26 April 2011

Why Africa needs its own business school model

In a recent article for the Financial Times, Prof Walter Baets, director of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business wrote that Africa should prepare itself for a second wave of colonisation as foreign “western-style” business schools look at boosting their presence on the continent. He said that because Africa has a unique business environment, foreign schools should not merely replicate their current models on the continent.
  Jaco Maritz | April 26, 2011

A number of foreign schools have established a footprint on the continent. Shanghai’s China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) recently launched an executive MBA programme in Accra, Ghana. UK-based Henley Business School and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business both have campuses in South Africa. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, France’s Grenoble Graduate School of Business collaborated with Morocco’s ESCA Ecole de Management to establish a new campus in Casablanca, geared towards training African managers. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Germany’s Frankfurt School of Finance and Management has launched an academic research centre devoted to the study of microfinance. In conjunction with the Université Protestante au Congo it has also developed a two-year master of microfinance degree programme. Frankfurt is considering to eventually roll-out MBA programmes in the DRC.
Baets sees the approach followed by some foreign business schools in Africa as neo-colonialism. He says that rather than prescribing to Africa what kind of education it needs, foreign schools should rather work with local institutions in order to develop programmes that are relevant for the continent.
“I am not sure if the models of these foreign business schools are the right models for Africa. A good African business school needs to be relevant to the economy. In South Africa, for example, issues such as social innovation, entrepreneurship, health leadership and education are very important,” Baets told How we made it in Africa in an interview.
He says foreign schools should also invest in building local capacity, rather than flying in lecturers from abroad, as some are currently doing. “They teach . . . and they fly out again, so nothing remains. I have another concept of education, and I have another concept of economic development. He is troubled by the notion “that the Anglo-Saxon business school model has served the world so well that we can just take it up and put it somewhere else”.
Seeking emerging market skills
As more western companies expand beyond the developed world, many students see value in doing MBA’s and other executive courses in emerging market schools located in countries such as India, China, South Africa and Latin America.
Baets says that most of the classical business schools’ models are designed for stable economies where everything is foreseeable. Executives operating in complex emerging markets with high uncertainty and inequality, however, need unique qualities to succeed.
“Emerging market thinking goes beyond the geographical emerging markets. For me it is all about thinking how are you as a leader able to take responsibility in an economy that is changing every day. That is something you would rather learn in an emerging market business school, than in a stable (western) business school,” he notes.

Guinean govt., Rio Tinto sign iron ore mining agreement

The Guinean government and the mining company, Rio Tinto, have signed a new contract, worth US$ 700 million, under which Rio Tinto is licensed to mine for iron ore in the West African country.

Under the agreement, Simfer S.A (Simfer), a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, is empowered to prospect for iron ore with a view to having the Guinean government export its first set of the product by by mid-2015.

The new Guinean authorities had threatened to cancel the former contract with the mining giant, citing the inability of the company to invest in the country since it arrived in the country over a decade ago.

"Simfer will make all reasonable efforts to achieve a first production by the end of 2014", the communiqué quoted the company officials as saying.

On its part side, Simfer SA will pay US$ 700 million to the Guinean Public Treasury following a  presidential decree granting it a mining concession.

The Guinean government will hold a 35 percent share in the deal.

Rio Tinto is an international mining group whose headquarters are in the United Kingdom

20 April 2011

How Africa can learn from Chinese agriculture

African countries have spent decades trying to jump-start agricultural production. In the search for new approaches, many experts are looking for answers in China’s impressive agricultural achievements, which raised hundreds of millions of peasants from rural poverty in the past 30 years. China’s agricultural investments and development projects in Africa are growing. How relevant is the country’s model to the continent?
By Steve Davis and Jonathan Woetzel

China, of course, is very different from Africa: it is a single country with homogeneous demographics; a powerful and stable central government; well-developed public-sector institutions, infrastructure, and capabilities at every level; and a long tradition of rice and wheat cultivation. Africa comprises 53 countries with different tribes, ethnic groups, and languages. Many of these countries have unstable leadership, non-existent or weak institutions and infrastructure, little consensus on policy and planning, a postcolonial legacy, harsh climate and health conditions, and agricultural traditions that are not naturally suited for a green revolution. Yet Africa has some important competitive advantages over China — for instance, more arable land and water, as well as a smaller, but fast-growing, population.
Significant agricultural reform must be rooted in priorities promulgated and carried out by political leaders. China’s commitment in the 1980s to increase food production and rural income rapidly was a central pillar of the broader economic-development agenda of “opening up.” In fact, agricultural reform in China was not really an independent development goal but rather a key strategy for broader economic reform. The objective was to create the food security, rural stability, surplus income, and labour supply to drive broader industrial development. In Africa, agricultural policy is too often subordinate to the demands of more politically influential urban interests and incidental to other development policies.
Moreover, attempts to solve agricultural challenges through surgical approaches, such as a focus on accelerating one input or other (say, fertiliser, seed, or irrigation), have failed across Africa as input was turned into a commodity politicians traded and abused as political currency. Strong, comprehensive, and integrated development and investment policies, with agricultural reform as a centrepiece, must therefore serve as a starting point in Africa.
People and programmes matter, but institutions endure and thus enable true transformation. China has set out to create institutional capacity at every level and across many aspects of the agricultural value chain. These include R&D institutes; the world’s largest and most comprehensive agricultural-extension system; credit and financing capabilities at the national, provincial, and local levels; and systems for managing seed, irrigation, production, market integration, and export support. While China’s strong government bureaucracy may be difficult to replicate, putting in place the necessary institutions and ensuring support for them will be critical.
China undertook its agricultural transformation on a massive scale, but its genius lies in small, practical approaches. The drivers of Chinese reform, focused on smallholders, manifested themselves in programmes at the micro-level: extension programmes in every village; agricultural engineering that emphasised small tools, machines, and systems; and incentives that engendered self-financing, iterative improvements, and incremental learning. By contrast, African leaders, as well as Western donors and investors, sometimes try to tackle problems with large-scale models and expansive programmes that are inappropriate for smallholders.
It is also easy to overlook the role of technology in China’s rural-development story. China created or expanded scores of R&D institutes and universities focusing on agricultural innovations. New models for seed, fertilisers, and hydraulics were implemented; agronomics flourished as an academic pursuit with practical applications; a million-person extension service created direct links to farmers to ensure appropriate training and uptake; and private-sector investments were supported to ensure further innovation.
The African experience to date has often underemphasised the role of technologies and extension services. But these will be critical to address the gaps, in productivity and market access, that continue to stifle agricultural development. Except for large infrastructure projects, there has so far been only limited success in transferring Chinese agricultural engineering and technologies to Africa. Yet this kind of uptake will probably flourish in the coming decade as better distribution channels emerge, more sophisticated models for adapting technologies to local conditions prevail, and Chinese private-sector investments in Africa are strongly encouraged and supported by huge multibillion-dollar commitments from the Chinese government.
No doubt there are fundamental limits to the application of lessons and opportunities from China to African agriculture, particularly given the vastly different political and economic environments and cultures of accountability and entrepreneurship. Yet it is no foolish exercise for the continent to see China as a source of important clues. For one thing, Africans should consider the negative consequences of China’s aggressive agricultural development: environmental degradation, labour exploitation, and social inequities. Nonetheless, China will continue to be a vital player in all economic-development activities across Africa, through its vast aid, investments, and strategic programs. Many of China’s specific approaches to increasing agricultural productivity and food security, if appropriately adapted to the realities and societies of Africa, may help more of the world’s poorest people to improve their daily lives greatly.
Steve Davis is director of social innovation at McKinsey; Jonathan Woetzel is a director in McKinsey’s Shanghai office. Article republished with permission from McKinsey & Company.

