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Africa telecom and finance leaders assess accelerating digital investment opportunities
April 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

Telecom and tech companies are increasing investment across Africa as the rapidly improving digital infrastructure and services, and the take up of smartphones, provide huge opportunities for business and revenue growth.

LONDON, United Kingdom, April 7, 2017/ — Leaders from Africa’s biggest telecom investment companies including MTN, Orange, Helios Towers, American Tower, Eaton Towers, Google, Microsoft, Liquid Telecom and SEACOM are meeting with investment bankers, investors and advisers in London on May 24 to discuss accelerating new investment opportunities in digital communications and infrastructure.

Telecom and tech companies are increasing investment across Africa as the rapidly improving digital infrastructure and services, and the take up of smartphones, provide huge opportunities for business and revenue growth.

“Telecom and tech companies are ramping up their investment plans for digital infrastructure and services across Africa as reach of service and demand is soaring,” commented an investment banker focused on Africa. “On the infrastructure side, operators are investing in spectrum, especially in the 700MHz band, as well as on strengthening their networks by migrating from 3G to 4G LTE-based services. Mobile tower operators are also investing heavily while submarine and terrestrial cable providers have been increasing the available backbone infrastructure.”

“Improving broadband speeds and access is also having a big impact on both business to business and consumer focused opportunities. Datacentre investment appetite is growing and Smartphone take-up is supporting the growth in m-commerce, m-money and m-banking services which presents a massive opportunity for vendors and application providers.”

Over 200 senior telecom, media and tech executives, including many industry CEOs, investment bankers and advisers will meet at TMT Finance Africa 2017  at the Hilton Hotel Tower Bridge in London on May 24 to discuss the new investment and partnership opportunities.

The executive only event, which is in its eight year in London, features over 70 speakers and 25 sessions on telecom, media and tech investment and partnership opportunities for Africa.

Participating companies include: MTN Group, Orange, Liquid Telecom, Eaton Towers, American Tower Corporation, Jumia Food, SEACOM, Savannah Fund, Fibersat, PayStack, Sliide Airtime, Connect Africa, Rack Centre, Citi, Helios Towers Africa, Standard Bank Group, Atlas Mara Ltd, Draper Dark Flow, Google, Microsoft, Ringier Africa, Norton Rose Fullbright, WorldRemit, IFC, Amadeus Capital Partners, WIOCC, Societe Generale Chanzo Capital, Africa Mobile Networks, African Broadcast Network, Intelsat, Digital World Capital, MainOne Cable, M-KOPA Solar, Flexenclosure, Hardiman Telecom and African Capital Alliance.

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Trump Doubles Down On Ex-Military Talent For The White House’s Top Africa Job
April 13, 2017 | 0 Comments

Retired Lt. Col. Rudolph Atallah will be senior director for Africa on the White House National Security Council, a White House official tells BuzzFeed News.

By John Hudson*

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has offered a retired lieutenant colonel with decades of experience in special forces and counterterrorism the position of White House senior director for Africa, a White House official told BuzzFeed News.

The selection of Rudolph Atallah, a respected fellow at the Atlantic Council who served for more than 20 years in the US Air Force, adds another veteran to a National Security Council (NSC) stacked with former military officials.

The pick also fills a major void on the NSC where Africa policy has largely remained a mystery given President Donald Trump’s scant remarks about the continent and the aborted selection of the previous senior director for Africa candidate after the CIA denied his top security clearance.

For Africa, particularly, the abundance of officials with military backgrounds on the NSC has raised concerns about an over-emphasis on counterterrorism rather than other issues that affect the continent, such as development assistance and human rights.

The first signal of a potential change in US priorities came in January when Trump transition officials submitted a four-page list of Africa-related questions to career US officials that suggested a lack of interest in humanitarian and development goals.

Then came the administration’s budget blueprint, released in March, that cut the budget for the State Department and US Agency for International Development by nearly 30% and eliminated some executive agencies such as the US African Development Foundation, which supports development projects in 30 African countries. If enacted, the changes would have a disproportionate effect on Africa given its status as the biggest recipient of US foreign aid than any other continent.

