Millennials growing Africa’s mobile economy

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In many respects, Africa is on the cusp of a new dawn. Never in the history of the continent has technology and society had such a close relationship as we see it today, as the activities of citizens, companies and governments continue to generate information and data at a rate unforeseen in human history.

Data is poised to be the next most valuable natural resource, and from all indications, Africa is not prepared to be left behind in the emerging data-driven global economy. The combination of data and the mobile culture will be a key competitive advantage for citizens, companies, national and sub-national governments in Africa, fueling vast economic growth and societal progress.

Recent studies show reveal that 80% of all the data in the world was created in past three years. This is one of the reasons why two-thirds of IBM’s technology research’s work is now devoted to data, analytics and cognitive computing.

There will also be a three-fold increase in data-transmitting transistors per human by 2017. Humanity currently generates about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data from a variety of sources daily – from emails, blogs and climate information to posts on social media sites, and purchase transaction records to healthcare medical images. Africa’s share of this global data mix is bound to be significant, especially as mobile communications adoption and internet usage on the continent continues to grow.

Close to 70 per cent of Africa’s population now comprises of millennials – many of whom have grown up seeing mobile devices as a normal part of everyday life. As the region’s future decision-makers, customers, and constituents, these millennials will be major stakeholders in the success of both Africa’s businesses and governments – from hiring top talent to ensuring satisfaction with public services.

IBM

The millennial generation in Africa and elsewhere have much to contribute when it comes to moving enterprise organizations along the path toward greater mobility – but only if it is empowered to do so. More than 30 percent of millennials globally view work/life flexibility as essential to being engaged at work, according to a recent study by the IBM Institute of Business Values.

Businesses however looking to mobilize their workforce can no longer rely on a top-down approach. Instead, they must enlist the help of their tech-savvy millennial employees and tap into the generation’s inherent understanding of what it means to be truly mobile. In the enterprise space, this manifests itself in two ways – ensuring that millennial employees are armed with the right tools to provide the best possible experience for customers and encouraging their feedback on and involvement with new mobile developments.

Mobility is an enabler for business transformation and a catalyst for innovation. African enterprises which effectively harness the power of mobility will begin to uncover valuable hidden insights that lead to new products and services, gain a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ needs, and benefit from faster transformation and results. The implementation, however, can be an uphill battle for many organizations.

Beyond these peculiar infrastructure challenges in the African environment, employees may also lack the necessary skills and many businesses have yet to implement an effective mobile strategy that ensures accessibility without compromising security. Along with growing security concerns, consumer expectations of mobile offerings also continue to rise, and the pressure is building on organizations to derive and action on the real-time information generated by mobile devices. Millennial employees, however, can help bridge the gap. As organizations explore new ways to leverage the feedback cycle between mobile services and end-users, millennials can assist businesses in creating increasingly targeted experiences to maintain the attention of young consumers.

As the future leaders of change, millennials have a vested interest in the mobility of their employers. And with more millennials flooding the workforce pool, they will continue to prioritize working on mobile devices. In fact, millennials in the Middle East and Africa region are optimistic about their abilities – a recent survey from Telefonica found that 81 percent of the region’s millennials believe they are on the cutting-edge of technology, compared with 75 percent worldwide.

Businesses in Africa can seize this unique opportunity as a way of improving customer interactions. As younger employees are more likely to be on the front line of an organization – perhaps, working as customer service representations, or managing and providing content for brand social media channels. By empowering the employees with direct access to customers – with streamlined access to real-time information – organizations can ensure a better experience for their customers.

We are increasingly living in the era of the Mobile Mentor. When we think of the word ‘mentor’, most people tend to picture a veteran with decades of experience. However, when it comes to embracing mobility, it is the up-and-comers who have the advice to offer. Corporations and governments in Africa can benefit from direct input by millennial employees. By encouraging the feedback of younger employees, businesses can find out exactly what millennials workers and consumers are expecting from new mobile services and gain deeper insight into ways to streamline functionality.

Citibank is an example of a company which has successfully implemented this practice. Its reverse mentoring program pairs senior executives with undergraduates to work together on projects, helping the company stay one step ahead of the top technology trends and laying a foundation for improved recruiting and new talent cultivation and generation.

IBM is also encouraging its millennial employees to join the wider business conversation. Through its Emerging Leaders program, millennials were able to join more than 1500 C-level executives in discussing how to use enabling technologies including mobile, cloud, and Big Data analytics as a competitive advantage. By tapping into the digital wisdom of millennials, organizations can unlock new ways to solve business challenges, enhance productivity and better define the needs and strategic interests of the corporation in the future of the marketplace.

The post Millennials growing Africa’s mobile economy appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

As Greece Votes on its Financial Future, African Countries Should Take Note

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I had a recent conversation with a senior risk professional at a global multi-national company. The company’s operations include at least eight African countries across north, east, and the southern African regions. My contact made a comment that surprised me, he said, “Africa is one of the most stable parts of the world for us right now. Right now, we are consumed with Greece, Argentina and Venezuela. When things calm down we can sit down, but right now I’m on 24 hours local Greece issues…”

For once, Africa is not the world’s biggest problem.

The most apparent thing to note is that African markets are not correlated to each other. In contrast to the Eurozone, African markets provide natural diversification of risk to participants with exposure across the continent. Africa also provides interesting opportunities for investors to allocate funds based on the relative economic attractiveness of one region or country over another. Investors can therefore isolate countries with an uncertain economic outlook with limited risk of contagion. In the first quarter of this year Market Atlas observed substantial investment outflows from Nigeria during the election period and oil price slump earlier this year. At the same time the Kenyan stock market experienced net inflows and rising valuations. In the second quarter, we observed a reversal of this trend as noted in an article written by Akin Sawyerr, Market Atlas’ Chief Strategy Officer. The conclusion of the Nigerian election and stabilization of oil prices eliminated some of the short-term uncertainty in the Nigerian economy.

While African countries are relatively stable in an otherwise cloudy world economy, Greece’s unfolding tragedy should be looked at with caution by African leaders. There are two key lessons that can be drawn from the Greek experience.

Unsustainable fiscal policies  are a red card

Greece has to choose between two difficult options. The first option is to stay within the Euro currency regime and continue a crippling reform program that has led to deep spending cuts in health and other social programs (malaria and HIV cases have risen since austerity measures were put in place). Option two is to exit the European monetary union and reintroduce Greece’s old currency, the Drachma.

Greece’s current problems stem from the 1999 introduction of the Euro common currency. Common currencies are beneficial because they reduce trade costs to member countries and support the increase of trade amongst members. On the other hand, currency unions often lead labor costs to rise for the smaller economies in the currency zone.   Rising labor costs in Greece made their exports increasingly more expensive causing budget deficits to rise to 15 percent of GDP in 2009 from 5 percent of GDP in 1999. To further complicate matters, reports of fiscal mismanagement, deception, and corruption in the Greek government also surfaced in 2009, further increasing Greece’s borrowing costs. Greece abdicated its ability to manage its own currency by joining the European Monetary Union which removed its ability to devalue its currency. A devaluation would have allowed Greece to increase demand for domestic goods, reduce its trade deficits, and grow its way out of its problems through increased foreign demand for its cheaper goods.

On the African continent one need not look any further than Ghana for a cautionary tale about a country that is walking down the path that Greece has taken. Ghana’s debt to GDP ratio increased dramatically to 68.41 percent in 2015 from 46.83 percent in 2012. The failure to curb spending on civil service salaries is one of the main contributing factors to the deterioration of fiscal situation. Ghana needs to take substantial measures to address its fiscal imbalances in order to avoid a Greek like situation in the future.

On the whole, African governments need to take a second look at their fiscal policies and make the necessary adjustments stay on sound economic footing. Additionally it is key to keep in mind that a number of African countries have gone to the Eurobond market to raise substantial amounts of capital. While this seems like a good idea, a number of the projects funded by some of these Eurobonds have not produced the expected economic results. Further the pricing of these bonds could be impacted by fluctuations in the value of the Euro after a Greek referendum. It is important for countries that have gone this Eurobond route keep a healthy level of reserves to cope with future economic headwinds.

