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How Trump’s Uncertainty on Africa Could be China’s Gain
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Conor Gaffey*

LEFT: United States President Donald Trump. RIGHT: President Uhuru Kenyatta

LEFT: United States President Donald Trump. RIGHT: President Uhuru Kenyatta

China is set to benefit from a possible pulling back of investment by U.S. companies in Africa under the Trump administration, according to a report.

The number of Chinese-funded projects increased by more than 100 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the Africa Attractiveness survey released on Wednesday by EY, formerly Ernst & Young.

By contrast, the number of American foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Africa fell by 5.2 percent in 2016, although the United States remains the leading overall investor in Africa. Chinese projects also created more than 38,000 jobs in Africa, more than three times as many as American investments.

Since coming to office, President Donald Trump has had little to say about U.S. policy on Africa under his administration. The Trump administration is yet to appoint a head of the African Affairs bureau in the State Department and has made only a handful of calls to African leaders, though the U.S. president did receive Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at the White House in April.

Trump Sissi meeting President Trump meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on April 3. Trump’s meeting with Sisi was his first with an African leader since becoming president in January. Kevin Lamarque/reuters

While the EY report measures private investment in Africa, as opposed to government-to-government investment or aid, any changes in U.S.-Africa policy may have an impact on business relations. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which was instituted in 2000 and allows tariff-free access for certain goods from African countries into the U.S., is one example of where policy and business could collide. Trump has not commented directly on the AGOA, but his favoring of bilateral trade deals over multi-party agreements would suggest a preference for individually-negotiated deals that benefited the United States, not just Africa.

Michael Lalor, the head of EY’s Africa Business Center, says that while he does not foresee a marked decrease in U.S. investment in Africa in the short term, significant policy changes could impact on the likelihood of U.S. businesses starting new investments on the continent.

“A strength of U.S.-led investment in Africa has been the connectedness of investment. Business and government and development agencies aren’t acting in isolation,” says Lalor, citing the Power Africa program—an initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2013 to bring 30,000 megawatts of electricity to sub-Saharan Africa—as an example.

“It helps to have government and business on the same page…The danger is that this might be a more fragmented approach to investment, versus the approach from other countries—China is a good example—where it is quite an integrated approach,” says Lalor. “It might just blunt the competitive advantage of the U.S. in Africa.”

While the rate of investment slowed, the U.S. continued to be the leading inward investor in Africa, accounting for 13.5 percent of total FDI projects on the continent. The main target for investment by American companies was South Africa, where 28 of the 91 U.S.-sourced FDI projects were based. South Africa has long been a hub of international investment in Africa: It is the continent’s biggest and most industrialized economy. Behind it, U.S. companies also invested heavily in North Africa, particularly Morocco (14 projects) and Egypt (13 projects).

“Counting the sheer number of projects is a rather questionable measure of FDI when compared to actual capital invested. By the latter, the United States remains Africa’s most important partner,” says J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council.

Kenya China flag A Kenyan dock worker waves a Chinese flag during a farewell ceremony for a Chinese naval ship before it leaves the Kenyan port city of Mombasa for Tanzania on October 18, 2010. The number of Chinese investment projects in Africa increased by more than 100 percent in 2016, according to a report. JEAN CURRAN/AFP/Getty

Pham also says that the business acumen possessed by Trump and members of his administration means that “commercial diplomacy” will likely take a more central role under Trump, benefitting both U.S. firms and Africa.

Morocco is an example of where this could be true, Pham says. The EY report ranked the North African country as the most attractive destination for international investors in 2017, based on six factors including economic resilience, market size and ease of doing business. Morocco is the only African country—and one of only 20 countries in total—to have a free trade agreement with the United States, which entered into force in 2006. The deal has contributed to a massive increase in U.S.-Morocco trade, from $35 million in 2005 to $844.2 million in 2016. “American firms are especially well-positioned to triangulate in their business with Africa through Morocco,” says Pham.

China has been involved in Africa for at least 60 years and is the continent’s single largest trade partner. As well as trade and FDI, the Chinese government and state-run entities have undertaken enormous infrastructure projects in Africa—such as a $4 billion, 450-mile railway linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti, launched in October 2016—in exchange for privileged access to Africa’s huge marketplace of people and resources and increased international status.

Beijing has also been a huge contributor of development assistance to African countries. At a 2015 China-Africa summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion in assistance, including grants, loans and aid to the continent.

In his budget proposal released in March, President Trump proposed cutting the budget of the State Department and foreign aid by 28 percent, as well as eliminating various government agencies, including the African Development Foundation, which promotes development by investing in African enterprises.

While aid and investment are two different things, U.S. companies are likely to follow the administration’s lead in drawing back from Africa, says Stephen Chan, professor of world politics at SOAS University of London. “Investors will take aid cutbacks as a political signal and one that will lead to possible insecurity in the country concerned. So investors will be more cautious and I expect a decline in the volume of investment,” says Chan.

Such a pullback could mean strategic losses in U.S. influence in Africa and leave further space for China to capitalize, says Chan. “For China, the benefits are upstream in a future where a growing Chinese economy will have grown to need African resources and paybacks from FDI and aid commitments made now,” says Chan. “The Chinese, as ever, are playing a long game. President Trump, at the moment, is playing no game at all in Africa.”

*Newsweek

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CCA President and CEO Visits Ghana, Nigeria on West Africa Tour
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser and H.E. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Acting President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Washington, DC – May 16, 2017: Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) President and CEO, Ms. Florizelle Liser met with H.E. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Acting President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and other high level government officials and business leaders on her first official trip to West Africa as part of the ongoing effort to promote trade, investment and business engagement between the United States and Africa.

 CCA, a Washington D.C. based organization, is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. On this inaugural visit to West Africa as CCA’s CEO, Ms. Liser visited Ghana and Nigeria.

