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Rakuten Group and AAIC Launch the AAIC-Rakuten Africa Innovation Project
October 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

Rakuten logo

New project promotes addressing social challenges in Africa by mentoring local startups for further business growth.

Tokyo, October 29, 2020 – Rakuten Europe S.à r.l., Rakuten’s European headquarters, and Asia Africa Investment & Consulting Pte. Ltd. (AAIC), a Japanese growth equity fund and consulting firm based in Singapore, today announced the launch of the AAIC-Rakuten Africa Innovation Project. The project will drive solutions to social challenges in Africa through technical and management mentoring designed to promote business growth for African startups.

As countries and regions across Africa are achieving remarkable economic growth, many local startup companies are actively aiming to “leapfrog,” a process that seeks to use innovation to solve social challenges such as infrastructure, agriculture, nutritional improvement and the provision of clean drinking water.

With this project, startups from Africa participating in the AAIC-managed Africa Healthcare Fund and Rakuten will share information and expertise with an aim to realize practical countermeasures that efficiently solve social challenges. As startups share information about the challenges they face locally in their industries as well as those in wider society with Rakuten, based on this intelligence, Rakuten will make use of its expertise in technology implementation across a wide range of fields from e-commerce to fintech, digital content and communications to support and help grow these local businesses through active mentoring.

Rakuten has expanded to offer more than 70 services around the world based on its mission to empower individuals, communities, businesses and society. From April 2019 to June 2020, Rakuten participated in the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s SDGs Business Supporting Surveys program for partnering with private enterprises, working in Rwanda to overcome social challenges through Rakuten’s technological expertise by building an insurance system using blockchain technology and harnessing drones for agriculture. In May 2020, Rakuten announced an agreement with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) to work together to train the African tech community by providing students with cooperative research opportunities and further develop an ecosystem of innovation.

Toby Otsuka, CEO of Rakuten Europe, commented, “Since the day Rakuten was founded, we have always believed in the power of innovation, and throughout its history, our company has always been dedicated to contributing to society. In recent years, many startups in Africa have achieved tremendous growth and are using technology to change people’s lives in significant ways. By collaborating with AAIC and engaging in dialogue with startups that are confronting local challenges head-on, we hope to solve social challenges with our partners as a team leveraging Rakuten technology and business assets.”

As a growth equity fund with operations in Africa, AAIC aims to achieve sustainable growth for developing countries by harnessing Japan’s strength across three pillars: strategic consulting, funds and human resources. In 2017 it established the Africa Healthcare Fund to invest in fast-growing companies in the African healthcare sector. As of September 2020, it has investments in 21 companies that bring innovation for healthcare services that include healthcare e-commerce, fintech for international money transfers, an ambulance dispatch platform, online mental health counseling, teleradiology platform and advanced imaging centers, dialysis centers and maternity hospitals.

Shigeru Handa, Director of AAIC, commented, “Scaling up for further growth is a big challenge as we invest in and support companies that are driving innovation in the healthcare sector, which is one of Africa’s social challenges. We expect this collaboration with Rakuten to provide opportunities to promote synergies and business growth for startups, particularly in the area of technology.”

Rakuten and AAIC aim to contribute to solving social challenges in Africa through the acceleration of innovation.

Overview of the AAIC-Rakuten Africa Innovation Project

  • Overview and purpose: This project aims to realize practical countermeasures that efficiently solve social challenges in Africa through mentoring local startups participating in AAIC’s Africa Healthcare Fund and sharing knowledge and expertise.
  • Period: October 29, 2020 – December 2021 (dates subject to change)
  • Examples of initiatives: Initiatives include improvements to apps and other products and services provided by startups in Africa, and mentoring to support business operations and new service launches. Some initiatives are subject to change going forward as details are currently under consideration.

About AAIC

AAIC Group aims to create new business growth models by offering support mainly in emerging markets, as well as new businesses in Japan. As a fund management firm, AAIC in Singapore manages the African Healthcare Fund to support innovative startups and companies in growth in the healthcare industry in Africa, which provide innovative and sustainable solutions to social challenges in Africa.


About the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)

Established in 2003, this higher education and research institute aims to foster high-level human resources for the science and technology sector. Attracting excellent scholars and instructors from 43 African countries to its centers in several African countries (South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Rwanda), AIMS is raising the level of Africa’s science and technology through postgraduate education, teacher training, blue sky scientific research and research in partnership with business. With the cooperation of companies like Facebook and Google, it is running a number of advanced projects in areas such as the provision of AI and machine learning courses.  

About Rakuten

Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society. Founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace, Rakuten has expanded to offer services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications to approximately 1.4 billion members around the world. The Rakuten Group has over 20,000 employees, and operations in 30 countries and regions

*Rakuten

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African payments for African development
October 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Murray Gardiner

Murray Gardiner
Murray Gardiner

African payment solutions are critical to minimising fraud while improving the free flow of funds to boost business and economic activity.

