Africa: Leveraging the Continent's Resources to Finance Vital Infrastructure – Kaberuka
January 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
Donald Kaberuka has ambitious targets for his second and final five-year term as President of theAfrican Development Bank. At the Bank’s annual luncheon earlier this month, he pinpointed security, peace, stability and job creation as 2014 goalsfor Africa and the multilateral institution he has led since 2005. His legacy would appear secure: the Bank has a triple-A designation from international credit rating firms and has tripled its capital base since 2010. Now Kaberuka – who served as Rwanda’s minister of finance from 1997 to 2005 – is spearheading an ambitious initiative, the Africa50Fund, designed to leverage capital from Africa’s own institutions to attract substantially greater global private equity to finance the continent’s vast infrastructural needs. This week in Abuja, Kaberuka is receiving the “African of the Year” award from the Nigerian newspaper, Daily Trust, which cited “his innovative idea … to speed up the financing of infrastructure in the continent.” Announcing the choice in November, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, a former Tanzanian prime minister and Organisation of African Unity secretary-general, who chairs the selection panel, praised Kaberuka for “bringing to fruition the idea of domestically financed development.” When the award was announced at the African Media Leaders Forum in Addis Ababa, AllAfrica’s Tami Hultman and Reed Kramer interviewed Kaberuka about the Bank’s plans and priorities. Excerpts: Why have you focused on infrastructure as a top priority for the Bank? To put it simply, the current needs of infrastructure in Africa are about U.S. $92 billion a year. At the moment we can monetize from all sources only half that amount – about $50 billion. To mobilize the balance, we decided that we should use the limited amount of public resources available to leverage additional resources in the capital markets. But to do that, we will have to build a vehicle with an equity base based on Africa’s own pools of savings. And on those bases we go into the market to raise money. So how is that vehicle, the Africa50Fund, designed to work? Africa50 is about transformational, commercially viable projects of regional significance. It’s about using Africa’s own savings to leverage the private sector, and it is a tool to make a whole range of projects in the PIDA program – the Priority Infrastructure Development for Africa – bankable and commercially viable. These pools of savings are currently invested in the U.S. and Europe. They are looking for a good return, they are looking for liquidity, and they are looking for security. Africa50 seeks to provide those three. Maybe do even better on the returns. At the moment, because of the QE [quantitative easing, the monetary policy pursued by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, which lowers interest rates] and the financial markets, the return is not particularly attractive. I think we can provide a better return. I think we can provide the liquidity. I think we can provide security, at the same time building Africa’s transformational infrastructure. How can Africa50 deliver a higher return and also finance infrastructural development? I don’t want to walk you through all the sophisticated financial engineering which you have to do, but I’ll just give you an example. Many of these economies are growing at 6 percent. And everywhere on the continent, the maritime ports have become a huge constraint. There’s almost almost no port on the Atlantic or the Indian [Ocean] belt, apart from Durban, which have enough capacity to cope with the growth in the economies. So the demand is there. We are going to go there and expand the port capacities. It’s a commercially viable business. We charge a price. and we shall be able to provide a return to the investors. Let me tell you, in the 1990s, if you told someone that IT-related infrastructure, communications, the mobile phone – that was a good return, they would’ve thought you were crazy! That is where the returns have been very, very interesting. Our analysis at Africa50 is that energy is the next revolution, and next are maritime ports, railways, highways and airports. And how do you mobilize sufficient capital to finance all the needed infrastructural development? We have started with African-owned institutions, including equity provided by the African Development Bank. We’ll go to African central banks who are now holding half a trillion dollars of reserves. We are not naïve enough to think that central banks will invest all of their reserves in an instrument like this, because the reserves have an economic purpose. So we will be targeting them, and we’re looking at sovereign wealth funds for equity. As the project pipeline increases, we are going to market and scale up progressively. We keep hearing about the high growth rate of African economies – but that it too often is “jobless growth”. How do you address that? I think “jobless growth” is not a good definition, although it describes the phenomenon. You have to look at three things. One is the sources of growth, the drivers of growth. In most cases, the drivers of growth are in services and extractives. The biggest employer on the African continent is agriculture. That is not where the source of growth is. So the plain-vanilla solution is basically to do everything we can to invest as much as we can in agriculture and small businesses. That’s where the jobs are created, not in the extractives. The second thing, which is simple math, is that you have an economy growing at nominal rates of six-and-a-half percent and a population increasing at three and a half percent, as we saw when we were recently in the Sahel. In Niger it is four percent. It means you are growing at basically three percent. And if inflation is running at two percent, it means your real growth is one percent. So there is the issue of population increase and drivers of growth, and those two combined have created a huge bout of inequalities, which itself is becoming a break on growth. So we need to tackle inequalities directly. We need to try to return some of the revenues from natural resources into agriculture, into small businesses, which is where jobs are created. But I must say to you, whether you are a small garage