 Ms. Liser kicked off her trip on Tuesday in Accra, Ghana, where she met with the Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry. There was a vibrant discussion on efforts to enhance Ghana’s export of value added products to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), to incentivize manufacturing and job creation in key sectors, and to make the reforms needed to attract investment to Ghana. She also met with Ambassador Robert Jackson, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, and Mr. Yoofi Grant, CEO Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) who shared that there would be a large delegation of Ghanaian businesses participating in CCA’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit on June 13-16, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

 In Nigeria, Ms. Liser met with H.E Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Acting President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama, Honorable Minister for Foreign Affairs; Dr. Okechukwu E. Enelamah, Honorable Minister for Industry, Trade And Investment; Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum; Mrs. Yewande Sadiku, CEO, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC); Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director and CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) as well as the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria.

 Acting President Osinbajo congratulated Ms. Liser on her new role and spoke about potential areas for collaboration with CCA. He emphasized the importance of driving trade and investment between both countries. He also spoke about diversifying Nigerian exports to the United States and taking greater advantage of AGOA market access beyond oil, the importance of Nigeria being positioned in global supply chains, reforms around the ease of doing business, and the progress being made in the Niger Delta.

 At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Onyeama spoke about his plan to drive economic diplomacy and leverage Nigeria’s 114 foreign offices to drive FDI into Nigeria. “At the last [United National General Assembly] UNGA, we were in touch with CCA and we were very impressed with the enthusiasm of U.S. businesses to engage with Nigeria,” said Minister Onyeama.

 Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, commended Ms. Liser and CCA for their work supporting Nigeria’s efforts to create an enabling business environment in Nigeria and promote U.S.-Nigeria business partnerships. “Many years ago, when we were starting the Africa Capital Alliance,” said Minister Enelamah, “CCA played an important role when there was a strain in the relationship between U.S. and Nigeria, thus ensuring lots of businesses were kept alive.” Nigeria recently approved the establishment of the Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiation. One of the functions of the office is to drive proactive negotiation in the areas of trade and investment. The Ministry will be the focal ministry in trade negotiations while the other ministry-members of the presidential economic team will support.

Florizelle Liser and Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Florizelle Liser and Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, Federal Republic of Nigeria

 At the meeting with Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, Ms. Liser commended his efforts on “7-big wins” in the oil sector and stressed the importance of Africa to the U.S. especially in the oil and gas sectors.  The Minister discussed plans for modular refineries. The modular refineries model being introduced will be tailor-made to the Niger Delta and the ministry would support investors looking to navigate the complex business environment. The Ministry also asked for CCA and its members’ support in streamlining and standardizing technology in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. “We look to CCA when we have something strategic to do with the governments of Africa and promoting greater U.S. FDI into Africa. We are in a trying period and we are looking at whatever investments that come into Nigeria” said the Hon. Minister.

Florizelle Liser and Mr. Aliko Dangote, Dangote Group

Florizelle Liser and Mr. Aliko Dangote, Dangote Group

 Ms. Liser also had individual meetings with CCA members Mr. Aliko Dangote of Dangote Industries Limited  and Mr. Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank, both of whom sit on CCA’s Board of Directors.  On Friday, Ms. Liser was hosted to a special dinner by Mr. Aliko Dangote, which was attended by Mr. Ovia and a dozen leading Nigerian private sector stakeholders to discuss ways to promote greater U.S.-Nigeria investment and business partnerships, and more broadly, to raise the continent’s profile as an important U.S. partner for global business. They also discussed CCA’s upcoming U.S.-Africa Business Summit in June in Washington, D.C. as an important opportunity to showcase that partnership.

 CCA has 30 member companies in Ghana and Nigeria – indigenous and multinationals – including leading businesses like Dangote Industries Limited, Microsoft, Zenith Bank, ExxonMobil, Procter & Gamble, Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun (ACAS-LAW), Caterpillar and Afro Tourism. About 15 percent of CCA member companies are African, and Nigerian firms make up almost 50 percent of that number. CCA has a satellite office in Abuja, which is led by Mr. Ekenem Isichei, Director for West Africa.

 About Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)

Florizelle Liser and Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of Ghana

Florizelle Liser and Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of Ghana

Corporate Council on Africa is the leading U.S business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S and African firms. Learn more at www.corporatecouncilonafrica.com. For more information  contact  Michaela Ehimika

mehimika@corporatecouncilonafrica.com  .Tel 202-263-3531

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Africa: America’s Snub of the African Union Should Spur Regional Powers Into Action
May 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

AU Chair Moussa Faki in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

AU Chair Moussa Faki in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

In April 2017 US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stood up one of Africa’s most powerful people, African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki. Tillerson invited Faki to Washington for a meeting, then backed out at the last minute. Former US ambassador to the AU, Reuben Brigety, called the Secretary of State’s snub the dumbest thing in the world, adding that 21st century Africa has a bigger voice in global politics, which could cost US presence in Africa.

That said, Tillerson’s snub was a direct challenge to Africa’s international position and it sends a double-pronged message.

First, it signals the return of the US/Africa policy that held sway from 1960 to 2001. In that era, Africa was on the back burner when it came to American foreign policy. It was against this backdrop that the Rwanda genocide, and the implosions of Somalia, Liberia and Zaire took place.

Second, this proves that Africa is strategically insignificant to US President Donald Trump’s administration. When you add the rising nationalism in Europe to the equation, the continent finds itself in a precarious position internationally.

As such, there’s a clear and present need for African led-states like South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt and Libya to act in concert. These countries have been referred to as Africa’s Big Five.

With the exception of Libya, these states are not only the biggest financial contributors to the AU but they also have the material capacity to lead.

 Does the continent have what it takes?

American scholar, Randall Schweller, once wondered why regional powers in Africa – like Nigeria – had not enhanced their power positions by filling in purported power vacuums on the continent.

Other scholars believe that South Africa is just as powerful in southern Africa as Nigeria is in the west of the continent, while some refer to the two countries as Africa’s twin pivotal powers.

But beyond the power-struggle between Africa’s two largest economies, the time is right for lead states on the continent to aspire for regional dominance. This is a sure way to protect Africa’s right to chart its own course on the international stage.

The question is this: can these African countries lead with little or no external assistance? Perhaps, but they would need a steady flow of cash to do so. Unfortunately, in Africa a lot of money is either misused or misappropriated.

