DIPLOMATIC ties between Zimbabwe and Britain are progressively improving

DIPLOMATIC ties between Zimbabwe and Britain are progressively improving, with increased exchanges now taking place between Harare and London, the country’s chief envoy to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Christian Katsande, has said.

There is now enhanced collaboration in diplomatic deputations, dialogue, trade and investment.

Mnangagwa meets British Director for the African Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mrs Harriet Matthews at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare -Picture Courtesy

Thawing relations between the two countries highlights the progress being made under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement drive, which is the country’s signature foreign policy initiative.

Bilateral ties between Zimbabwe and the UK had soured to the extent that prior to Ambassador Katsande’s posting to London in 2018, Harare did not have a chief envoy to the European country for four years following Ambassador Gabriel Mharadze Machinga’s departure in August 2014.

In a marked shift from his predecessor, President Mnangagwa has set out to integrate Zimbabwe into the global family of nations through engaging and re-engaging the regional and international community.

The strategy has begun to bear fruit.

A few weeks ago, Britain donated US$43,6 million, the largest contribution given by a single nation in the fight against Covid-19.

“Zimbabwe-United Kingdom relations continue to improve. The two countries have witnessed increased diplomatic exchanges which have opened avenues of enhanced communication and collaboration in health, education, tourism, trade and investment,” said Ambassador Katsande in a statement.

“The British government recently announced a US$43,6 million aid package towards Covid-19 medical supplies to assist in fighting the pandemic in Zimbabwe. This generous gesture, among others, is indicative of the growing bilateral and diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

President Mnangagwa’s administration has identified the Diaspora community as a key constituency in nation-building.

Ambassador Katsande said his office has increased engagements with Zimbabweans living in the UK.

“Engagements with Zimbabwe’s Diaspora community have yielded tangible results. Some community groups/individuals and companies owned by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have actively supported Government-led humanitarian initiatives such as mobilising assistance for the victims of Tropical Cyclone Idai in 2019 and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Embassy shared with the Diaspora community, His Excellency President Emmerson D. Mnangagwa’s domestic and humanitarian appeal for assistance towards the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Last week, Britain’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Melanie Robinson, described relations between the two countries as “important”.

“We have announced nearly US$44 million aid, which makes us the biggest contributor to the Covid-19 response here in Zimbabwe. This shows how important the relationship between the British and Zimbabwean people is.

“Through our humanitarian programme, we are currently supporting 570 000 beneficiaries throughout Zimbabwe and will continue to provide emergency humanitarian aid and cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the country,” she said.

To date, at least 29 Zimbabweans living in Britain have died of Covid-19, mostly nurses and other medical staff.

The UK is one of the countries worst affected by the pandemic.

Ambassador Katsande said his office had established clusters that include health, education, agriculture, infrastructure and financial services to assist in coordinating activities and communication between the Embassy and the Diaspora.

“Despite the lockdown, the Embassy continues to provide a more efficient and user-friendly service to the public. The Embassy has also cultivated mutually beneficial relationships with various Zimbabwean community and religious leaders across the United Kingdom,” he said.

Political analyst Mr Godwine Mureriwa said the latest developments show that Zimbabwe and Britain were keen to re-engage.

“Past relations were affected by arrogant personalities. On the one hand, you had Tony Blair (former British prime minister), who refused to accept Britain’s responsibility in resolving the land question and, on the other, you had a radical Mugabe who had no interest at all in re-engaging,” said Mr Mureriwa.

“We have now turned the corner because President Mnangagwa has extended his arms wide and Britain also showed its keenness to engage after being the first to send its minister, when our President was first inaugurated.

“I strongly believe that growth in relations between the two countries will be mutually beneficial. With Britain exiting the European Union and Zimbabwe clearly showing commitment to re-engagement, the two countries certainly need each other.”