The statistics that hover uncertainty around Africa are not ones that should make the continent proud. The World Bank has estimated that Africa could potentially hold 90% of the global poor population by 2030  and has recently cut its economic growth  predictions to between -2.1% and -5.1% in 2020 from the 2.4% of 2019.

The situation has been significantly worsened by the global pandemic, as the continent hits its first recession in 25 years. But this is not the picture that defines a continent that has long defied expectation and prediction. In fact, a young population, a growing consumption market, and the rapid movement towards mobile inclusion and connectivity are shifting the conversation. Africa is poised on the cusp of change introduced by mobile and internet technology.

Africa has undergone a remarkable journey over the past 30 years. It has not only leapfrogged legacy technology and systems into a more relevant future, but it has done so in spite of challenging circumstances. This is particularly relevant when it comes to mobile – the technology, the connectivity, and the financial inclusion. To date, according to the GSMA 2019 Mobile Money Report , there are more than one billion mobile money accounts in Africa that account for 57% of mobile money transaction values. Over the next five years, also according to the GSMA , it’s expected that 84% of Africans will have access to a SIM connection and that mobile payments will play a critical role in empowering individuals, businesses and the economy as a whole. 

This is the principle that’s dominating the current approach taken by the World Bank  in an effort to provide Africa with much needed support in the wake of COVID-19. The organisation is focusing on putting women at the centre of digital payment programmes and leveraging digital technologies to improve trade, government and resource management. This underpins the organisation’s focus on national payment systems  that are secure, affordable and accessible as these are the tenets that underpin an economy that’s focused on financial inclusion and stability.

African payment solutions are critical to minimising fraud while improving the free flow of funds to boost business and economic activity. Payment technology that allows for individuals from all walks of life to manage their money securely is the equivalent of putting a bank into every person’s pocket. Digital payments equalise engagements while improving transparency and control over finances and business. They also empower the small to medium enterprises (SMEs), giving them greater scope for inclusion and access to customers and markets.

This has become particularly true in the current environment. Digital payments are now, more than ever, the key to unlocking business growth on the continent. The rigorous regulations put in place by African countries to minimise the impact of the virus have led to inventive approaches to shopping and living. Digital payment platforms are significantly safer than cash and are increasingly being leveraged by governments and organisations to improve customer access to resources and services.

According to a study released by McKinsey & Company  in June 2020, ‘innovation in payments should be one component of the industry’s response to the crisis’, and this should include promoting awareness of digital payments, partnering with other industries, and introducing new and relevant products.

In Africa, digital payments are more than just keys to open the doorways of financial inclusion, they are increasingly the steps that will take the continent out of recession and into a more dynamic and inventive future. This view is echoed by the investments made by the World Bank and organisations such as SWIFT and Bluecode Africa; programmes such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the International Monetary Fund .

Investments that include cross-border payment platforms increased commerce capacity, cost management, digital innovation, and the empowerment of individual, micro-enterprise and SME. It’s time to educate businesses and individuals as to the costs and risks of cash as opposed to digital. To showcase the value of digital payments in not just opening up new markets and opportunities, but in providing tighter cash flow control at a better price point than cash.

The continent may not be showered in stunning statistics, few continents are at this point in time, but it is hovering on the edge of a future that has the potential to transform poverty, business and economy.

Bluecode is a mobile payment solution that combines cashless payments via smartphones with value-added services and enables payments with merchant and banking apps. Founded in Europe, Bluecode has now expanded into Africa. Bluecode Africa is taking mobile payments into markets where its value as a technology payment service and scheme can make a significant difference for retailers, SMMEs and in the everyday lives of consumers. Bluecode Africa is focused on driving economic growth in the productive economy by unlocking opportunity and business potential with digital transparency.

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Total’s Second Discovery in South Africa promises Gas-led Recovery for Southern Africa
October 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
The discovery further positions Africa as a global and competitive gas frontier that continues to offer very attractive exploration and gas commercialisation opportunities.


While anticipated, Total’s second significant gas condensate discovery announced today in South Africa is nonetheless reason to rejoice after a year of deep uncertainty and struggles for the African energy sector. With partners Qatar Petroleum, CNR International and Africa Energy Corp, Total was able to start its multi-well exploration programme on Block 11B/12B only two months behind schedule, delivering what remains until now the year’s only discovery across sub-Saharan Africa.

The Luiperd-1X well was drilled to a total depth of 3,400 meters and encountered 73 meters of net gas condensate pay within the Paddavissie Fairway, which already includes the 2019 Brulpadda discovery. This second find confirms the tremendous gas potential in South Africa and is expected to be followed by the drilling of a third, a potential fourth, exploration wells on the same block.

More importantly, the discovery further positions Africa as a global and competitive gas frontier that continues to offer very attractive exploration and gas commercialisation opportunities. The upcoming Africa Energy Outlook 2021 of the African Energy Chamber identifies several such high-impact wells for 2021 and 2022 that could yield similar discoveries in South Africa and Namibia. The outlook notably identifies the southwestern coast of Africa as being home to perhaps the most anticipated wildcats globally. The prospects, if successful, could open new basins for development and trigger big new investments towards the latter half of the 2020s.

