Africa’s population is the fastest growing in the world. It is expected to increase by roughly 50% over the next 18 years, growing from 1.2 billion people today to over 1.8 billion in 2035. In fact, Africa will account for nearly half of global population growth over the next two decades (see Figure 1).
While total population growth is important for the socio-economic prospects of countries, the age structure of the population is just as crucial.
By 2035, sub-Saharan Africa’s population will still be the youngest in the world. At the same time, the share of working-age individuals (aged 15 to 64) relative to the non-working-age population is increasing, which is good news for the economy.
A persistently large share of children and young adults (aged 15 to 29) is a financial burden and comes with a series of social risks. Governments face huge public expenditures for healthcare, education and basic services. In addition, they need to invest in skills development for young adults and create jobs for when they enter the workforce. Moreover, youthful populations portend an increased risk of social instability. In the African context, widespread unemployment and other forms of socio-economic and/or political marginalisation will compound this risk.
During the demographic transition, countries move from having high birth rates and high death rates towards an older, more stable population structure characterised by much lower birth rates and higher life expectancy.
During this process, the share of the working-age population increases relative to the economically dependent (children and the elderly) population. This so-called demographic dividend has the potential to unlock economic growth.
Sub-Saharan Africa is a latecomer to the demographic transition. High fertility rates, paired with high death rates, mean that the onset of the demographic dividend is delayed in comparison with other regions. This has negative implications for economic growth and development. Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa have fewer workers supporting a larger proportion of the population (mainly children) than in other developing regions.
Yet, as Africa’s population ages, the ratio between working-age individuals and the economically dependent population will change for the better.
A larger labour force as a share of total population translates into increased productive capacity and can help to boost savings and investment. And even though future global economic expansion will probably be driven by technological advances, Africa’s lower middle-income and low-income economies still have a lot to gain from their expanding labour force over the coming decades.
However, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa have yet to experience the dividend, mainly because fertility rates remain stubbornly high while life expectancy continues to increase.
For example, Nigeria is forecast to see its fertility rate decline from 5.4 children per woman of childbearing age in 2017 to 4.4 in 2035. This means it will see improvements in the ratio between the country’s working-age population relative to the elderly and children. Yet the so-called demographic ‘sweet spot’ is still only expected to peak around the mid-2080s.
The same trend holds for the bulk of sub-Saharan Africa’s lower middle-income and low-income economies (see Figure 2).
African countries that have already entered the demographic ‘sweet spot’ are mostly upper middle-income economies in Southern and North Africa.
Cape Verde, a lower middle-income yet highly urbanised economy, is an exception. With fertility rates around replacement level, the West African country is experiencing a demographic dividend that is likely to hold over the coming five decades or longer. Figure 2 compares the demographic dividend of Nigeria, South Africa and Cape Verde with the average for Africa’s low and lower middle-income groupings.
It is possible to speed up the demographic transition in sub-Saharan Africa’s low and lower middle-income economies to create greater opportunities for economic growth and development. If Central and West Africa, the regions with the highest fertility rates, dramatically reduced these over the coming two decades, they could benefit from an earlier onset – as well as a larger – demographic dividend and, with the right policies, capitalise on it to boost growth (see Figure 3).
The measures that can reduce fertility rates include improving secondary female education and putting in place family-planning initiatives, including increased availability of contraceptives.
Both Ethiopia and Rwanda, for example, achieved dramatic drops in fertility over relatively short time horizons after adopting such policies. The general increase in the standard of living also played a role. Under a scenario of reduced fertility rates, governments spend less on health and education – since there are fewer children – along with reduced spending on the provision of basic infrastructure. Countries can then strategically invest these resources to improve productivity, prepare for future shifts in demographics (i.e. ageing) and invest in technology.
Seen from a global perspective, Africa’s demographic potential is unparalleled. However, seizing the demographic dividend will be an uphill battle in the African context.