But Africa analysts familiar with Atallah’s work said his depth of experience wasn’t likely to limit his outlook on the range of challenges facing African countries.

“Though he is best known for his work on East Africa and counterterrorism issues, he has broad experience that cuts across regions and policy areas,” Matthew Page, a consultant and former State Department Africa analyst, told BuzzFeed News.

Others said that Atallah’s background fits the expanded responsibilities of the position. Unlike under the Obama administration, Trump’s senior director for Africa will be responsible for Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya, countries previously under the Middle East portfolio. Not only will his background in counterterrorism operations prove valuable for North Africa, his supporters said, but so too will his fluency in Arabic.

“True, Atallah has a military background, but his knowledge of troubled parts of Africa will add value,” said Rida Lyammouri, a Sahel analyst and researcher.

As a Christian born in Beirut, Lebanon, Atallah comes to the NSC with a unique background and a skepticism of radical Islam, said an Africa analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he worked with Atallah in previous jobs. But his ex-colleague noted that Atallah has traveled extensively in Africa and worked cordially with people of many faiths, including Muslims. “We’re not talking Sebastian Gorka territory,” he said, referring to a current White House official with a long history of aggressive and disparaging comments about Islam.

While serving in the Air Force, he gained experience in aviation, intelligence, special operations and counterterrorism. In his last posting in the military, from 2003 to 2009, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Africa Counterterrorism Director. In the dual-hatted role, he also served as East Africa Director between 2003 and 2009.

Attallah is also an amateur photographer who boasts an impressive body of work from his travels.

For skeptics, the pick is an affirmation of the Trump administration’s preference toward a security-based approach to Africa that might not address problems holistically. “I look at this as the continuation of the administration’s counterterrorism focus more than anything else,” said his former colleague. “If the focus is only counterterrorism in Africa that means we’re missing really important issues of governance, and we’re not really paying attention to the problems that have allowed terrorist groups to blossom.”

Critics of this approach worry that the US might turn a blind eye to African governments with troubling human rights records, such as Niger and Kenya, as long as they remain reliable counterterrorism partners.

But Atallah’s defenders said his breadth of experiences gives him a far broader aperture than his critics acknowledge. “Rudy won’t approach his new job with a partisan political or deconstructionist agenda,” said Page, “but most likely will seek to reboot US Africa policy and forge consensus between the White House and a likely wary and suspicious set of decision makers spread across multiple other agencies.”

*Buzzfeed.John Hudson is a Foreign Affairs Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.

Contact John Hudson at john.hudson@buzzfeed.com.

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2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM: 20 AFRICAN BUSINESS LEADERS COMMIT TO PROMOTING WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP
April 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

Fostering female entrepreneurship in Africa and improving women’s access to decision-making positions in African companies: the African Women in Business working group met in Geneva at the 2017 Africa CEO Forum and made concrete commitments towards achieving these aims.

GENEVA, Switzerland, 4 April 2017 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Building on the success of the African Women in Business initiative launched this year by the Africa CEO Forum, which took place in Geneva on 20 and 21 March, the organizers convened a special working group consisting of mainly female CEOs/managersfrom 20 African countries and various sectors. Among them were Janine Diagou of NSIA (Côte d’Ivoire), Binta Touré Ndoye of Oragroup (Togo), Fathia Bennis of Maroclear, Tunisian lawyer Donia Ellouze, Rosemary Yeboah of Ecobank (Ghana), and Tonye Cole, CEO of Sahara Group (Nigeria), the only male participant.

During this first session, moderated by Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Regional Economic Empowerment Adviser for West and Central Africa, the working group made resolutions to improve the status of women in companies. It also committed to putting forward several recommendations in order to come up with an action plan for women’s leadership in African business. The key takeaways were the following :


Three keys for fostering female entrepreneurship

* Give access to financial products specially designed for women entrepreneurs: the working group intends to bring this matter to the attention of financial institutions.

* Create women’s networks, drawing on Senegal’s Women Investment Club (WIC), whose 54 members raised half a million dollars to finance woman-run SMEs.