Nokia looks to Kenya, low-cost markets for expansion

Leading international telecom firm Nokia Siemens Network is looking to introduce low cost telecom equipment as it battles Chinese companies for low-cost markets in Africa. Much of the focus will be on East African countries, with Kenya being marketed as a top priority.
The Finnish telecom giant said that it hopes the introduction of the new, lower cost mobile products will enabled it to “defend and grow” its share in the infrastructure market across the region.
According to the company, the smaller versions of telecom equipment are less costly to implement and can operate on a massive scale to buttress infrastructure projects in the region.
“We are also introducing a new business approach and technology that should help the operators save on costs,” said Dmitri Diliani, head of Africa region at Nokia Siemens.
“The African market is growing at a strong pace and we felt the need to provide additional focus to support its growth,” he added.
Nokia Siemens, as part of its expansion efforts, has established an African office in Nairobi and hopes this will help ease planned upgrades of the East African 3G and 4G platforms.

Rwanda: New cassava flour plant to give farmers a ready market

A new Rwf5 billion (US$8.4 million) cassava flour processing plant in Rwanda will provide farmers with a ready market for their produce.
The new cassava flour processing plant will provide farmers with a ready market for their crops.
The new cassava flour processing plant will provide farmers with a ready market for their crops.
The plant, located in Rwanda’s Southern Province, will have an expected capacity of 250 tons of cassava tubers per hour, which in turn will produce 60 tons of flour per day. The finished product will be sold in the East African market, while some will also be exported internationally. Any remaining product will be used for animal feed.
The Rwanda Development Bank is responsible for setting up the project. The Bank has been mandated by the government to act as the investment arm, financing the nation’s development objectives with a focus on the priority sectors of the economy.
The cassava flour processing plant is expected to be completed by September 2011.
According to the Rwanda Agricultural Research Institute, cassava is both a staple food and cash crop, ranking third in terms of production, behind banana and sweet potato.
Renaissance Capital noted in a recent report that agriculture represents a third of Rwanda’s GDP and it employs 80% of the population in largely subsistence farming. The sector depends highly on the short and long rainy seasons that do so much to drive inflation – in December, inflation ended the year at zero, due to ideal weather in 2010.
Recent value-added developments include fully washed coffee beans that sell at twice the normal price, and a move into horticulture that may challenge other exporters, from Kenya to Colombia.
Land reform, the application of fertilisers and allowing land titles to be used as collateral might all support the country’s ambitions to become a regional exporter of agricultural products.

The Singapore of Africa?

Rwanda’s ambition to become the Singapore of Africa is succeeding, according to a recent report by Renaissance Capital.
Paul Kagame
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has played an important role in repositioning the country.
An analyst at the Russia-based investment bank says in the report that a visit to Rwanda early in April provided for the greatest positive shock of his professional career.
Visa-free travel, a well-functioning airport, a comforting police presence, working streetlights, low-crime and a good road network, all contributed to the analyst’s good impression of the East African country.
In the 1960s, Singapore had a per capita GDP of around US$400. The country was vulnerable to conflict and over-dependent on foreign aid. Singapore, however, managed to transform itself through sound macroeconomic policies, infrastructure planning, the creation of an economic development bank, industrial parks to attract investment, and even the beautification of the airport and city to give foreign investors a positive first impression.
Renaissance Capital’s report notes that the Rwandan Development Bank, the use of privatisation proceeds to fund a fibre-optic broadband network, as well as the recent launch of a special economic zone just a kilometre from the airport might all be seen as Rwanda following Singapore’s example. “We see clear evidence of forward planning and a strategy for the country,” states the report.
Transport infrastructure has been upgraded across the country, including roads to Tanzania and Burundi, with a route to the northern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) expected to be completed by mid-2012.
Rwanda is also looking to transform itself into a conference destination. The ongoing construction of a US$300 million conference centre, a planned new airport and the privately funded Marriott hotel will allow for continued expansion of the roughly US$100 million earned every year through business tourism.
On the education front, Rwanda’s has extended free schooling from age 12 to 15, and invited a German firm to roll-out vocational skills colleges. The report also notes that the country is open to immigration in order to provide the skills the country requires.
Renaissance says that it believes Rwanda, with its population of 11 million people, is politically stable, with the next presidential election to be held in 2017.
According to the World Bank’s 2010 Doing Business survey, Rwanda was the world’s best reformer. In 2010, Rwanda registered 6,000 companies, about equal to the number registered during the previous five years.