Under its 2021 projections to be released in November, the Chamber notably sees gas production and consumption increasing on the continent. More specifically, new frontiers such as South Africa are expected to increasingly consume natural gas for industrial purposes and power generation.  Such developments could be a pillar for economic recovery post Covid-19, but would require the promotion of an enabling environment providing investors with sound and attractive policy and contractual frameworks.

“The African Energy Chamber has always seen Africa as a true frontier for exploration and promoted a much bigger use of gas across our economies to create jobs and support industrialisation. The gradual opening of a new domestic gas hub in South Africa is a very welcoming development that needs to be supported with efficient and transparent policies, and quick approvals of all necessary permits and licenses for gas to be commercialised and create value for South Africans,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

*Africa Energy Chamber
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Jack Dorsey to Keynote at Africa Fintech Summit 2020
October 26, 2020 | 0 Comments
As the Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Square, Inc., Dorsey is considered to be one of the biggest influencers in tech ecosystems worldwide and is often revered as a futurist.


WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, October 26, 2020/ — Dedalus Global and Ibex Frontier are pleased to announce Jack Dorsey as the closing keynote for this year’s Africa Fintech Summit . The Summit is being held virtually on November 9, 10, and 12.

As the Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Square, Inc., Dorsey is considered to be one of the biggest influencers in tech ecosystems worldwide and is often revered as a futurist. Founded in 2009, Square has introduced a suite of innovative tools and services that supports financial inclusion and the growth of businesses. In recent weeks, Square announced it would become one of the first publicly traded U.S. companies to hold Bitcoin on its balance sheet. 

Dorsey’s keynote marks a year since the visionary visited Africa to meet with several of the continent’s tech leaders and incubation houses. His listening tour in Africa confirmed the consensus that Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). He has since held an active and insightful voice on the future of African fintech, in particular, the future of cryptocurrency.  With an unbanked population of 66%, and a credit card penetration rate that averages 1.5%, the applications for crypto in sub-Saharan Africa only help solidify Dorsey’s interest in the continent. 

Dorsey’s closing keynote on November 12 will revolve around the concepts of decentralized finance and opportunities it creates for financial inclusion. 

Throughout the three day event, registrants will have the opportunity to: 
Engage and learn from 60 of sector’s most active thought leaders over the course of 12 panel sessions, 3 fireside chats, and related discussion forums
Participate in discussions that dissect some of the sector’s regulatory hurdles
Connect with early-stage startups and the latest innovations through a startup expo
Meet with the industry’s stakeholders – investors, startups, regulators, banking execs, and more! – in curated networking sessions or 1×1
Learn best practices for approaching different types of investors, banking partners, and regulators
The Summit will conclude on November 12 with the regional final of Pegasus Tech Ventures’ Startup World Cup global pitch competition, the winner of which will be invited to compete for US$1M at the global semi-finals in Silicon Valley in May 2021.

Startups apply to exhibit and pitch by visiting and submitting the form at www.AfricaFintechSummit.com/alphaexpo/apply/

Register and view the agenda and speakers for the event at www.AfricaFintechSummit.com

About Dedalus Global and Africa Fintech Summit:
Dedalus Global is a go-to-market strategic advisory focused on emerging tech in emerging markets and is the founding organizer of Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS). As the first fintech event to be held annually in the USA and Africa, AFTS boasts the largest network of African fintech stakeholders from across the globe. In addition to its advisory business, since 2018, Dedalus has organized four fintech summits and a series of policy roundtables, virtual workshops, and startup bootcamps under the AFTS brand. AFTS events have hosted more than 1500 attendees, representing each of the top stakeholder segments, from 51 countries and 6 continents.
 
About Ibex Frontier:
Ibex is an investment advisory & route-to-Ethiopia-market advisory firm headquartered in Washington D.C. and with a presence in London and Addis Ababa. Through insights and access that spans three continents and 20+ years of experience by its Founding team, Ibex provides premier investment, market entry, and business development advisory services for Eastern Africa with a focus on Ethiopia. Since June 2019, Ibex has been a co-organizer of AFTS events.
*SOURCE Africa Fintech Summit
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The New Note 8 – Infinix Unveils An All-Rounder for Success
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

The new Note 8 was unveiled yesterday and it exudes sleekness and power. The premium online-driven smartphone brand, Infinix, has once again outdone themselves with an excellent all-round smartphone model that is targeted at the mid-to-high end market segment. The new Note 8’s high performance will make it one to watch and for others to envy.

The brand’s new flagship model comes with a high-performance MediaTek Helio G80 processor, the biggest dual front camera screen, 64M Ultra HD 6 cameras and a fast charging, massive 5200mAh battery with super long endurance among others, making it an ultra-sleek, ultra-fast and ultra long-lasting phone.

“We are committed to developing cutting-edge products that will become the industry benchmark, so we are very proud to launch Note 8 in Nairobi. With its looks, power and endurance, the Infinix Note 8 demonstrates Infinix’s capabilities of addressing consumer needs as well as its strength in technical R&D and product innovations. The new Note 8 certainly has all the makings of an elite phone for the elite user, as it has both the appearance and strength to help achieve that successful life we all strive for. This ultra-sleek, ultra-fast and ultra long-lasting phone is not one to be missed.” said Mike Zhang, Kenya Brand Manager of Infinix Mobile.