owner in northern Nigeria or a woman owning a boutique in the city or you own a cement factory, it is power cuts for half a day for three days a week which eat into your margins, which eat into your possibilities of creating jobs. So this focus on infrastructure is precisely the starting point for creating jobs. You cannot create jobs unless the country has energy which is available, affordable and sustainable. Finally, we need to rethink safety nets. We need to figure out how to provide a safety net to poor people, whether it is by transferring some money from oil and gas revenues, by removing wasteful subsidies and better targeting them to the poor. All these things can be done. So – tackle inequality, tackle sources of growth, and figure out how to remove some of these barriers to growth like energy.That’s how jobs are created. What do you hope will result from the recent high-level focus on the Sahel after your November visit to Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank and African Union and European Union leaders? The Sahel region is a crucible of the challenges Africa faces. In 1973, the Sahel region faced a huge drought problem. There was a lot of suffering there. Nowadays suffering is the result of security-related problems. When you take the security challenges of the Central African Republic and the Sahel and you add climactic problems, you see clearly the link between development, security, and the climate. Our visit was the first time that leaders of the United Nations, the African Union, World Bank, the European Union and the African Development Bank go together through four nations to learn, to listen, to see how we can help. All of us came back energized by what we saw and determined to rally behind the countries in the Sahel region. The challenge is enormous. We think the response should be appropriate. We have committed to action, and we each play complementary roles. Ban Ki-moon is very much leading on the security side. The AU is leading on the political side, and we the financial organizations rally behind them with the financial packages for reconstruction of the Sahel, for job creation, for integration – to give hope to the region. What is the AfDB role? The Sahel goes from Somalia to Mauritania, so in this case the concentration is on five core countries. We’ve already committed up to $2 billion in those five countries. What I have announced is new money equivalent to $1.9 billion for the next three years. And on top of that, we shall commit an additional $500 million for the ‘greater Sahel’, which means the five core countries plus two additional countries, to execute programs of regional integration and cooperation. The essence of the AfDB’s program is “resilience” – building the capacity of the region to resist climatic shocks or man-made crises like this one. We shall do infrastructure, and we shall do water management and programs of economic integration across the region. *Source All Africa.com]]>
Building Smart in Ghana: The Story of Regimanuel Gray Limited
January 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
It’s daybreak in Accra, Ghana, and temperatures are already soaring to a searing 30 degrees Celsius. Jobsites around this southeastern Atlantic seaside city are quickly filling up with workers who for the next 8 hours will toil and broil in unrelenting heat and humidity as they play their rightful role in Ghana’s bubbling construction sector. By contrast things are somewhat more relaxed at a sprawling job site in Klagon, where Regimanuel Gray Limited (RGL) is building 1,680 apartment units in collaboration with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) of Ghana. Here, the construction crews are equipped with concrete formwork smart building technology designed and supplied by Wall-Ties & Forms, Inc. (WTF) of Kansas State, USA. This highly user-friendly rapid formwork construction technology produces concrete structures at least 3 times faster than with traditional construction methods. The structures are also roughly 5 times as strong as the brick and mortar equivalent. It’s cast-in-place steel reinforced concrete construction. It’s the future of Ghana, a rapidly urbanizing nation with a housing deficit estimated at 1.5 million homes. “Our traditional methods of building are too slow,” admits Mr. Emmanuel Botchwey, Regimanuel Gray Limited’s Executive Chairman, revealing that the entire real estate sector of Ghana has been producing barely 10% of the new homes the country needs to build every year to start correcting its housing shortfall. Regimanuel is Ghana’s leading homes developer. From its incorporation in 1991 the company has built just over 3,000 homes in Ghana. That is roughly 130 homes every year for 22 years. A decent turnover but Mr. Botchwey has not been satisfied with the output. In early 2006 at an African housing sector conference hosted by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in Cape Town, South Africa, the RGL co-founder keenly followed a presentation of Wall-Ties & Forms’ aluminum formwork-based rapid construction technology. He was encouraged by what he saw. “I thought it was a great formwork technology to introduce in Ghana but we were not ready to implement it at that time as we had just invested heavily in block-making plants here and in Sierra Leone,” he says. Although the block making business has been hugely successful with RGL projects consuming just over 20% of the products while selling the bulk to an eager market, at the back of Mr. Botchwey’s mind was the WTF technology he saw in Cape Town in 2006. For one, reinforced concrete structures compared to brick and mortar – masonry – walls are less prone to cracking; the WTF formwork system doesn’t require the high level of specialized skills and amounts of mechanized and manual labor deployed on conventional jobsites. Additionally the WTF formwork system has definite cost-saving factors not to mention the speed at which the structures seem to practically grow out of the ground. “Time is money,” avers Botchwey, adding, “With this technology, you build faster, sell faster and cut down on your overhead. It means you make more money quicker and can pay your workers better. “If you are using borrowed money, it means you will repay your bank loan in 2 years instead of 5 years, so you save on bank interest payments and share the savings with the home buyer,” says Ghana’s top