19 April 2011

Swaziland: Development - Swazi Village Tastes Sweet Success With Sugarcane

Mbabane — The previously impoverished community of Malibeni, previously ravaged by drought, is bustling with farmers who have transformed the area into a bread basket.
Lush green fields of sugarcane and vegetables have replaced an expanse of dry shrubs near this community in northeastern Swaziland.
By Mantoe Phakathi.
The project has two main components, one improving water and sanitation for homesteads in the area and the other irrigating the sugar cane fields of a farmers' association.
Over the past eight years the Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprises (SWADE) have transformed Malibeni and surrounding areas in line with its mandate to alleviate poverty.
Supporting commercial agriculture
The parastatal SWADE completed the Maguga Dam in September 2001, and adopted a participatory approach to setting up irrigation infrastructure, involving users, planners and policy makers at all levels to design agriculture projects for Malibeni.
The reservoir irrigates 7,400 hectares of farms in Swaziland - roughly a quarter of this area is vegetable gardens, with the rest devoted to sugarcane.
"At first, the community was rather sceptical because they thought we wanted to grab their land," said Hlophe. "But people eventually saw the benefits of forming associations and cultivating sugarcane."
SWADE ensured that the different associations were able to access loans from banks while the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation expanded its mill to process 80,000 tonnes of sugarcane every year.
"Members will reap the benefits of sugarcane after finishing [paying off] their debt at the financial institutions," said Hlophe.
"As of next year, we'll receive dividends calculated according to the land each one of us contributed to this association," said Mahlalela. "Each member represents a household in this area."
Mahlalela, like most of his neighbours, is also maintaining a garden where he is cultivating tomatoes, cabbages and beans and sells his produce nationwide and beyond.
He also has an orchard which he irrigates through the same water system as the garden."These are the short-term benefits of the KDDP project," said Hlophe.
One dam, multiple purposes
Hlophe explains that SWADE pursues holistic approach to community development and regards access to water and sanitation is a basic requirement for every household in its areas of operation.
Mancane Dlamini, a mother of two, says she remembers only too well where the community used to fetch water, walking as much as two kilometres to the river. Seven of her neighbours' children had drowned in the Komati River many years ago.
"There is a very steep slope at the river and the children would slip and fall back into the river," she says.
Each household now has water piped directly to its compound. SWADE provided the community with the necessary material and contractors to install a slow sand filter system.
Water from the Maguga Dam is stored in a smaller reservoir near the community - this reservoir also stabilises the pressure from the water pumped from the dam so that the sugarcane irrigation infrastructure is not damaged.
"Water from the smaller reservoir is drawn and supplied to a 5000-litre tank at each individual homestead," said Hlophe. "The water is purified in a filter bed in a 1,000-litre tank before the clean water goes to another tank of the same size."
The Mahlalela household uses this water for their domestic needs, including a flush toilet which is attached to the water structure.
"For the past eight years we've been using this system without any problem," said Mahlalela.â-¨â-¨He said, for now, the community pays nothing for water although SWADE has warned that in the future they might have to make a small contribution towards its maintenance.

Nigeria: Country Leads in Agriculture Research, Devt - Study

Abuja — The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has said that investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) in Sub-Saharan Africa increased by more than 20 per cent between 2001 and 2008, with Nigeria alone accounting for one-third of the increase.
This was contained in its survey report of 32 African nations released recently.
"Even where funding did increase, much of the money went to boost low salaries and rehabilitate infrastructure and equipment after years of neglect," the report said.

Portuguese group Sonae to open first Continente brand hypermarket in Angola in 2013

Porto, Portugal, 13 April – Portugal’s Sonae and Angolan company Condis have signed an agreement for the Portuguese company to enter the Angolan market with a network of Continente branded hypermarkets, Sonae said Friday in a regulatory filing with Portuguese stock market regulator CMVM.
“The agreement will be established by setting up a partnership that will be 51 percent owned by Condis and 49 percent by Sonae, in which relevant decision will be shared, and operational management will be Sonae’s responsibility,” said the statement issued by the Portuguese group.
Also according to the statement, this strategic partnership “brings together the technical knowledge and retail experience that Sonae has with Condis’ knowledge of the Angolan market,” although the project is still “subject to final approval from the Angolan authorities.”
The launch of the first hypermarket is expected to take at least 18 months, said Luís Moutinho, chief executive of Sonae MC, Sonae’s sub-holding for food retail.

Danish company plans to set up wind farm in Angola in 2012

Luanda, Angola, 14 April – The managing director of Danish company Vestas in Portugal, Mário de Graviria Forbian, said in Luanda that in 2012 his company planned to set up an industrial unit for production of power using the wind in Angola.
Forbian said the decision was based on Angola’s political and economic stability and the country’s financial capacity.
The Vestas managing director, who was speaking at an Angola-Denmark forum, said that the company was operating in Cape Verde and spoon would also be in the Mozambican market by taking advantage of funding that the Mozambican government had been given to invest in renewable energy sources.
The forum was attended by the Angola Industrial Association (AIA), the Angola Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIA), the National Agency for Private Investments and Danish companies that operate in the Angolan market. (macauhub)

18 April 2011

Liberia: revival of unused hydropwer plant

Liberia could see a revival for one of its unused hydropower plants with the help of Brazilian mining giant Vale SA.
The country’s president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said that while many issues are still pending, discussions are continuing. She said, “Some of these [issues] have to do with external partners.”

The dam, the Mt Coffee Hydropower Plant, could increase the country’s power generation by 1,000 MW. Sirleaf added: “I can assure you that by next month, we hope to conclude the Vale deal.”
Source: ae-africa.com

Women are central to feeding Africa

Women’s role in agriculture and food security is critical in sub-Saharan Africa. However many researches point out the lack of visibility of their participation, and contribution in agriculture and development in general. The impediments to women's empowerment encompass their lack of access to decision making processes, their low participation in local governance, as well as their limited access to technology inputs and credit. Land tenure is another stumbling block to women’s full access and control of land and the agricultural output. Although many projects endeavor to address rural women’s needs, their empowerment should go beyond the efficiency, functionalist approach that only value their productive and reproductive roles. It is a matter of equity to empower women in a key sector where they are the major contributors to household, community subsistence and food security
Women in the field 
Women in agriculture generally work longer and harder than men for less reward
In developing countries, more than 60% of women are directly involved in agricultural work, but very few gain access to information, training or supplies. More action and less rhetoric on this issue could put more food on the world's table and help drive economic growth, writes Pamela Whitby.
Lindiwe Majele Sibanda has agriculture in her blood.
One of five children, she grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe where her parents still live and farm today.
"Farming," says Ms Sibanda, who runs her own commercial cattle farm, "is a family tradition."
She admits, however, that cattle farming is one type of agriculture that it is possible to run remotely and she does this from her base in South Africa.
"You vaccinate, you put in place your programme and you get a good manager," she explains.
Having an extended family helps too, which is "the beauty of being an African".
Women contribute She is among just 10% of women in Africa who own livestock and among the 1% of women who own land.
Ms Sibanda, who trained as an animal scientist in Egypt and the UK, is committed to improving the livelihoods of Africa's rural women through her work as chief executive of a food, agriculture and natural resources policy analysis network called Fanrpan.
The organisation on ensuring food security and alleviating poverty in Africa.
"Women are responsible for the lion's share of agricultural production and there are real benefits in getting our women farmers involved in influencing policy," she says.
She has a point.
According the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), some 70% of the world's food is grown on farms of less than two hectares and these are tended largely by women.
Hard work In sub-Saharan Africa, women grow as much as 90% of the region's food.
Yet despite the central role they play, the conditions they work in leave much to be desired.
For one, the working day of women is at least 50% longer than that of men.
In addition, some 75% of the essential work women do, such as planting, hoeing, weeding and harvesting, is done with the most rudimentary tools and little outside assistance.
What is more, government agricultural strategies, which facilitate access to information, training and farm inputs (seeds and fertilizer), have typically focused on increasing production of cash crops and are largely provided to men.
Lindiwe Majele Sibanda Lindiwe Majele Sibanda wants to improve the lot of women in agriculture
Women, meanwhile, have access to just 5% of such resources.
Little training Another overlooked challenge is how the agricultural work environment affects the health of women, says Dr Saloshni Naidoo from the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at South Africa's University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Click header to read on...