When President Mnangagwa was first inaugurated into office on November 24 2017, the then-British prime minister Theresa May sent a special envoy, Mr Rory Stewart, to grace the occasion and affirm London’s support to the new Government.

In her first assignment as UK Minister of State for Africa, Mrs Harriet Baldwin visited Zimbabwe in February 2018, showing how important relations between the two countries are.

Zimbabwe is also on the path to rejoining the Commonwealth group of nations, which is made up of mostly former British colonies. – Sunday Mail

African Development Bank Group unveils $10 billion Response Facility to curb COVID-19

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, April 8, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The African Development Bank Group on Wednesday announced the creation of the COVID-19 Response Facility to assist regional member countries in fighting the pandemic.

The Facility is the latest measure taken by the Bank to respond to the pandemic and will be the institution’s primary channel for its efforts to address the crisis. It provides up to $10 billion to governments and the private sector.

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, said the package took into account the fiscal challenges that many African countries are facing.

“Africa is facing enormous fiscal challenges to respond to the coronavirus pandemic effectively. The African Development Bank Group is deploying its full weight of emergency response support to assist Africa at this critical time. We must protect lives. This Facility will help African countries to fast-track their efforts to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19,” Adesina said, commending the Board of Directors for its unwavering support.

The Facility entails $5.5 billion for sovereign operations in African Development Bank countries, and $3.1 billion for sovereign and regional operations for countries under the African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessional arm that caters to fragile countries. An additional $1.35 billion will be devoted to private sector operations.

Commenting on the Facility, Acting Senior Vice-President Swazi Tshabalala said: “The setting up of the Facility required a collective effort and courage by all our staff, Board of Directors and our shareholders.”

Two weeks ago, the Bank launched a record-breaking $3 billion Fight COVID-19 Social Bond, the world’s largest US dollar-denominated social bond ever on the international capital market. Last week, the Board of Directors also approved a $2 million grant for the World Health Organization for its efforts on the continent.

“These are extraordinary times, and we must take bold and decisive actions to save and protect millions of lives in Africa. We are in a race to save lives. No country will be left behind,” Adesina said.

2X Challenge Members Launch Business Competition in Africa

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Leading development finance institutions (DFIs) including FinDev Canada, CDC Group (CDC) of the United Kingdom, Proparco of France, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) of the United States along with the Mastercard Foundation announced today at the Women Deliver 2019 Conference that they are joining forces to sponsor the 2X Invest2Impact – Business Competition. The purpose of the competition is to support the growth of high-potential, women-owned businesses to increase their commerciality and impact. This major new initiative will support women entrepreneurs who have the potential to make a positive impact on their local economies and are strong candidates for investments from development financiers.

While there is no shortage of business competitions on the African continent, and many women-focused entrepreneurial forums, programs, and initiatives, 2X Invest2Impact will stand out by focusing on growth stage women-owned businesses, poised for investment capital. 2X Invest2Impact will provide them with mentorships, business development services, visibility, and the opportunity for funding.

“The credit gap for women-owned SMEs globally is estimated at $287 billion. This means that 70 percent of women owned SMEs cannot access the financing they need to grow a business. This competition aims to directly address this,” said Paul Lamontagne, Managing Director of FinDev Canada.

“We also know that there is a persistent disconnect between investors and development financiers who are seeking to invest in women-owned businesses and those women owners who are looking to grow their companies. Our 2X Invest2Impactinitiative will help bridge that gap by bringing high-quality women-owned businesses together with interested investors,” noted Jen Braswell, Director, Value Creation Strategies, CDC.

The goals of 2X Invest2Impact are to:

  • Directly reach women-owned businesses that may otherwise face barriers in accessing investment capital;
  • Contribute to the community of women business owners and leaders in the region;
  • Gather and share learnings on women in business and gender-lens investing;
  • Increase visibility and momentum for gender-lens investing; and
  • Pilot an investment prospecting model that could be replicated in other regions.