Indeed, the Thabo Mbeki report on Illicit Financial Flows shows that billions of dollars leave the continent illegally every year.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that for every 50 billion dollars in aid to Africa, the west gets a return of more than $400 billion in legal and illicit trade. This suggestion makes a mockery of the purported sanctity of aid and support given to Africa every year.

The AU’s Peace and Security Department has a 200 million dollar budget. Despite their domestic challenges, African lead states can meet this cost. And a broader category of AU member states can make significant non-financial contributions.

If lead states boost the union with human and material resources, it could then harness intellectual capital from the Big Five, as well as from countries like Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Botswana and the African diaspora.

This initiative would reduce Africa’s dependency on western expertise by a significant margin.

 Peace and security

To secure local populations across the continent, African countries have the capacity for strategic airlifts, maritime sea lifts, logistics, and strategic and operational intelligence, all of which are currently provided by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the United States Africa Command.

Algeria is the only country on the continent that has consistently provided military support to AU peace missions. As such, the AU must widen its net to seek military assistance from the Big Five, plus member states like Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.

But such a radical suggestion can only be realised if the AU changes its mode of operation. The commission needs to do away with the sanctity of political egalitarianism enshrined in Article 4 of the AU’s Constitutive Act. Big states cannot lead if their counterparts are structurally empowered to frustrate their efforts.

On the other hand, adjustments need to be made to equate politics with economics. To participate in international politics Africa must protect its economic interests. Without twinning politics and economics, African leaders will not be able to lessen the commission’s fiscal burden.

An African concert of powers

Finally, Africa’s lead states will need to form a soft concert of powers. This would be a coalition of African powers who agree to act in ideological unison, with a burden-sharing formula for each common project.

The lead states would promote the same political and economic ideals on the continent. This would mean that although the power index of states would vary, a commitment to unity would be sustained. Critically, this concert would be state-centric rather than personality-based.

Countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Kenya and Angola, which are significant actors in their regions, would have to sign new treaties and memorandums of understanding specifically aimed at building a concert of African powers.

These treaties and agreements would outline a formula for role playing and burden-sharing, something which has eluded African regionalism for a long time.

Moreover, a concert of powers would have at its core a common position, doctrine and structure to regulate leadership, capabilities and contributions. By presenting this united front, external actors would no longer be able to polarise African countries. A central focus of power would also address sensitivities around issues such as intelligence-sharing and trade.

The AU needs to roll back the capacity-substitution forced on the continent by the west. To do this, Africa must embrace reform. If things don’t change, the continent will remain at the mercy of external meddlers such as the United States, France and others for the next 50 years or more.

*Culled from The Conversation.Tshepo T. Gwatiwa is  PhD Candidate, Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID), Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID)

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Africa and India – Sharing the Development Journey
May 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: Mohamed Mambo/Daily News Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his host, President John Magufuli, acknowledge cheers from a section of Dar es Salaam residents who turned up at the State House grounds in the city.

Photo: Mohamed Mambo/Daily News
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his host, President John Magufuli, acknowledge cheers from a section of Dar es Salaam residents who turned up at the State House grounds in the city.

Abidjan — Africa, like India, is a continent of rich and compelling diversity. Both continents share a similar landscape, a shared colonial history, and similar economic and demographic challenges. This helps both India and Africa work especially well with each other.

This cooperation is both a mutual privilege and priority. At the end of the 2015 India-Africa Forum Summit, Indian Prime Minister Modi announced very substantial credits and grant assistance which benefitted our relationship. In addition to an India-Africa Development Fund, an India-Africa Health Fund and 50,000 scholarships for African students in India were established.

India’s bilateral trade with Africa has risen five-fold in the last decade, from $11.9 billion in 2005-6 to $56.7 billion in 2015-16. It is expected to reach $100 billion by 2018. This is attributed largely to initiatives by India’s private sector, and here again we are on the same wave length. We understand and appreciate that the private sector will be the critical element in Africa’s transformation.

African countries are targeted by Indian investors due to their high-growth markets and mineral rich reserves. India is the fifth largest country investing in Africa, with investments over the past 20 years amounting to $54 billion, 19.2% of all its total Foreign Direct Investment.

 At the same time a transformed Africa is taking shape. Despite a tough global economic environment, African countries continue to be resilient. Their economies, on average, grew by 2.2% in 2016, and are expected to rise to 3.4% this year. But the average does not tell the true picture. Indeed, 14 African countries grew by over 5% in 2016 and 18 countries grew between 3-5%. That’s a remarkable performance in a period when the global environment has been impeded by recession.

By 2050, Africa will have roughly the same population as China and India combined today, with high consumer demand from a growing middle class and nearly a billion ambitious and hard-working young people. The cities will be booming, as the populations (and economic expectations) rise exponentially around the continent.

This is the busy and bustling future that Africa and India must shape together in a strategic partnership. And nowhere is this partnership more needed than on the issue of infrastructure.

At the top of the list is power and electricity. Some 645 million Africans do not have access to electricity. It’s why the African Development Bank launched the New Deal on Energy for Africa in 2016. Our goal is to help achieve universal access to electricity within ten years. We will invest $12 billion in the energy sector over the next five years and leverage $45-50 billion from the private sector. We plan to connect 130 million people to the grid system, 75 million people through off grid systems and provide 150 million people with access to clean cooking energy.

The African Development Bank is also in the vanguard of renewable energy development and the remarkable “off-grid revolution” in Africa. We host the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, jointly developed with the African Union, which has already attracted $10 billion in investment commitments from G7 countries.

Universal access requires large financial investments. By some estimates, Africa needs $43-$55 billion per year until the 2030s, compared to current energy investments of about $8-$9.2 billion.

 We must close this gap. And to do so, the mobilization of domestic resources will play a major role. Pension funds in Africa will reach $1.3 trillion by 2025. Already tax revenues have exceeded $500 billion per year. Sovereign wealth funds in Africa stand at $164 billion.