real estate entrepreneur. It is against this backdrop that Mr. Botchwey and his team travelled to the Kansas City headquarters of Wall-Ties & Forms, Inc. in October 2011 to discuss the acquisition of WTF aluminum formwork for use in the Klagon apartments development project. The equipment was shipped to Accra mid-last year, and after the initial onsite training, construction commenced in July 2012. RGL has sold most of the apartment units just over a year since the project got underway. Besides the 1,680 apartments, the firm is collaborating with SSNIT on yet another project to build 42 high-end duplex units in the Community 13 area of Accra. RGL has already acquired WTF aluminum formwork for this new project. Mr. Botchwey discloses that these two housing development projects have generated more than 300 direct new jobs, while contributing significantly to efforts to reduce Ghana’s huge housing deficit. It gets even better. Regimanuel Gray Limited has recently acquired 1,300 acres in Accra on which they plan to build a satellite city with 17,000 single- and multi-family homes within a series of gated communities complete with schools, hospitals, shopping and recreational facilities, and other community support amenities. This is indeed a herculean undertaking; hardly any single developer is building such a huge number of homes in Ghana or in any other African country for that matter. But it is possible to deliver the satellite city with the WTF mass housing technology considering that some South American developers have produced as many as 40,000 homes annually using the cast-in-place concrete building technology. Mr. Botchwey estimates that his company will complete the 17,000 homes project inside 10 years and create thousands of new jobs in the process. In the interim, RGL’s ambition is to accelerate its annual production rate to reach 500 homes built and sold in Ghana. Decorated as one of Ghana’s top-100 companies, RGL also has solid plans to start building homes in Liberia and Tanzania in the near future. They have already acquired land for the purpose in both countries. Structures built using WTF’s precision engineered concrete forms are smooth and straight; they require minimal or no plastering at all. All the openings are precise, which saves the builder ample time in the process of fitting the doors and windows. Not to mention that the forms are good for a guaranteed minimum 1,000 concrete pours. Such are the time and cost-saving factors that persuaded RGL to start building the WTF way. The recipient of the 1998 Ghana Home Finance Company Gold Award for Best Estate Developer, the Ghana Millennium Excellence Award, and the 13th International Construction Award of Trade Leaders Club, Paris, it is little wonder that Regimanuel Gray Limited, Ghana’s premier home builder, is using the world’s best concrete forming system. Mr. Botchwey says he is satisfied with the after-sale support he is receiving from Wall-Ties & Forms’ professionals in the USA and Africa. And he is not worried about plausible competition emanating from other Ghana and West African homebuilders discovering the WTF cost-efficient way of building. Africa, he says, lags behind in the provision of decent shelter. “We have lots of catching up to do; it’s the more reason why we in Africa should use modern building methods such as the WTF technology.” *Mr. Emmanuel Botchwey, the Regimanuel Gray Limited Executive Chairman, can be contacted through +233.24.431.2120 or emailEmmbotch@regimanuel.com]]>
A ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa’s employment challenge
January 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
Unemployment, independent of any other factor, threatens to derail the economic promise that Africa deserves. It’s a time bomb with no geographical boundaries: Economists expect Africa to create 54 million new jobs by 2020, but 122 million Africans will enter the labor force during that time frame. Adding to this shortfall are tens of millions currently unemployed or underemployed, making the human and economic consequences nearly too large to imagine.
Thus, even with the strong economic growth we have seen over the past decade, job creation in Africa remains much too slow. Africa needs a comprehensive, coordinated approach akin to America’s “Marshall Plan” in Europe after World War Two. That effort focused on building infrastructure, modernizing the business sector, and improving trade. By the end of the four-year program, Europe surpassed its pre-war economic output.
We can, and must, do the same for Africa. Entrepreneurs, politicians, philanthropic foundations, and development organizations — such as the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and USAID — must all work together to solve the unemployment crisis and make Africa an engine of growth. If we are outrun by the employment challenge, Africa will be a drag on global growth and resources for generations to come.
Africa’s Marshall Plan should prioritize three interdependent “pillars” of development, which all work together to form a virtuous cycle of growth: policy reform and a commitment to the rule of law; investment in infrastructure, and a commitment to developing Africa’s manufacturing and processing industries. This virtuous cycle forms the heart of Africapitalism: the public, private, and development sectors all coming together, united in a single objective of creating jobs and social wealth.
First, we need enlightened government policies that help reduce administrative and operating costs for investors and businesses. We must streamline licensing and permitting processes, reduce import duties and tariffs and ease visa restrictions, among other reforms. Such policies would do much to attract investment, increase entrepreneurship and ultimately generate jobs.
Enlightened government policy in Kenya and Nigeria has already helped to advance the information technology and financial services sectors. Microsoft’s pilot project to expand broadband access in Africa depends on government policy that frees up unused “white space” in the TV and radio broadcast spectrum. Financial services reform across several African nations, starting with Nigeria, enabled United Bank for Africa to grow into a pan-African financial institution. The government’s privatization program has attracted billions of dollars of private investment to develop Nigeria’s power infrastructure.