Excellent all-round performance
The high-performance MediaTek Helio G80 processor with MediaTek HyperEngine Game Technology powering the new Note 8 makes it incredibly fast and ensures that the phone provides a comprehensive strong and smooth all-round performance. This high-performance chipset not only makes it more fluent and more stable, but also delivers an unparallel E-sports experience, where top scores in every game will be a breeze – an ideal choice for game lovers who want an ultra-smooth gaming experience.

MediaTek HyperEngine Game Technology ensures your smartphone always keeps up with you. It features an intelligent resource management engine that ensures sustained performance and longer gameplay Intelligent, dynamic management of CPU, GPU and memory according to active measurements of power, thermal and gameplay factors. Smoother performance in heavy-loading game engines, demanding scenes and intense gameplay. Enhanced power efficiency and connectivity enhancements for even longer and uninterrupted gameplay.

Bringing visual experience to a whole new level
One of the key highlights of the Note 8 is that features the biggest dual front camera screen in industry – a 20.5:9 screen with dual super tiny camera punch hole – allowing the display to wrap around the punch hole and be less of an inconvenience when consuming media.

And to broaden ones horizons even more is the phone’s 6.95″ Dual Infinity-O Display. Its precise cutting ensures that the camera remains clear of any blockages and does not suffer from a degradation of the picture quality.

To complete the users’ audio visual experience, the Note 8 comes with dual speakers surround sound including with DTS and 4 modes that deliver immersive musical experiences for your ears and soul. Allowing users to level up the sound effect to better enjoy the audio experiences while watching their favorite movies or listening to music or gaming.

Making super stable videos easy
To meet the exacting demands of mobile phone users in the 5G era, Infinix has made continuous efforts to improve the camera functions of its smartphones. The new Note 8 comes equipped with a top of the line set of high definition cameras – 64MP Ultra HD 6 Cameras – that will allow users to capture every wonderful moment in life in unbelievable detail, with crystal clear clarity and lifelike beauty.

In today’s world of TikTok and vlogging, there is huge demand to produce professional quality videos while on the go. After intense testing and evaluation by Infinix’s development team, Vidhance’s video enhancement solution was chosen, as it provided top quality video stabilization software. This was successfully implementation in the Note 7 to great reviews.

For uncompromising quality when it comes to video performance and stabilization, the Note 8 will also have leading video-enhancement algorithms from Vidhance®. This will guarantee stability and clarity of videos when using the Note 8.

And should users decide on making a dramatic slow motion video, the phone’s Slow Motion Capture will capture every frame of the action without missing a detail.

Infinix has also found a solution to combat insufficient light situations that has been plaguing users when shooting videos. By spending more than 180 days and nights of unremitting research and development to address this issue, Note 8’s Ultra Night Mode 2.0 can deliver uncompromising results under low light conditions.

Availability
Infinix Note 8 with 6GB RAM+128GB ROM, provide three options of Deepsea Luster, Silver Diamond, and Iceland Fantasy, priced at 21,799KES.

Starting from October 21, Note 8 will be available in following channels including JUMIA, Kilimall, Xpark and offline retail stores in Kenya. For more information about Note 8, please visit https://www.infinixmobility.com/ke/smartphone/note-8.

About Infinix

Founded in 2013 and targeting the young generations, Infinix Mobile is a premium online-driven smartphone brand. With “THE FUTURE IS NOW” as the brand essence, Infinix aims to allow consumers to stand out in the crowd and to show the world who they really are. Infinix is committed to providing the most cutting-edge technologies, bold and stylish designs, keeping consumers on trend and up-to-date.

Infinix has a presence in more than 40 countries around the world, covering Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

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African Development Bank AgriPitch Competition: $120,000 in prizes on offer during African Youth Agripreneur Forum 3-17 November
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

The AgriPitch competition is open to youth aged 18 to 35 who hold African nationality or citizenship and who submit their application online by 23rd October.

There are just hours to go until the 23 October deadline to enter the African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.org) AgriPitch Competition. Selected entries by African youth agripreneurs will be invited to showcase their agribusiness startup plans and compete for a share of $120,000 in funding seed prizes, a slot of the competition’s business development boot camp, an audience of online panel of experts and investors to pitch their agribusiness plans, as well as receive post-event mentoring and training.

The AgriPitch competition is part of the African Development Bank’s fourth African Youth Agripreneurs Forum (AYAF) – one of the continent’s most exciting platforms for African youth in agriculture start-up scene – to be held online for the first time this 3 -17 November, 2020.

“The African Youth Agripreneurs Forum and AgriPitch Competition has always been a high-energy gathering for young entrepreneurs in agriculture to meet, share experiences – and work the room for that next big investment,” said Edson Mpyisi, Coordinator of the Bank’s Enable Youth Program responsible for the event. “The COVID-19 pandemic may keep us from networking in person in 2020, however, the Bank and partners are gearing up to present a dynamic, knowledge-rich Forum online – as well as the most seed funding AgriPitch has ever awarded competitors,” he added.