GDP diversification is a necessity

While the politics of the austerity measures imposed by Greece’s creditors are up for debate, it is without question that Greece’s GDP is not adequately diversified. Tourism (a mainstay of the Greek economy) is a great industry, but a country needs more than one source of income. African countries that rely on one key export for a majority of their revenues are vulnerable to the same challenges facing Greece and are thus further susceptible to pressures from external debt holders.

Nigeria, with its reliance on oil revenues to generate foreign exchange and support the government budget, is a country that must be wary. Though Nigeria’s economy has significantly diversified, oil still forms over 80 percent of government revenue.  Over the past year, the country has experienced first-hand what a sharp drop in oil prices can do to its finances and its ability to provide basic services. African governments must identify secondary and tertiary sources of income outside of their primary revenue generating industries and focus on developing new sources of revenue for their economies to better weather cyclical downswings in primary industries.

But even more important is the social contract between the government and its citizens. Having a strong tax base and high compliance with tax collection helps keep elected officials accountable. Alternatively citizens who do not pay taxes tend to overlook government affairs which makes waste, abuse and corruption easier to get away with. When corruptive pressures win, the economic impact can be grave; from ballooning civil service payrolls, to a lack of capital investment in infrastructure and wasteful government policies that benefit the politely connected.

A number of African economies experienced crippling debt levels throughout the 1980s. The vast majority of these countries received debt relief from external debt holders that returned them to stronger fiscal standing. African countries will do well to avoid returning to the challenging economic environments that many experienced in fairly recent times. African countries must take heed not to kick the can down the road, and make difficult fiscal decisions while there is time to structurally adjust incrementally.

So what does the Greek crisis mean for African markets? Here too, we find two possible areas of impact on vulnerable economies.

CFA Franc countries could be adversely impacted

The Market Atlas Africa Currency Index has noted that the CFA Franc is overvalued by 15 percent compared to the U.S dollar. An overvalued exchange rate tends to depress domestic demand and encourage spending on imports. This can be particularly problematic during periods of sluggish growth.  The CFA Franc is pegged to the Euro and is directly exposed to any potential devaluation that may occur should Greece leave the Euro currency. Depending on the way Greece resolves this crisis, the Euro could stand to lose up to one third of its value.

Additionally, the U.S. Federal Reserve is sending signals that it is ready to begin raising interest rates. With European rates already at negative levels in real terms, a rise of US excess reserve deposit rates by 0.25 percent will widen the spread between US rates and Euro rates, resulting in a stronger dollar. When coupled with the fact that central banks in Europe and Asia are all in monetary easing mode, the dollar will have more room to appreciate on a global basis. This will put further downward pressure on the Euro that could be accentuated by a Greece exit. The knock on effect would be a negative impact on the economic competitiveness of the 14 countries that use the CFA Franc and the region’s ability to keep trade levels up while Europe is in recession.

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Currency valuation relative to the US dollar — Source: Market Atlas

African markets will still be competitive for yield seekers

Greece will decide its destiny and the European Community will act accordingly after today’s referendum.  Global investors worried about the outcome can take solace in the fact that African markets will still offer competitive yields on a long-term basis. The Federal Reserve will gradually raise interest rates to avoid pushing the anemic US economy into recession and this will give long-term investors continued opportunity to remain exposed to African economies and benefit from higher yields, and portfolio diversification.

African markets are still  relatively attractive places to park capital, but African governments need to take a measured approach to ensuring their fiscal policies do not derail the economic growth story of the last 20 years. The alternative could be a path much worse than the drama playing out in Europe that would make the  current Greek nightmare look like a Mediterranean dream.

The post As Greece Votes on its Financial Future, African Countries Should Take Note appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Jobless South African man builds helicopter from recycled material

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What started as a dream soon turned into a reality for Vusimuzi Mbatha. The 35-year-old man from Siza informal settlement near Rustenburg, who’s dream was to fly a helicopter before he dies, decided to take fate into his hands by building his own helicopter.

Vusimuzi Mbatha, who originally hails from Libode in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, revealed he became fascinated with the idea last year only after seeing a helicopter during a strike on the platinum belt in the North West. “I dreamt I was controlling a helicopter. That was in January last year, during the strike in the platinum mines. The dream continued and I decided to follow it. It was easy to build this helicopter because I have a vision of what I wanted to do.”

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Vusimuzi Mbatha’s Helicopter

From that point, he started to buy parts and used scrap metals to build his helicopter, which stands a proud giant in front of his cabin. His creation regularly attracts locals to take a look at the metal giant with a roaring engine, which he built bit by bit. It stands on a four wheeled trolley and is built out of scrap metal has its cockpit built out of soft drink crates, within is a television set, a two way radio and a clock which Mbatha says will help him record estimated time of flight. The engine is powered by petrol and a motorbike battery which is used to power and propel the rotor, with the rotor hub housed in an old soft drink crate and the steering wheel made from a Play Station control. There is also a clutch and an accelerator.

Mbatha admits he has always loved and maintained a keen interest in science but could not further his education due to financial constrains, which ultimately forced him to drop out of school after the 7th grade.

But members of his community have expressed their surprise at his creation, one of whom is Mr Kgositsile. “We are surprised,” he said. “We never expected something like this to come from our area. This guy is talented. Government needs to help him to take his dream further, we thought he was playing when he started to assemble it. We did not see it until we heard the roar of an engine and rotating rotor,”

However Mbatha, who came to Rustenburg ten years ago looking for a job in the mines, remains unemployed.

The post Jobless South African man builds helicopter from recycled material appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

What does the 4th of July mean to African Americans in the US?

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The declaration of independence was signed on July 4th 1776, marking America’s independence from Britain. However, the Black man in America did not get his freedom until 1865 when slavery was abolished.

For most Americans, the fourth of July is a day to take some time off work, enjoy some family time and the great spectacle of the annual fireworks. More importantly it is a time for many to reflect on the long road towards developing a freer state and a tolerant community. But what does it mean for the members of the Black Society?

On July 5 1852, Frederick Douglas gave a speech in Rochester, New York, entitled: What to the slave is the fourth of July? He reminded listeners that when the declaration of independence was signed, many Africans were still slaves. “This fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. What to the American slave is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which is a constant victim…”

2015 will mark one of the most disheartening years for African Americans in the US. The country has played host to hundreds of killings of unarmed black people by the police, mass killings of innocent black people in places of worship, and burning down of churches built by African Americans in different parts of the United States. At least 136 individuals have been killed by US police within the first half of 2015, a vast majority of them being African Americans and Latinos.

In response to the treatment of black people in the United States, Senegalese recording artiste, Akon said: “America was never made for blacks”. Several celebrities of African heritage have made similar statements to this in recent times, both on social media and in TV interviews. One of which is Chris Rock. In June 2013, the comedian posted on twitter: “Happy white peoples Independence Day, the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed the fireworks.”

However, some black Americans find reason to joyfully celebrate the holiday. Stacy Swimp, In a Washington’s Time’s op-ed noted that at least 5000 black men fought for the Continental Army against the British, they believed that freedom from the British would result in freedom for slavery.

Swimp also mentioned that although slaves weren’t free at the time of the declaration, it is as a result of the document that every American under the U.S. Constitution is equally guaranteed individual freedom. “What, to Black Americans is the 4th of July?” He writes, “Everything”.

The post What does the 4th of July mean to African Americans in the US? appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

How the NBA Africa Game is already attracting elite sponsors

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Earlier this year, the NBA announced its first ever ‘Africa’ game which will see an NBA selection of Team Africa take on Team World. Noting the popularity of basketball, particularly the NBA on the continent, the NBA is seeking to connect more with the African audience and also contribute to developing sporting talent in Africa with several training programs.

The decision to stage an NBA Africa game has been commercially validated as a number of elite corporate partners have been announced. They include Econet Global Limited, Ford, Nike and South African Airways. In regard to sponsorship category designation, Econet will serve as the Official Mobile and Telecommunications Partner of NBA Africa Game 2015 while Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa will serve as the Official Automotive Partner of NBA Africa Game 2015. NIKE Inc. is the Official Marketing Partner of NBA Africa Game 2015 and South African Airways is the Official Airline Partner of NBA Africa Game 2015.