In many cases, extremely rapid population growth is set to compound poverty and lack of economic opportunities. Many African governments do not currently invest adequately in human capital (education and training) and struggle to create jobs for a growing workforce. Unless they do in the future, Africa’s demographic change story will be a tale of missed opportunities.
*Source Allafrica.Julia Bello-Schünemann, Senior Researcher, African Futures and Innovation
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.”
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.
Douala, Cameroon; 19 May 2017 – United Bank for Africa (UBA) today announced the rollout of the Debit MasterCard card in Cameroon in support of financially empowering all citizens. Focused on displacing cash, the electronic payment solution will deliver a quick, convenient and secure payment alternative for all citizens – instantly.
In line with its strategic vision, UBA is introducing innovative payment solutions that meet the needs of people across Africa. The Debit Mastercard card gives the cardholder full control of their funds and provides them with the ability to deposit funds directly from a savings or current account, thereby reflecting all transactions in real time.
“As a group, we are committed to driving financial inclusion and empowering businesses across Africa, and our partnership with Mastercard enables us to deploy safe electronic solutions to the benefit of the entire country,” said Dr. Yinka Adedeji, UBA’s Group Head, Digital Banking.
Cameroonians can visit any UBA branch across the country to request the card, and cardholders don’t have to wait days or weeks to receive the card, they will instantly be signed up and can start using the debit card immediately.
The UBA and Mastercard partnership is helping to empower people through access to financial tools, with the launch in Cameroon following the recent rollout in Ghana. The quick go-to-market strategy is ensuring that more people are connected to the formal financial sector, giving them the power to pay for goods and services in-store or online wherever Mastercard is accepted. The debit card can also be used at any ATM locally, and at millions of ATM locations worldwide.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, the Managing Director/CEO, UBA Cameroon, Mr Udom Isong said, “The introduction of the UBA Debit Mastercard into the market will enable our customers to carry out their banking transactions in a safer, more convenient and more reliable manner. Our customers’ needs are changing and as they change, we will continue to adopt smart technology solutions that deliver superior services.”
Omokehinde Adebanjo, Vice President and Area Business Head for West Africa, Mastercard said, “In order to drive financial inclusion we need to ensure all Africans feel confident that their money is secure. The UBA Debit Mastercard introduces the latest global payment standards with EMV Chip and PIN technology embedded into the card making it difficult for fraudsters to duplicate your information.”
The chip embedded into the card contains information that is encrypted making it almost impossible for the card to be copied or counterfeited. The chip card will also have a magnetic stripe on the back, so that cardholders can continue using their cards while merchants are transitioning to new chip-enabled terminals.
Cardholders will also be able to select their own PIN, giving them full control to approve transactions at the point of sale or when withdrawing cash from ATMs.
Adebanjo also said that both organisations were focused on boosting the financial inclusion across Africa She highlighted that the partnership supported MasterCard’s global commitment to financially empower more people by 2020.
UBA Cameroon is highly regarded for its innovation in the banking sector in the country, helping to build a strong reputation across Africa. In 2015, UBA Cameroon become the first bank in Africa to win the ‘Prepaid Card Innovation of the Year’ and has also received The Bankers’ Magazine Bank of the Year Award, four times.
United Bank for Africa is one of Africa’s leading financial institutions, with operations in 19 countries and 3 global financial centres: London, Paris and New York. From a single country operation in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, UBA has evolved into a pan-African, provider of banking and related financial services through diverse channels globally. Visit: www.ubagroup.com
Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.
Frontier Leaders called for greater advocacy with governments in creating an enabling business environment, boosting energy access, strengthening markets in growth sectors like agriculture, and encouraging youth economic participation.
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA – May 11, 2017 – Accelerating private sector action to create jobs in key sectors to promote business growth and absorb the millions of African young people entering the workforce in Africa topped the agenda of the Initiative for Global Development’s Frontier 100 Forum, held on May 5-6, 2017, in Durban, South Africa.
Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych
Some 100 African and global corporate leaders convened for the invitation-only Frontier 100 Forum, which offered insight and business-driven solutions on delivering jobs through investments in Post-Harvest Loss reduction, innovations in skills development, unlocking regional growth, and industrialization.
“African companies create more than 80 percent of the jobs in Africa,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President & CEO. “Our Frontier 100 Forum brings the voice of Africa’s private sector to the forefront on how to drive job creation to tackle the youth bulge and boost inclusive growth.”
Alarming statistics from the African Development Bank reveals that some 10 to 12 million young people are entering the labor market across Africa each year, yet only 3 million formal jobs are created annually.
Economic activity in emerging markets and developing economies is expected to pick up pace in 2017 and 2018, after a lackluster performance in 2016, projected KPMG, an IGD Frontier Leader.
Rene Awambeng, Director of Client Relations of African Export-Import Bank delivered a keynote address on the forum theme, “Driving Sustainable Economies: Private Sector Action to Spur Job Creation and Innovation for Inclusive Growth in Africa”, where he spoke about long-term sustainable economic transformation in Africa.
“Job strategies should focus on those sectors that are most promising job creators, taking an end to end approach that removes the many barriers to growth along specific industry value chains and puts in place the infrastructure, financing, business environment, and workforce skills needed for the target industry to survive,” said Awambeng.
Panelists on the session, Unlocking the Door for Agribusiness Job Growth and Entrepreneurship through Investment in Post-Harvest Loss Reduction, explored how to generate jobs by making agriculture a first career choice for youth, instead of a backup plan. The panel also put forth strategies on boosting investments in Post-Harvest Loss reductions to create new jobs and entrepreneur opportunities.
Agricultural transformation can drive economic transformation in Africa, according to an upcoming report by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET). The preliminary report stated that many African governments are prioritizing the agriculture sector in economic planning.
To build a globally competitive workforce, the private sector needs to inform university curricula about the skills necessary for today’s jobs as well as provide apprenticeship opportunities, said Matt Essieh, President & CEO of EAI Information Systems on the Igniting Innovations in Skills Development for Job Creation panel.
Lutz Ziob, Dean of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Skills Academy sounded the alarm on the Fostering Innovation and Job Creation through Digital Transformation in Africa panel that the real disruption is coming in the African workforce when 30-60% of existing jobs will be automated or dramatically transformed.
The Delivering Jobs through Regional Growth session drew attention to the fact that the success and sustainability of global business is linked to Africa; therefore, it is critical for companies to expand intra-Africa trade. “For any multinational, your biggest risk is not being in Africa,” said Emad Bibawi, New York Advisory Office Leader & US/Africa Corridor Leader at KPMG.
Larry Riddle, Director of Group Corporate and External Affairs at Illovo Sugar Limited emphasized: “We need to create and develop African products for African markets.”
Forum sessions also explored the present and future of industrialization in Africa, especially in moving from exporting commodities to the production of goods.
“Why do industries fail in Africa?” questioned Abdu Mukhtar, Group Chief Strategy Officer at the Dangote Industries Limited on the Powering Industrialization to Drive Job Growth session. “It’s the lack of power and governments’ inconsistency in business decisions.”
African and global corporate leaders from the IGD Frontier Leader Network agreed on the urgency in fueling job creation and skills development. Session outcomes included a call for greater advocacy with governments in creating an enabling business environment, boosting energy access, strengthening markets in growth sectors like agriculture, and encouraging youth economic participation.
A special breakfast discussion with officials from the Millennium Challenge Corporation outlined how the MCC determines country eligibility and assesses policy performance on its scorecard. In rapid-fire presentations with Africa Today TV anchor Carol Pineau, U.S. and African private sector leaders discussed improving country scorecard performance and highlighted “investment readiness” of MCC eligible countries.
An evening reception on May 6 kicked off the IGD Africa Investment Rising campaign’s “Making Farming Cool!” podcast series, in partnership with Afropop Worldwide, to inspire African youth to explore careers in the agriculture sector.