In collaboration with partners like UN Women, the African Leaders for Nutrition and the Affirmative Finance Action for Women Africa initiative, this year’s AYAF and AgriPitch competition will have two segments:
AYAF webinars held on 3, 10  and 17  November.
The AgriPitch boot camp training from 2 – 13 November, followed by the finalists pitching on 16 and 17 November.
Under the theme Driving sustainable nutrition and gender inclusivity in Africa’s agri-food systems: youth agripreneurs seize the decade, AYAF and AgriPitch 2020 intends to attract hundreds of participants from across the continent including youth agripreneurs and representatives from agribusiness companies, academia, development organizations, financial institutions and government agencies.

“The event highlights how youth agripreneurs address nutrition and gender inclusivity while serving as entrepreneurial leaders within their communities and being involved in the agribusiness sector,” said Bank Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry, Martin Fregene. “AYAF and AgriPitch aims to provide the knowledge, confidence, financing and networking boosts to grow their startups and make a greater impact,” he added.

The general public is invited to register for the webinars, scheduled to draw speakers and presenters from across the development, nutrition, gender and agriculture landscape. The weekly sessions will address three topics:
Policies for sustainable nutrition and gender inclusivity (3 Nov).
Empowering youth and women in agricultural value chains to address nutrition (10 Nov).
Strategic partnerships for Equity in Agriculture: Financing Women, Youth and Nutrition (17 Nov).
The AgriPitch competition is open to youth aged 18 to 35 who hold African nationality or citizenship and who submit their application online by 23rd October.

Competition organizers will select agripreneurs with promising proposals to participate in the AYAF/AgriPitch online training platform. In this ‘business development boot camp’, AgriPitch competitors can attend sessions on product

development, revenue channel identification, logistics, marketing, business management, investment readiness, financing and other issues, led by coaches, mentors and investors.

At the end of the boot camp, selected agripreneurs will pitch their business proposals to a panel of judges.Competition winners will be named in three categories: early start-up, mature start-up and women-empowered businesses.

In addition to receiving seed funding prizes and post-competition mentoring, winners will be invited for the AYAF online DealRoom. The DealRoom connects expansion-ready, youth-led African businesses with global investors (debt, equity and/or grant).

*SOURCE African Development Bank Group (AfDB
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TymeBank, a leading digital bank in South Africa signs with Network International to empower SME businesses to accept electronic payments
October 21, 2020 | 0 Comments
TymeBank offers a modern alternative to traditional banking brands and aims to make banking more accessible and affordable to all South Africans.

 TymeBank , a leading digital bank in South Africa, looks to empower small and micro businesses to accept card payments, powered by Network International , the leading enabler of digital commerce across Africa and the Middle East.

Following their successful entry into the South African consumer banking market, TymeBank are now planning to build accessible and affordable payment solutions for the small and micro businesses market. A digital-only bank, TymeBank offers a modern alternative to traditional banking brands and aims to make banking more accessible and affordable to all South Africans having already recruited 2.2m consumers in the past two months.

Network International have already enabled TymeBank to become the first new card acquirer in South Africa for more than a decade and have now implemented a solution with both local processing and connectivity to international card schemes. Network will provide a full end-to-end acquiring solution to TymeBank, including the N-Genius™ payment and processing capability through the company’s integrated omni-channel technology platform, Network One. This will enable TymeBank to expand its offering to power digital payment acceptance among South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Network International has been at the forefront of driving digital payments acceptance across Africa and the Middle East, offering end-to-end payment solutions to a growing customer base in over 50 countries.

Dieter Botha, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, TymeBank South Africa said: “TymeBank continues to enhance and expand its provision of affordable (low cost) banking and financial services to the South African market. The bank is always on the lookout for capable and forward-thinking service providers who are prepared to join us on our exciting journey. One such service provider is Network International who met and exceeded our criteria. Network provides platforms that are scalable, proven and cost-effective and bring the bank the ability to develop innovative product and service offerings. Network’s acquiring platform, for instance, supports all the many product features and new developments that the bank was looking for. We are therefore proud to announce that the engagement will be launching a differentiated, innovative, low-cost acquiring service to the South African SME marketplace”.

Andrew Key, Managing Director, Network International Africa, said, “Our engagement with digital banking pioneer, TymeBank not only broadens our foothold in South Africa, but also carries inherent synergies that will positively impact digital payment penetration in the country. TymeBank have challenged the traditional banking offering, through technology-driven innovation and we are delighted to support them as they look to increase payment acceptance among the SME sector. We anticipate broadening our relationship with TymeBank with an increased range of services over the coming months.”
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How the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) Has Killed Jobs, Investments and Opportunities for Local Oil & Gas Entrepreneurs
October 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Energy Chamber will file a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the implementation of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC)’s reckless foreign exchange (forex) regulations that are anti-African, against small businesses, and against investors.