To attract significant investment by institutional investors, infrastructure should become an asset class. The African Development Bank has launched Africa50, a new infrastructure entity, now capitalized by African countries at over $865 million, to help accelerate infrastructure project development and project finance. Also, later this year, the African Development Bank will be launching the ‘Africa Investment Forum’ to leverage African and global pension and sovereign wealth funds into investments in Africa.

Moreover, the African business environment keeps improving, with easier regulations and more conducive government policies to attract the global investors. In 2015, Africa alone accounted for more than 30% of the business regulatory reforms in the world.

The fact is, we have already started to transform Africa. This is the territory of the High 5s: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of life of Africans.

We can forge winning partnerships investing in power generation, energy, agro-aligned industrialisation and food processing. In doing so we can work on the synergies that exist between infrastructure, regional integration, the regulation of enterprises, employment, health and innovation.

In each of these areas I see the prospect for cooperation and collaboration with Indian partners. For example, we are partnering with the EXIM Bank of India and others to establish the Kukuza, a company based in Mauritius, to help develop and support public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure project development and finance.

India is already one of the top bidders for Bank projects. This is a reflection of its immense expertise in a diverse range of areas from engineering to education; from ICT to railway development; skills development to regional integration; and from manufacturing to industrialisation.

It is our pleasure to partner with such an inveterate and committed investor in Africa. And may this investment be lucrative and justified, and may our mutual interest and cooperation continue for many years to come.

*Allafrica.Dr Akinwumi Adesina is President of the African Development Bank. The 2017 AfDB Annual Meetings will be held in Ahmedabad, India, 22-26 May.

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South Africa: SA ‘Working On Scrapping Visa for All African Citizens’
May 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Photo: Pixababy

Photo: Pixababy

South Africa is working towards allowing all African citizens to enter the country without visas – but at first “trusted travellers” like diplomats, officials, academics, business people and students will be the only ones to benefit.

The Department of Home Affairs outlines the steps that will be taken towards scrapping visa requirements in its latest White Paper on International Migration, which was adopted by cabinet six weeks ago but not made public yet.

The African Union’s Agenda 2063, championed by former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, calls for the scrapping of visa requirements for all African citizens travelling on the continent by 2018 based on the views of the African Rennaissance.

The African passport was launched with great ceremony by Dlamini-Zuma and Rwandan President Paul Kagame at last year’s AU summit in Kigali.

According to the White Paper, South Africa “fully supports the vision of an Africa where its citizens can move more freely across national borders, where intra-Africa trade is encouraged and there is greater integration and development of the African continent”.

It said the current status was untenable. “For instance, on average Africans need visas to travel to 55% of other African countries. They can get visas on arrival in only 25% of other countries. Finally, they do not need a visa to travel to just 20% of other countries on the continent.”

Security-based approach

But the White Paper, which moves South Africa’s approach to immigration from a purely administrative one to a security-based approach, warns that the scrapping of visas needs to happen with caution.

South Africa’s risk-based approach “advocates for an incremental removal of migration formalities for frequent and trusted travellers including diplomats, officials, academics, business persons, students, etc.”

The policy is envisaged as follows: African citizens can enter South Africa visa-free where there are reciprocal agreements.

Visas will only be needed when there are risks of foreign nationals overstaying, security risks like organised crime, terrorism and political instability, civil registration risks, i.e. fraud by foreign governments in issuing documents or an unable or unwillingness to identfy their nationals when requested, and for countries “with a high number of nationals who abuse the asylum system”.

One of the countries identified elsewhere in the document as doing such is Zimbabwe.

 Key elements of the visa-free regime would be visa-free entry for visits up to 90 days, recognition of visas for third parties, for example regional visas, agreed standards on immigration and border management, agreed standards on civil registration and “sophisticated, real-time risk management, information and intelligence sharing”.

 Where visas are required “South Africa should make it as easy as possible for bona fide travellers to enter South Africa”, by standardising and expanding the use of long-term, multiple-entry visas for frequent travellers, business people and academics, according to the White Paper.

A list will be developed of countries whose visa adjucation systems are trusted and recognised by South Africa, and technology will be used to establish trusted traveller schemes.

Free movement of African citizens

At regional level, South Africa “should continue to advocate for a free movement of African citizens,” the paper states.

It also says, however, that there has been a large influx of semi-skilled an unskilled economic migrants who couldn’t get visas and permits through the “mainstream immigration regime”.

These had some negative consequences, such as the asylum seeker management system being “abused and overwhelmed by economic migrants”, and then these migrants, and by extension also South African workers, being abused by “some unscrupulous South African employers”.

There has also been “increased trade in false documentation and petty corruption by police and immigration enforcement officials”, and social cohesion has suffered, “as all citizens assume that all migrants from the rest of Africa are irregular and undesirable”.

There has also been a “revolving door” of migrants returning, and deportations to neighbouring countries increasing significantly.

The White Paper, which has a strong focus on attracting more skilled migrants to counter the brain drain, also announces a special dispensation for migrants from the Southern African Development Community, with the focus on giving visas to skilled migrants, traders and small and medium sized business owners.

Visas for lower skilled migrants will be “quota-based”, but details on this still have to be decided.

Home Affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize is expected to announce details on the new immigration dispensation in her budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday.

It is expected that the new policy will find its way into legislation by next year.

Source: News24

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Africa’s future hangs in the balance – we dare not fail
May 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

The dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. Sthe Shabangu, Lead: Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship, Samsung Africa Office asks whether we are doing enough to ensure Africa is ready.

Sthe Shabangu

Sthe Shabangu

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 16 May 2017, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Africa is standing before a small window of opportunity to grow future-ready leaders equipped to take on a new era of industry. It will be our ability to come together and develop those leaders that will determine whether we fly or fall.

The tough reality is that radical disruption to skills requirements in the workplace is headed our way as we edge towards the next Industrial Revolution.

Research presented at the World Economic Forum on Africa last week shows that in South Africa alone, 39% of the core skills required across industries will be completely different in three years’ time.

Yet, the Forum also brought forward concerning statistics which paint a picture of a continent that is struggling to develop skills for today, never mind skills for tomorrow.