* Advocate to promote access to large public and private enterprise tenders for woman-owned SMEs

Emphasizing the fact that women hold 40% of mid-management positions in Africa, yet only 5% are CEOs, the working group selected four proposals for a fairer distribution of corporate power in African countries.

Four recommendations for improving women’s access to decision-making positions

* Systematic mentoring. Women and men who are in a leadership position in the business sector must devote time to mentor young women and develop their skills in order to optimize their career opportunities.

* Promote flexitime in companies with the aim of giving employees the opportunity to achieve a good balance between their personal and professional lives.

* Encourage gender equality legislation for boards of directors, as Rwanda and some other countries on the continent have already done.

* Create databases listing high-potential female profiles to facilitate the recruitment of women to decision-making positions by African companies.

The first decisions taken by the members of African Women in Business working group were the following:

* Sahara Group, Nigeria-based energy conglomerate: reach a 40-60 female-male ratio on its board of directors.

* Tonye Cole, Chairman, Sahara Group, also pledged to bring other men to the next African Women in Business meeting, stressing that men also have a role to play in advancing gender equality.

* Oragroup, Togo-based banking group: improve the female-male ratio of its executive committee from the current 26-74 to 50-50 by 2020.

* Groupe Jeune Afrique: training the next generation of women leaders through the “Heroines’ Forum”, an initiative that will move from country to country, with its first edition in October in Abidjan.

* The Africa CEO Forum also set itself two objectives:

– Increase the number of women delegates from 20% to 30% over the next 3 years

– Increase the number of women speakers from 20% to 35% in the same time frame

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the Africa CEO Forum.

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Fifa propose nine African World Cup spots
April 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
An African nation has never lifted the World Cup trophy in its 87 year history

An African nation has never lifted the World Cup trophy in its 87 year history

Fifa is proposing that Africa gets nine automatic places when the World Cup expands to 48 teams in 2026.

That would be an increase from the tally of five places that the continent currently holds.

A tenth African country will take part in a six-nation play-off tournament to decide the last two spots.

Football’s world governing body has revealed its plans for how all 48 places will be allocated, with 16 Europeans teams set to qualify.

“The Bureau of the Fifa Council, comprised of the Fifa President and the president of each of the six confederations, agreed on (the) proposed allocation,” said a Fifa statement.

The recommendations will be voted on by the Fifa Council at its next meeting on 9 May.

Fifa members voted in January to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, starting with the 2026 edition.

Proposed allocation:

  • Asia: 8 direct slots – increased from 4.5 (currently 46 members)
  • Africa: 9 direct slots – increased from 5 (currently 54 members)
  • North and central America: 6 direct slots – increased from 3.5 (currently 34 members)
  • South America: 6 direct slots – increased from 4.5 (currently 10 members)
  • Oceania: 1 direct slot – increased from 0.5 (currently 11 members)
  • Europe: 16 direct slots – increased from 13 (currently 55 members)
  • Final two places in 2026 decided by six-team play-offs

NB: Currently teams from Asia, north and central America, South America and Oceania play-off for two places hence .5 spots above.

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Africa Finance Corporation Delivers Strong Financial and Operational Growth in 2016
March 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
Andrew Alli, CEO of AFC

Andrew Alli, CEO of AFC

Media Agency (AMA)/- Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a leading pan-African multilateral development finance institution and project developer, today announces its 2016 fiscal year results.

Robust financial performance
* US$115.3 million in Total Comprehensive Income, up 64% year-on-year
* US$109.4 million in Net Profit, up 51% year-on-year
* US$3.4 billion in Total Assets, up 13% year-on-year
* US1.4 billion in Total Equity, up 6% year-on-year
* US$192.8 million in Interest Income, up 21% year-on-year
* US$21.9 million in Fees, Commissions and other Income, up 121% year-on-year