As part of their commitments both Nike and South African Airways will also serve as partners of Basketball without Borders Africa 2015 while Econet will be introducing a NBA Africa Game marketing campaign across the continent.

The NBA Africa game is the next step for the NBA’s involvement in Africa as the continent has enjoyed several benefits from the NBA over the years. NBA’s Basketball without Borders Africa programme which seeks to spot talented young stars has been on the continent a total of 12 times and the NBA also runs its ‘NBA Cares’ programme. Signaling intent to further its work in Africa, the NBA opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg five years ago.

The NBA Africa game is scheduled for the 1st August at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg and SuperSport who will air the game live as on board as the Official NBA Broadcast and Radio Partner for the event. There is also a credible charitable slant to the occasion as the game will be played in support of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa as well as SOS Children’s Villages Association of South Africa and also, the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

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Source: jobd23

CBN Vows Not To Devalue Naira

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has revealed that it will no longer devalue the Naira.

According to the apex bank, the idea not to devalue the Naira was borne out of the need to safeguard the Nigerian economy from the shocks and negative impact the depreciation will have on the economy.

In a statement signed by its Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Ibrahim Mu’azu, the apex bank stated that it will not panic and take desperate measures to satisfy few misguided interests in the market.

Mu’azu, who was reacting to an article in the Economist Magazine, said the article seemed to ignore the fact that the exchange rate is simply a price that is essentially determined by the forces of supply and demand, adding that the CBN believes that the 48 per cent decline in oil prices may not be transitory and made bold policy changes including closure of the subsidized Official Foreign Exchange (Forex) Window, which resulted in a 22 per cent depreciation in the currency, the Naira.

“Because the Nigerian economy is heavily dependent on imports and the exchange rate pass-through to inflation is high, we believe that this adjustment is optimal at this time.

“Contrary to the article’s argument, adjustments to a sharp decline in supply of US Dollars cannot all be borne by an indeterminate depreciation, without considering the full impact on the Nigerian economy.

“The demand side also has to be considered, not just in response to the pressure on the Naira but as an opportunity to change the economy’s structure, resuscitate local manufacturing, and expand job creation for our citizens.

“Take rice imports, for example: why should we keep allocating scarce forex to rice importers when vast amounts of paddy rice of comparable quality produced by poor hardworking local farmers across the rice belts of Nigeria are wasted, and farmers are falling deeper into poverty while we export their jobs and income to rice producing countries?” The statement read,

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Boko Haram may have just become more deadly and difficult to defeat

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From a caliphate to a network of sleeper cells; Boko Haram’s military defeat has turned it into something worse. 

A couple of months ago, the Nigerian Military—supported by troops from Chad, Niger and Cameroon—recaptured virtually every territory under the control of Boko Haram and put a final end to their Caliphate. Six weeks of sustained advances dragged the sect from controlling an area the size of Belgium in Nigeria’s northeast to looking for a place to hide. With the military successes, many in and outside the country predicted an end to an insurgency that has claimed more than five thousand lives. But the current almost-daily attacks have shown how wrong they were. It proves rather that while the Boko Haram caliphate –and any hopes of it—is dead and gone, the sect is very much alive and perhaps now has an even more threatening modus operandi.

There is no doubt that Boko Haram has been severely weakened and will never be as opulent as they were before April. Dozens of their bases have been razed, caches of their weapons seized and destroyed, and nearly a thousand people freed from their captivity. It is inconceivable that they will conquer territories again. But that is where the problem lies. The sect seems to have abandoned its aim of controlling territory, ISIS style, and has instead adopted a sleeper cell style of attacks, similar to that espoused by the forerunner of global terror—Al Qaeda.

The past few weeks have shown just how deadly these Al Qaeda-style attacks can be. Since May, the terrorists have killed around 300 persons in Nigeria mostly through hit-and-run attacks, and with no intention to hold ground. On Wednesday, the group gunned down at least 80 Muslims praying in mosques in Kukawa, a remote town 180km northeast of Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeast Nigeria and the birthplace of Boko Haram. Yesterday the group struck again when two suicide bombers killed 10 people in two separate but apparently coordinated attacks in Malari, southeast of Maiduguri. Other Coalition partners have also been hit by Boko Haram’s network style attacks. In June the group struck Niger and Chad in the same week, killing close to 80 people. In none of all their post-caliphate-destruction attacks did they try to hold ground; they are often already ‘gone’ by the time security forces arrive.

Boko Haram’s shadow tactics has made them harder to defend against and more difficult to defeat. The large and very loose nature of the northeast and its borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon, as well as the limitations of the Nigerian—and coalition—security forces to effectively police the area plays perfectly into the group’s current script. This means the coalition forces now need a new effective counter script.

Nigeria’s transfer of the Command and Control centre to Maiduguri will make a helpful feature of the counter script, as will the strengthening of intelligence gathering, military empowerment and regional coordination. Most importantly however, there needs to be a change of perception of Boko Haram, from a sect seeking to establish a muslim caliphate by establishing territory to a group espousing regional Jihad through sleeper cells. The latter is more real and more deadly, and defeating it will need triple the effort it took to dismantle the former.

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Source: jobd23

Using mobile money to end hunger in Africa

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“In Africa, hunger is a constant,” says U.S-based charity group Save the Children. Over 200 million Africans are reportedly living in hunger, meaning almost one in every three are either hungry or undernourished. The World Food Programme (WFP), the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security, has been leading the charge to end hunger globally—and in Africa—since it was established in 1961. With over $2 billion of cash reserves—sourced mostly from donors globally—the WFP provides food assistance to 80 million people in 75 countries each year from its base in Rome, Italy.

The WFP has been very active in many parts of Africa, with its largest operations currently in South Sudan due to civil unrest. It is also actively supporting relief efforts in Central Africa Republic and in West Africa countries ravaged by Ebola. However, for sub-Saharan Africa, which holds the second largest population of hungry people after Asia and the Pacific (578 million), the international food agency has been using mobile money, with significant success, to pursue its new strategy of handing out cash rather than distributing food.

Poverty is considered the principal cause of hunger globally as people simply do not have sufficient income to purchase enough food. Africa is no different, with more than 42 percent of its population living on less than $1.25 dollars a day. To curb both hunger and poverty, the WFP in recent years switched to cash handouts, rather than its traditional style of distributing only food items. “Where the market are properly functioning we have a choice of either purchasing ourselves locally and then distributing to our beneficiaries or if the retail supply chain works well to make a value transfer in terms of voucher or cash payment increasingly through digital or electronic to make them available to our beneficiaries,” Robert van der Zee, WFP’s Treasurer and Deputy Director of Finance, told Ventures Africa in an interview. “In the end it depends on the context where we are able to provide a cash base intervention locally and whether it is more cost effective because of course our donors would only want us to do that if it is cost effective and cost efficient.”

Credit: The World Food Programme

Credit: The World Food Programme

It has seen a smoother transition to cash handouts in East Africa, than in the western part of the continent. “We have done this (cash handouts) for many countries across the globe, particularly in the Middle East tremendously because of the Syrian crisis and of course there are better financial systems that we can tap into and good retail supply chains,” Robert noted. “We have seen that as well perhaps more in Eastern Africa, so far than in Western Africa but Western Africa is catching up rightfully as well but there are some funny inclusion challenges.”

Some of these challenges include: are providers available in the rural areas? Is there connectivity? Is there liquidity cashing in the system? Is there cash been taken out of the system? This is where mobile money has made the difference. “Mobile money has many advantages; one of them is that you can quickly distribute cash by SIM cards,” he noted. East Africa has recorded the most success in deploying this technology to grow financial inclusion, particularly within rural areas were issues like hunger are prevalent.

M-Pesa, a mobile-based money transfer and micro-financing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom, has revolutionized the payment system in Kenya and deepened financial inclusion across East Africa. Since it was rolled into the financial market, it has become the most successful mobile-powered financial service in the developing world. As of June 2013, 98 million of the 203 million registered mobile money accounts globally were in Sub-Saharan Africa, with East Africa holding the lion’s share of Sub-Saharan Africa’s total and accounting for 34 percent of the global total.