Indeed, WEF’s Human Capital Index reveals that sub-Saharan Africa currently captures just 55% of its human capital potential, when compared with the global average of 65%.

On the one hand, employers say an under-skilled workforce is holding their businesses back – as many as 41% of all firms in Tanzania and 30% in Kenya. But on the other hand, just 50% of Africa’s school-age children are enrolled in secondary school, and a startlingly low 7% in tertiary education.

The gap between skills required and skills administered is greater in Africa than in any other region in the world.

Radical intervention is needed.

It’s simple, if we fail to adequately upskill our youth, we will be guilty of throwing away the future of an entire continent.

By ‘we’ I don’t just mean the government or education providers, but you and I, the people and private entities who wake up each morning on this vibrant continent we call home.

The opportunity
 

The good news is that every challenge also presents an opportunity. While the next Industrial Revolution will brings a massive wave of disruption, it also brings the promise of completely new job descriptions which will call on dynamic and exciting skills sets.

According to findings from WEF, our continent will need young individuals who can combine digital and stem skills with more traditional skill sets. Africa is going to need significant numbers of digital-mechanical engineers and business operations data analysts, to name a few.

How do we get there?
 

The million dollar question is: how do we grasp hold of this golden opportunity to see our continent transition into a new industrial era? I believe the answer lies in the stories that belong to remarkable young individuals like Ken Gitonga.

Ken is the administrator of the Samsung Engineering Academy in Nairobi. The Academy, which was launched in Nairobi in 2014, revolutionises traditional education by providing technical and vocational training for school learners, tertiary students and employed youth.

As will become evident from Ken’s story, the strength of the Academy lies in its ability to provide talented individuals like Ken, not only with the skills they need to succeed, but also to invest back into their communities.

Ken has been making things from as young as six years old, when he built himself a toy car out of wire and wood. He would use sticks, wires and just about any empty household item he could find, to create his own ‘gadgets’. As he didn’t have a lot of money growing up, these gadgets were his toys.

While Ken was given the opportunity to develop his considerable skills by attending the Academy himself, he now uses his talents to help grow the skills of the next generation.

His analytical mind serves him well in this pursuit. Through his planning and logistical genius, he has created a bespoke work station programme that enables students to effectively learn about a particular electronic device. Every day, Ken prepares the course materials needed by the Academy’s lecturers and helps deliver course content when needed.

His is just one of the many stories currently unfolding as Samsung continues to drive the development of skills-for-employability amongst the youth in Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria through the Engineering Academy Initiative.

As a continent of individuals and entities, both private and public, we need to come together to push forward initiatives like these so that we can grasp hold of the unique opportunity that stands before us; growing a generation of talented young individuals ready to take the continent forward.

Together, we can be unstoppable.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Samsung Electronics.
About Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies. The company is redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, medical equipment, network systems, and semiconductor and LED solutions.
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JASON LOVES AFRICA
May 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

-With Wheel to Africa, a young American and his friends highlight the importance of people-to-people engagement in US-Africa relations.

Support for a noble cause:Ambassador Arouna with Jason and his young friends collecting bikes to send to Africa

Support for a noble cause:Ambassador Arouna with Jason and his young friends collecting bikes to send to Africa

Today Saturday, May 13, 2017, I pulled up into Bethesda Library Parking lot on Arlington road.  Bethesda is an affluent Maryland town in the suburb of Washington DC the nation capital.  I am here to meet Jason a college rising sophomore in African studies who spent summers in Africa, mainly Tanzania and Ghana. Jason and his friends under the guidance of his parents are collecting bikes to ship to Africa as part of the Wheel To Africa Initiative.

As soon as entered the parking lot I was greeted by a jubilant and grinning group of kids happy to see the two bikes attached on the back of my car. I could not help but to reminisce, back to the day… I mean, way back when I received my first bike as a child and how happy it felt then. Thinking about it, I am sure it is probably a fair statement to say that, these kids look as happy as the people who will soon be receiving these bikes in the continent of Africa.

Upon getting out of my vehicle, I met and greeted Jason Kohn the young men who initiated today’s event, his parents, and a few of his friends, all passionate about Africa. I introduced myself and we talked about their initiative and their passion for Africa while some of the kids unloaded the two bikes I donated and stacked them against dozens of others bikes neatly arranged on the asphalt. I spent few more minutes’ chit-chatting before saying goodbye, and got into my car.  While I was putting the key in the ignition to start the car, I murmured to myself, “Jason loves Africa… so does America” before driving off…

In today’s America where most in the international development community are wondering about the Trump administration stance on Africa, Jason and his friends with their good deeds remind us, this simple fact; before there was a government, there are people and there lies the answer.

A strong and stable relationship between the United States and Africa is undoubtedly at the center of the Trump overall foreign relations. Washington’s support to the security of the continent, especially as part of the global war on terrorism is probably an essential part of “making America great again” US foreign policy, however many non-governmental or “people-to-people” interactions such as trade and cultural exchanges as well as initiatives such as Jason’s are paramount. This dependence is expected to remain unchanged in the foreseeable future.

As history teaches us, whether it be slavery, the rise of African Nationalism, or the Cold War, America and the African continent have a complicated history full of contradictions, but ultimately the strength of the relationship lies in people-to-people engagement on both continents.

About Wheel To Africa:

During a vacation in Africa with his mother, 10-year-old Winston Duncan was struck by the distances that people had to walk to find food, water, and medical care. It was then that he decided that he needed to find a way to help

His answer: Collect bikes, because “everyone has an old bike”!

In Africa, a bike is a lifeline to survival for many people. It is often their only means to access food and water, markets, education, and jobs. Winston’s passion has motivated family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances to organize annual drives across three states

*Omar Arouna is the immediate past Ambassador of the Republic of Benin to the United States of America. He answers regularly present to initiatives that touch on US-Africa Relations and is President & CEO GlobalSpecialty, LLC.