A luncheon sponsored by FairPlay Movement highlighted how illegal dumping of poultry products in South Africa has cut jobs in the industry, and outlined solutions to promote trade competitiveness.
-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
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.
$1.1 million were set aside for an upcoming solar energy storage facility in Kenya. The funds are being allocated to Xago Africa, a company known for the development of sustainable energy and infrastructure projects in Africa. Xago Africa will be aided by Alevo, a North Carolina based grid-scale energy storage provider. The project will consist of a 40 MW solar farm facility to regulate energy distribution in Siaya County.
Renewable energy and energy storage projects like this one have the potential to increase the reliability of Africa’s power grid. Xago and Alevo’s work should increase energy efficiency in the region as well. Additional benefits of the USTDA project include expanding Kenya’s horizons in terms of energy storage capabilities and energy reliability.
The USTDA is also working to assist other energy projects in Africa. The group has awarded Power Africa with a grant aimed at developing 25 solar microgrids throughout Nigeria. The installation of these microgrids is projected to produce 5MW of power for the residents of the region. Not only will these installations make great progress in bringing energy to the rural region, but they will also aid in collecting data for a study that will be conducted about energy for rural regions. Understanding this data will assist companies and organizations in understanding how to serve the electricity needs of rural regions.
To meet the needs and resources of the rural communities, customers will pay for the use of the microgrid installations through the use of pay-as-you-go technology. Because many customers do not have the cash up front to make the payments, pay-as-you-go options will enable residents of these rural regions to become involved in the electrification process more quickly than they would have been able to before.
Solar energy in Sub-Sahara Africa is being viewed as an extremely lucrative opportunity for companies involved in the industry. There are about 660,000 African residents who lack access to electricity. Companies are attracted to the region as a major emerging player on the stage of the power market. As you can see, the U.S. has taken an interest in aiding this process through their funding and support initiatives through the USTDA and Power Africa Initiative. Project opportunities on the continent range from large scale grid operations to power urban areas to small scale solar, microgrid projects aimed at powering refrigerators.
Private investors are not the only party poised to benefit from the energy storage projects being proposed. The African countries themselves are being positioned by U.S. agencies involved in the projects to reap the benefits and capitalize on the large potential energy market that is present in Kenya, Nigeria, and nearby regions.
All of the parties involved, such as the USTDA, Power Africa Initiative, private investors, and African governments, share the same goal. To power the region of Sub-Sahara Africa with increased reliability, availability, and efficiency, while capitalizing on one of the largest emerging power markets in the world.
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
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 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%)
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.
Emmanuel Macron’s decisive win in the French presidential election has not only spurred enthusiasm in Europe. Across Africa, where France retains huge influence in its former colonies, his election has been celebrated in the hope that it will usher in a radical change in France’s African policy. The BBC’s Lamine Konkobo looks at what that change might look like.
Africa’s ‘Ode to Joy’ moment
It was a very powerful, if subtle, symbol.
On Sunday evening, as supporters of Emmanuel Macron gathered at the Louvre’s Esplanade in central Paris waiting for their champion to arrive and address them, the podium was turned for about 15 minutes into a gigantic dance floor by one of Ivory Coast’s most famous bands.
Magic System took to the stage, flooding the Parisian night with rhythms and dance moves not often heard and seen in this part of town.
Mr Macron had originally taken to the stage to the European anthem Ode to Joy for his victory speech but for African audiences watching on television, this was their Ode to Joy moment.
It was a nod to Africa; a nod that reflected the positive message of openness and universalism which has underlined Macron’s winning campaign.
It could also be seen as one in the eye for defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who must have felt repulsed by such a cultural invasion.
If the sight of Magic System at the Louvre was refreshing for Africans, that is not why the French presidential contest was closely watched across Africa.
Mr Macron is expected to deliver on issues of far greater importance in respect of the continent.
Fighting Islamist militancy
Mr Macron has said little on his African policy on the campaign trail, because Africa was not a decisive topic that could give him the votes he needed to win.