Continued strong operational performance
* Key milestones achieved:

o US$688 million of new investments
o Growth in the balance sheet to US$3.4 billion
o Expansion of the Corporations’ operational footprint to 28 countries and 14 country members with expansion to the Horn of Africa (Djibouti).
o Creation of the African Power Platform Vehicle with Harith General Partners
o Closing of the first bauxite mining transaction (Alufer in Guinea)
o Issuance of debut unsecured Swiss Franc denominated bond, raising CHF 100 million
* Prioritised investing in projects in sectors crucial for stimulating strong economic growth
o Invested in the Gabon Special Economic Zone, (GSEZ), a joint venture between Olam and the Republic of Gabon, with a diversified portfolio of strategic infrastructure assets being developed, constructed and operated across various sectors including transport, in Gabon. This AFC investment in a single transport platform vehicle, facilitated the simultaneous development of several projects.
o Financed Hakan, a peat to power plant, which will increase Rwanda’s installed capacity by 40% when it comes online.

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC, commented on the results:

“2016 has been a successful year for AFC, reflected by our income and profit growth and our balance sheet strength. Operationally, we’ve had a great year too, with investments including Gabon’s Special Economic Zone, paving the way for greater economic diversification in the country. We’ve also strengthened our relationships with development finance institutions and the private sector – for example by launching a Joint Venture with Harith – merging power assets to create a pioneering African Power Platform Vehicle.

“AFC aims to be a US$5 billion Corporation by 2019 and despite a challenging economic environment, we are confident that we have built the firm foundations necessary to continue delivering positive socio-economic change across Africa. Ahead of our 10 year anniversary in May, we look forward to the next chapter in AFC’s growth story.”

AFC’s mission is to address Africa’s pressing infrastructure needs and build the foundations for robust economic development across the continent, while seeking a competitive return on investment for its shareholders. The Corporation has invested approximately US$4 billion in projects across 28 African countries and in its core sectors including power, telecommunications, transport and logistics, natural resources and heavy industries.

AFC is a dynamic, international investment grade multilateral finance institution whose mission it is to help bridge Africa’s significant infrastructure gap whilst delivering competitive financial returns, robust economic growth and positive social impact.

Established in 2007 to be the catalyst for private sector infrastructure investment across Africa, AFC is now one of the highest investment grade rated multilateral financial institutions in Africa with an A3/P2 (Stable outlook) rating from Moody’s Investors Service. A successful borrowing programme has raised more than US$3.5 billion for AFC’s activities, including the Corporation’s debut US$750 million Eurobond issue which was over 6 times oversubscribed. In terms of impact, AFC has invested approximately US$ 4 billion in projects across 28 African countries to date.

AFC’s investment approach combines specialist industry expertise with a focus on financial and technical advisory, project structuring, project development and risk capital tailored to addressing Africa’s unique infrastructure development needs in the core sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport, and telecommunications.

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AfDB, Ivorian government celebrate world water day
March 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ms. Anne Désirée Ouloto, Minister of Hygiene, Environment and Sustainable Development and Deputy Spokesperson of the Ivorian Government

Ms. Anne Désirée Ouloto, Minister of Hygiene, Environment and Sustainable Development and Deputy Spokesperson of the Ivorian Government

Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, March 27, 2017 – As a sign of their healthy relations, the Ivoirian Government on Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Abidjan, partnered with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other development players, to commemorate World Water Day.

World Water Day is celebrated every year on March 22. It is an opportunity to raise awareness on water issues. This year, the event was celebrated under the theme wastewater.

The ceremony, held at the Ivorian Prime Minister’s Office allowed speakers to not only underscore the criticality of water and sanitation to the social and economic well-being of Ivorians but to also draw the public’s attention to the urgent need to turn wastewater into a source of wealth.

Representing the Prime Minister of Cote D’Ivoire, Ms. Anne Désirée Ouloto, Minister of Hygiene, Environment and Sustainable Development and Deputy Spokesperson of the Ivorian Government said wastewater should not be the source of diseases and poverty. Wastewater, she said, should rather be viewed from an income generation lens.

Minister Ouloto said water and sanitation are central to the government’s 2020 vision which aims to make Cote d’Ivoire an emerging country.