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African Data Center Summit highlights partnership between Europe and Africa
May 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
Invest In Data Center Africa Summit in Monaco to attract cross continental leadership
MONACO, MONACO, May 11, 2017/ — Now in its second year, the ground breaking Invest in Data Center Africa Summit (www.DataCloudCongress.com/Africa) will host speakers from leading companies operating on both sides of the Mediterranean including Orange, Vodafone and Schneider Electric.

The summit will take place on the 7th of June, collocated at the Datacloud Europe 2017 conference in the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco. This is the prime forum for leaders, innovators and investors from Africa, Europe and beyond to meet, network and do deals.

“Africa is a growth story for the next decade,” commented Philip Low, Chairman, BroadGroup, the consulting company who research and produce Datacloud. “Attendees will be able to hear from and meet the leadership of companies pioneering the evolution of digital networks and critical facilities across the continent along with a financial perspective with the International Finance Corporation and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in attendance.”

The theme of internal data center and connectivity developments within Africa will be explored by speakers from data centers in Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Morocco taking part in Leadership Roundtable discussions.

Companies such as Schneider Electric, Flexenclosure, Etix Everywhere, The Uptime Institute, Minkels, APL, & NxtVn who are facilitating partnerships between the African and European data center communities will exhibit at Datacloud Europe 2017.

“No forum so far has focused on this tremendous opportunity to explain the much-needed data center investment opportunity, galvanize interest and significantly impact the development of digital technologies across the continent. We hope that the Summit will better serve the unique needs of partnership and innovation from Scandinavia to South Africa” said Marcello Brescia, Africa Business Lead at BroadGroup.

Datacloud Europe 2017 is EMEA’s foremost networking and business deal making forum for data center and cloud players, their customers, investors and suppliers. Attracting 1800+ executives from more than 60 countries as well as 90+ exhibiting companies, delivering a unique networking opportunity and a chance to secure real-time deals.

Sponsor and exhibitor opportunities are now open. Take action to assure your participation in what will be the EMEA’s largest infrastructure and IT event including this highly-targeted summit for Africa.

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ATI supported USD4 billion worth of trade and investments in 2016 – African countries urged to seek support from the insurer
May 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Meeting participants urged African governments to intently focus on growing intra-African trade and diversifying their economies away from commodity reliance in order to reduce vulnerability to external shocks

(L-R) Honourable Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury of Kenya and H.E. Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin

(L-R) Honourable Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury of Kenya and H.E. Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11, 2017/ — The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) (www.ATI-ACA.org), held its 17th Annual General Meeting today. The sustained commodity price decline and current geopolitical uncertainties took centre stage. Meeting participants urged African governments to intently focus on growing intra-African trade and diversifying their economies away from commodity reliance in order to reduce vulnerability to external shocks. With sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP growth rates expected to hit a record low of 1.5% depressed commodity rates are seen to be one of the major drivers with export producers accounting for two-thirds of the region’s growth.

Set against a backdrop of increased geopolitical uncertainties that could prove challenging for improved growth, H.E. Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin and Hon. Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury of Kenya delivered opening addresses that pointed to ATI as a vital partner in supporting Africa’s journey toward diversification, self-reliance and more sustainable growth.

In 2016, ATI facilitated financing of trade and investments in Kenya valued at close to USD800 million which represents around 1.2% of Kenya’s GDP. Similarly, in ATI’s two newest member countries, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, the company supported USD400 million worth to trade and investment to these economies. “This is a very significant contribution to our economy. It demonstrates real benefit because these financial flows could not have been realized without the support of ATI,” noted Hon. Rotich.

During the opening ceremony, which attracted leaders from the public and private sectors across Africa, ATI announced its 2016 results. The pan African investment and credit risk insurer posted record results for the sixth consecutive year. ATI has moved from being loss making as recently as 2011 to posting a positive net result representing a 36 percent increase over 2015.  Among other factors, ATI attributes this success to stronger partnerships with African governments, who increasingly see the value of ATI to their growth and development objectives.

In 2016, ATI’s impact in Africa and globally continued to increase. In the last six months, the company attracted new members Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and earlier in 2016, the UK’s export credit agency, UKEF.  ATI also insured USD4 billion (KES405 billion) worth of trade and investments into its African member countries while backing strategic projects such as the USD159 million loan from the African Development Bank to support Ethiopian Airline’s fleet expansion.  ATI also underwrote the first deal in a non-member country in Angola in Q-1 2017, reflecting the company’s new pan-African mandate.

During the closed meeting of the General Assembly shareholders discussed the company’s 2016 annual accounts and financial statements in addition to recovery of funds from defaulting member countries, the establishment of constituencies that will accommodate ATI’s regional expansion and election of Directors and Alternate Directors.

ATI - 17th Annual General Meeting

ATI – 17th Annual General Meeting

ATI is a multilateral investment insurer that was formed by COMESA member countries with the support of the World Bank in 2001. Since then, ATI has expanded to include countries in the ECOWAS region. The company provides a range of products that mitigate risks impeding the flow of investments and trade to and within Africa. As of 2016, ATI has cumulatively supported USD25 billion (KES2.5 trillion) worth of trade and investments into its member countries since inception.

ATI’s key 2016 results:

  • Volume of Business Supported Since Inception: USD25 billion (+ 16%)
  • Insured Trade & Investments (Gross Exposure): USD1.9 billion (+ 16%)
  • Gross Written Premium: USD29.5 million (+ 27%)
  • Net Earned Premium: USD12 million (+ 20%)
  • Profit: USD6.4 million (+ 36%) – On a comparable basis
  • Cost Ratio: 35% (-30%)
  • Return on Equity: 3.2% (+ 28%)
  • Shareholders’ Capital: USD202 million (+ 12%)
  • Rating (S&P): A/negative
  • ATI (www.ATI-ACA.org) was founded in 2001 by African States to cover the trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI provides Political Risk, Surety Bonds, Trade Credit Insurance and Political Violence and Terrorism & Sabotage cover. As of 2016, ATI has supported USD25 billion in trade and investments across Africa in sectors such as agribusiness, energy, exports, housing, infrastructure manufacturing, mining and telecommunications. ATI has an ‘A/negative’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor’s.
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Fifa ratifies nine African World Cup places
May 11, 2017 | 0 Comments
Yaya Toure has played in every match that Ivory Coast have played at their three World Cup final appearances

Yaya Toure has played in every match that Ivory Coast have played at their three World Cup final appearances

The Fifa Council has ratified the decision to give Africa nine automatic places when the World Cup expands to 48 teams in 2026.