Nigeria: Govt Can Save N1 Trillion Using Renewable Energy - Expert

If Nigerians embrace the renewable energy solutions, they will save up to one trillion naira annually out of the total amount spent burning fuels for electricity generation.
It was estimated that Nigerians expended about three trillion naira last year alone burning fuels to generate power in the country.
The country's epileptic power supply which remains below 3500 mega-watts for years, has left the citizenry with no options than to generate their power through fuel-powered generators.
Mr Menon said while organising training for technicians on the use of uminous inverters in Abuja that inverters can save up to 30 percent of the fuel waste for individual or organisations that use generators for business or at home.
On solar energy, he explained that a well-fixed solar panel can last for at least 15 years providing uninterrupted power.
He urged Nigerians to look beyond short term benefits of fuel generators and concentrate on the long term benefits of the renewable energy, saying that, if a household spend N1,000 to buy fuel daily, he/she will spend N90,000 monthly on fuel.
Hamisu Muhammad
18 April 2011

Finding Funding for LDCs Amidst Global Financial Crisis

BRUSSELS, Apr 15, 2011 (IPS) - Representatives of the world’s poorest nations are preparing to assemble a new "programme of action" to reduce grinding poverty. Among proposals that could emerge from the U.N. Least Developed Countries Conference in Istanbul next month is a global tax on financial transactions that would generate billions of dollars a year for development assistance.

"We will recommit the international community to continue to extend support to the 48 least developed countries around the world for the next decade," said Cheick Sidi Diarra, a United Nations high representative who will lead the conference.

Development assistance to the world's poorest nations hit a record 122.4 billion dollars in 2008, just as the financial crisis slammed the United States, Europe and other major contributors. Diarra commended donors for the rise in aid but said fresh support is needed to sustain progress in areas such as primary education and improved water supplies.

"The donor countries have done what they could during the decade, especially in 2008 before the [financial] crisis," Diarra said in a telephone interview from New York. But aid levels are falling well short of commitments, he said, and around half of development aid in recent years has been spent on just two countries: Iraq and Afghanistan.

Building on Brussels

LDCs are classified by the U.N. as those with an annual per-capita income below 745 dollars as well as high rates of illiteracy and child mortality, economic volatility and weak agricultural output.

The Brussels Programme and other poverty-reduction efforts have yielded limited success.

Only three nations - Maldives, Botswana and Cape Verde - have moved out of the category since 1970, according to the U.N., while several countries, including Somalia and Haiti, have grown more desperate.  U.N. High Representative Cheick Sidi Diarra said inadequate aid is part of the problem, but not the only reason.

"There is also an issue of governance, mismanagement of resource, lack of skills, but all this has to be corrected in context of the governance priorities that we are going to set for ourselves in Istanbul," he said.

Today 33 African nations and 14 Asian and Pacific countries fall into the LDC category. In the Americas, Haiti is alone in the category.

In Africa, they are Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The Asian and Pacific nations are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Salomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Yemen.
A decade ago, the first LDC conference, held in Brussels, set out a programme to reduce poverty and improve economic opportunity in poor and vulnerable nations. It established guiding principles including better trade opportunities, protecting the environment, improving governance, and promoting transparency to encourage private investment.

A year later in Monterrey, Mexico, leading donor countries pledged to work toward providing the equivalent of 0.7 percent of GNP to development assistance - in 2009, total ODA amounted to less than half of this.

The U.N. has estimated that up to 60 billion dollars is needed annually for the poorest countries if they are to achieve poverty-reduction targets, known at the Millennium Development Goals, by 2015.

The timing of a fresh cash call is unfortunate.

The global financial crisis that followed the collapse of the U.S. housing market has forced many donor countries to scale back development assistance.

Natural disasters have also taken precedence. The Asian Development Bank and World Bank estimated that last year’s flooding in Pakistan alone caused as much as 10.8 billion dollars in damage and could take years to repair, while donors have provided nearly 4 billion dollars in aid to Haiti since its earthquake in early 2010.

Leaders in Japan - typically the most generous donor after the United States - estimate the Mar. 11 earthquake and tsunami caused 300 billion dollars in damage and warn of austere times ahead.

New sources of finance

The four-day conference that begins on May 9 is expected to address calls for more cash, better governance, and improved investment and trade opportunities for the next decade.

Given such challenges, finding alternative sources of development funding could take a prominent place on the LDC  Conference agenda.

One option is financial transactions taxes, or FTTs, which have been considered in the past as an alternative ways to finance U.N. operations and humanitarian assistance. Taxes on cash transfers were promoted at an LDC ministerial meeting in Lisbon last October. Prominent figures in finance, including the economist Joseph Stiglitz and the financier Warren Buffett, have argued that such taxes would generate revenue while dampening speculative trading in currencies or financial products.

Civil society organisations meeting in New York to prepare for the Istanbul conference agreed earlier this month to press for sweeping debt relief.

"[LDCs] spend over $6 billion every year on debt servicing," said Arjan Karaki, head of the LDC Watch, a Kathmandu-based organisation. "In many LDCs, more money is spent on debt servicing than on essential services like health care, drinking water and energy," Karaki said in a statement.

The U.N.’s Diarra acknowledged that there are major financing challenges ahead, and said the Istanbul meeting should seek to improve investment and trade opportunities, drawing on efforts such as the EU’s Cotonou Agreement and "Everything But Arms" initiative that promote economic partnerships with developing countries. 

Diarra added that leaders in LDC countries also have a responsibility to commit to "more transparent rule, rules that are respectful of human rights, and more respectful of private property, and also protect the foreign investment and local investment as well."

Civil society groups are also preparing appeals in the area of human rights and social protections, although more controversial proposals calling on nations to cut military spending and funnel the money into aid are unlikely to be on the official agenda.

"We want solutions that are consensual and agreeable for everybody," Diarra said.

Some 6,000 government, civil society and business participants are expected to attend the LDC meeting in Istanbul.

SENEGAL Dispute Over Fishing Permits for Foreign Fleets Hots Up

DAKAR, Apr 16, 2011 (IPS) - Senegal's small-scale fishers are challenging the government over licences granting foreign trawlers permission to fish in Senegalese waters. The artisanal fishers condemn the "selling off" of the country's fishery resources at a time when stocks off Senegal's coast are severely depleted.