The branchless banking service allows users to deposit money into an account stored on their cell phones, to send balances using PIN-secured SMS text messages to other users, including sellers of goods and services, and to redeem deposits for regular money. Users are charged a small fee for sending and withdrawing money using the service, a cost effective option for the WFP.

In August, 2014, WFP provided 3,500 mobile phone handsets to the heads of households in Rwandan camps to facilitate the electronic money transfer through partnership with financial institutions, using the mVisa technology provided by VISA Inc. Each refugee receives RWF 6,300 ($9) per month to cater for food needs. The WFP deposits the entitlements with the bank, which then credits each beneficiary account (mobile number), and the refugee families then receive a confirmatory text message showing the credit to their account.

Credit: World Food Programme

Credit: World Food Programme

Tomson Phiri, a Zimbabwean journalist, also confirmed that the WFP is using cash and vouchers in the Southern African country to tackle hunger where food is available in the market place but most people do not have the required income to buy. “In the past, WFP handed out cash to beneficiaries waiting patiently in line. Nowadays, the organization transfers cash and food vouchers via mobile phone.” This method, Tomson notes, is more convenient for the recipient and cheaper for the food agency.

With most countries like Zimbabwe filled with rural settlements, inaccessible to conventional financial institutions, Tomson adds that it is also a good way of injecting money into cash-poor areas. In 2013, the WFP transferred more than $9 million through cash and voucher schemes to some 295,000 people. Its cash and voucher distribution this year is expected to exceed $13 million.

But West Africa still has some catching up to do, according to Robert. “… The problem for financial inclusion [in West Africa] is really an eco-system that needs to be aligned, so you need government to stimulate the sector: You need a regulation that helps financial service providers see opportunities in servicing the poor people, you need good use of technology to make it cost effective and you need and partners using the service, utility companies or mobile phone companies or the likes of ourselves that make social transfers.”

During Robert’s earlier presentation at the EuroFinance conference in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, last week, he identified three key challenges that have limited the WFP’s cash-giving scheme—Power, Identification, and cost of patronizing Microfinance institutions. But these, as well has what West Africa needs to do to catch up with its Eastern neighbors, can be significantly tackled using mobile money solutions. “The good examples are primarily Kenya and Tanzania where there is enough trust in the M-Pesa system that people keep their money in their mobile accounts.”

However, the revolutionary payment tool hasn’t been deployed without challenges, a reason why the WFP has stuck mostly with card payment solutions for a number of its African operations. “Our donors have pretty high standards in terms of reporting they want to know how cash is been used,” Robert noted. “Generally banks are much better (than more money agents) in reporting back to us on how funds are been used and of course you can make specific agreement with retailers.”

Like Robert correctly points out, there will be an eventual convergence between mobile and banking. East Africa (and parts of Southern Africa) has already positioned itself to be at the forefront when the benefits of mobile money start trickling in, one of which is providing the WFP a useful tool to help rid its communities of hunger. And Should West Africa hope to do the same, pursuing greater financial inclusion using the innovative payment system will prove vital, as the number of mobile money accounts gradually outnumbers bank accounts.

The post Using mobile money to end hunger in Africa appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

If Nigeria wants to avoid economic collapse, it should tax its wealthy

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Most economists agree that the Nigerian economy is in the midst of turmoil caused by a crash in the global price of oil. The only question is, how bad will the situation get? The overwhelming majority of Nigerian government revenue derives from oil exports. As oil prices have fallen from $115 a barrel to hover around $50 a barrel over the last nine months, economic indicators in Nigeria have entered a downward spiral. At one point just before the elections, the Nigerian naira fell to record lows of around 206 to 1 dollar. With global capital markets currently reeling from the Greek default crisis in the Eurozone, oil commodity prices will continue to fall and sovereign borrowing costs will continue to rise rapidly, especially for governments with low-credit worthiness. It is now the responsibility of the new APC-led administration to arrest the current economic slide. The only way to do that is to increase government revenue, immediately. Throughout the campaign president Buhari, his running mate and other APC associates suggested that they would increase revenue by eliminating mismanagement and political corruption – in the petroleum sector and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Nigeria has suffered from gross mismanagement and theft of public funds, particularly in the petroleum industry. The recently released audit report on the NNPC identified a host of opaque and unprofessional practices, including oil swaps (paying for refined oil with unverifiable amounts of crude oil), that need to be rectified immediately. However, as long as oil prices remain around $60 per barrel, it is doubtful that even after curtailing mismanagement and corruption, there will be enough revenue to service debts, fund social development programmes, maintain a reasonable exchange rate for the naira and bailout bankrupted states.

President Buhari still enjoys popular support and will continue to for his first hundred days in office. He presently has a tremendous amount of political capital to spend on his political objectives. As time goes, political opponents will begin to regain their footing, as we just saw in the national assembly, and executing acute policy shifts will become more difficult. It is very important during these early days that President Buhari and the APC choose their battles carefully. It would be a catastrophic mistake for Prresident Buhari and the APC to spend their honeymoon period primarily waging anti-corruption battles with the NNPC and other entrenched interests for two reasons. First, the wellspring of political support to tackle corruption in Nigeria will never run dry. Nigerians are sick and tired of the graft and mismanagement that has plagued the country for over half a century and it would be a total waste for Buhari to squander his honeymoon period on an issue that he could tackle at any other point in time with little or no public resistance. Second, it is doubtful that the protracted anti-corruption battles with NNPC will plug enough holes to raise enough revenue to stabilize the naira and avert a severe economic slowdown.

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Source: Central Bank of Nigeria

During the campaign, the APC took a page from Soludo and pointed to the period a decade ago when Nigeria received debt relief and thus was able to increase its savings even with the comparatively low oil prices at the time. The inference they try to make is that they can continue to rely primarily on oil to fund all their initiatives and run the states no matter how low the price falls. The problem with this logic is that the economic landscape in Nigeria is totally different today. Nigeria is not receiving debt relief anymore, but actually faces a rising debt profile that is now primarily from domestic sources. Furthermore, even if President Buhari were to solve the corruption problem overnight, as long as global oil prices remain depressed, as an oil-reliant state, Nigeria will face difficult economic times.

Over the last decade, Nigeria’s elite have grown fabulously wealthy. With a record number of billionaires and millionaires, the country has become a top destination for private jets, luxury cars, champagne and a host of other extravagances enjoyed by a global elite. Nigeria’s elite enjoy a 3 percent tax rate, one of the lowest on the planet. In contrast, in other economically successful countries the elite pay on average 13 percent or more of their earnings and assets in taxes. Nigeria can no longer afford to allow its elite to get away with not paying what they owe to the society that has made them wealthy. President Buhari can fix Nigeria’s revenue problem almost overnight by enacting redistributive taxes on the elite. Doing so will help prevent further devaluation of the Naira, and more importantly prevent inflicting austerity on Nigeria’s masses.

If President Buhari is truly interested in increasing revenue, there are a series of taxation measures that he can implement for the wealthiest 3 to 5 percent of Nigerians that will dramatically increase government revenue:

  1. Mansion Taxes: homes that are valued in the top 5 percent in the country should be taxed on a sliding scale up to 20 percent. Tenants of leased properties should pay 80 percent of these taxes. Owners of multiple houses, in country and abroad, should pay higher tax rates on their properties.
  2. Luxury Vehicle Taxes: personal vehicles valued over a certain threshold should be taxed (this includes firms that purchase luxury vehicles for employees). Households with more than one vehicle should pay an added tax on any additional vehicles. There should also be taxes on owners of yachts, and other aquatic vehicles, as well as private aircraft.
  3. Increased tax rate on incomes over 10 million naira.
  4. Increased capital gains taxes on shareholders of companies, including SMEs with earnings above a certain threshold that employ more people than just the registered owner.
  5. Government Contractor Taxes: an additional tax on the profits or earnings of any company or individual that has done business with the government in the previous three years.
  6. Inheritance Taxes on estates valued over 10 million naira.
  7. Luxury taxes on imported luxury consumer goods such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, foreign brand foods, luxury textiles, satellite broadcasts, foreign film screenings and business class or first class travel tickets.