The move was confirmed on Tuesday in Bahrain – the continent currently has five spots at the tournament.

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

The Bureau of the Fifa Council made the original proposal of how it planned to allocate the 48 places on 30 March.

The expanded World Cup will feature 16 teams from Europe.

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

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.

*BBC

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A new reality for Africa’s property market
May 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
In order to address this new reality, API Events is hosting the 8th annual API Summit & Expo in Johannesburg on August 24th and 25th, 2017
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 9, 2017/ — The African real estate narrative has shifted and evolved over the last 2 years with the impact of geo-political and economic challenges changing the property landscape. Moving forward, investors have come to realise that a more measured approach may hold the key to reaping long term rewards in Africa.

In order to address this new reality, API Events (www.APIevents.com) is hosting the 8th annual API Summit & Expo (www.APIsummit.co.za) in Johannesburg on August 24th and 25th, 2017.

“Africa is facing a new reality, but what does this mean for investors and developers looking to expand their growth and uncover new opportunities? Not only do we need to better understand this new reality, but also how best to approach it, realigning development strategies and investment models, all the while working together with new players in order to continue to develop and enhance Africa’s future property market,” says API Events Managing Director, Kfir Rusin.

Alongside this new era for the African continent comes a divergence in growth paths for two groups of economies. On one side we have Africa’s oil exporters, who have experienced sharp declines in growth, while Africa’s more diversified economies have continued to accelerate their GDP expansion. Despite these differing growth patterns from an economic point of view, the shift in real estate capital flows have yet to fully move over to East Africa, with long term investors still seeing the likes of Nigeria as a key market.

These changing fortunes, together with strict central bank regulations within individual countries, and the volatility of local currencies against the US dollar, have, however, made real estate funding a lot more complex.

“With modest recovery expected in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) economies, prospects for improved real estate funding would increase where there are strong domestic governance policies and strong risk management practices. Attracting capital flows into SSA depends on the ability of individual nations to improve sovereign risk and growth prospects”, said Klaus-Dieter Kaempfer Barclays Africa’s Head of Commercial Property Finance.

The geography of opportunity within Africa has also evolved with French-speaking West Africa, particularly Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon piquing new interest from an investment point of view, while East Africa continues to lead as Africa’s most stable frontier.

 

In this regard, companies like Mara Delta continue to focus on the long term fundamentals rather than short term volatilities, as seen with their own sustained and increased investments into countries such as Mozambique and Zambia over the last 2 years.

Bronwyn Corbett, Chief Executive of Mara Delta commented: “In addition to taking a view on political and currency risk, key considerations for us are the ability to conduct business in hard currency, the repatriation of funds, land tenure and the ability to raise debt. Based on these considerations, we have identified Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Botswana and Ghana as potential territories for expansion. Our nodal expansion in-country depends on tenant demand, as you need some level of concentration in an area or region to make it economically viable.”

Looking ahead, there will be a definite shift in terms of sectors of interest and asset sizes. The office market has suffered a steady decline across the continent, while the retail sector is expected to continue to move towards convenience retail and smaller, more tailored retail centres across Sub-Saharan African cities.

Elaine Wilson, Divisional Director for Research at Broll Property Group says: “Some investors are getting wary of investing in the continent because of currency volatility especially in the retail sector due to dollar based rentals. East Africa is seeing an increase in formal retail space, however, financially strained consumers will still frequent informal traditional markets.”

On the other side of the spectrum, the demand for bigger and better warehousing space has increased significantly, with mega distribution warehouse projects kicking off in cities like Lusaka, Nairobi and Tema.

In terms of infrastructure on the continent, LAPPSETT, West African rail network and The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are expected to further influence the direction of Africa’s future going forward, boasting huge potential in unearthing new real estate opportunities across the continent in the current year.

The 2017 API Summit and Expo promises to delve in-depth into each of these topics, and more, with participation from over 35 countries, 600 delegates and 250 companies, providing insights, thought-leadership and solution-focused tools.

“Our understanding of Africa has changed over the last decade, and developers and investors alike are now ready to take a more measured approach to the continent, with a specific focus on attaining sustainable growth in the years to come. With this new understanding in mind, it has become vital for all industry players to come together, to learn from their peers, share their own on-the-ground experiences and forge new avenues for real estate growth in Africa,” Rusin says.

Key themes and trends up for discussion at this year’s summit will include:

  • Trumpenomics, Brexit, African elections and their effects on African real estate;
  • New debt: the emergence of non-bank lenders and new sources of debt financing;
  • Will local governments and public sector step up in the drive to make housing more affordable and accessible?
  • How are Zambia, Kenya and Ghana leading Africa’s logistics sector rise?
  • The move towards convenience retail or are mixed-use developments the answer to a successful African retail sector?
  • Overcoming the overcrowding issue: how can African cities become more economically dense — not merely crowded?
  • Green-building in Africa: uncovering the return on investment;
  • Healthcare facilities and serviced apartments as lucrative new asset classes?
  • The rise and rise of collaborative offices and its effect on Africa’s commercial real estate sector ;
  • Local institutional and pension fund capital fuelling African real estate;
  • How will innovative technologies impact the way we design, build and operate real estate in Africa?
  • Cameroon: Africa’s new hotspot.
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Business growth remains high on the African boardroom agenda despite economic and socio-political headwinds
May 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

PwC’s Africa Business Agenda report shows that 85% of African CEOs (Global: 85%) are confident in their own company’s prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months.