“Africa is home to more female entrepreneurs than any region in the world. Through 2X Invest2Impact, OPIC is proud to join its 2X Challenge partners and MasterCard Foundation in providing a platform for female entrepreneurs to showcase their successful enterprises and to access critical expansion capital. We are not only reaching these female entrepreneurs but also showing the world what African women can do when they are empowered,” said Kathryn Kaufman, OPIC Managing Director for Global Women’s Issues.

“The Mastercard Foundation is pleased to support this exciting business competition. We know that when we support women entrepreneurs, there is a positive impact in the community. This competition will drive employment and growth,” added Lindsay Wallace, Director of Strategy and Learning, Mastercard Foundation.

The competition will provide value to all entrants, including networking and feedback through insights and benchmarking reports. After an initial application process, twenty-five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be selected for participation. These contestants will benefit from pitch training, access to webinars, podcasts and other learning tools as well as networking opportunities. Each SME will be assigned a mentor and be promoted during a high-profile and well-publicized closing event.

“We are confident that this will be a turning point for the winners of the competition,” noted Gregory Clemente, CEO, Proparco. “They will benefit from improved access to funding, increased visibility stemming from the media coverage and word of mouth and the hands-on mentorship of a leading entrepreneur in their region. We are also very happy to see them entering into an investment readiness support program, which will help these brilliant women entrepreneurs bring their businesses to new highs.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

Africa rising as Bizcommunity launches .Africa domain

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Africa rising, pan-Africanism and African renewal are just some of the terms seen regularly on the radars of global business scenario forecasters.

52.3% increase in intra-African trade

According to The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), intra-African trade is expected to increase by 52.3% from 2020. With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement signing in Rwanda, March 2018, and other factors, Africa has proclaimed itself open for business – with 55 countries merging into a single market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $2.5tn, which will see Africa become the largest free trade area in the world.

With the above factors providing every reason why African business stakeholders should be talking to each other more than ever, Bizcommunity’s dedicated B2B platforms are ideal to enable exactly the knowledge and resource sharing and intra-African networking required right now.

Celebrating Africa Month_ May 2019

In May, the daily go-to media for the curation and distribution of African company news, jobs and events across 18 industries will further spotlight the factors and stakeholders spearheading these moves.

Join us in our vision to enable a connected business-ready Africa

Send a clear message to the world that your company is open for African business opportunities on bizcommunity.africa daily news platforms.

Join us in our vision to enable a connected business-ready Africa. Publish company news, opinion, activations, events and jobs on the biggest multi-industry website, that’s made in Africa, to put African business news on the front pages and in the hands of our 464,000 readers.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Bizcommunity.

Africa Oil Week

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Source: AFRICA NEWS

The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) will for the first time be showcasing 15-20 local companies in the South African National Pavillion at the prestigious Africa Oil Week event (www.Africa-OilWeek.com), which will take place in Cape Town, from 4-8 November 2019.

As the leading event for Africa’s upstream oil and gas sector, the dti will be using Africa Oil Week as a platform to outline the department’s commitments to the energy sector and re-emphasise the need for sustainable and equitable growth for local businesses.

The businesses will also be exposed to more than 1 500 senior executives from the oil and gas value chain across the globe, including 15 ministers of energy, key decision-makers from national and international oil companies, oilfield service providers, and the investment community.

The inclusion of the South African Pavilion is aligned with the country’s strategic goal of implementing an outward investment-led trade approach which aims to increase the country’s exporting capacity for diversified goods and services to international markets while promoting industrial development, job creation, foreign direct investment and economic growth to position South Africa as a globally competitive investment destination.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says the sub-Saharan Africa region is rapidly transforming into a natural gas jurisdiction given major recent natural gas discoveries in the region and the significant potential domestically in South Africa.

“Following the profound experience of reindustrialisation of the United States of America on the back of major gas finds, and the Qatari LNG development trajectory, the potential for the realisation of significant long-term onshore value in South Africa and the region is substantial. Whether or not South Africa discovers its own commercially viable natural gas resources, it will play a major role in driving onshore demand and the development of the regional resources,” says Davies.