Governments and the private sector must also commit to strong, transparent institutions to help boost confidence in Africa’s business climate. African nations such as Botswana, Rwanda and Liberia have made tremendous progress in this area, though in some countries, war and civil unrest continue to take a toll. Sustained economic and job growth requires creating a safe and reliable environment for capital — including strong civil and legal institutions, corporate financial transparency (such as efforts by the Nigerian Stock Exchange to improve the quality of financial reporting for listed companies), accountable, democratically-elected politicians, and modern, open and transparent markets (like the new commodities exchanges that Heirs Holdings, Berggruen Holdings and 50 Ventures and its partners are creating at African Exchange Holdings). Aggressive advances on such policy fronts will help support the development pillars of infrastructure investment and industrialization — both of which are vital to creating employment on the continent.
The second pillar of Africa’s development program must be infrastructure investment, particularly in power and transportation, without which business cannot function. Today, more than 70 percent of sub-Saharan Africa lacks access to electricity and every 1 percent increase in electricity outages reduces Africa’s per-capita GDP by approximately 3 percent. Access to affordable electricity is essential to unlocking the continent’s growth potential — reducing costs and enabling business growth, including homegrown businesses that create jobs and sustainable local economies.
Transportation infrastructure promises to have an equally transformative impact: roads, railways, waterways and airways are the backbone of a thriving commercial economy. The African Union should encourage and embrace transportation projects that first connect African nations to each other, and then to our global trading partners. Projects like the toll road between Entebbe and Kampala, and the Kenya-Tanzania highway will facilitate greater trade of agricultural and manufactured goods within Africa. Consider that today in Nigeria, 65 percent of our produce spoils for lack of storage infrastructure, and is difficult to export to other African markets for lack of rail and road infrastructure.
Major multinationals like Diageo, Wal-Mart, Barclays, and Microsoft are ramping up African operations in spite of infrastructure challenges. In some cases, they even build their own infrastructure. Stronger policy and physical infrastructure would bring more investment from those who cannot or refuse to bootstrap it. It would also help small and mid-sized enterprises grow faster, and these companies are the engines of job growth in any economy.
Africa’s third development pillar must be building our manufacturing and processing industries. Africa lacks the capacity to process and refine its own natural resources. Raw materials such as oil, cocoa and gold are shipped overseas, where they are processed into high-margin products and often re-imported into Africa — costing both jobs and hard currency. For example, Nigeria exports raw crude oil and then imports expensive gasoline, when the country should be able to refine the oil itself, supplying not just its own market, but also other markets across Africa. This inability to create finished goods at home, and trade them with other African nations, drastically limits the continent’s growth potential, and thus its ability to create businesses, jobs and wealth within Africa’s own domestic economies.
I believe we can solve Africa’s employment challenge, but only if we focus on these three development pillars with great urgency, and accelerate current investment and business trends.
Many of Africa’s stock markets are delivering stellar returns, while institutional, retail mutual fund and private equity capital is flowing rapidly into African markets. Many multinationals and African conglomerates are investing heavily in Africa.
Despite such investment and economic growth, however, Africa is not creating nearly enough jobs. According to demographics, time is not on our side. But with a coordinated jobs plan for Africa, we can secure a productive, economically independent future for the continent and its people.
*Tony O. Elumelu is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, a pan-African investment company committed to driving economic prosperity and social wealth in Africa. He is former CEO of United Bank for Africa and current chairman of Transcorp. He can be found on Twitter at @TonyOElumelu. Source Reuters
East African states to share SIM card, national ID data
December 23, 2013 | 0 Comments
By CHARLES WOKABI*
Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan are working towards establishing a cross-border SIM card registration framework in a new effort to curb the rise in crimes perpetrated by the use of mobile devices.
Meeting in Nairobi last week, Information, Communication and Technology ministers from the four countries agreed to harmonise the different legislative frameworks guiding SIM registration in each country to spread the benefits of the exercise across the region.
A joint statement signed by Kenya’s ICT Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Uganda’s John Nasasira, Jean Philbert Nsengimana of Rwanda and South Sudan’s Rebecca Joshua Okwachi said the four governments would also interconnect national identification (ID) systems.
“SIM card registration is now a regional security issue and must be handled with the importance it deserves. A regional deadline for deactivation of all unregistered SIM cards will be set and strictly adhered to,” Mr Nasasira, who also chaired the meeting, said.
The interconnected national ID systems is meant to facilitate faster movement of people across the four countries, and at the same time ensure people moving from one country to another do not fake their nationalities and identities.
However, the absence of Tanzania in the meeting raises questions about the success of such an initiative given the borderless nature of technology.
The fact the country is not a signatory to the agreement means criminals can still use unregistered SIM cards within its borders to coordinate crimes in the region.
Mr Matiang’i said the meeting was intended for countries along the northern corridor, hence the absence of Tanzania.
“We are in touch with our Tanzanian counterpart and will be sharing our agreements with the country so they are free to come on board. This is one area where we need the inclusion of Tanzania to achieve the objective.”
Kenya leads in the SIM card registration exercise, having switched off millions of unregistered subscribers from local networks in the first quarter this year.