The protests have been led by GAIPES, the Senegalese Association of Fishing Companies and Ship Owners, which is demanding the Minister of Maritime Economy withdraw 22 licences they association says were granted in the first quarter of 2010. According to GAIPES, the foreign beneficiaries are Russian, Belizean, Mauritian, Ukrainian and Comorian trawlers.

"These boats are fishing under illegal protocols that have been signed by the minister of maritime economy without being recorded by the relevant technical government agencies," Dougoutigui Coulibaly, secretary-general of GAIPES told IPS. 

But the authorities accuse the group of conflating separate issues."In 2010, we signed fishing agreements with six foreign fishing boats that were to catch pelagic, or migratory, fish that swim along the coast of Senegal, originating from Morocco and Mauritania. Once the contracts had expired, the boats left," explains Captain Matar Sambou, head of monitoring and control of fishing.

Sambou says an advisory committee at the ministry suspended several licences in December 2010 following GAIPES's complaints. But, since the members of this committee showed that signing the agreements would earn money for the country, the ministry was authorised to go ahead. "At the beginning of March 2011, we signed fishing agreements with 11 or 12 fishing boats for a two-month period," he says.

Senegal's fisheries

Fishing is one of Senegal’s main economic activities, and is the livelihood of some 600,000 people - eight times more than the 75,000 in the civil service.. In 2009, fishing constituted 13 percent of Senegalese exports and 1.7 percent of GDP, according to the ministry of maritime economy.

Small-scale fishing in Senegal has become a mere subsistence fishery because the stocks are so depleted. "There aren’t any more of the larger fish species, like carp and hake. Now, Senegalese people eat only small fish: sardines, jack mackerel, mackerel..." says Raoul Monsembula, from the environmental organisation Greenpeace Africa.

"The licences granted to these industrial fishing boats are going to lead to the disappearance of the country’s fishing resource and as a result, the loss of income of 600,000 people," warns Amadou Chérif Diagne, a sociologist living in Gueth-Ndar, a fishermen’s quarter in Saint-Louis, in the north of the country.

The Greenpeace regional office in Dakar has lodged an appeal with the Senegalese government to revoke its decision to grant industrial licences, in order to put an end to what it describes as "the pillage" of the country’s fish stocks.

But the authorities defend the permits. "Senegal has taken the sovereign decision to make use of a portion of its fishing resources so that the Treasury can benefit from it in the same way that neighbouring countries have," says the minister of maritime economy Khouraïchi Thiam.

"The Treasury can tax 35 dollars on each tonne fished by these foreign trawlers," he says, pointing out that Senegalese fisheries officials board the trawlers to monitor the amounts that are caught.

"1.45 million tonnes of pelagic fish cross from Mauritania, Cape Verde, Guinea Buisseau and Gambia towards Senegal. If this stock isn’t fished, it dies and that will be an enormous loss to the country," the minister told a private radio station on Mar. 29.

Fishers not satisfied

Sada Fall, secretary-general of the 15,000-strong National Collective of Small-scale Fishers (CNPA) threatens direct action if government won't listen. "If the government doesn’t suspend these licences, we will go and find the trawlers and fight it out with them. We are going to chase them out of our waters at whatever price," he warns. The CNPA is based in Saint-Louis, where a government census counted 2,800 fishing dugouts.

Coulibaly, from GAIPES, adds: "We have a whole range of actions to roll out so the government withdraws these fishing licences. We are not ruling out the removal of the industrial and small-scale fleet from the waters and thus closing down the factories."

According to the Senegalese maritime code, "the maritime resources are part of the national patrimony. The state can authorise physical and moral persons of Senegalese or foreign nationality to fish in waters under Senegalese jurisdiction," professor of law at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Alassane Ndiaye, tells IPS.

According to Ndiaye, the maritime code stipulates that those seeking fishing licences must contact the minister of maritime economy, who must take the advice of the advisory committee that grants the fishing licences. If this procedure has been respected, the fishing licences in question are legal," he says. 

By Souleymane Faye

15 April 2011

Breakthrough for Impact Investing in Africa, as LeapFrog Invests $14M in Insurer Apollo

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- LeapFrog Investments has announced a landmark investment of $14 million into East African insurance group Apollo Investment Ltd, the largest deal in the history of microinsurance in Africa. Launched with President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2008, LeapFrog's $135 million fund invests in companies providing insurance to under-served people in emerging markets. In Africa, LeapFrog now gains exposure to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda in addition to its investment in South Africa.
"Some of the greatest opportunities for business growth, profitability, and impact are found in Africa – whose people so often prove the critics wrong," said Dr. Andrew Kuper, Founder and President of LeapFrog. "By investing in Apollo, a fast-growing and multi-line insurance group, we expect to achieve robust returns and to reshape the market – helping bring safety nets to millions of low-income and vulnerable people. It epitomises our profit-with-purpose approach to investing."
Ashok Shah, who is continuing as Apollo CEO, said, "LeapFrog's capital and global insurance expertise will help Apollo to become the preeminent regional player in insurance in East Africa – including in microinsurance. We are taking the next leap."  Beyond its current life, health, and property insurance activities, Apollo is now targeting a market of 7.9 million self-employed people in the informal sector. Mr. Shah is the recent winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the Kenyan insurance industry.
LeapFrog, a pioneer impact investor in Africa and Asia, previously invested in AllLife, the innovative South African insurer that covers people living with HIV. By linking clients with a health management program, AllLife helps people lead long and productive lives, which also makes it commercially worthwhile to insure them. Since LeapFrog's investment a year ago, AllLife has doubled in size.  
In addition to capital, LeapFrog's team brings decades of operational experience in distribution and product design to portfolio companies. This enables groups like Apollo and AllLife to swiftly change their growth curve and amplify their impact.
"Our aim as a fund is to reach 25 million vulnerable people with affordable insurance – generating robust financial returns as well as social impact from serving this untapped market," concluded Doug Lacey, the LeapFrog partner who led the investment. "Apollo's track record and commercial courage are exactly what we look for in a partner."
In the coming year, LeapFrog expects to make further investments in Africa as well as Asia, where its focus countries are India, the Philippines and Indonesia.
LeapFrog Investments invests in insurance companies serving 'The Next Billion' consumers in Asia and Africa.  Launched with President Bill Clinton in 2008, LeapFrog's $135 million fund targets robust returns for investors while bringing financial security to 25 million vulnerable people. The fund's profit-with-purpose investment approach, combining capital with specialist expertise, has been hailed by The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Fast Company, and many global leaders as opening up new frontiers for alternative investing. Investors in LeapFrog's high impact investment fund include global banks such as JP Morgan, Triodos, IFC, KfW, and EIB;  leading funds such as Soros EDF, TIAA-CREF, Omidyar Network, FMO, and Calvert; global reinsurers SCOR, Haverford, and Flagstone Re; and development financiers including Proparco and Accion.
SOURCE LeapFrog Investments

Four lessons for transforming African agriculture

African agriculture is at a turning point, and a long-awaited “green revolution” may be within reach. Many of the continent’s governments are adopting market-friendly policies and committing more resources to the sector. Traditional big-donor countries are increasing their expenditures on agriculture, while China and Brazil are also beginning to contribute to the effort. African’s agriculture’s private-sector investment is rising rapidly (see sidebar “Sizing Africa’s agricultural opportunity”). High, volatile food prices underline the importance of such development efforts and create not only pressure but also political space for policy makers to act.