He adds that in the light of the opportunities presented in the regional and domestic natural gas sector, the dti continues to refine its long-term natural gas industrialisation policy for SA, which would maximise the multiplier effects (both up and downstream) of the natural gas resources domestically and in the South East African region. Appropriate natural gas industrial policy will allow SA and the region to optimise the utilisation of natural gas, maximise its multiplier effect potential and drive regional integration.

According to Davies, the exhibition comes as part of a wider focus on South Africa this year, with a full day programme dedicated to it within in the National Showcase Theatre on Tuesday, 5 November 2019. The South Africa Showcase will feature panels with industry experts. Throughout the day, the showcase will feature strategic discussions around the future of the nation’s energy sector, exploring topics such as local content and procurement, fiscal policy and governance as well as highlighting new prospects and key projects currently taking place in South Africa.

The showcase will be an excellent opportunity for the SA companies which are looking to access Pan-African energy tenders or global debt and equity partners to expand their business.

To find out more about the programme or register to attend, visit: www.Africa-OilWeek.com

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Oil Week.

Media Contact:
Joanna Kotyrba
Africa Oil Week
e: Joanna.Kotyrba@ite-exhibitions.com
w: www.Africa-OilWeek.com

About Africa Oil Week:
Africa Oil Week (www.Africa-OilWeek.com) is the leading oil and gas event for the continent, with over 1 500 key executives attending from around the world to broker new deals. The global E&P community – government, NOC’s, international oil companies, independents, investors and service providers – is brought together here like no other event. This unique event is a hub for deal-making and building networks with senior decision-makers.

Global Cyber Security Market

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Author: Hirem Sam (Source: Global News Journal)

Zion Market Research has announced the addition of a new market intelligence report. The report is titledCyber Security (Network Security, Cloud Security, Wireless Security and Others) Market, By Solution (Identity and Access Management (IAM), Encryption, Risk and Compliance Management, Data Loss Prevention, Antivirus And Antimalware, Firewall And Others), By Vertical (Aerospace, Government, Financial Services, Telecommunication, Healthcare And Others): Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Segment, Trends and Forecast, 2015 – 2021”. The global Cyber Security Market report serves with all-inclusive, highly-effective, and thoroughly analyzed information in a well-organized manner, based on actual facts, about the Cyber Security Market. The whole information from the scratch to the financial and management level of the established industries associated with the Cyber Security Market at the global level is initially acquired by the dedicated team. The gathered data involves the information about the industry’s establishment, type and the form of products it manufactures, annual sales and revenue generation, the demand of the manufactured product in the market, marketing trends followed by the industry, and a lot more important information. The industries majorly comprise the global leading industries that are putting their extreme efforts to maintain the hold over the highly-competitive Cyber Security Market, about which the thorough information is provided in the report.

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Cyber security

Some of the Major Cyber Security Market Players Are:

  • Symantec
  • IBM
  • McAfee
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • CSC

The industry analysts begin their task by compiling this huge pile of information, graphically expressing, anticipating the future market growth, offering the ways to improve the business, and many other important viewpoints explained by them in the global Cyber Security Market report. The report delivers the analytical data in several parts based on the fragments of the global Cyber Security Market product, its end-users, applications, and others of the market; additionally,

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Cyber Security

The global Cyber Security Market report elucidates the comprehensive analysis of the market-derived on the basis of regional division [Latin America, North America, Asia Pacific, Middle & East Africa, and Europe]. The report comprises precise analytical information related to market forecast for several upcoming years. The report also includes the particulars about the valuation of macro and micro elements significant for the growth of already established Cyber Security Market contenders and emerging new companies.

Angola poised for South African energy expansion

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Source: World Oil

JOHANNESBURG — As Angola works in attracting foreign investors from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, its closest African neighbors are also entering the race to tap into vast investment opportunities in Africa’s second biggest oil producing market.