The ICT cluster meeting follows a directive issued jointly by Presidents Kenyatta of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Salva Kiir of South Sudan after the heads of state Integration Projects Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in October.
The presidents also ordered their ministries to ensure international calling rates and roaming charges are reduced to speed regional integration.
“The ministers agreed to jointly explore ways of lowering the regional roaming charges, including defining wholesale and retail price caps for roaming charges based on best practices,” a communique signed by the four ministers read in part.
*Source Daily Nation
Iroko TV Raises Another $8 million in Funding
December 23, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Jason Njoku*
Bastian and I announced earlier today that iROKO, our little company which we co-founded back in 2010 raised another $8Mn in venture capital from our existing investors Tiger Global, Kinnevik and new participant, Rise Capital. That brings our total raised over the last 2 years to $21Mn (we quietly raised $5Mn in December ‘12). I know this makes us easily one of the most well funded internet startups in Africa and with a near $50Mn valuation, validates our original perspective of a valuable and globally relevant Nollywood film audience. A market which only required a product to fill that void. 2013 hasn’t been an easy year, the naysayers have recently been out in force predicting our demise, it’s definitely been one where I personally feel that the company, at large, has matured. But maturity in the public eye can be very taxing. We were negotiating the final clauses in this $8Mn whilst folks were mentioning our ‘structural issues’. I had a response blog post penned ready to set the record straight, to dash the naysayers on the rocks. My wife never allowed me to post it. She was right. Action always speaks louder than words. X8million. I am now a fully married father of a small man. I am working hard to evolve my former brash founder attitude and become more of a CEO. Still very much work in progress. But a step in the right direction.
But iROKO as a company has changed significantly in the last year. The shoot-for-the-moon tangent bets you make as a early funded young aggressive startup have been had, lessons learned and wounds licked. I believe we have now institutionalised all the failures and mistakes made over the last 3 years, yet allowing the capacity to move fast and break things, remains. Dollar for Dollar I believe iROKOtv has one of the best unit economics equations of any startup based in Nigeria. Nothing I have ever seen sways me from that. The quality of our recurring revenue is second to none. We focus on building value beyond a large free user base but pride ourselves in our cold, hard calculating journey to self sustainability. And profits. One day we will be a startup no more. In its place we hope to have built an actual company.
Last week, an investor who was visiting Spark told me that I had inherited a massive burden of needing to be successful. That iROKO had to have a big win or it would be seen as a failure. At this level of funding a big win would have to be a $100Mn+ exit. This is attainable. But not in the near future and internally at iROKO ‘exits’ are never discussed. We focus on building awesome.
With $8Mn in funding we allow ourselves the financial levity to make more strategic, longer, customer focused improvements to iROKOtv FREE/PLUS and the VOD marketplace at large. This funding definitely gets us to profitability as planned without constraining our ability to grow. Raising money is always difficult in Africa, especially Nigeria. Whilst we have a compelling narrative that is not enough to enable seasoned VC’s to keep funding a company unless we have given them the confidence we can execute the narrative. We have demonstrated our ability. No hype no voodoo. Just reality. The perspective. Bastian and I don’t work everyday to try and live up to the lofty expectations our funding has now set for us. We feel no pressure other than that we place on ourselves to build what we have always dreamed about. An awesome online home for Nollywood.
We are no longer a scrappy startup. In fact the word monopoly is usually mentioned when online and iROKO comes into debate. We now generate millions of dollars in revenue annually and have a global team of 68 people. With offices in Lagos, London, NYC and JoBurg scrappy doesn’t come to mind. Nonetheless we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a true giant of an African media company. With the fresh funding and the wind at our backs. It is our ball to drop.
In the end, all Glory goes to God, to my wife, son, family, my best friend Bastian and the whole team who quietly make iROKOtv sing minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day.
All we need to do is continue building awesome. Then we make our dent in the universe
Source Jason Njoku .com
Mozambique to start commercial oil production in 2014
December 23, 2013 | 0 Comments
Sasol Petroleum International has announced that Mozambique’s first commercial production and sale of crude oil will commence in 2014 from an inland oilfield at Inhassoro
The African explorer has already conducted extended well testing on the Inhassoro oil rim and produced over 236,000 barrels of light oil until the end of March 2013 as part of an appraisal programme.
Ebbie Haan, MD of Sasol Petroleum International, said, “Commerciality was declared earlier this year on the Inhassoro G6 and Inhassoro G10 oil reservoirs in the block.
“If we were to develop the field with one or two wells in the first phase, we would be talking about 1,100 bpd.”
Recent discoveries of gas and coal have triggered billions of dollars in investment in the former Portuguese colony, Reuters reported.
Haan added that Sasol Petroleum International plans to invest around US$2.4bn in Mozambique for a number of oil and gas projects until 2018.
The Mozambican government had, meanwhile, announced in November last that it was set to launch its fifth oil and gas bidding round in 2014.
*Source Oil Review
Op-ed by WaterAid: Africa’s once in a generation opportunity
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
Africa’s leaders have in their hands a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the international development agenda, not just for their continent but for the whole globe.