But investing these additional resources wisely and fulfilling Africa’s agricultural promise will require better national planning. Work is under way to facilitate such improvements: for example, the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) aims “to help countries critically review their own situations and identify investment opportunities with optimal impact and returns.” Introducing cost-effective agricultural development plans will be a challenge, however. To succeed, they will have to address multiple technical hurdles in the context of limited human resources, corruption, political pressures, shifting priorities, and inadequate infrastructure (see sidebar “Chinese agriculture: A model for Africa?”).
In recent years, McKinsey has worked on the planning and implementation of agricultural development in more than ten African countries, across the public, private, and social sectors. We have codified insights from this work into four lessons: aim for narrower, higher-impact projects; pay more attention to the final market for agricultural goods; assure clear roles for the private sector; and think about implementation from the start. We offer these lessons to move the issue of African agricultural development beyond the question “what” and toward the “who” and the “how.”1
In this related video interactive, three McKinsey experts discuss what it will take to create a “green revolution” in Africa. Explore the interactive to hear their thoughts or download a PDF of the transcript.
Transforming African agriculture
Three McKinsey experts discuss what it will take to create a “green revolution.”

Infrastructure in Africa can be perceived as both a challenge and an opportunity.

The ‘Infrastructure Tinted Lens’

Early in the first day of Institutional Investor’s Africa Conference Jay Ireland, the President and CEO of GE Africa (a recently created position), noted that he views opportunity in Africa through “infrastructure tinted glasses.” As Jay sees it, the opportunities for investment in Africa are largely driven by the Continent’s infrastructure needs. We had previously written about this issue as addressed by the World Bank’s Dr. Shanta Devarajan (read here), who noted that Africa would require an additional annual investment of $48 billion per year to bring Africa’s infrastructure to the level of Mauritius. We concur that investment in firms which operate in the African infrastructure space present a number of compelling opportunities.

Infrastructure in Africa can be perceived as both a challenge and an opportunity. As one of the conference’s other panelists noted, road density in Africa is about1/8th what it is in the BRIC economies (McKinsey’s Global Institute claims it is about 1/5th, but regardless, Africa is a clear laggard). McKinsey also notes that power generation in the BRICs is 2.4x that of Africa, and rail density is 2.3x higher. In addition, these numbers also don’t take into account the relative difference between South Africa and the remainder of the continent, for which the gap is significantly wider. Phone and cellular networks – although in many cases improving – remain spotty, and many Africans carry multiple phones in hopes of maintaining service from one place to another.

In addition, urbanization and population growth is putting a strain on many of Africa’s urban centers, where affordable and effective access to housing, water and sanitation, energy, and transportation remains a challenge. Also, the ability for countries to capitalize on natural resources and manufacturing is hampered by poor infrastructure networks. Even if an investor is looking at Africa from a traditional resource-based perspective, the cost of bringing goods to market – and therefore profitability – is directly linked to infrastructure networks that in many cases have not been adequately supported. Also, as African countries attempt to move into more manufacturing and intermediate or finished goods, access to the resources necessary to operate machinery will be a critical factor.
Presumably it is clear that investment in infrastructure is sorely needed on the African continent. However, in stark contrast with previous decades, a significant (and rapidly increasing) amount of capital is being put towards solving Africa’s infrastructure challenges. Perhaps it is not surprising to learn that, according to McKinsey, growth in transport and telecommunications grew by an annualized rate of 7.8% from 2002 until 2007, and construction grew at 7.5% annualized over the same period. For example, according to McKinsey, from 1991-2005 only about 1% of resource deals in Africa had an infrastructure component included. In contrast, that number had climbed to an average of 23% for the period between 2006 and 2010. In fact, McKinsey also predicts that between 2008 and 2020, revenue for infrastructure companies will grow by an annualized 9% rate, reaching over $200 billion by 2020, from approximately $72 billion today.

So what does that mean to us, who invest exclusively in opportunities in Africa? We have been adamant that infrastructure was a huge play for investors. We see great opportunities in many of the sectors mentioned above, as well as the companies which provide them with financing. In fact, we consider infrastructure companies to be one of the three key themes of our strategy, and actively position ourselves to seek companies that we believe will benefit from this trend. We absolutely understand why GE would see Africa through infrastructure tinted glasses – we do the same.

For more information about investing in Africa, please contact Nile Capital Management at (646)367-2820 or info@nilecapital.com.

We know Africa - from Cairo to Capetown.

Tata Chemicals will invest $290 million in a new port-based ammonia-urea fertilizer manufacturing plant in Gabon, Africa.

Tata Chemicals Ltdannounced on Monday after market hours that it will invest in a new port-based ammonia-urea fertilizer manufacturing plant in Gabon, Africa. The project includes setting up a 1.3 million tonnes per annum urea plant (stream 1), with an option to expand into another stream of equal capacity (stream 2).
Tata Chemicals will invest $290 million (Rs. 1,290 crore) to purchase a 25.1% stake in stream 1. As much as 62.9% stake in stream 1 will be held by Singapore-based OlamInternational Ltd and the remaining by Gabon.
Execution work has already started on stream 1 and it is expected to be commissioned in three years. On the other hand, the time schedule for executing stream 2 would be mutually decided among Tata Chemicals, Olam and Gabon over the next two years. Tata Chemicals’ stake in stream 2 is expected to be substantially higher.
So, what does this development mean for the company? In a presentation, Tata Chemicals has highlighted that it is expecting an annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $300-350 million per stream.
Though it’ll be a while before this reflects in Tata Chemicals’ numbers, it would be nonetheless positive. The deal would also give the company some fiscal benefits. There is also an assured supply of low-cost natural gas feedstock for both the streams.
Tata Chemicals would be able to leverage on Olam’s strong network in Africa and the facility would give it good proximity to end-markets. On the other hand, Tata Chemicals would offer project management consultancy, and operations and maintenance service post the commissioning of the project.
But investors don’t seem to be very thrilled. Tata Chemicals’ stock rose by 2% on Wednesday to Rs. 362 apiece on a day when the bellwether Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange also increased by 2%. One reason could be because the benefits of this investment would take some time.
This development improves sentiments in the short run for the stock. Analysts had downgraded the earnings estimates of Tata Chemicals for the current fiscal and the next after the company announced weak results for the December quarter, when numbers were affected due to input cost pressures and plant shutdowns.

