

Another of AFSIC’s lead sponsors and Africa’s largest private investor CDC Group, announced this week that they would be investing £2bn in Africa over the next two years to continue supporting businesses in Africa across a wide range of sectors and creating lasting change to reach the UN’s sustainable Development Goals. CDC Group will once again be hosting the not-to-be-missed Meet African Dealmakers Event at AFSIC.

With over 1500 delegates expected to attend, AFSIC 2020 offers unparalleled opportunities to network and develop strong business relationships with investors, financial intermediaries and African business leaders through an array of multiple presentation and panel streams, discussions, networking events, exhibition stands, business match-making meetings, workshops and country-focussed sessions.

Early Bird Registration expires 31st January – visit www.afsic.net for registration and programme details

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