With any policy, enforcement is key. As it stands, compliance with Nigeria’s existing taxation measures is very limited. Keeping track of 170 million citizens’ assets is clearly a complicated logistical endeavor, but enforcing these luxury taxes on the proclivities of Nigeria’s top 3 percent should target around 5 million individuals and several thousand companies. This will make the task much more manageable.

Nigerians should understand that despite ongoing turbulence in the rest of the world, Nigeria can avoid an economic crisis. Further devaluation of the naira is not necessary, and austerity measures that reduce funding to social services are also unnecessary. If any of these things occur in Nigeria, it will be in part because President Buhari failed to use his post-election honeymoon period to address Nigeria’s core fiscal problem of dependence on oil for government revenue. The ongoing Eurozone crisis means there will likely be very little global assistance for Nigeria if the country’s economic situation worsens. President Buhari needs to act quickly and decisively to implement policies that raise revenue or face a possible collapse of the Nigerian economy before year’s end.

The post If Nigeria wants to avoid economic collapse, it should tax its wealthy appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Who’s who in the corporate zoo

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The ‘corporate jungle’ is hardly a flattering term for the management suite, but some similarities have to be acknowledged. Survival is a vital issue in both scenarios. Predatory instincts can be an asset along with the ability to mark and defend territory when necessary.

It’s not surprising, then, that leadership consultants sometimes see parallels between the animal kingdom and successful executives.

After years of approaching (some might say ‘ensnaring’) senior managers, I confess that some prime specimens do possess certain beastly characteristics.

When hunting game like this at least seven targets stand out …

Lion: some bosses may enjoy the association with ‘the king of beasts’, but probably for the wrong reasons. The lion has great presence and the roar can be intimidating, but a lion does little real work. His ‘mates’ generally do that. The power is there all right, but it stems from the lion’s ability to delegate, only moving in to claim his due when the leg-work is over.

Hyena: this sounds insulting, but results can be spectacular. The hyena is nature’s great opportunist. The corporate variety shows patience and lets others claim the kill, but then moves in to grab a big share of whatever’s going. Being first to market costs time and money. You cut risks and costs by coming second, but following up effectively.

Zebra: apparently the perfect team player. He or she seems to blend in with the herd. This is an illusion. Zebras, organisational and otherwise, constantly seek to improve their position and corner the best grazing. When teamwork is prized and aggressive leadership can prove destructive, you bring in a zebra. The team stays intact and the organisation moves in the right direction.

Cheetah: the best leadership choice when speed is crucial. When running down a target is the prime requirement and you need to outpace competitors, this speedster is ideal. Decision-making is instant. But single-minded pursuit at breakneck pace may mean other opportunities are missed. A cheetah’s acquisitions may impress, but slowing down and consolidating requires other skills.

Tortoise: a born survivor. Evolution seems to pass them by, but that solid shell keeps them from harm. They are slow, but get there. Sometimes the prime organisational requirement is a safe pair of hands. The organisational tortoise is safety personified, but may need to team up with other players if additional objectives are; set.

Eagle: the ability to see the big picture is highly prized. The eagle soars high and spots opportunity and danger from afar. But a far-sighted visionary may seem aloof. Coming down to earth and getting the job done requires great versatility – or complementary skills from a senior colleague.

Dolphin: this gifted communicator exchanges information constantly and uses feedback to coordinate appropriate responses. But perpetual chatter may lead nowhere fast. You might optimise short-term opportunities and remain safe from immediate danger, but if more aggressive goals are set, the great communicator may need help from a great executor.

It’s ironic, but in all cases these executive specimens usually improve their leadership performance by applying the human touch.

The post Who’s who in the corporate zoo appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Nigerian student turns vintage volkswagen into $6000 solar-powered car

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Segun Oyeyiola, a student of Obafemi Awolowo University, in Ife, Osun State, Nigeria, has converted a Volkswagen Beetle, using mainly scrap parts donated by friends and family, into a $6000 wind and solar powered car. He describes his creation as “Nigeria’s future car.”

The reinvented vintage Beetle comes fitted with a giant solar panel on the roof—exploiting Nigeria’s abundance of sunlight—and a wind turbine under the hood that takes advantage of airflow while the car is in motion. Also, to ensure the car does not clasp under the added weight of the installed technologies, it comes with an extra-strong suspension system.

The car is still in the early stages of design, and still requires a lot of work to reach the optimal target (the batteries for the solar panel take four to five hours to charge). However, now that Segun has succeed in building a working prototype, he plans to take his final university exams and then get straight back to working on the eco-friendly car.

His concern for the environment has always been his motivation, this has helped him dedicate much of his time and resources to creating the automobile despite many critics labelling his pursuit ‘a waste of time’. “I wanted to reduce carbon dioxide emission[s] going to our atmosphere that lead to climate change or global warming which has become a new reality, with deleterious effect,” he said. “Seasonal cycles are disrupted, as are ecosystems; and agriculture, water needs and supply, and food production are all adversely affected.”

The post Nigerian student turns vintage volkswagen into $6000 solar-powered car appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

CBN Adjusts Naira-Dollar Exchange Rate As Traders Predict Currency Shrink

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Nigeria’s Apex Bank, CBN, has on Tuesday lowered the Naira peg to 196.95 against the Dollar from 196.90, it set last week.

According to Reuters, this is the fourth time the CBN will be adjusting the peg since it was introduced in February.

Information gathered also suggests that the development has led to the recent fall of the Naira to 228 against the Dollar at the parallel market.

The yield on the Federal Government’s 2024 bond in the JP Morgan Government Bond Index also rose by 40 basis point to 14.74 per cent.

Traders said the move might indicate that CBN is beginning to think about how to loosen its currency regime.

Source: 25

#BeingFemaleinNigeria: How social media sparked a necessary conversation about feminism in Nigeria

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It was only a few years ago that Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s now globally recognized TED Talk ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ called for citizens around the world to understand the necessity and significance of feminism. However, while Chimamanda’s address was to the world, within Nigeria her speech was met with almost an indifference that illuminates the challenges of talking about feminism or issues affecting women in Nigeria. This may be odd to some, expecially considering some of the realities for women and young girls in Nigeria. Like Boko Haram’s crusade against women, and the continued kidnapping of women and girls throughout Northern Nigeria. Or the fact that Nigeria has some of the highest rates of FGM and child marriage in the world.

So when the Warmate Book Club, decided to create a hashtag #BeingFemaleinNigeria (or alternatively #BeingAWomaninNigeria) to share their first hand stories of sexism in Nigeria- it was somehow surprising yet also welcome, when thousands of women joined in on the conversation. Now over  20,000 tweets later, it’s encouraging yet depressing to hear the tales of what it means to be a woman in Nigeria.

What Nigerian women face before and during marriage:

Just how many different ways women’s rights are violated: 

Then of course, there’s the man who felt the need to tell women to simmer down:

But he was appropriately silenced, albeit by another man:

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Source: jobd23

CBN Vows Not To Extend Deadline Of BVN Registration

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The Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Ibrahim Mu’azu, has disclosed that the deadline – Tuesday, June 30, 2015 – for registration of the Biometric Verification Number will not be extended.

According to Mu’azu, bank customers have been given suffice time and CBN expected they should have taken advantage of the period scheduled for the exercise to register.

Contrary to the speculation that customers who do not have BVN will be prevented from making transactions, such as payments and withdrawals, Mu’azu said only customers using remote access services: internet banking, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and other on-line services would not be able to transact.

He also confirmed that over 14 million bank customers have already registered.

For Nigerians in Diaspora to participate in the exercise, CBN has also directed banks to provide online platforms for those who have local accounts to register.