International energy companies and local services companies spend a lot of time serving people, solving problems, and saving lives with the energy and service they provide. The African Energy Chamber’s (www.EnergyChamber.org) members create jobs, expand economic opportunity for many local communities across Africa and support a prosperous future for all Africans. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, they never stopped working for our continent, and continue to inspire us by getting up every day and working harder because they believe in the power of free market as a force for good in our communities, and in our fight against poverty. At the African Energy Chamber, we get up every day to help them do it. We must fight for the ability of our energy industry to hire, invest, grow, and succeed in Africa.

As 2020 comes to an end, Africans are living in a remarkable moment of uncertainty due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs, and hopes of an economic recovery remains non-existent for a majority of African families. As if that is not enough, bureaucrats at the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) have decided to push through job-killing and investment-killing regulations that are already increasing unemployment, and will ultimately kill any hopes of seeing future investment in Central Africa.

The aspirations of governments and local companies across the CEMAC region to build a vibrant and jobs-creating energy sector have indeed been dramatically affected by the foreign exchange regulations imposed by the BEAC. Such regulations are putting extremely deterring barriers of entry for investors in Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, CAR, Equatorial Guinea and Chad, and a bitter halt to any kind of local content development for companies and entrepreneurs in these countries.

While the end goal of the BEAC to fight corruption is noble and must be supported, in essence its regulations prevent the free flow of capital and the repatriation of profits, and deny local companies the ability to compete on equal terms with their foreign counterparts.

Because of the region’s reliance on imports of equipment and material for oil & gas operations, the ability of local companies to establish strong business relationships with foreign partners is central to their competitiveness and ability to secure contracts. However, CEMAC’s forex rules mean its local services companies are now unable to quickly and efficiently pay their foreign suppliers. Concretely, it would take a local services company from CEMAC several months to honour its contractual engagements with an operator, compared to only a few days or weeks for any other competitor not constrained by the same forex regulations.

As a result, companies in Central Africa are condemned to inexorably lose the contracts they have worked so hard to secure from foreign operators and contractors. In a region where oil & gas represents 80% of revenues, the consequences for economic growth and jobs creation could be catastrophic. To make things even worse, BEAC’s Instruction No. 002/GR/2020 of September 2020 on currency transfers outside of the CEMAC region has set up additional taxes of 0.75% on all transfers made outside of CEMAC starting January 1st 2021, on top of existing fees and taxes.

On behalf of the fight against corruption, the African Energy Chamber can only observe a gradual killing of investment in Central Africa, made through the punishment of local entrepreneurs. A big difference needs to urgently be made between fighting corruption and punishing hard working entrepreneurs, and it needs to be done before it is too late. The BEAC cannot love and support jobs while it hates or punishes those who create jobs.

Combined, the CEMAC members produce about 700,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd). They also produce increasing quantities of natural gas, and the region houses up to 5 million tonnes per annum of LNG export capacity, shared between Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. But as it tries to recover from the Covid-19 crisis and the historic crash in oil prices, we can only expect operators to be forced to contract international companies at the detriment of local ones. In Equatorial Guinea, where the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons has pushed for increasing local content compliance, all such efforts are now jeopardized by the BEAC’s monetary policies. Similarly, the latest local content regulations within the new Hydrocarbons Code of Congo (2016) and Gabon (2019) and the new Petroleum Code of Cameroon (2019) are now all made pointless unless the region’s monetary authority takes a drastic policy turn.

The African Energy Chamber, its partners and members urgently call on the BEAC to act in the CEMAC Zone’s own interest, in the interest of its workers and its companies. The need to have a monetary policy that takes into account the concerns and voice of the region’s biggest revenue-generating industry is dire. At a time when Africa gets ready to roll out the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), CEMAC and its business communities risk being further left behind.

If CEMAC energy markets are to recover from the historic crises of 2020 and improve the standard of living of their population through economic growth and jobs creation, the investment climate and business environment must be supported by market-driven policies and the right financial regulations.

Excessive regulation has become a threat to individual freedom and prosperity, and must be curbed as local companies stand to suffer the most. In an era where capital investment in the energy sector is drying out, especially for African oil and gas projects, CEMAC’s heavy-handed approach is not helpful and is counter-productive.

A policy turn is required to properly fight energy poverty, and a relaxation of foreign exchange regulations must be accompanied with lower taxation on local companies, better fiscal terms for exploration companies, particularly corporate taxes, and the promotion of greater prosperity, individual freedom and investment. 

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber

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USAID-Ethiopian airlines partnership to source food from local farmers for in-flight meals
October 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

 Ethiopian Airlines and the United States have announced a new partnership agreement that will enable the Ethiopia’s flagship carrier to source locally grown produce and ingredients for preparing in-flight meals for global passengers.

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam and U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor signed a memorandum of understanding in which the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide Ethiopian farmers and food producers technical assistance and access to financing in order to ensure they are able to meet the airlines’ standards of quality and volume to serve its customers.

