Recapitalising Ethiopia’s State-owned Enterprises
will use some of the proceeds from partially privatising state companies to pay
off government-guaranteed debts issued by lenders, including the largest state
bank by assets. The two main state lenders are Commercial Bank of Ethiopia,
which accounts for more than 60% of the nation’s financial-services industry;
and the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE), which allocates credit as directed
by the government. Ethiopia’s privatisation plan is part of a shift in strategy
under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to reduce national debt, generate foreign
exchange and strengthen large swaths of the economy of Africa’s second
most-populous nation. Ethio Telecom and assets owned by Ethiopian Sugar
Corporation are first on the list, with rail, industrial parks and logistics
assets among those slated to follow.
SOURCES: BUSINESS DAY LIVE
New York Continues to be the Most Important Hub for Nonstop Travel to Africa
Half of the nonstop routes out of the United States to the
continent are routed out of either John F. Kennedy International Airport or
Newark. American Airline’s new Philadelphia to Casablanca route will be the
airline’s first flight into the African continent. But the new United route is
not the first time the airline has flown nonstop to Africa. Three years ago,
United discontinued a Houston to Lagos, Nigeria, route that serviced travelers
in the energy and oil industries. Airlines are increasingly introducing nonstop
flights, dramatically reducing travel time and further linking the United
States to major African nations.
SOURCES: THE NEW YORK TIMES
A Resurgence of Resource Nationalism Across the Continent
Last week, Sierra Leone abruptly cancelled an iron ore
mining license with Gerald Group, a metals trader, “with immediate effect”. The
action is the latest in a string of disputes between governments and mining
companies in Africa, which is home to rich resources of iron ore, copper, gold
and diamonds. A number of African governments are working to right what many
see as historic imbalances in favor of foreign companies rooted in colonialism
and to readdress contracts signed at earlier stages of certain economic cycles.
Commodity prices have rebounded since the end of the China-driven boom in 2015,
with increased use of metals, including cobalt and copper, in renewable energy
technologies such as batteries and wind turbines. The Sierra Leonean
government’s actions came as iron ore prices remain elevated at $94.5 a metric
ton, having surged to a five-year high above $125 earlier this year.
Liberia’s Economy is on the Rocks
The aid money that held the country steady after its brutal
civil wars is ebbing and inflation has surged to more than 25%. Many businesses
are struggling to stay afloat. But one industry seems to be weathering the
storm: shipping. The tiny west African country, with a gdp of just $2.1bn, has
one of the largest seagoing fleets in the world. Over 4,400 vessels which is
about 12% of global shipping fly its flag. And the number is growing. The
secret of this maritime success is an old practice known as the flag of
convenience. In the 1920s shipowners began to register their vessels abroad for
a small fee. This allowed them to avoid taxes and labour laws back home.
Liberia had few regulations and made it easy to sign up. By the 1960s it had
the largest merchant navy in the world.
SOURCE: THE ECONOMIST
Halting Food Smuggling into the Continent’s Most-populous Nation
The shutdown of Nigeria’s land borders to tackle rampant food
smuggling and encourage an agricultural revival in Africa’s top oil producer is
having an unintended side effect: higher inflation. A spike in food prices saw
the annual consumer-inflation rate rise to 11.2% in September, after falling to
a 3 1/2-year low in the preceding month, the National Bureau of Statistics.
Food-price growth accelerated for the first time in four months, rising 1.3%
from August. In late August, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the
partial closing of its boundary with Benin to curb smuggling of rice, a staple.
With a population barely 5% of Nigeria’s, Benin has turned into the world’s No.
2 exporter of rice while Nigeria is expected to be the biggest buyer of the
grain this year. The policy has hurt food sellers in the capital, Abuja, who
say Nigerians prefer imported food items because they’re more affordable.
Prices of imported products such as rice, palm oil and frozen chicken have gone
up by more than 50%, they say.
Looking to Gain more Ground on the Continent
As part of its expansion plans into Africa, global ride-hailing
firm Uber Technologies launched a pilot test of their taxi boat service on
Friday in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub. To attract customers who want to
avoid the city’s frequently congested roads, Uber will operate a two-week pilot
phase of the boat service in conjunction with the Lagos State Water Authority
(LASWA) and local boat operators. The service will be available only on weekdays
for the next two weeks and will cost $1.30 per trip. Lagos has an estimated
population of about 22 million people and counting, more than double London or
New York’s tally. One study said commuters in Lagos an average of 30 hours a
week stuck in traffic.
A Bid for Ethiopia’s Telcos Space
Safaricom, is considering buying a stake in Ethiopia’s telecoms
monopoly under a privatization plan. The company joins many other mobile
operators like Orange, MTN, Etisalat, Zain and Vodafone with interest in Ethio
Telecom. Acquiring a stake by Safaricom would be a much easier solution for the
company than starting afresh and setting up its own telecommunication company.
The rigorous process of buying land, constructing buildings, recruiting staff
and growing its brand in the Ethiopian market is time-consuming and hectic. Not
to mention competing for users with the dominant Ethio Telecom. With a
subscriber base of 44 million, Ethio Telecom makes Ethiopia the largest
single-country customer base in Africa. This figure, coupled with Ethiopia’s
fast-growing mobile market, is an attraction for global investors.
SOURCE: VENTURES AFRICA
Addis Ababa is Undergoing its Most Radical Facelift in a Generation
The old station will anchor a vast development project, also
called La Gare, in the heart of the city comprising malls, offices, five-star
hotels, more than 4,000 luxury apartments and a surrounding park, as well as,
in theory, low-cost housing for the district’s current residents. Covering 36
hectares and with a price tag of $1.8bn, Eagle Hills’ project was the largest
and most expensive of its kind in the country’s history when it was announced
last year. It is now already about to be surpassed: by a Chinese company who is
investing $3bn in a 37-hectare, upmarket complex in Addis Ababa’s Gotera
district. And more projects are coming, with offcials citing potential interest
from European, American and Turkish investors.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
Cashing in On the Infrastructure of Africa’s Mobile Revolution
Helios Towers rose 1.8% in London after raising $364 million in
a long-delayed share sale that gives investors a foothold in Africa’s
fast-growing wireless tower industry. Shares in the company backed
by billionaire financier George Soros priced at 115 pence apiece in the initial
public offering, the bottom of the range, the company said in a statement.
Shareholders including Millicom International Cellular SA and Bharti Airtel
sold down their stakes in the London IPO, with Helios set for a market
valuation of 1.15 billion pounds. Helios has more than 6 800 towers spread
across five African countries and the money raised from selling new shares will
help it to roll out fourth-generation mobile services and keep pace with
soaring mobile data consumption on the continent. It was originally looking to
raise as much as $500 million.
SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA
SA’s Rough Diamonds Take on the Industry
A passion for diamonds drove South African sisters Mathole and
Ramodipa to drop their careers as an investment banker and an optometrist. The
siblings run one of the few women-owned diamond polishing businesses in the
world. And, despite the slumping global market for diamonds, and a shrinking
industry in South Africa, they’ve managed to keep shining and developing new
female talent. After qualifying as diamond valuators, in 2008 they started a
cutting and polishing shop, Kwame Diamonds — the first and only one run by
sisters in South Africa. The sisters cut their way into the diamond industry,
selling only responsibly sourced, certified stones bought from mining companies
operating in South Africa.