Jean-Michel Ossete, Acting Coordinator of the African Water Facility

Jean-Michel Ossete, Acting Coordinator of the African Water Facility

Several projects demonstrate the Bank’s commitment to the water and sanitation sector in Côte d’Ivoire. The Gourou Integrated Watershed Management Project, financed by the Bank for approximately 23.30 million Units of Account (UA) in 2010, has improved environmental management and treatment of solid waste, job creation, improved sanitation, and better health outcomes for about 280,000 people targeted in the District of Abidjan. Close to US $350 million was mobilized in October 2016 for Phase II which primarily seeks to consolidate the gains of the first phase.

Representing the Bank at the event, Jean-Michel Ossete, Acting Coordinator of the African Water Facility said, “the possibilities of exploiting wastewater are considerable. Costs of wastewater management are substantially outweighed by economic benefits associated with improved human health, economic development, and environmental sustainability.” According to Ossete, the Bank “will continue to support public and private initiatives in the water and sanitation sector in general and wastewater in particular. Political commitment is vital for the success of water and sanitation projects. Ossete also urged African governments to give greater priority to water and sanitation.

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What If You Held An African Summit And No Africans Could Come?
March 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

Photo illustration by David Malan/Getty Images

Photo illustration by David Malan/Getty Images

The African Global Economic and Development Summit took place at the University of Southern California from March 16th to 18th.

None of the approximately 60 invited guests from Africa were able to attend.

The problem was that none of the African delegates were able to get U.S. visas.

Humphrey Mutaasa from the mayor’s office in Kampala, Uganda, had organized a delegation of 11 business leaders from Uganda to attend the African Global Economic and Development Summit at the University of Southern California.

He says it was a very high level group of leaders from private businesses, the Ugandan ministry of trade, chambers of commerce and the Kampala mayor’s office.

“The delegation that was coming from Uganda to that summit was very, very disappointed,” he says.

The conference was first held in 2013 and seeks to strengthen business ties between U.S. investors and African companies, says summit chairwoman Mary Flowers.

Visa problems have been an issue before, she says. In the past, she says roughly 40 percent of African invitees are unable to get the papers they need to attend, mainly due to a combination of red tape and bureaucracy.

It’s hard to find out exactly why.

Delegations were invited from 12 countries across the continent. None of them were from the three African nations (Libya, Somalia and Sudan) covered by President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel from 6 majority Muslim countries.

Flowers speculates new vetting procedures put in place by the Trump administration are discriminating against travelers from Africa.

“Obviously because this has never happened before,” she says of the inability of anyone to come.

The White House has called for “enhanced screening and vetting of applications for visas” worldwide as part of stepped up efforts to keep out terrorists.

A State Department official on background tells NPR that they can’t comment on any individual visa applications but says all applications are screened on a case-by-case basis. And the eligibility requirements for getting a visa haven’t changed.

Some of the African delegates to the summit say their visa applications were denied because they didn’t show a compelling reason why they would return home after the event. Others say bureaucratic hurdles were so big that they were not able to submit a visa application in the first place.

Humphrey Mutaasa in Kampala says the online application is complicated. You can’t even see how long the process will take until after you’ve paid a $160 application fee at a local bank. Then you have to wait a day to get a confirmation code to book an interview at the U.S. embassy.

“Then when you’ve finished that and you have the codes from the bank … there are the challenges of internet connectivity,” he says. “When you get online then the calendar [from the Embassy] will tell you the whole of February, there are no appointments, You can only secure an appointment after the 15th of March.”

Which meant he wouldn’t have a ruling on his visa until after the three day conference had concluded.

The end result of this year’s visa outcome, says Flowers, is going to be fewer connections between American business and the continent.

“I don’t know whether there’s some secret message going to the U.S. embassies in these African countries but it’s ridiculous,” she says. “The [visa] process was already somewhat discriminatory against the African nations in the past. We don’t know what the story is now but I do hope that America remains open to the world.”

*NPR

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France’s Le Pen calls for end to ‘Francafrique’ relations, CFA franc currency
March 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

N’DJAMENA French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen pledged on Wednesday to break with her country’s decades-old relationship with Africa known as “Francafrique” and abolish the CFA franc currency policy that binds Paris and its former colonies.