The continent’s leaders are in the midst of negotiating the Africa Common Position (ACP) on what the UN framework for development will look like after 2015. The outcome will be hugely influential.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has pointed out that we are the first generation that has the resources and know-how to end extreme poverty. We must ensure that no one is left behind.
As we debate how to achieve this, we must not forget about the work yet to be completed on the UN Millennium Development Goals. These eight ambitious goals, set in 2000 to address hunger, extreme poverty and other issues crippling the developing world, run out in 2015.
Sanitation is the most off track of all of these goals. UN figures show some 70% of sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to adequate sanitation, while over a quarter — nearly 230 million people — practise open defecation.
This has devastating consequences for the continent. Over a thousand African children under the age of five die every day because of this lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation.
Last month, Secretary-General Ban called upon the world to “urgently step up” its efforts and put sanitation at the heart of post-2015 development.
Failing to do so will carry measurable financial costs.
UN estimates suggest about 5% of the continent’s wealth is being lost from this lack of access to water and sanitation. If everyone had access to these services, it would add $33 billion US a year to the continent’s economies, according to a conservative 2012 estimate by economists at the World Health Organisation.
Ghana alone, for instance, according to a World Bank assessment, loses $290 million US each year to a lack of sanitation services. Kenya loses $324 million, Nigeria a staggering $3 billion.
Making access to sanitation and safe water a top priority in the African Common Position presents an opportunity for Africa’s children, and for economic growth. This is also in line with the Africa Water Vision 2025.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, along with the UN-established High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, has already called for a new UN development goal of universal access to water and sanitation. In following that lead, African leaders can be seen to be listening to the voices of its citizens, including women and girls, who are calling for the prioritisation of water and sanitation post-2015.
As we now mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela, the ultimate symbol of justice for the African people, we also remember his calls for an African Renaissance.
Safe water and better sanitation can help address so many of the challenges Africa faces today, from reducing the HIV transmission rate to improving child health and school attendance. As Mandela himself said: “Water is central in the social, economic and political affairs of the African continent.”
By prioritising safe water and sanitation, Africa’s leaders can also ensure the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals is dealt with strategically. Africa’s leaders can set the continent onto a trajectory so that by 2030, everyone has access to this basic right to sanitation.
If we miss this opportunity, we risk leaving hundreds of millions of people on the continent behind, stranding them far from that promise of an African Renaissance
ECOWAS MEMBER STATES TO RAISE US$50 MILLION FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF ABIDJAN-LAGOS CORRIDOR ROAD PROJECT
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
ABUJA, Nigeria, December 12, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Five ECOWAS Member States involved in the Abidjan-Lagos road corridor project have agreed to contribute US$50 million in “seed money” to ensure speedy implementation of the 1028-km project.
The Steering Committee agreed at its third ministerial session in Yamoussoukro on 10th December 2013, that the money would help fund preparatory activities and provide further evidence of commitment by the countries for public and private sector operators interested in investing in the project, a six-lane highway expected to carry some 75 per cent of goods transported in the region, linking most of its major ports.
The Committee, comprising Ministers of the Road Infrastructure and Works of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, also mandated the ECOWAS Commission to engage with partners to submit proposals for transaction advisory services and the mobilization of external funding for the project.
In addition, it mandated the Commission to finalise a joint funding request for the five countries to the African Development Bank (AfDB) to be signed by their Ministers of finance.
The one-day meeting was convened to review the rules of procedure, which defines the institutional framework for the project, an integral part of its Treaty, particularly the options for funding to fast track the project, as well as the joint request to the AfDB and the signing of the Treaty.
Speaking during the opening session, Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Economic
Infrastructure, Mr Patrick Achi praised the road infrastructure, works and legal experts for the diligent finalisation of the working documents during their three-day preceding meeting also held in Yamoussoukro.
He highlighted the importance of the project, the first phase of the Lagos-Dakar highway project to link the eastern and western coastal extremes of the region, as a veritable road artery that would contribute to strengthening the implementation of the region’s integration programme.
The minister pledged the commitment of the country to the realisation of the project, conscious of the determination of regional leaders for its success because of its importance to the economic wellbeing of the region.
In the same vein, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr Ebrima Njie said the project’s realisation would facilitate intra-community movement of goods and persons, the bedrock of the region’s integration project. It would also contribute to stimulating the regional economy and help reduce impediments to intra-community movement of goods and persons through greater efficiency, he affirmed.
In his speech, Nigeria’s Minister of Works, Architect Mike Onolememen, who chairs the Committee, stressed the need for the countries to continue to demonstrate cohesion so as to realise the resolve of their Heads of State and Government towards the project which has attracted remarkable donor interest.
The ministers of Benin, Ghana and Togo also addressed the meeting, renewing their countries’ commitment to the project.
Previous meetings of the Committee were held in Abuja, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana with the fourth now scheduled to be held in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
A minute’s silence was observed at the meeting’s opening ceremony in honour of South Africa’s first black President, Dr. Nelson Mandela, who died last week.