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left-angola-president-joao-lourenco-and-right-guillaume-doane-ceo-of-africa-oil-power

Beyond the traditional African oil players, most of them coming from Nigeria, South African companies have increasingly showed interest in regionalizing and expanding their businesses beyond their home country. President João Lourenço chose South Africa as his first state visit destination as president, which was followed in 2018 by a South African trade and investment mission to Luanda.

While Mozambique’s LNG mega projects are seen for many South African construction, services and supply companies as very attractive and nearby opportunities, a sizeable and expanding market like Angola has also appeared on their radar in recent years.

It is notably the case of South Africa’s state-owned giants like the Central Energy Fund (CEF), in charge of both developing a robust domestic energy market and securing the energy supplies South Africa needs to support its growing economy. Under the Integrated Resources Plan set to be adopted by the country this year, 8,100MW of additional gas-to-power capacity is to be added in South Africa by 2030. South Africa also remains sub-Saharan Africa’s largest refiner and is planning additional refining and petrochemicals units that will all require crude oil and natural gas supplies that do not exist domestically.

It is hence no surprise that Angola, with its lucrative opportunities and reformed business environment, will be hosting a strong delegation of South African companies during the upcoming Angola Oil & Gas Conference 2019, set to be held in Luanda on June 4-6, 2019. The summit is organized by Africa Oil & Power and endorsed by the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Petroleum of Angola.

“The economic reforms passed by President Lourenço and the opening of wide swaths of oil and gas acreage constitute the single biggest exploration opportunity in the history of Angola,” said Guillaume Doane, CEO of Africa Oil & Power. “This is a new era for Angola that will herald the arrival of several new entrants to the market.”

Among the new entrants, the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF), a CEF group company, will be present to look into the various licenses and blocks Angola has to offer. The state-owned entity already recently became owner and operator of South Sudan’s Block B2 under an exploration & production sharing agreement (EPSA) signed in Juba this month, and is keen to continue securing additional assets and reserves across Africa’s key oil markets that can benefit South Africans.

“The Strategic Fuel Fund seeks to invest in and acquire key oil & gas assets across Africa that can be of important interest to the host countries and South Africa” declared Godfrey Moagi, CEO of the SFF. “In our quest for attractive assets with vast resource potential, we believe Angola offers the right kind of environment, mature fields and political leadership needed to realize successful ventures.”

Angola has indeed just released a new oil licensing strategy up to 2025, and is about to launch for the first time a bidding round that includes marginal oil fields with an attractive fiscal framework. Oil concessions are now overseen by a new and independent agency, the ANPG, which took this responsibility over from state-owned Sonangol in a move to make the process more efficient and transparent.

“The ambitious reform agenda of President João Laurenço and Minister of Mineral Resources and Petroleum Dr. Diamantino Pedro Azevedo is proving successful in building up investors’ trust and confidence,” said Centurion Law Group CEO and AEC Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk. “It is very encouraging to see major African players coming to Angola from across the continent. This is very promising for the growing African energy cooperation and the development of our industry.”

The African Energy Chamber (AEC) is the only Africa-wide association that represents all aspects of Africa’s oil and gas industry. The AEC represents more than 120 partner companies involved in all aspects of the African energy industry. Its Angola operations are overseen and represented by Sergio Pugliese.

Find the Right Business Opportunity for You in Africa

Finding the business opportunity which will suit you best should never be a random process and always requires a sound strategy.

Your plans must obviously take into account your skills and aptitudes, as well as your interests and previous experience. And while such an approach should never rule out something entirely new, you must know your strengths (and weaknesses) in order to determine what path you plan to follow.

You must also look around carefully to find out what is popular and where there is a gap in the market. And fortunately, Africa is a continent full of business opportunities for both traditional and trailblazing entrepreneurs.

