Tue. Feb 18th, 2020


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Africa Top 10 Business News

Dealmakers Descend on Johannesburg for the 2nd Annual Africa Investment Forum

The inaugural Africa Investment Forum in 2018 was one of the most important calendar events in Africa last year. The platform, designed to help structure projects and broker deals, has quickly established itself as the biggest gathering of global and pan-African investors on the continent and put an emphasis on accelerating deal-flow on the continent. The Forum is a deal-making platform in the truest sense of the word, with a digital platform to view projects and financing opportunities. During the summit, projects are presented and transactions are structured with an eye for closures during sector and project specific ‘Boardrooms.’ On show last year were 63 projects with a combined value of $47bn across a number of sectors: energy, transport, logistics, and agriculture.


Andela’s Expansion Plans Go Remote

Africa-based coding accelerator company Andela has launched operations in Egypt, which has become its first fully remote working centre on the continent. The company is one of the continent’s most capitalised, taking its total raised funding to US$180-million with a US$100-million Series D round in January of this year, but in September announced hundreds of layoffs as it restructured its business model to focus on senior developers as opposed to junior ones. In spite of that, it is pushing ahead with expansion across the continent, and having started exploring operations in Egypt in 2018 it has now launched formally and hired over 80 top engineers from Cairo, Alexandria, Damnhour, Port Saeed and Mansoura. Launched in Nigeria but also active in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, Andela was formed to solve the global technical talent shortage by building distributed engineering teams with African software developers.


Kenya is Emerging as the Next Big Tech Hub

With two months still to go, 2019 is shaping up to be a blockbuster year for inward investment in Kenya. So far this year, the country has attracted 54 projects totaling $2.9 billion in announced investments, according to fDi Markets, a Financial Times data service that tracks greenfield cross-border investment. Kenya is benefiting more than most of its neighbors because of its relative success in attracting IT investment, which has sparked the nickname “Silicon Savannah.” Some 63 foreign companies have made greenfield investments in the country in the software and IT sector since 2009, according to fDi Markets. Last spring Microsoft opened an Africa development center and Cisco, a supplier of networking equipment, set up an innovation hub. Both ventures are in Nairobi. Standard Chartered Bank also opened an innovation lab in its head office in the capital.


African Leaders Unapologetic about Quest to Develop Oil Reserves Amid Climate Change Protests 

A handful of protesters on the ground floor of the cavernous Cape Town International Convention Centre spread fake oil on the ground and chanted, demanding an end to fossil fuels. Two floors above, the hundreds of delegates at Africa Oil Week were largely unaware – and mostly unmoved – by the display. “Under no circumstances are we going to be apologising,” said Gabriel Obiang Lima, energy minister of Equatorial Guinea, adding that they need to exploit those resources to create jobs and boost economic development. In contrast, investor and government pressure to address climate change has fundamentally altered oil events in Europe. While Africa is rich in mineral resources and has for decades shipped fossil fuels to global consumers, its own citizens have contributed a miniscule amount of the emissions that cause climate change.


Master’s Students Make A Solar Powered Home for Africans

A portable, energy-efficient home that was originally built for a competition may be available on the market soon in Africa. The design was created by team Jua Jamii, a group of 40 former university students from countries including Tanzania, Nigeria and Swaziland. It uses recycled shipping containers and is 100% powered by solar energy. When Jua Jamii started building the house, the plan was simple — to create affordable and energy-efficient housing for middle-income families in Africa. The team expanded from six members to 40 in 2018 to make room for the implementation of all ideas. By gathering shipping materials from a port in Morocco, they were able to lay the foundation for the building. Jua Jamii also focused on equipping the house with a 24-hour power supply.


Op-Ed: Global Remittances at the Forefront of Reducing Inequalities in Emerging Markets

While there have been some significant achievements in reducing financial inequalities around the world, half of the global population living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.90 per day) live in just five countries – India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh. Reducing inequalities in these countries is essential to global development. One of the ways to reduce this inequality is to increase the availability of affordable and accessible financial resources. This, in turn, increases financial inclusion and provides access to life-enhancing opportunities and services. 


Africa’s New City Projects Come at Billion-dollar Costs

The current wave of new city building is largely focused on leap-frogging economic development and moving Africa’s cities directly into the age of futuristic, technologically advanced, so-called ‘smart cities’. Plans for these types of cities are sprouting up across the continent; from Kenya, Mauritius and Senegal. Leading the way is Nigeria with five current on-going new city projects, which, when completed, are set to cover a landmass of 25 million square meters. An estimated $100 billion is being invested in new city projects across Africa; Diamniadio alone will cost the Senegalese government an estimated $2 billion. The assumption is that these investments will pay off. The logic is that these cities will attract the best and the brightest. In turn this should drive productivity increases that ultimately will repay the large loans.


The Narrative about Africa’s Industrial Development

Unfortunately, the dominant narrative is that Africa has been de-industrialising, even prematurely. In this narrative, it is also questioned whether Africa can ever industrialise. African countries have even been advised not to try. The World Bank’s “Trouble in the Making” report concludes that manufacturing is becoming less relevant for low-income countries. With an outdated story that gives up on manufacturing, Africa will fail to close the huge digital gap it still faces. The gap is reflected in the fact the continent contributes less than 1% of world’s digital knowledge production. To reduce this gap, African countries will have to start by expanding internet access and use. If internet use across the continent can be expanded to the same rate as in high-income countries, 140 million new jobs and US$2,2 trillion could be added to GDP.


Social Enterprises in Ethiopia on the Rise

From ex-prostitutes making jewelry out of bullet casing to drones delivering blood, rising numbers of businesses with a mission to help address social problems are emerging in Ethiopia as the economy opens up. An estimated 55,000 social enterprises operate in Ethiopia, the second-most populous country in Africa and fastest growing economy in the region where about a quarter of 109 million people live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. But the number of ventures set up to do good is on the rise since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came in 18 months ago and vowed to open the economy to private investment, raising hopes of official recognition for the sector and easier access to funds.


Libya’s Diversification Strategy

The reopening of a plastics factory in the Libyan oil port of Ras Lanuf has provided a rare boost to an economy ravaged by war and political divisions. The polythene factory in Ras Lanuf is operated by Ras Lanuf Oil and Gas Processing Company (RASCO), an National Oil Corporation subsidiary, and was shut down for more than eight years because of poor security. It reopened last month with an initial production capacity of 80,000 tonnes a year, set to increase to 160,000 tonnes. Libya is almost entirely dependent on oil revenues, and the National Oil Corporation (NOC) has struggled to keep crude production stable. Output recovered to about 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) as of last month, but the picture beyond oil and gas is bleak.