However, from the little he said about the continent, it appears that fighting Islamist militancy will be prominent on his African agenda.
He was elected while France was under a state of emergency following a series of Islamist attacks in recent years, some of which were carried out by people with African links.
But while on the campaign trail, he made it clear that he realised that France was not the only country affected:
“Africa is struggling more and more with terrorism,” he told Jeune Afrique.
“We saw it in Bamako [Mali], in Ouagadougou [Burkina Faso] and in Grand Bassam [Ivory Cost].”
Islamist militants targeted hotels in all these places last year, killing many people, including foreign tourists.
“Everyone should get involved in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
France has deployed about 4,000 troops in the Sahel region of Africa as part of the anti-terrorism Barkhane operation.
The president-elect has no plan of withdrawing these troops in the foreseeable future.
On the military front, France’s policy in Africa under Mr Macron will be more of the same.
On aid, trade and development
There is a famous saying that nations have no permanent friends but only permanent interests.
Mr Macron has been elected to serve France’s interests and he will do so in his relationship with Africa, political analyst Serge Theophile Balima told the BBC.
“Macron is a neo-liberal who believes in businesses and trade,” Mr Balima says.
“He will do his utmost to open Africa to a maximum of French businesses. That is obvious.”
However, the new president believes that partnership with the continent will be more beneficial if Africa is strong.
As a candidate, he vowed to lobby the G20 at its July summit in Germany to support economic development in African countries.
In more clearer terms he has pledged to channel to Africa most of France’s foreign aid, which he intends to increase to 0.7% of his country’s GDP.
However, Mr Macron comes to power at a time when a growing movement of economists and political leaders have been pushing for a major reform they view as more empowering than aid.
One sign of France’s continued influence over its former colonies is the CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro with the financial backing of the French treasury.
While some see it as a guarantee of financial stability, others attack it as a colonial relic.
Critics say true economic development for the 14 African countries can only be achieved if they shake off the CFA currency.
Some argue that in exchange for the “luxury” of the guarantee provided by the French treasury, the African countries channel more money to France than they receive in aid.
Ms Le Pen said that if elected, she would drop the link. While no previous French president has ever expressed a willingness to let go of the CFA, Mr Macron says the decision to move away from it is for African countries to take.
Breaking from antiquated politics
France’s African policy has come under attack from pro-democracy activists since the 1990 Baule conference, at which former President Francois Mitterand issued a call for African countries to embrace democracy, following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Critics have consistently railed against what they perceive as a form of hypocrisy.
They say France has repeatedly used anti-democratic means on the continent to further dictatorships or overthrow unfriendly governments if they serve French interests, while openly extolling democratic values.
The system of personal networks which backed these controversial practices is pejoratively referred to as “Francafrique”.
The times are long gone when a French commando unit would fly parachutes in broad daylight into an African capital to restore a deposed head of state.
But Francafrique is not totally dead.
Mr Macron says he will finally kill it off.
He says he will defend and respect fundamental democratic principles everywhere in Africa, working with the African Union and regional organisations.
But how will he deliver where his predecessors failed to meet similar promises?
“I think he is in a position to bring that end,” analyst Mr Balima told the BBC.
“First of all, he is young. He does not belong to the old generation. He has few friends in the Mafiosi circles in Francophone Africa.”
“When meeting African heads of state, some will be embarrassed to speak to this man who could be their son.”
African leaders will no longer benefit from the former era’s complicity, Mr Balima says.
“A head of state in a situation of bad governance… could not count on Macron to mobilise the French army to quash a rebellion in a military barracks.”
If Mr Macron delivers on that promise, he would indeed turn a page that has been a source of much acrimony in French-African relations.
Addressing wounds from the past
And how France should remember its colonial legacy is closely related to the issue of whether it still pursues a neo-colonial policy in Africa.
Right-leaning French political leaders have long maintained that colonisation was not only about forced labour, exploitation and mass graves but that colonised countries also benefited.