 It is reported that the new business linkages will help farmers and local agribusinesses reach a prominent new market and increase their revenue streams  with annual sales as high as US$10 million in total  while providing Ethiopian Airlines farm-fresh ingredients sourced directly from Ethiopia, reducing the need for foreign suppliers’ processed foods for their catering services.

USAID support will help Ethiopian Airlines identify local suppliers for the list of catering materials the airline might potentially require, as well as provide support to farmer cooperative unions, youth groups, women groups and other local agriculture businesses to enable them to meet production requirements. A U.S. government loan facility also will expand access to financing for local companies, farmer cooperative unions, and others to expand their operations as needed to meet the Ethiopian Airlines quality and supply demands.

“We deeply value our relationship with USAID and extend our appreciation to USAID for all the support. The new partnership consolidates our effort to continue providing high-quality inflight meals to global passengers while intensifying our effort in creating an enabling environment for local farmers across the value chain. We would like to maintain our partnership with USAID on a range of spheres,” said Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam.

“The partnership we’re launching today demonstrates what’s achievable when prominent businesses like Ethiopian Airlines invest in other Ethiopian businesses and individuals, resulting in truly home-grown economic success that has the potential to be a model for other sectors,” said Ambassador Raynor.

This partnership agreement will run through December 2022 and will help pave the way for Ethiopian Airlines and local producers and farmers groups to continue these supply linkages and partnerships into the future.

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Gas Industry Opportunities can revive Mozambique’ s Special Relationship with Germany
October 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
Verner Ayukegba - Africa Energy Chamber
Verner Ayukegba – Africa Energy Chamber

Gas is fast establishing itself as a key player in the global energy transition dynamics as nations seek to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other air pollutants.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 13, 2020/ — Mozambique and Germany have a special relationship, that was formalised when the German Democratic Republic established diplomatic relationships with the then newly independent Republic of Mozambique in 1975. Since then, a great many Mozambicans have been educated in Germany. Another 20,000 were employed in Germany as contract workers. Since the 1980’s, Germany has spent more than USD 1 billion in development aid to Mozambique. Whilst this is laudable, this relationship must evolve to change focus away from aid and towards investment, in response to the numerous opportunities in gas development and other sectors.

German companies need to invest in the development of new gas prospects, in the servicing of the existing developments and in the building of a petrochemical sector in Mozambique. Germany has a strong petrochemical industry that can take advantage of the opportunities in Mozambique with Africa’s USD 1.2 Billion population providing a ready market for such an industry. This will ultimately lead to a win-win situation for both countries. It will not only help to generate economic growth, but will also ensure the creation of good paying jobs, skills developing apprenticeships and the transfer of technology to Mozambique.

Gas is fast establishing itself as a key player in the global energy transition dynamics as nations seek to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other air pollutants. The realisation, that developed economies like Germany and fast-growing economies like China can only realistically meet their emission targets without forgoing economic prosperity by adopting gas as a major source of energy has put countries with large gas resources, like Mozambique in the focus of investors. The share of gas as a primary source of energy has been steadily growing since the 90’s, and this trend is expected to continue. In China, gas now accounts for over 7% of primary energy use from about 1% in 1990. In Germany, gas accounts for 27% of primary energy use from about 15% in 1990.

German demand for gas is projected to continue its rapid growth as the country steadfastly continues to implement its in 2010 adopted energy transition strategy known as the Energiewende. According to the plan, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to reduce by at least 80% in 2050 when compared to 1990. Gas is currently Germany’s second most important energy source after oil. It imports nearly all of the gas it consumes, from Russia (40%), Norway and the Netherlands with only 5% sourced domestically. Domestic production is expected to run out within the next decade, setting Germany up for even more imports from outside. There is therefore, a general consensus in Germany that even more gas resources must be secured from abroad to ensure Germany’s economic growth prospects. Plans to source more gas from Russia have however earned the government heavy criticism, including from Germany’s American allies who see this as leading to an over-dependence on Russia and creating potential National security threat to Germany. Diversifying Germany’s sourcing of gas, from new producers like Mozambique therefore presents an attractive proposition for Germany as a nation and German companies in particular.

Mozambique holds 100 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proved natural gas reserves. It ranks 15th globally, however the country is still largely underexplored. As the government continues to encourage exploration, it is likely, that the proven reserves will increase in the coming years to rival that of more established gas frontiers. Oil Majors Total, ENI and Exxon are leading development efforts expected to initially cost a combined USD 30 Billion. Committed off-takers, include EDF of France, Tokyo gas of Japan and Centrica from the UK who have all committed to be off takers for the next two decade. Notable however, is the absence of German companies either as operators or major off-takers, despite Germany being one of the world’s largest gas importers.

“It is time for German companies to play a greater role in the development of Mozambican gas industry. Germanys needs gas and in exchange, our companies can provide investment capital, technical Know-how, technology and education” said Sebastian Wagner, Executive Chairman of the German African Business Forum.