Meanwhile, here are 7 things you should know about the BVN:

1. The BVN is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
2. It was launched in February 2014
3. It is a unique number that enables one person to have a single identity in the banking system
4. It is aimed at protecting bank customers from identity theft
5. It wills serve the purpose of strengthening the Nigerian banking system
6. A customer is only expected to register at one bank, irrespective of the number of accounts he has
7. Customers will still be able to access cash after the BVN deadline ends but online transactions will be restricted

Source: 25

Banks To Deny 14.6Million Customers Banking Service From July 1, Find Out Why

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As from Wednesday July 1, 2015, Deposit Money Banks, nationwide may start denying about 14.6 million customers access to banking services.

CBN Governor

This, according to the Bankers’ Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was attributed to their inability to comply with the obtaining of the compulsory Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs).

The BVN initiative which started in February 2014, mandates all customers to do biometric registration and obtain BVN; a unique number for proper identification.

According to the Punch, statistics from the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access shows about 28.6 million adults in the country have bank accounts.

The Bankers’ committee further divulged that the exercise, which formally closes on Tuesday, June 30, has registered 14 million customers as at June 11, 2015.

These figures imply that about 14.6 million bank customers are yet to obtain BVNs.

Statistical analysis from the Electronic Payment Providers Association of Nigeria also indicates that the number of bank account holders – individuals, including children, and organisations – has reached 76 million in contrast to the official population of 170 million people in the country.

The Managing Director, United Bank for Africa Plc, Phillips Oduoza said: “We also discussed the electronic banking space. In the area of BVN, we have done 12.5 million customers and this is a substantial mileage. There is still a need to close the gap before the deadline of June 30 and any customer that hasn’t done so will not enjoy banking services.’’

It was learnt that customers nationwide now engage in last-minute rush to register for BVN before the deadline looms.

Source: 25

Customers Storm Banks For BVN Enrollment As Deadline Approaches

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With less than a week to the deadline of the enrollment for the Bank Verification Number (BVN), hoards of customers in Makurdi have on Monday besieged their banks to enroll for the exercise.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), while many customers had done their registration, a good number of them were yet to comply with the central bank’s directive.

Most customers, it was learnt, were unable to participate in the exercise early enough because of their crowded schedules.

A First Bank customer, Mrs. Dorcas Atim, complained that she just gave birth when the exercise commenced, hence her inability to do the verification earlier than now.

”I was doing everything by myself and as such I had little or no time to spare for other things other than my domestic choirs which were time consuming,” she said.

A UBA customer, Mr Atom Iordaa, disclosed that the demanding nature of his job was the reason why he was unable to register in time.

“I am only free during weekends, but banks do not transact businesses during weekends, but since they said that one cannot transact businesses after the deadline, my Oga, permitted me to come and be captured,’’ he said.

At GTB, a customer, Mrs Rose Otu, said she thought the last minute registration would not be as time consuming because most people would have captured.

“It is unfortunate that l miscalculated that the queue will not be long. It is like many people have that same reasoning of coming now as l have.

“If only they will use the data gathered to forestall bank fraud, it will not be a futile effort, but how will they capture the aged, those on sick bed and those in the Diaspora?’’ She concluded.

It should be noted that the deadline for the exercise is June 30, 2015.

Source: 25

Why smuggling of imported poultry into Nigeria may not end soon

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has strongly warned against the consumption of imported or smuggled frozen poultry and meat, threatening to take action should any smugglers or dealers be found with the banned products. NAFDAC Director General, Dr Paul Orhii, gave this counsel at a media briefing in Lagos during which a study carried out by experts from University of Ibadan was presented.

Imported poultry products, especially chicken and turkey have been identified as causative agents in non- communicable diseases (NCDs) and antibiotics resistance. Some of these health conditions include hypertension, kidney disease, and cancer. However the illegal smuggling of these products have prevailed amidst previous warnings.

Despite a ban on the importation of these food items, a group of Nigerians continue to traffic frozen poultry and meat into the country. Their efforts, however, have been encouraged by Nigeria’s inability to meet up with local demand for these products. According to the president of the Poultry Association of Nigeria Dr Ayoola Odutan while the local demand for frozen chicken is above two million metric tonnes annually, Nigerian farmers are only able to produce 300,000 metric tonnes, leaving a wide gap of more than 1.7 million metric tonne. “Out of this figure, smuggled chicken accounts for 1.2 million metric tonnes annually.”

As long as there is local deficit for poultry products, smugglers will remain the go-to “alternative.” NAFDAC has however stressed the fact that although it may seem like the easy way out, these smuggled goods are partly responsible for health issues among consumers.

Dr Orhii explained that the continuous consumption of imported chicken and turkey could damage the human system on the long run, unlike poultry foods produced locally, which have been found safer for consumption.

The post Why smuggling of imported poultry into Nigeria may not end soon appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

How Mali is reviving its ailing power sector

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Mali is working hard at ensuring increased access to electricity in the country where power is accessible to only about 17 percent of the population, one of the lowest in Africa.

The west African nation signed a 30-year concession agreement with Kenié Energie Renouvelable, a subsidiary of Eranove Group, a major pan-African player in the electricity and water sectors. Under the agreement, the Group will finance, develop, build and operate the Kenié hydro-electric dam located in Baguinéda on the Niger River, 35km east of the capital, Bamako. The deal makes Mali the latest African nation that is shifting focus to effectively exploiting the potential of renewable energy on the continent.

Hydropower is the world’s largest source of renewable energy. It currently accounts for a fifth of global electricity. If water is harnessed responsibly, it can help to take electricity access to millions of people who currently lack access. Mali is expecting to add 42MW from the Kenié hydro-electric facility to its installed power capacity of approximately 414MW, which covers only half of potential demand.

“And we mustn’t forget micro and pico hydro-electricity either. These small hydro-electric facilities can supply power to villages or groups of villages in remote areas far away from interconnected transmission systems. Hydro-electricity is a renewable and competitive source of power in terms of production costs, and could even play a role in the financial balancing of power sectors and in meeting demand. This would prove hugely beneficial both for local populations and for regional industrial development,” said Marc Albérola, CEO of the Eranove Group in a statement by the company.

Rural electrification in Africa is very low at less than 10 percent. Mali is already addressing this through its work with Électricité de France (EDF), which in conjunction with ADEME, has created a Society for Decentralized Services (SDS), aimed at offering energy services to be supported by a local law firm. SDS has only one mission; it is electrifying 20 villages in the French-speaking African nation, using low and medium-voltage micro-stations that could be supplemented by diesel and solar energy. The new agreement with Kenié Energie Renouvelable further shows the commitment of Mali to ensuring energy-sufficiency as one of the poorest countries in the world works towards improving its fortunes.

According to the current project schedule, construction of the Kenié hydro-electric dam is due to begin in 2016 and the dam would become operational in 2020. It will then be operated under a concession agreement by Kenié Energie.

The project is supported by Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), a pan-African leader in private equity investment that has raised more than $2.5 billion in assets for the continent.

About 400 gigawatts of hydro potential remains undeveloped in sub-Saharan Africa. This is enough to quadruple the continent’s existing installed capacity of 80 GW. Although hydropower offers great opportunities, the World Bank notes that it also brings with it challenges such as resettlement of communities, flooding of large areas of land, and significant changes to river ecosystems.

The post How Mali is reviving its ailing power sector appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Ghana’s bid to prevent a second flooding may usher in a new challenge

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In the last year or two, Ghana is said to have shifted swiftly from a success story to one struggling to survive. It was the fastest growing economy in Africa in 2011 and was talked up as a model for struggling African economies. The west African country even received commendations from US President Barack Obama, during his first visit to the continent, for maintaining a stable democracy in a period where dictatorships ruled. However, in recent months, that narrative has been altered as Ghana has grappled with a tide of socio-economic challenges. The past 48 months have seen Ghana run to the IMF for a sustainable plan to manage its rising debt, which analysts say is more than 70 percent of GDP. It has also had to contend with utilizing one of the worst-performing currencies on the continent, while its major cities continue to suffer from power blackouts. However, among the growing list of problems on Ghana’s plate, one which is taking centre stage is flooding.