Africa’s richest man Dangote plans $16bn investment push
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
Dangote Group, the Nigerian company controlled by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, plans to invest about $16-billion in cement, petrochemicals and agriculture over the next four years to boost expansion.
“We are investing $4.7-billion to finish our projects in cement in about 18 countries, including Nigeria,” Dangote, the company’s president, said in an interview. “We are also spending about $2.3-billion on agriculture, which is sugar and rice.”
The investment will help the Lagos-based company grow by almost a third in 2014, said Dangote, who is worth $22.1-billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the world’s 34th richest man. “We are very, very optimistic for 2014 – we are expecting average growth of 30 percent groupwide,” he said.
Dangote Cement, Africa’s biggest producer of the building material, said in April it plans to double annual total cement output to 55-million metric tonnes by 2015, boosted by new production in Cameroon, Zambia and South Africa.
Dangote Sugar, which plans to start exports to Liberia, Senegal and Mauritania next year, aims to almost double refining capacity to 2.75-million tonnes by 2017 and increase sugar crop production, chief executive Abdullahi Sule said in August.
“We are going to do a backward integration for rice “by growing the crop as well as distributing it,” Dangote said. “We think Nigeria can be self sufficient in rice in the next three to four years.”
Dangote plans to invest in a natural gas power plant to help provide electricity to Africa’s most populous nation, where a supply of 4 000 megawatts of electricity is less than half of demand. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest producer of crude oil, relies on motor fuel imports to meet more than 70% of its needs.
“The only new investment we are looking at is upstream – to look for gas to secure our future businesses,” Dangote said. “We want to step in and make gas available, and this will translate into more stable power in the country.”
Source Mail& Guardian South Africa
Tanzania Likely to Grow at Seven Percent in 2014 / While Targeted Safety Net Cash Transfers Could Help Reduce Extreme Poverty
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Tanzania’s economy is likely to grow at approximately seven percent annually for the next two years, with inflation stabilizing at around five percent largely due to falling food prices and tight monetary policies. The current account deficit should remain equivalent to a value of 13 -15 percent of GDP, unless there are significant changes in global commodity prices and in the demand for Tanzanian products, according to the World Bank’s latest Tanzania Economic Update released today: ‘Raising the Game: Can Tanzania Eradicate Extreme Poverty,’
The World Bank report says that, as in the recent past, Tanzania’s economic growth is driven by a number of industries predominantly located in cities, in the communication, transportation, construction, and retail trade sectors. The report argues for increasing productivity in agriculture and creating more good jobs off the farm. But it also highlights that such strategies are not enough to get everyone out of poverty. Global experience shows that even when agriculture productivity increases, the poorest families tend to be left behind.”This underscores the importance of highly targeted safety net programs to support the most vulnerable,” says Philippe Dongier, the World Bank’s Country Director for Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.
The latest Economic Update highlights the success of conditional cash transfer programs around the world, including in a pilot program implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) which is showing promising results in addressing the needs of the poorest households. Parents who receive the small monthly transfers spend the money on extra food and on education and health of their children.
The country’s latest Household Budget Survey shows that 12 million Tanzanians are still trapped in poverty today. At least 4.2 million of these constitute the ‘extreme poor’ for whom life means constantly choosing between difficult options, such as keeping the eldest child in school or pulling her out of class permanently to help grow more food on the family farm.
Without access to targeted safety nets, most extreme poor households in Tanzania depend on their relatives or use other social ties to survive in times of hardship. As the Economic Update puts it, “the families of vulnerable Tanzanians are themselves often very poor and thus cannot always provide support.”
“The experience with TASAF has shown that people can do a lot with just a little extra money and that they tend to spend their money wisely. Some spend it on their children’s immediate wellbeing, while others save to invest or to cushion themselves in the face of future hardships,” said Dongier.
“Safety nets in Tanzania currently amount to only one percent of total public expenditure, which is equivalent to less than 0.3 percent of GDP. This is insufficient to urgently address vulnerability among the extreme poor,” says Jacques Morisset, the Bank’s Lead economist for Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi and author of the latest report. “While investments in infrastructure, agriculture, education and health are essential for inclusive growth, well-targeted cash transfer programs can improve the living conditions of extremely poor households,” adds Morisset.
The Tanzania Economic Update is a biannual publication which reports on the state of the country’s economy.
RwandAir looks to widen West African market share
December 10, 2013 | 0 Comments
The brand new 67-seater dual-class Q-400 NextGen aircraft will ensure RwandAir is well-positioned to offer increased capacity on existing popular routes and new, upcoming ones, according to company officials.
RwandAir chief executive John Mirenge in a statement yesterday, said the arrival of Bombardier Q-400 NextGen will put the company in position to surpass the impressive set targets with ease.
“The introduction of the increased number of seats as well as the business class option meets the demands of our domestic market. It also allows RwandAir to embrace its long term expansion goal while staying on target to grow our fleet to 17 by 2020,” he said.