Francafrique describes an informal web of relationships Paris has maintained with its former African colonies and its support, sometimes in the form of military backing, for politicians who favor French business interests.

Le Pen, one of the frontrunners in the presidential election, spoke at the end of a two-day visit to Chad where she sought to outline her policies regarding the continent, which has long held an important place in French foreign policy.

“It was only in coming here and explaining that I am able to get around the lies of my political adversaries who don’t want Africa to hear me,” the National Front (FN) party candidate said at a news conference in the capital N’Djamena.

“I’ve come to condemn the policy of Francafrique that they’ve carried out. I have come to say I will break with this policy,” she said.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy and incumbent Francois Hollande also vowed to end the Francafrique policy, but both kept France deeply involved in African politics and security matters.

Le Pen, a nationalist and vocal critic of the European Union, has spoken of her desire for France to abandon the euro currency.

In N’Djamena, she also called for an end to the CFA franc, a currency used in 14 west and central African nations, which is tied to the euro at a fixed exchange rate – with the peg guaranteed by the French Treasury.

“I understand the complaints of African states which consider as a matter of principle that they must have their own currency and that the CFA franc is a hindrance to their economic development. I completely agree with this vision,” she said.

In building the FN into a viable mainstream party, Le Pen has worked to shake off the baggage of its historical anti-semitism and deflect current accusations of racism and Islamophobia.

And while she sought to highlight that French citizens of African origin have the same rights and duties as any other citizens, she maintained the hard line on immigration that has solidified her support among many voters.

“Because France is sovereign, because it has its laws, because everyone who enters a country must respect these laws, foreigners living illegally in France will be sent home and French borders will be restored,” she said.

*REUTERS

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Africa-Israel Summit: Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu to attend the Africa-Israel Summit in Lomé, Togo
March 24, 2017 | 1 Comments
The Africa-Israel Summit is jointly organized by the Togolese and Israeli diplomatic service as well as Africa-Israel Connect
TEL AVIV, Israel, March 21, 2017/ — The international news network i24News and the executive committee of the Africa-Israel Summit  have signed a partnership agreement, making i24News the official media partner for the summit which will take place in Lomé, Togo, from October 23-27, 2017.

i24news, a channel broadcasted from Tel Aviv, will offer exclusive coverage of the event through its three channels (French, English, Arabic) in partnership with its Washington, Paris and New York offices.

The network will ensure the media promotion of the Africa-Israel Summit in the months leading up to the event and will be the official media partner with exclusive access to the summit.

i24News aims to strike deep and long-term roots in the African continent and expand its coverage beyond the countries where it is already present. Franck Melloul, CEO of the i24 news channel declared: “I am very honored and excited to launch our media partnership between our network and the Africa-Israel Summit. I am convinced that it is a great initiative to promote cooperation between Africa and Israel and that promoting the media coverage of the event is an excellent opportunity for i24. In addition, I believe that the Summit will serve as an ideal framework for our network to strike deep roots in Africa and further i24news’ status as a global news network”.

The Africa-Israel Summit, an event jointly organized by the Togolese and Israeli diplomatic service as well as Africa-Israel Connect, will be held in October 2017 in Lomé, Togo and will host the senior leadership from both Africa and the State of Israel including PM Netanyahu and African heads of state for exclusive talks and discussions focused on political and business matters. Bruno Finel, CEO of the Africa-Israel Connect firm stated: “The Africa-Israel Summit is a unique opportunity to fulfill the formidable potential of heightened cooperation between Jerusalem and the African continent. Moreover, Lomé is an ideal venue to hold the Summit. Indeed, the city regularly hosts high-profile conferences and President Faure Gnassingbe is a historic and faithful friend of the Jewish state. In addition, the President’s proven commitment to proactive and dynamic diplomacy is an invaluable asset to the success of the Summit”.

The theme of the Summit is ‘Innovation for a shared prosperity’.

i24 news, a subsidiary of the Altice Group (SFR, Portugal Telecom, Suddenlink, Cablevision, L’Express, BFM, Liberation, HOT) was launched in July 2013 and employs a staff of 150 people.