Mark to Market | Pallavi Pengonda

Africa produces the next Facebook, Groupon, Zynga or Google

April 13, 2011 in Featured Home by Ben

What will these lists look like 5 years from now? This infographic was produced by Ivan Colic. Located in South Africa, he started a great series devoted to the visualization of African data called Afrographique.
On April 7th Mfonobong Nsehe published ‘Why Africa May Never Produce a Facebook, Groupon, Zynga or Google’ in Forbes. Rightly, he calls for a need for investors to step forward and support promising African startups. I share this call to action, but also recognize the progress that is already being made. We have plenty of African startup success stories and there are more on the rise every day. Investors need to get involved now or we will simply pass them up.
Just last week TxtEagle raised $8.5 million from a consortium of investors including Spark Capital and RBC Venture Partners. This is big news when you consider most of the ground work and prototyping was done in Kenya. TxtEagle leverages USSD protocol that averts many of the costs that restrain SMS use in emerging markets. Their innovative approach has the potential to engage billions of people who till now have been hard for many organizations to reach. They already build on partnerships with 220 mobile operators in almost 100 countries who between them cover 2.1 billion subscribers. That’s 28.5% of the global population and is clearly another African designed platform with global potential. Is this not an example of a global product like Facebook, Groupon, Zynga or Google?
And there is no shortage of capacity and I agree with Mfonobong that Africa has some extremely intelligent techpreneurs. I think its a remarkable accomplishment when someone like John Waibochi, the founder of VirtualCity, walks away with USD 1 million from Nokia and beats out software developers from the U.S, Canada and India! And great African techpreneurs don’t just come from Nairobi :) NandiMobile, a start-up from the MEST Incubator won “Best Business” award at the LAUNCH conference in San Francisco. They were in competition with almost 100 Silicon Valley start-ups!
And let’s remember that Nigeria is about to get seriously connected. We are talking about 5.12 Tbit/s in capacity that will come to shore with the West Africa Cable System. This is four times the celebrated SEACOM cable behind a lot of the tech startup energy and buzz we share in Nairobi. The speed of the WACS cable is such that one could theoretically download about eight million MP3 files or over eight thousand DVDs per minute! And investors aren’t waiting around to see what happens. Already Pagatech announced that they have received investment from Tim Draper, a renowned Venture Capitalist based in the United States from Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Speaking about his investment in Paga, Draper said “My decision to make this personal investment is premised on the simple fact that I believe in the bold vision of the Paga team and I trust in their ability to execute. Paga is a great innovation which will simplify life for millions of people in Nigeria and beyond. I look forward to the company being a major African success story that serves as an example for many more to come.”
There are exits too. South African Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Thawte, a web security and certificate authority company, sold his business for nearly a half billion USD. So let’s be clear. Investors need to get involved today or they risk missing out on a unique opportunity at a unique point in time.

12 April 2011

South Africa: IDC to Invest Billions in Industry

Pretoria — The Industrial Development Corporation is to invest R102 billion in the next five years to aid the development of industry, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said on Tuesday.
"The IDC will substantially increase the level of industrial funding and will make available R102 billion over the next five years for investment in New Growth Path priorities," Patel said as he tabled the department's Budget Vote.
The R102 billion has been revised upwards from the previously allocated R66 billion in its current five-year projections.
Tourism, creative industries and high level services will receive R14.8 billion with funding to distressed companies receiving R2.5 billion, followed by strategic high impact projects receiving R11.1 billion and venture capital receiving R500 million.
The allocations will be reviewed annually.
The department will focus on the green economy in the year ahead with the belief that 300 000 new jobs are possible in the green economy by 2020.
On the cost of IDC lending, interest on new IDC loans will be up to 100 basis points lower for high development impact investments, which should reduce the average cost of borrowing by 50 points.
Based on existing loan profiles, this should save borrowers approximately R500 million over the next five years alone.
The New Growth Path sets a target of creating five million jobs in 10 years. According to the minister, development finance institutions have a central role to play in implementing the New Growth Path.
"They provide crucial mechanism for forging constructive and productive partnerships with stakeholders to develop our economy," he explained.
The IDC, he said, must play a central role to encourage new economic activities, support new job creation and promote a greener economy.
Of the Economic Development Department's R594 million allocated budget, R219 million will be transferred to small business development, while Khula and Samaf (government's small business funding agencies) will deploy a further R381 million from their own resources.
The minister further added that the facilities offered by Khula will be supplemented by a new direct lending facility, Khula Direct, which has been allocated R55 million this year.

7 April 2011

Cameroon buys Credit Agricole's 14 pct stake in SCB

(Reuters) - Cameroon has bought French bank Credit Agricole's (CAGR.PA) 14 stake in Societe Camerounaise des Banques (SCB), Cameroon's third-biggest bank, for 4.2 billion CFA Francs ($9.13 million), its finance minister said.
The deal takes the state's share in the bank to 49 percent, Lazarre Essimi Menye, the finance minister of the Central African state told journalists at a press conference on Thursday.
Credit Agricole had managed SCB through its local partnership known as SCB-Credit Agricole.
The French retail banker sold some of its stake in the partnership together with shares in other African operations including in Congo, Gabon and Senegal for 250 million euros to Morocco's Attijariwafa Bank (ATW.CS) in December 2008.
"We have concluded discussions between the government and Credit Agricole, which was managing SCB, buying over 14 percent of its shares and bringing government shares in the bank now to 49 percent," Menye said.
The government was forced to sell its shares in local banks three years ago at the height of the economic and financial crisis to buffer state coffers, Menye said, adding that it was now reinvesting in the sector to boost lending to small and medium-sized enterprises and development projects. (Reporting Tansa Musa; Writing by Bate Felix

Myne Properties & Investment Limited - providing accommodation for Nigerians

This week Africa Business Communities meet with Tolu Bisade-Phillips, Managing Partner of Myne Properties & Investment Limited, a sought-out property development consulting firm in Nigeria and Ghana.
Welcome Tolu Bisade-Phillip, to Africa Business Communities. Tell us about yourself.
"My name is Tolu Bisade-Phillips, 39 years old. I studied Architecture and had an MBA (Marketing) at Masters Level. I am also a professional Management Consultant being a certified member of NIM (Nigerian Institute of Management). I am married to Bukola Bisade-Phillips and blessed with 2 children. Presently I am the Managing Partner at Myne Properties & Investment Limited, a real property consulting firm based in Ikeja, Lagos Nigeria."
How long have you been involved in the real estate business?
"I have been involved in real estate business since 1997 till date (14 years)."