In 2005, under President Jacques Chirac, a provision enshrining that patriotic view in law was passed. However, it was repealed a year later as a result of an outcry in France as well as in some of its former colonies and overseas territories.
Nicholas Sarkozy, as a candidate and later on as president, often complained about being tired of endlessly apologising for his country’s past transgressions.
Unlike those politicians on the right, Mr Macron considers that recognising the wrongs France did in its past interaction with African people is crucial in redefining the type of dialogue necessary for the new relationship with the continent.
As a candidate on a visit to Algeria, he stirred a controversy by branding as a crime against humanity France’s colonial war in Algeria.
While that statement was condemned by Ms Le Pen and her supporters, it was well received across the whole of French-speaking Africa.
What was strikingly different between Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen was how the two approached immigration.
Ms Le Pen’s closed-border proposition was that she “has love for the Africans but only if they are at home in Africa”, while Mr Macron has defended a policy of immigration that should be defined by France’s needs.
In other words, under President Macron, there would be no reason to stop an African from coming to France if they have skills that are useful to the country’s economy.
Since the 1970s, waves of migrants from North Africa and then former colonies south of the Sahara have found their way into France, playing a role in various sectors of the country’s economy.
Mr Macron does not say he will make immigration from Africa easier. But nor will he obsess about tightening immigration control to stem a real or supposed flow of migrants from Africa.
“That is part of the dynamics of [his] liberalism,” Mr Balima told the BBC.
The president-elect has said he would encourage foreign students and those with useful skills to move to France.
With Mr Macron’s liberal attitude to immigration, isn’t there a fear that Africa might end up losing its best talents?
Not really, says Mr Balima. “There will always be enough manpower within Africa for the development of Africa.”
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?
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
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.
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.
“I’ve refused a Caf salary for the simple reason it doesn’t respect good administration,” he told BBC Sport.
“The salaries of all Caf employees, from administrators to the executive committee and president, all have to be transparent.”
The 57-year-old from Madagascar held his first senior Caf meetings on Monday ahead of the Fifa Congress on Thursday 11 May.
Key among the topics being discussed are how to reform Caf.
“The reform of the administration is a very important point – everyone must know what is happening” said Ahmad.
“First we must review the standards of management so that we can apply the reforms.
Ahmad, who goes by a single name, says there is much work to be done – in lots of areas – to make Caf work “as it should.
“I’m sorry to tell you when I was part of the Caf Executive Committee there was no separation of powers – the judicial body, the executive one and the congress – and we have to respect the independence of each body,” he continued.
“There is a big tendency to monopolise power in the executive committee.
“It has to be reviewed and reformed with new statutes for Caf so that everyone can concentrate on their proper tasks.
Ahmad has also voiced concerns about the popularity of their flagship Africa Cup of Nations tournament saying it’s in danger of being overshadowed by the African Nations Championship (CHAN) which is for locally based players.
He says in light of these concerns, there will also be a full review of all the Caf competitions, and as such, a symposium will be organised to discuss the future of the events.
“The symposium will be made up of representatives from all parts of African football so we can discuss what we are going to do in all the competitions – Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations], CHAN, the youth tournaments and the women’s events,” he explained.
Ahmad said he was particularly keen to address issues such as dwindling numbers of spectators at recent tournaments, and players increasingly finding themselves in compromised situations with their clubs during Nations Cups.
“We need to take into account their situation. We must ensure that the Nations Cup doesn’t destroy their careers,” he insisted.
“So we are going to review all of that and we will take a decision that suits everyone so that this competition is valued again and attracts more resources and attract bigger audiences in Africa.”
Ahmad also spoke about giving more power to the presidents of the individual federations, describing them as the “Sovereign Body” – who “have to make the big decisions for the confederation.”
Ahmad has promised to arrange a new Caf congress in due course in order to validate the proposed changes.
He also wants to look at the re-investment of Caf resources to aid the development of football across the continent, stressing that “Caf is not here to make money to enrich itself.”