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Mara Social Media Acquires Global Instant Messaging & Communications Platform “Nimbuzz”
March 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

The app has over 200 million users and is available for Android, iPhone, and Symbian, MIDP, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and PC & MAC clients

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 23, 2017/ — Mara Social Media , an African multi-channel platform of online and mobile tech innovations that are designed to connect people across emerging markets, has announced this week that it has acquired global platform Nimbuzz Assets.

Nimbuzz, initially released in May 2008 is a powerful cross-platform mobile calling and messaging app. The app can be installed on computers, mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets. Nimbuzz offers its users the ability to make voice and video calls, enable chat and file sharing worldwide. The app has over 200 million users and is available for Android, iPhone, and Symbian, MIDP, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and PC & MAC clients.

Anubhav Nagar, CEO of Mara Social Media said “We see a strong momentum for consumer messaging apps, which are set to overtake social media apps globally. According to reports and current trends it is clear that social media apps are likely be eclipsed by messaging apps in the next two years. This is the opportunity, which we identified with Nimbuzz.”

As part of this acquisition, Mara gains access to Nimbuzz’s & Holaa’s unified platform as well as their international assets, IP & Database. The acquisition provides a strong foundation for our future growth in emerging markets. Nimbuzz Instant messenger & Holaa has a user base of 200 million registered users spread across India and the Middle East.

Ahuti Chug, Chair of Mara Social Media said “Users are now demanding a messaging app experience that goes beyond entertainment or communications. We see this as a gap in the offering of the existing messenger players in most markets and it opens up a huge opportunity for Mara to tap in to. We are extremely excited about this move and with the fact that it makes us a global player in this space.”

Mara will roll-out a new hybrid approach for the Nimbuzz messenger which would be an amalgamation of content, Incubator platform, smart market place and consumer communities. Mara plans to integrate the Nimbuzz platform with its existing Mara platforms including Mara Mentor and Mara Jobs into Nimbuzz Messenger and vice versa.

Mara Mentor is a free online mentoring platform that connects ambitious entrepreneurs and business leaders globally and can be accessed via a web-based platform and a mobile application that’s available on iOS and Android.

Mara Jobs is an online job platform in emerging markets including Africa & the Indian Sub-Continent. It is a platform specially designed to service the blue collar and white collar job markets in these regions which are currently hugely fragmented.

Through this multi-platform integration of Nimbuzz & Mara’s current consumer facing platforms, the long-term play for Mara Social Media is to enable commerce by growing and amplifying the power of the user base & engagement.

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The 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS Picks Mohammed Dewji, Group CEO of MeTL, as ‘CEO OF THE YEAR
March 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mohammed Dewji, Group CEO of MeTL (Mohammed Entreprise Tanzania Limited) takes home the prestigious CEO OF THE YEAR award and Anta Babacar Ngom Bathily of Sedima wins the award for YOUNG CEO OF THE YEAR.

Mohammed Dewji beats off competition from business heavyweights across the continent to take home one of the biggest awards in Africa’s private sector at a gala dinner on the first day of the Africa CEO Forum. In his speech, Mr. Dewji thanked the organisers and jurors saying he was “humbled and honoured for this fantastic recognition”. Mr. Dewji also thanked John Magufuli, Tanzania’s President for his relentless fight against corruption.

Anta Babacar Ngom Bathily was crowned ‘Young CEO of the Year’ for her remarkable leadership skills as Executive Director of Sedima, Senegal’s leading agribusiness group. Created at last year’s Forum, the award recognises a promising young African business leader under 45 years old. Receiving the award, Ms. Ngom Bathily dedicated her award to “all women and young women” as well as to her father, who was present at the ceremony.

Egypt-based Elsewedy Electric received the AFRICAN COMPANY OF THE YEAR award, presented to a representative of the Group CEO Ahmed Elsewedy who said that as an African company, Elsewedy “has an obligation to take part in the development and in bringing the right technology to solve Africa’s challenges”. This award is given to the African company that demonstrated a remarkable expansion on the continent in 2016.