Right Business Opportunity
African art and traditional craftwork

Do you know much about the value of African art? You may be surprised to hear that Sotheby’s sold a collection of West African antiques in New York for the staggering sum of $41 million in 2014 (a record sum for African art in the US).

And elsewhere, Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwn’s wooden sculptures sold on the London market for $500,000, – three times more than they were expected to make!

While these are extreme examples, it’s also known that the marketplaces of Egypt and Morocco, for instance, enjoy a buoyant trade in original artefacts and locally created, hand-crafted goods produced primarily for the tourist trade.

There are undoubtedly many reasons for the resurgence of interest in this field, but the spread of multiculturalism and today’s ease of access via the Internet suggest this is a trend set to continue.

Right Business Opportunity
Africa’s renaissance farmers

African agriculture suffers from a bad press, associating it with poverty, aging farmers, back-breaking labor and subsistence-level returns.

As a result, there has been a pronounced drift away from rural areas. This industry has become an untapped goldmine crying out for new blood and full of exciting opportunities to develop an ancient industry in exciting new ways.

Sub-Saharan Africa has fertile soils, around three-fifths of the world’s unexploited arable land, an abundant source of agricultural labor and year-round sunshine.

These attributes put the region in pole position to become a major source of food for the world’s markets. This projection discounts the continent’s own ‘home market’ of one billion people – a huge opportunity for young agricultural entrepreneurs to exploit.

Eco-energy for the African market

Would-be entrepreneurs should note that hardly one-fifth of Africa’s population have access to an electricity supply, and even those who do mostly rely on dirty and noisy generators.

With much of sub-Saharan Africa able to enjoy an average of more than 325 days of sunshine a year, the continent has its own source of cheap, clean energy ready to be harnessed to get its people connected to the future.

The market for solar power has huge potential. To take just a single example, the smartphone has emerged as Africa’s most potent tool for communication, but millions have problems finding a reliable source for recharging their phones – especially in rural areas.

Solar energy now benefits from advanced technologies which make it fast and cheap to set up, even in the most remote locations.

In addition, solar-generated energy is a ‘green and clean’ product which makes it an even more attractive proposition for the future.

With equipment prices also falling, many observers believe that African solar power could start making a major contribution to the European energy market.

Africa’s potential education market 

There is an ever-growing need for education and training all over Africa which is overwhelming governments everywhere.

For the entrepreneur equipped to meet such demands, there are numerous small and large opportunities right across the sector: in both primary and secondary education, for individual private tutors, in university training, for vocational training as well as professional certification needs of all kinds.

Africa’s growing population of young people see a good education not only as a pathway out of poverty but also as the key to securing a good job with prospects for advancement.

And in the corporate arena, businesses are looking to recruit an educated workforce who can service the needs of a 21st-century economy. For example, these needs alone have created an almost insatiable demand for language teachers.

These are just some of the many gaps in the market Africa now offers the young, dedicated and organized entrepreneur.

So, provided you carefully research the present and future demands of your sector, there are many businesses which could represent an ideal opportunity.

By Bruce Hakutizwi, USA and International Accounts Manager for BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses.  Bruce has over 7 years’ experience working within the US business transfer marketplace connecting buyers and sellers.

Kenya ranked third in Africa’s private equity chart

By BRIAN NGUGI

Kenya has been ranked the third most attractive African market for private equity (PE) funding, indicating the huge promise in East Africa’s largest economy despite multiple challenges arising from a recent pile-up of public debt.

Consultancy EY (Ernst & Young) says in a report that is expected to be published today (Monday) that Kenya’s fast-growing technology sector, nicknamed “Silicon Savannah”, drew the most foreign investor interest, supported by an improved business environment.

“FDI [foreign direct investment] projects in Kenya increased by 44 per cent compared with 2016,” says the Turning Tides, Africa Attractiveness October 2018 report.

The increase, the report says, was “largely because of a conducive environment, including a pool of well-resourced IT developers and a high smartphone penetration rate.”