The rains, this year, have been coming down with increased ferocity, and the world is feeling it. From Russia, US, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Hungary, to Nigeria, Malawi and Kenya, floods have threatened to halt business activity across major global cities. Ghana has suffered a similar fate. Two weeks ago, it experienced its worst-ever flooding, one that ended up killing over 150 people—90 of whom were burned to death when after the running water destroyed a petrol station—and caused damages running into millions of dollars. The disaster has been termed the “worst in decades” for the west African country.

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama revealed to Journalists earlier that plastic bags, which once served as a symbol of a growing middle class and a prospering economy, were now clogging the country’s drainage systems. “Plastics are choking the drains.…It’s mind-boggling, the plastic bottles, the pieces of timber, and firewood, and old mattresses, and old furniture, and pieces of old cars.”

However, like its economic woes or power challenges, Ghana is already finding ways to address its flooding problem. The government, over the weekend, ordered the widening of the Korle Lagoon, a part of the Agbogbloshie suburb, to prevent a similar occurrence.

According to Reuters, Bulldozers were said to have razed hundreds of homes and businesses in the poor Sodom and Gomorrah neighbourhood of Ghana’s capital on Saturday to make way for free flow of water to the Lagoon. But this has rendered many homeless or without a means of livelihood.  “What they have done is not good for us because this is where some of us work and take care of our families,” said Muhammed Abdul Karim, a local metal worker who had his workshop reduced to a pile of zinc sheets. Tear gas was also sprayed by security forces to dispel those seeking to protect their kiosk or homes.

The government said it has been left with limited alternatives as locals of both communities have raised solid structures that are blocking the flow of water and waste to the Lagoon. Accra Regional Minister Joshua Afotey-Agbo however told Reuters that those affected will be gradually relocated, as will the local markets within the affected communities.

But many have said the move to bulldoze settlements will prove costly for the ruling party in the coming elections, which is expected to hold 18 months from June.”Tell Mahama we are not voting for him again,” many told Reuters.

The ruling National Democratic Congress, founded by political juggernaut Jerry Rawlings, assumed power in December 2012 after a hotly contested election that saw President Mahama emerge victorious with only 50.7 percent of the votes secured. Many from northern Ghana, were both communities are situated, are said to be strong supporters of the ruling party. They are expected to join the opposition now after burning their homes in protest of the destructions.

President Mahama has been very vocal of his desire to see Ghana emerge victorious from its current challenges, stating that steady power supply will soon return to the country. But his latest stride to swiftly address another issue may usher in a new set of problems for him, and Ghana.

The post Ghana’s bid to prevent a second flooding may usher in a new challenge appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Yaya Toure’s commercial success: An indictment and inspiration for African footballers

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In Europe, commercial activity and endorsement deals with sportsmen are notoriously common. But in Africa, where there are not as many marketable sportsmen, the volume of such deals is significantly less. However, despite the shortage of on-the-field activity, one of Africa’s biggest names and faces, Yaya Toure, continues to thrive as the Ivorian has been confirmed as an official brand ambassador of telecommunications firm, Airtel.  As part of the deal, Yaya will play a prominent role in Airtel’s new marketing campaign and also be involved in Airtel’s corporate social responsibility programmes.

The deal is Yaya’s second major endorsement agreement in 2015 after he agreed a corporate partnership deal with car company Nissan in February. The move was strategic for Nissan as they had also agreed a sponsorship deal with Confederation of African Football for the African Cup of Nations and sought to leverage that partnership by deploying Yaya Toure actively in marketing campaigns and their choice was validated as Yaya Toure led Ivory Coast to the title in that tournament.

The appeal of Yaya Toure for corporate bodies looking to connect with markets in Africa is very apparent. The powerhouse midfielder plays his club football in England with Manchester City where he remains one of the biggest football and marketing assets and ranks as one of the best players on the planet. Given his proven ability and achievements, Yaya Toure has risen to become the stand out African footballer in Europe and is the first ever footballer to win the African player of the award four times.

However, the commercial success of Yaya Toure highlights the fact that not many African footballers are nearly as marketable as their European or South American counterparts.

Last year, on a list of the world’s twenty best paid players report made by a respected body in Europe, Yaya Toure—listed 11th—was the only African featured on the list. His earnings of €20 million were inclusive of his bumper contract at Manchester City as well as endorsement deals with PUMA and Nissan. However, with Airtel now in the mix, Yaya’s commercial value and earnings are set for a boost.

For other African footballers, Yaya’s success is both an inspiration and an indictment. Famous for his footballing ability, Yaya’s commercial success has been helped significantly by his success on the pitch with some of Europe’s best clubs. With fewer African players starring consistently at the world’s biggest clubs, it points to a need for African stars to do much better. Even though endorsement deals for sportsmen have a lot to do with persona and marketability, sporting ability remains a crucial component.

Increasingly, corporate Europe and America is looking to Africa to set up and consolidate operations. With football being one of the continent’s biggest interests and passion, it provides a strategic way for these brands to connect with the African market. Yaya Toure may be an obvious choice for many brands but perhaps, the case is that their pool of options is limited.

The post Yaya Toure’s commercial success: An indictment and inspiration for African footballers appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

It costs more to live in Luanda than in New York

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Angola’s capital city, Luanda has emerged, for the third year running, the costliest city in the world ahead, trumping mega cities like New York and London, according to Mercer’s 21st annual Cost of Living Survey. However, unlike other countries represented in the top five, more than half of the Angolan population lives below poverty line.

Luanda is Angola’s most populous and important city, a primary port and major industrial, cultural and urban centre. Expatriates pay as much as $400 per night for a decent hotel room in the city and up to $75 for a basic lunch. In order to keep up appearances, the Angolan government has been clearing the city of its poor, it called it “war against chaotic urbanization“.

An estimated one-third of the Angolan population lives in Luanda, where many were forced to run to in order to escape the country’s 27-year civil war. The gap between the rich and the poor in the city mirrors that of the rest of the city. The Angola government has been criticized to be fighting the poor rather than fighting poverty.

Although the country currently struggles to fund its budget and growth forecasts have been cut due to falling oil prices, Angola has enjoyed years of wealth from its oil. But during these years of abundance, President José Eduardo dos Santos had been accused of enriching the ruling class at the expense of the poor.

The southern African country’s public facade in Luanda hides the despair of millions of Angolans who struggle daily to access basic infrastructure.

Another African city, N’Djamena made the top ten most expensive cities list. Like Luanda, the Chadian capital has some of the poorest people in Africa. The United Nations’ Human Development Index ranks Chad as the seventh poorest country in the world. Despite this, its capital city came tenth in the ranking. Chad would ordinarily be considered as an inexpensive city, but the cost of imported goods and safe living conditions in the country are available at a steep price.

The economic state of the people of the two African cities that made the top ten mirrors the widening gap between the rich and the poor in Africa. Factors considered by Mercer for the ranking include instability of housing markets and inflation for goods and services, which the global consulting firm says impacts significantly the overall cost of doing business in a global environment.

Hong Kong (2), Zurich (3), Singapore (4), Geneva (5), Shanghai (6), Beijing (7), Seoul (8) and Bern (9), top the list of most expensive cities for expatriates.

Mercer used New York as the base city for the survey, and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

The survey includes 207 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

The post It costs more to live in Luanda than in New York appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

For the next 9,999 days, Nigerians will have access to free internet

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In a country where mobile penetration is rapidly expanding, it is ironic that data usage still hovers around 38 percent. This is largely due to the high cost of data in the country.

This is why Opera Software, makers of the popular opera mini mobile browser; Nigeria’s leading news portal Naij.com and MTN Nigeria, the country’s top telco; have partnered to provide Nigerians access to the internet for 2,739 years. In other words, those who signed partnership will not live to see its end. The oldest confirmed recorded age for any human ever born is 122 years.

The free mobile internet, for 1 million days, is available to MTN’s 140 million subscribers through Opera’s Sponsored Web Pass, which allows operators to package their data in a user-friendly way. The Web Pass will be given to 40,000 users daily. Each of them will be offered 10MB that can only be used via the opera mini browser. They can only return to claim another Pass after two days. Don’t get the pass if you plan to stream videos or download.