Dion Shango, CEO of PwC Southern Africa

Dion Shango, CEO of PwC Southern Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 9, 2017/ — Africa’s CEOs are confident that the outlook for business on the continent remains positive notwithstanding the unpredictable economic and socio-political climate. PwC’s (www.PwC.com) Africa Business Agenda report shows that 85% of African CEOs (Global: 85%) are confident in their own company’s prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months. Despite the fact that only 30% of CEOs in Africa (Global: 29%) believe the global economy will improve in the next year, no less than 97% (Global: 91%) are confident about the prospects for their own company’s growth in the medium term.

Hein Boegman, CEO for PwC Africa, says: “This level of optimism is the highest recorded since we started our research on Africa CEOs in 2012. However, in the past year we have seen a change in the outlook for some countries as external developments impact many of the drivers of Africa’s growth.

“As countries around the globe try to make sense of the increased levels of risk and uncertainty that have gripped the world, Africa needs to continue rising by capitalising on all the opportunities that lie ahead.”

The report suggests that one of the reasons for such optimism on the Africa continent is that CEOs have learned to look for the upside and seize on opportunities that may arise in the face of uncertainty. In the wake of climate of muted growth, CEOs have also acknowledged that while they focus on organic growth and cost reductions, they also need to prioritise investment in new strategic alliances and joint ventures to expand their markets and grow their customer bases. According to the survey, organic growth (Africa: 80%; Global: 79%) and new alliances (Africa: 69%; Global: 48%) are the top activities CEOs are planning in order to drive corporate growth or profitability.

The Agenda compiles results from 80 interviews with CEOs across 11 countries in Africa and includes insights from business. The results are benchmarked against the findings of PwC’s 20th Annual Global CEO survey of 1 379 CEOs in 79 countries conducted during the 4th quarter of 2016. The Agenda provides an in-depth analysis and insights into how businesses are adopting to meet the challenges of operating in Africa.

Notwithstanding the current climate and challenges, it is notable that there remains a significant amount of potential to unlock more growth on the continent. African CEOs are looking to international markets for opportunities, with the US (31%), China (28%) and the UK (24%) considered the top three countries for growth. Johannesburg (36%), Lagos (16%) and Cape Town (14%) are considered the top three African cities for growth opportunities.

Main risks to doing business in Africa

Although the returns for doing business on the continent can be high, so too can the risks. Africa’s CEOs are working in difficult times – finding the right talent for their business, dealing with hurdles that come with working with governments, and managing expansion plans across the continent.

In addition, infrastructure remains a challenge as it lags well behind that of the rest of the world. More than two-thirds of African CEOs (69%) are concerned about inadequate basic infrastructure (Global: 54%) and a stronger focus on expanding power supply is required to solve one of the biggest challenges in the business environment.

Other clouds on the business horizon include exchange rate volatility (Africa: 90%; Global: 70%); social instability (Africa: 85%; Global: 68%); geopolitical instability (Africa: 79%; Global: 74%); unemployment (Africa: 79%; Global: 45%); and climate change and environmental damage (Africa: 64%; Global: 50%). For most of these factors, the level of concern among African CEOs is higher than the global average. In addition, over-regulation features on the list of concerns this year, with almost half (46%) (Global: 42%) of African CEOs saying they are “extremely concerned”.

CEOs also believe social instability resulting from inequality, an increasing tax burden, a lack of economic diversity with an overdependence on natural resources, and corruption remain problems in many countries.

Globalisation

Overall, globalisation has benefitted connectivity, trade and mobility. However, just over half of African business leaders say globalisation has done nothing to promote equality, in particular in closing the gap between rich and poor – in fact, this gap may well be widening.

A number of CEOs think it is vital to address social challenges. CEOs believe the corporate community can assist in spreading the benefits of globalisation more widely. The majority say the best way is to collaborate, particularly with government. “While Africa’s potential is undoubted, its achievement remains in question. Business, government and civil society will need to work harder to turn potential into tangible gains against the backdrop of a rapidly changing world,” Dion Shango, CEO of PwC Southern Africa adds.

Talent and technology

The forces of globalisation and technology are increasingly transforming the workplace. Over half of African CEOs (53%) are exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together in the workplace. Over a third of African CEOs (36%) are considering the impact of artificial intelligence on future skills needs.

In some sectors, automation has already replaced some jobs entirely. “As automation takes deeper root in the workplace, companies in Africa will have to increasingly focus on achieving the right cognitive re-apportionment between man and machine,” Shango adds.

However, as CEOs develop their services, they are finding that human interaction in the workplace is still important and place the investment in talent as a top business priority. Just over half of African CEOs (51%) plan to increase their headcount in the next 12 months. Conversely, 23% plan to cut their company’s headcount over the coming year, with more than two-thirds of expected reductions being attributed to automation and other technologies.

According to the survey results, no less than 80% of African CEOs (Global: 77%) see the availability of key skills as the biggest threat to growth (ahead of volatile energy costs and cyber threats). They are finding it particularly difficult to source soft skills – adaptability, problem solving, creativity and leadership.

Technology & trust

Technology has brought about a number of advancements in efficiency and the ease of doing business in Africa. No less than 91% of African respondents (Global: 90%) believe technology has changed competition in their industry in the past five years.

While the digital era offers a host of opportunities, it also creates significant challenges and constraints in the arena of privacy and security. Organisations are holding increasingly large volumes of personal data about their customers, suppliers and employees. According to the survey results, 71% of African CEOs (Global: 61%) say they are concerned about cyber threats. Furthermore, the vast majority of African CEOs (93%) (Global: 91%) believe that cybersecurity breaches affecting personal information or critical systems will negatively impact stakeholder trust levels in their organisations in the next five years. A high 96% of business leaders are also concerned that IT outages and disruptions could impair trust in their respective industries over the next five years.

As disruptions gain more speed, the ability to ensure trust, security and privacy across all interactions will become critical to businesses’ competitiveness. But almost two-thirds of African CEOs (61%) (Global: 59%) are concerned that they are not prepared to respond to a crisis in their business, should one arise.

“In the face of economic and socio-political uncertainty, we remain confident that the outlook for business in Africa remains positive. But to succeed, businesses need to adapt swiftly to change,” Shango concludes.

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