The award for AFRICAN BANK OF THE YEAR went to Morocco’s leading Attijariwafa Bank, ranked Africa’s fourth largest bank with over 7 million clients and more than 16,000 employees in 24 countries. The bank’s CEO Mohamed El Kettani received the prize from Amir Ben Yahmed, Founder and President of the Africa CEO Forum.

The PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTOR OF THE YEAR award was given to AfricInvest, a Tunisia-based firm dedicated to the international expansion of French SMEs in Africa. The award presentation was done by Emna Kharouf, Managing Partner at Deloitte Conseil Tunisie.

German insurer Allianz and Portuguese company Mota-Engil, who together have been operating in Africa for over two decades, were the joint winners of this year’s INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION OF THE YEAR award. The award was presented by Michael Rheinnegger, Managing Partner of Rainbow Limited to representatives from both corporations.
Set up in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organized jointly by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company specializing in the organization of economic promotion events.
Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has established itself as the formost international event dedicated to the development of the African private sector. In 2016, the AFRICA CEO FORUM hosted nearly 1,000 African and international public figures including 600 CEOs from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.
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World Bank Group Announces Record $57 Billion for Sub-Saharan Africa
March 20, 2017 | 1 Comments
Funds will scale up investments and de-risk private sector participation for accelerated growth and development

 

File Picture- President Kagame meets with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in New York

File Picture- President Kagame meets with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in New York

BADEN BADEN, Germany, March 19, 2017– Following a meeting with G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today announced a record $57 billion in financing for Sub-Saharan African countries over the next three fiscal years. Kim then left on a trip to Rwanda and Tanzania to emphasize the Bank Group’s support for the entire region. 

The bulk of the financing – $45 billion – will come from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries. The financing for Sub-Saharan Africa also will include an estimated $8 billion in private sector investments from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a private sector arm of the Bank Group, and $4 billion in financing from International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, its non-concessional public sector arm.

In December, development partners agreed to a record $75 billion for IDA, a dramatic increase based on an innovative move to blend donor contributions to IDA with World Bank Group internal resources, and with funds raised through capital markets.

Sixty percent of the IDA financing is expected to go to Sub-Saharan Africa, home to more than half of the countries eligible for IDA financing. This funding is available for the period known as IDA18, which runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020.

“This represents an unprecedented opportunity to change the development trajectory of the countries in the region,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “With this commitment, we will work with our clients to substantially expand programs in education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate, infrastructure, and institutional reform.

The IDA financing for operations in Africa will be critical to addressing roadblocks that prevent the region from reaching its potential. To support countries’ development priorities, scaled-up investments will focus on tackling conflict, fragility, and violence; building resilience to crises including forced displacement, climate change, and pandemics; and reducing gender inequality. Efforts will also promote governance and institution building, as well as jobs and economic transformation.

This financing will help African countries continue to grow, create opportunities for their citizens, and build resilience to shocks and crises,” Kim said.

While much of the estimated $45 billion in IDA financing will be dedicated to country-specific programs, significant amounts will be available through special “windows” to finance regional initiatives and transformative projects, support refugees and their host communities, and help countries in the aftermath of crises. This will be complemented by a newly established Private Sector Window (PSW)-especially important in Africa, where many sound investments go untapped due to lack of capital and perceived risks. The Private Sector Window will supplement existing instruments of IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) – the Bank Group’s arm that offers political risk insurance and credit enhancement – to spur sound investments through de-risking, blended finance, and local currency lending.

This World Bank Group financing will support transformational projects during the FY18-20 period. IBRD priorities will include health, education, and infrastructure projects such as expanding water distribution and access to power. The priorities for the private sector investment will include infrastructure, financial markets, and agribusiness. IFC also will deepen its engagement in fragile and conflict-affected states and increase climate-related investments.

Expected IDA outcomes include essential health and nutrition services for up to 400 million people, access to improved water sources for up to 45 million, and 5 GW of additional generation capacity for renewable energy.

The scaled-up IDA financing will build on a portfolio of 448 ongoing projects in Africa totaling about $50 billion. Of this, a $1.6 billion financing package is being developed to tackle the impending threat of famine in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and other regions.

*World Bank

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