Richard Monday, VP Africa for Opera Software says users will enjoy the experience despite the volume of the data due to Opera’s compression technology that ensures low data consumption when surfing the internet. This technology has saved mobile users in Africa over $2 billion in data cost over the past year.

Monday says Opera is looking at other partnerships as it seeks to connect more people wherever they are and help them to do more with their data.

According to Acting Chief Enterprise Solutions Officer at MTN Business, Tsola Barrow, “Opera’s Sponsored Web Pass helps take the fear out of using mobile internet for the first time”.

“We also truly believe in the power of bringing people online via the devices they use every day,” he adds.

Goke Olaegbe, Country Group Head at Naij.com expressed excitement at the partnership.

Expectations are high that this partnership will help to increase internet penetration in Nigeria. The attendant benefits are immense.

But it’s a daily race against time henceforth as only the first 40,000 MTN users to visit webpass.opera.com will be able to access 10MB data.

The post For the next 9,999 days, Nigerians will have access to free internet appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Issues that will dominate Nigeria’s Central Bank’s meeting with CEOs of Local Banks

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Following the threat by JP Morgan to eject Nigeria from its Emerging Market’s Government Bond Index (GBI-EM) by the year end, Nigeria’s Central bank has called for an emergency meeting with CEOs and treasures of commercial banks operating in Nigeria. The meeting is expected to be dominated by discussions around the Central Bank’s policy on the foreign exchange market, liquidity, and devaluation.

JP Morgan’s threat

Last week, JPMorgan reaffirmed its threat to remove Nigeria from the Government Bond Index (GBI-EM) by December unless the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, restores liquidity to the foreign exchange market (Forex market) to allow foreign investors, tracking the benchmark, to transact with minimal hurdles. This threat came after Nigeria was placed on a negative index watch in January.

Nigeria was added to the widely followed index in 2012 when foreign investment was at an all-time high and liquidity was improving. It is only the second African country to be listed on the index, after South Africa.

Removing Nigeria from the index would force foreign investors to sell Nigerian bonds from their portfolios, raising borrowing costs for the west African country.

Devaluation of the Naira

Nigeria’s Forex market has been under pressure after the prices of oil, the country’s main source of revenue, began to nose-dive from mid-2014. Since it was hard for the country to absorb the shocks of the price crash, it devalued its currency in November last year. To further curb speculations on the Naira and save its dwindling foreign reserves, the Central Bank went on to impose tight regulations on the foreign exchange market. The restrictions included limiting the amount commercial bank customers can spend using their debits cards while abroad. These moves are said to have reduced liquidity in market.

Though the Naira has regained some momentum since the conclusion of the general elections in May (gaining more than 2 percent against the Dollar during this period), many believe a second devaluation is inevitable as the Naira still isn’t trading at its fair value.

Traders are optimistic that the outcome of the meeting will help ease the tight control of the forex market and allow the Naira find its true value.

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Source: jobd23

Tips for Travelling During the Holy Month of Ramadan

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Ramadan Mubarak! The moon has been spotted and our Muslim brethren are on for a month of fasting, kindness and self-sacrifice. But what about the Traveler? This season may call for more than just the usual suitcase for the business traveler and the rucksack for the backpacker. The Holy Month of Ramadan may bring with it a few changes in the hotel meal times, safari trips or even business meetings. Here are a few guidelines on what to expect and how to experience your trip to the maximum during this revered season.

Understand the Season

Ramadan sees to the accomplishment of one of the five pillars of Islam; sawm or fasting. It’s a period not only dedicated to self-sacrifice in search of spiritual rejuvenation, but also the act of Zakat or charity. The faithful are expected to abstain from food, sex and smoking between sun rise and sun-set, with each region having a slightly different timing for breaking the fast with the meal commonly known as iftar. Although non-Muslims will not be expected to fast, it may be considered impolite to be seen feasting when others are trying hard to keep off the temptation. Remember to carry gifts when invited for meals/celebrations and also graciously accept gifts when offered, it’s a month of sharing and kindness. Also, seek counsel on the iftar times in the region you are visiting and plan your meals and parties around this time. Otherwise you might be the only guest to grace your soiree!

Your Potters, Chef and Chauffeur

Note that although business may appear to run as usual in most places, it’s not very unlikely that part of your service staff may be fasting and especially in regions or towns with residents of the Muslim faith. Try and be a little patient; the energy levels may be low, and the tour guide may sound less enthusiastic than described in the Trust Pilot review! Do not panic, or second guess your choice, just slow down and indulge them a bit. You’ll be surprised how far a small act of understanding can go.

Pack your meals and water Bottles

This especially applies to smaller towns than in major cities. Most eateries and restaurants will be closed throughout the day till the breaking of the fast. If travelling to the rural towns of the East African coast and especially remote sections of Malindi, Lamu and the North Eastern part of Kenya; it’s important that you walk with your snacks, packed day time meals and water. Still, remember it’s impolite to eat publicly, do remember to be discreet.

Dressing, and Public Display of Affection.

Whether you’ve been to the destination before or not, it is advisable that you dress a little more conservatively during this season than you would in the other months! Avoid clothing that may be considered a little too revealing as it may offend the locals. Also, keep in mind that the rest of the population is abstaining from sex, and be a little discreet with any actions that may be deemed inappropriate.

Getting on With the Flow

The main meals of the day, iftar at sun down and suhoor at dawn break will be served at different times in respective regions. This goes to say that your business trip or family vacation may have to adapt to the new schedule if you want to fully experience the people and culture. Note the important times and accept invitations to overnight parties, food tents along the streets, nightly festivities in every other homestead and general party atmosphere, leading to a very chilled-out day. If on business, avoid planning meetings over lunch time or too late in the afternoon as this may coincide with the prayer times of your associates. Non-Muslims are welcome to most of these parties, just observe basic politeness like carrying gifts for your host, dressing and behaving in accordance with the customs.

One more Thing… Relax and Participate

So you are scared everyone knows you are not fasting? Relax. Remember this is a religious calling and just like in any other faith, you may find a few exceptions. For instance, there are Christians who do not fast through Lent, take heart! You can consider taking part for a day or two and share the experience with your Muslim hosts; it’s a good way of letting them know that you appreciate their culture and religion. That said, enjoy your Ramadan travel, and Ramadan Kareem to our Muslim Brothers and Sisters!

By Lilian Gaitho

The post Tips for Travelling During the Holy Month of Ramadan appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

New diagnostic device may help end Africa’s struggle with Malaria

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For over two decades, the quest to develop a working malaria vaccine has proven largely fruitless. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 3.2 billion people worldwide are at risk of being diagnosed with malaria. Every year, nearly 198 million cases are identified. WHO says a significant number of the almost 200 million cases are from Africa. However in recent times not only is there a potential malaria vaccine in the pipeline, a new device which is capable of diagnosing Malaria in minutes has emerged.

John Lewandowski, co-founder and CEO of Disease Diagnostics Group, has invented a new way of diagnosing the deadly disease using two magnets and a laser pointer. He believes that this will eradicate malaria by strengthening the offensive against it, while curbing issues regarding delay in detection.

The process of testing and diagnosis is referred to as microscopy. This usually involves the addition of a chemical to a patient’s blood sample to make the malaria parasite easier to see through a microscopic lens. The test itself takes about an hour and requires the expertise of a medical personnel. However in developing countries like Nigeria, it can take as long as 24 hours before test results are ready.

Lewandowski’s innovative technique helps determine, within minutes, whether or not there is iron in the bloodstream, as the parasites that cause malaria are usually unable to digest the iron in red blood cells. It is easy to detect traces of iron using magnets, this way the results are produced a lot faster than the current diagnostic methods.

The device, which costs about $250 to construct, is also eco-friendly and portable. It also doesn’t require any prior training before a test can be performed on a patient. This makes it highly attracted for developing nations where medical personnel and resources are relatively scarce.

If the tests currently being run by the U.S Navy on the prototype RAM device in Peru are successful, the product will be in the market before the year end. It will be offered at a price of $2,000 each.

The post New diagnostic device may help end Africa’s struggle with Malaria appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23