There is growing demand for domestic and regional travel in Africa.
The new aircraft will be delivered just in time for the unveiling of Douala, Cameroon as RwandAir’s 16th destination, added the statement.
The aircraft was manufactured by Bombardier Aerospace, a Canadian company with headquarters in Quebec.
The national flag carrier will reportedly become the 12th operator of the Q-400 NextGen aircraft in Africa.
The cabin configuration and design of this brand new Q-400 NextGen is similar to the CRJ-900 NextGen aircraft already amongst WB fleet.
This new acquisition is hoped to complement, on domestic routes, what the CRJ-900 NextGen achieves on regional destinations.
The Bombardier Q-400 NextGen can operate on Brazzaville, Libreville, Entebbe, Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and Kamembe the only domestic route, according to the statement.
RwandAir’s fleet now consists of four Boeing 737 series aircraft and one Bombardier Dash-200 series.
Two brand new Bombardier CRJ-900 NextGen regional jets arrived in November 2012, and the next acquisition is expected to introduce business class to domestic routes in February.
RwandAir serves one domestic destination, many regional cities such as Nairobi, Entebbe, Mombasa, Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam, and Kilimanjaro. The airline also serves Johannesburg, Dubai, Lagos, Accra, Libreville and Brazzaville. Juba in South Sudan, Douala in Cameroon, and Abidjan in Ivory Coast are also planned for 2014.
The airline is credited for its economic contribution towards the development, especially on trade promotion, tourism and aviation industry.
The government is trying to uplift the face of Kigali International airport and will build a new airport in Bugesera District, which is expected to be ready by 2017 to boost the country’s aviation industry.
*Source New Times
DELL APPOINTS MARA GROUP FOUNDER ASHISH J. THAKKAR TO ITS GLOBAL ADVISORY BOARD
November 24, 2013 | 0 Comments
Dubai, UAE, 21 November 2013: Dell has this week announced the launch of a ‘Global Advisory Board’ as part of the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs. The Board, which comprises a hand-selected group of influential entrepreneurs and experts from around the world, includes Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group – a pan-African, multi-sector investment group.
The Global Advisory Board, which is the brainchild of Dell’s entrepreneur-in-residence Ingrid Vanderveldt, will serve as a collective voice for entrepreneurs worldwide, with members lending their local insight and on-the-ground experience to Dell.
Together, the Global Advisory Board members will act as an extension to Dell’s existing global entrepreneurial initiatives, currently led out of the US. The Board will convene in-person for the first time in December, during Dell World 2013.
Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group, said:“Having started my first company at the age of 15 selling computers in Africa, I have first-hand experience building a business from scratch and understand the challenges that face young entrepreneurs in getting ahead. I admire the work that Dell is doing to empower entrepreneurs to run and grow their own businesses and feel honoured to be joining their Global Advisory Board, particularly at such a crucial turning point in Dell’s history, when the business will return to private.
“I look forward to working with the ‘world’s largest startup’ to help shape the way we support young business leaders globally. Entrepreneurs are the innovators and job creators of tomorrow, so we should do all we can to support and nurture their growth, particularly in developing nations like Africa.”
Ingrid Vanderveldt, entrepreneur-in-residence at Dell, said:“For Dell, supporting entrepreneurs isn’t just a business strategy, but a corporate philosophy. Since launching in the United States a year ago, the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs has been a true testament to the collaborative win-win of startups and corporations partnering for growth.” “Today, we’re excited to be taking big steps forward in expanding this footprint globally.”
The appointment of the Global Advisory Board follows the recent news that Dell is returning to become a private company, under the leadership of its Founder, Michael Dell. The multi-billion dollar deal was completed last month.
Ashish will be joined on the Board by: Ido Leffler, Co-Founder of Yes To Inc., the No. 2 natural beauty brand in the US; and Catherine Graham, President and Co-Owner of RIGHTSLEEVE and Co-Founder and CEO of commonsku.
Last month, Ashish was awarded Young Entrepreneur of the World at the World Entrepreneurship Forum in Singapore. In 2012, Ashish was appointed a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and invited to sit on their Global Agenda Council on Africa.
About Mara Group
Mara Group is a pan-African multi-sector business with extensive operating experience in both African and international markets. Mara’s current investments and operations span technology, manufacturing, real estate and agriculture. The Group is currently active in 19 African countries and 21 countries worldwide.
Mara possesses in-depth knowledge and unrivalled expertise in Africa. Its approach to business is built around creating value for its shareholders, whilst ensuring a genuine and lasting impact on the communities in which it operates.
In 2009, Mara Group founded the Mara Foundation to foster and support entrepreneurs through mentorship and venture philanthropy.
Mara has been recognised as a Global Growth Company by the World Economic Forum.
Dell Inc. listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services that give them the power to do more. For more information, visit www.dell.com.
Join us at Dell World 2013, Dell’s premier customer event exploring how technology solutions and services are driving business innovation. Learn more at www.dellworld.com, attend our virtual Dell World: Live Online event or follow #DellWorldon Twitter.