South Africa and Morocco are ranked as Africa’s top hotspots for PE deals ahead of Kenya, which beat Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt – the number four, five and six respectively.

The report says Kenya’s top ranking has benefited from recent government’s action to make the country a viable and competitive technology hub through formulation of policies to drive the initiative.

The country’s performance is described as significant given that 2017 was dominated by election-related investor jitters.

Kenya’s economy grew 4.9 per cent in 2017, its lowest rate in five years, under the weight of a prolonged electoral process and adverse weather.

Top ten countries by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Projects

That pace of growth was far below the 5.9 per cent recorded in 2016, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data.

The last time Kenya’s growth stood at below five per cent was in 2012, also an election year, when the economy expanded by 4.5 per cent.

EY says British investors were particularly active in Kenya last year, having made 10 project commitments, followed by Dutch firms.

“The digital industry remains a key driver of the continent’s growth riding on high mobile and Internet penetration rates coupled with the establishment of technology parks across numerous countries including Cape Verde, Angola, Kenya, Senegal and Rwanda,” says the report. Kenya is expected to remain a hotspot for private equity whose attraction to global deal makers was mainly driven by improved business environment.

“Recent initiatives in Ethiopia, as well as gains by Kenya and Nigeria in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business scores, illustrate that more and more of Africa’s leaders are starting to prioritise reform,” it says.

“Along with that, recent leadership changes in Angola, Ethiopia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are also expected to stimulate policy change, as countries increasingly compete for foreign investment as a key driver for sustained growth.”

Recent studies have echoed similar projections while noting that the improvement in ease of doing business, high return potential across all sectors, a well-diversified economy and consolidation in sectors such as financial services has created an avenue for increased PE activity.

Consolidation

In the financial services several analysts have said they expect consolidation in the banking industry and innovations to be the main drivers of activity.

“We remain bullish on PE as an asset class given the abundance of global capital looking for opportunities in Africa, the attractive valuations in private markets compared to public markets and better economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa compared to global markets,” investment firm Cytonn said in an outlook earlier.

The Treasury has recently upgraded Kenya’s economic growth projection to six per cent from 5.8 per cent, a move that was seen as having been informed by renewed private investor confidence and increased agricultural output.

Heavy rains in the second quarter of the year and the March 9 truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga — popularly known as the ‘handshake’— are likely to lift growth to a seven-year high, Treasury secretary Henry Rotich said earlier.

Kenya’s economy last expanded at the projected pace in 2011 when growth was 6.1 per cent.

Economic activities last year buckled under the weight of a biting drought in the first half, which hit farming activities hardest, and elevated political uncertainties following a bruising presidential election contest in the second half that put on hold a raft of investment decisions.

That, together with the debilitating effect of a sharp drop in loans to the private sector due to legal ceilings on loan charges starting September 2016, resulted in the slowest growth in national wealth in five years at 4.9 per cent.

Source – Business Daily

Uganda puts SGR on hold over unresolved issues with Kenya

Finance minister Matia Kasaija has said government has put on hold the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) venture and has instead turned attention to revamping the old metre-gauge railway network until unresolved issues with Kenya and China have been concluded.

“It is apparent the SGR is going to take us a lot of time to complete. First, we have to wait for Kenya to reach at the Malaba [border] point then we can start,” Mr Kasaija told Daily Monitor Monday.

He said government, in the interim, is refurbishing the old railway line as “an alternative” to lower transportation costs for traders.

Uganda and Kenya first agreed to construct the SGR in 2008 but the arrangements were only concretised in 2012.

Construction

Kenya is currently constructing the 120km line from Nairobi to Naivasha at $1.7bn to be followed by a 266km line from Naivasha to Kisumu port at $3.6bn, and later embark on the 107km line connecting from Kisumu to Malaba border with Uganda which is expected to cost $1.7bn.