In November 2019, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the creation of a USD 1.1 Billion investment fund during the ‘Compact with Africa’ summit in Berlin. This fund, and other institutions in Germany like the KFW development bank offer various instruments to ease German investments in Mozambique. However, there is an increasing realisation, that such government initiatives to invest in Africa in general and in Mozambique in particular are best implemented by channeling the funds through private sector German and Mozambican companies. In a recent online conference organised by the German African Business Forum, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal representative to Africa, H.E Günter Nooke called German companies to take advantage of these opportunities.

Now more than ever, both countries must take the opportunities presented by the development of gas to strengthen their special bond. Mozambican exports to Germany currently stand at USD 270 Million USD yearly and are dominated by aluminium. This amounts to just 3% of total exports. According to Verner Ayukegba, SVP of the African Energy Chamber, there is room for growth and a significant demand for German technology and investments in Mozambique. “Mozambique is one of the most prized investment destinations in Africa at the moment. Mozambican companies are prepared to partner with their German counterparts to service the nascent gas industry.” “We have a golden opportunity here to strengthen both Country’s economies, whilst at the same time making significant strides towards the reduction of greenhouse gasses with the promotion of gas consumption to the detriment of heavier polluters like coal”, Verner concluded.

*African Energy Chamber

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Kenya:Internet data consumption hits high between April and June
October 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

More Kenyans used the internet between April and June when the country was in a partial lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While releasing its fourth-quarter financial report for 2019/2020, the Communication Authority (CA) reported a 5.1 percent data usage growth during the period.

The demand for information online saw the increase of internet subscriptions jump from 39 million to 41 million.

“The number of data/Internet subscriptions continued to grow due to increased demand for access to information online, coupled with the transfer of more services to the digital space,” said CA.

The number of people who use videoconferencing services and online stream services also increased.

The access by learners to Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) e-learning content also hit a record him.

Safaricom mobile provides are the most beneficiary in the recent increase in the number of data usage as it registered a 68.7 percent increase.

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The Long Road To Recovery For Aviation Industry in Africa
October 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Alexandre de Juniac

Aviation Industry is currently burning through cash at a rate of USD$300,00 every minute despite re-start of operations. IATA [International Air Transport Association]Alexandre de Juniac Director Generator bares all to the Pan-African Visions through a zoom meeting confirmed through a posted press- release two days ago.

Alexandre de Juniac  explains that Government support to Industry is important at this point in time facing crisis. Juniac points out that Government support to the industry is vital at this point in time if reconnection of economies and support of the million jobs is to remain sustainable.

”We are grateful to support aimed at ensuring that transport remains viable and ready to reconnect economies and support millions of jobs in the travel and tourism. The crisis is deeper than what we ever thought of, longer than any of us imagined. Initially, support programs are running out. Industry has highly in-debted balance sheets. Let us ring alarm bells to Government support’’.  

‘’Government support is needed without adding a burden to debts already felt by the industry. Financial support is really needed for the sector to move on well. The impact has spread across entire travel value chain including our airports and air navigation infrastructure partners who are dependent on pre-crisis levels of traffic to sustain their operations ”

Industry will burn through to $77 billion in cash during second half of 2020. [ almost 13 billion every month or US$ 300,000 a minute despite a restart. Slow recovery sees Aviation Industry continuing to burn through cash at average rate of US$5 to us$6 billion per month in 2021.

Government support is critical without adding more burdens. Financial aid alone from the Governments is expected to sustain the airline industry. . Governments world-wide have provided US$160 billion including direct aid, wage subsidies, corporate tax relief and industrial tax that includes fuel taxes.

‘’We are grateful of the resumption of the aviation industry because this sustain jobs, makes markets grow and improves on our Global Economy of which Aviation Industry has impact to those with jobs and to those who get the support. However, we are not happy if airline industry burns cash through-out.’’

‘’With no time-table for Governments to re-open boarders without travel killing quarantines, we can-not rely on a year-end holiday season bounce to provide bit extra cash to tide us over until spring ‘’

‘’Historically, peak summer season cash supports airlines through to the Winter months in times of known flourishing business. Unfortunately, disastrous season of spring and summer provided no cushion. Airlines burned cash through-out’’.

‘’Let us ring an alarm bell to Governments so that they support airline programs start from now. We want to see the better days of aviation and move on with our history to 2021 ‘’.

IATA estimates despite cutting costs over 50% during the second half the industry went through $51 billion in cash as revenue fell 80% captured to a year ago. Cash drain continued during summer months with airlines expected to go through an additional US$77 billion of their cash during second half of this year and further US$60 to US$70 billion in 2012. The Industry is not expected to turn cash positive until 2022.

‘’Airlines are having extensive self- help measures to cut costs. These range from parking planes, cutting critical expenses, cutting routes and laying off staff in numbers. Airlines are doing this because travelers are postponing travelling due to covid-19 restrictions, fear of contracting the virus, quarantine measures and going through expenses’’.

‘’Increasing the cost of travel at this sensitive time delays a return to travel and keep jobs at risk. So far, they are 4,8 million jobs at risk, US$46 million potential jobs losses and 1,8 trillion dollars of economic activity at risk. Government’s 10% relief to aviation industry is great support.’’ concludes Juric

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