The first phase of Kenya’s SGR line running from Mombasa port to the capital Nairobi, that cost $3.8bn, was commissioned last year and is operational. The trains’ daily tonnage has increased to more than 800 containers, out of the 1,700 that arrive at the port of Mombasa.

Uganda’s first phase of SGR, the eastern line running from Malaba to Kampala, about 273km (338km rail length), is expected to cost $2.3bn.

Mr Kasaija admitted that Uganda has currently taken a back seat on the SGR venture, but will resume “serious discussions once Kenya is about to reach” the Ugandan side.

President Museveni, according to sources familiar with the venture, in recent months had been directly involved in discussions on the project, and had hoped to secure financing for the first section of the railway line during his visit to China last month when he attended the seventh Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit. But he returned empty-handed.

However, Mr Kasaija revealed that during the discussions in Beijing, it was agreed that “Uganda and Kenya will embark on joint financing negotiations” after Kenya has completed the current Nairobi-Naivasha section.

“Kenya also has its own problems which we cannot speak about in public. We shall wait for them to settle but on our side, we have already compensated people from Tororo to Iganga. When they finish their part, we shall proceed with it,” Mr Kasaija said.

For some time now, Ugandan government officials have blamed Kenya for failing to commit themselves to financing the remaining two—Naivasha-Kisumu, and Kisumu-Malaba—sections. Kenya’s non commitment, according to sources, is mainly debt concerns but also the fact that there is little economic activity in Uganda to justify such an investment.

Kenya’s take

However, a Kenyan government official told Daily Monitor Monday on condition of anonymity that Nairobi is “committed to the project” and said Ugandan officials were using Kenya to “cover” for what he called their “confusion.”

Uganda’s SGR project since conception has been subject of various controversies.

The Ugandan State Minister for Works and Transport, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, told Daily Monitor separately that government is “still on course, and is continuing to work with Kenya to tie up all the loose ends and synchronise the project.”

“We are even meeting in Kigali next week to continue discussions on the matter,” Gen Katumba said.

One of the key conditions made by the Chinese funders, EXIM Bank, is the seamless movement of the train from Mombasa to Kampala for it to make “economic sense.”

Early this month, the European Union offered Uganda €21.5mn for revival of the old metre gauge railway line from Tororo through the districts of Mbale, Kumi, Soroti, Lira to Gulu “to contribute to a better performance of the value chain for key products and the development of the private sector in Northern Uganda.”

The line is expected to open up an alternative route to the Northern Corridor, connecting strategic trade routes with South Sudan, which is now a major trade and investment destination for partner states of the East African Community.

Old rail

Once revived, the 500km old railway line could as well be key in transportation to Uganda’s oil belt—Albertine Graben—and ease the burden on the existing and yet to be constructed transport infrastructure required for developing Uganda’s oil sector.

Revival of the railway line has been attempted before by Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the concessionaire for the Uganda-Kenya railway line, which collapsed early this year after each party accused each other of reneging on the concessionary terms.

Is SGR worth the cost?

The entire SGR, to cover the whole country, is pegged to a cost $12.8bn. The government has been in constant back and forth engagements with Beijing to release the first tranche of funding for the eastern line, particularly with prospects of paying back when oil revenues start flowing in 2020 but is unlikely. Several experts have said while the SGR could be a game-changer in reducing transportation costs, it might do little service for Uganda which is import reliant.

The main concern is that because the government imports more and exports less, the government will have to charge more fees on imports to offset the cost of exporting; Uganda imports goods worth about $4b and exports just about less than half of that. However, the government has noted that the project is sustainable, insisting that it will generate enough revenues to repay the loan.

The SGR classification is in line with the African Union SGR protocol, of upgrading and linking the continent’s railway system to facilitate continental integration. Other countries that have upgraded to SGR include Moroco, Ethiopia, Algeria, Egypt, South Africa, and now Kenya and Uganda ongoing.

Source – Business Daily