What are the greatest advantages and disadvantages of the market in Nigeria and Ghana where you operate?
"The greatest advantage in Nigeria is the population (over 150Million, the largest black race) and the deficit of 17million housing short fall which requires an average of 20 houses to be built in Nigeria on a daily basis for a 4 years plan. Also the fact that 80% of the population lives in rented apartment with the hope of having a roof over their heads in the nearest future. However the disadvantages are insincerity on the part of the government, corruption and lack of infrastructure which impacts negatively on the cost of construction. As for Ghana, I am still fresh in the Ghana market and I hope to understudy the market with time. However, I know that infrastructure is not so much of an issue ( a number of companies have relocated from Nigeria to Ghana, particularly due to the conducive business environment there) corruption index has also greatly improved."

What is the first measure that should be taken so that the Real Estate business will be able to improve in Africa?
"African government should make housing a priority during budget planning and implementation. It should be respected as one of the 3 essentials of good life (food, shelter and clothing). It should also be regarded by African government as a veritable means of job creation and wealth generation, for example Tinapa in Calabar, Nigeria."

Which do you consider to be the most attractive segment of real estate market in Africa?
"The most attractive segment by my assessment will be property development. You have other segments like Agency, Marketing, Financing, Construction etc, but a developer, depending on the type of contract for a given project can make over 100% profit at the end of a single project."

What is your niche market?
"Our niche market is construction supervision. We have realized that finishes is actually what makes a building to either be described as good or bad. Being a management consultant, we deploy our skill in this aspect of the real estate industry. On a daily basis on our projects, we resume work with the contractor and finish with them. This helps to monitor and coordinate construction activities for timely delivery, quality material usage and insistence on standardized construction procedures."

What is the future of Myne Properties & Investment Limited?
"The future of Myne Properties is very bright because our goal is to become a reference point in the Industry through cutting edge management approach in our delivery."

What kind of property attracts most investors?
"Any property with high ROI. For instance in Lagos now, block of residential flats is the most attractive. The upper middle class demands for this type of property more than other types. However, due to the economic situation, there is a gradual shift from 3 bedroom flat ( N30Million to N40Million) to Studio apartment which is less expensive (N8-10Million) and 1 bedroom flat (N12-18Million)."

How can potential buyers learn about your company and services it can offer?
"Myne Properties has a website, www.myneproperties.com, social interactive platform like face book, twitter and blog pages where we discuss topical issues with the people on our network."

What are Myne Properties & Investment Limited main advantages as a real estate broker?
"The advantage as a real estate broker is that our profile gets better and the clienteles base increases progressively."

Are you funded? And are you looking for additional funding?
"If you mean external funding of our operation, NO. But we have a good relationship with our bankers, GTBank at the moment. We are willing to discuss with any company both foreign or local that shows interest in funding our operations as a way of expanding our business potentials."

Is the market hot and what is your advice for home-buyers?
"The market is not at its best now, until possibly after the general election in April 2011. However, the prospect is high."

I’m very curious. What kind of investment do you need to start a business like yours?
"You really do not need to have so much financial Investment other than basic requirement to start any business. But you will need a pretty good years of experience if that will go for an investment. I mean 8-10 years in the industry."

What is the latest news about your business?
"The latest news about our business is the development of a private hostel accommodation in Ibadan, Oyo State Capital. The site analysis was done, sketch designs were done and approved by he client. We are in the process of packaging all necessary drawings (Architectural, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical Drawings) for government approval to enable us move to site for construction works. Also with respect to marketing, our firm was recently appointed alongside 2 other agencies for the marketing of Fountain Estate and April Court Haven, both in Ikeja GRA, Lagos State."

Follow your passion and money will come. True or false?
"True, with hard work."


Kenya-Investments: Government Targets More Diaspora Investments

The government plans to partner with financial institutions and organisations of Kenyans living abroad to pull together their remittances for gainful investments. The project will focus on diaspora direct investments, capital markets, tourism and nostalgic trade, retirement and savings for the estimated 2.5 million Kenyans abroad. "We need to come up with customised investment opportunities targeting the diaspora, this will enhance their participation in economic development," said Richard Onyoka, the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs. Kenyans living abroad have in cases been lured in to fraudulent investments channels sometimes losing their entire life savings.
According to Central Bank Kenya figures, diaspora remittances have been growing by the year hitting $642 m(53.27bn) last year. But the most recent World Bank and African Development Bank survey figures show an even higher amount of $1.8 bn(149.4bn) sent home in 2010 by Kenyans living abroad.Majority of kenyans abroad reside in North America and Europe."Financial institutions should work together to develop a reliable, unified money transfer system," said Onyoka while launching a capacity building project for diaspora last Friday.

The ministry is now in the process of creating a diaspora virtual network hub to facilitate flow of information between government and those living outside the country. The capacity building project is expected to start in July and last for 18 months."Kenya has a diaspora full of professionals; the government is putting in place policies that will enable the full use of their expertise including technology transfers to support the country,"

In the Vision 2030 blueprint, diaspora has been placed as one of the flagship projects under the financial sector. The government also ratified the amendment to the AU Constitutive act that invites and encourages the full participation of the African diaspora as an important part of the continent in building the African Union.

The World bank report titled Leveraging Migration for Africa: Remittances, Skills, and Investments shows African countries received US $406 bn( approx 33.7 trillion) in diaspora remittances last year. while this is the largest net inflow of foreign funds after Foreign Direct Investment.

However most of this money is directed towards consumption by the recipients rather than savings and investments. the minister said those in diaspora have shown interest in the stocks market, unit trusts, real estate and retirement schemes, urging credible institutions in the sectors to engage them.

Winfred Kagwe

4 April 2011

The scramble for Africa

"There's no country where there's no development required in Africa."
(Source: Lawyer)trackingLegal work in Africa is no longer just about infrastructure projects. Joanne Harris discovers a continent where natural resources, telecoms and finance are helping create a land of plenty
A number of repeated themes emerge when lawyers get talking about Africa: natural resources, development and the rise of the middle class are all topics that come up again and again.
But those working in Africa are also keen to stress something else.
"At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, it's a bloody big place," remarks Nicholas Buckworth, head of the project finance group at Shearman & Sterling.
Mass markets
Africa is the world's second-largest continent, with a combined population of more than a billion people spread throughout 54 countries, including the world's newest independent state, Southern Sudan. Therefore, although most Anglo-Saxon law firms market themselves as having 'Africa practices', the breadth of work included in each varies widely from firm to firm.
"It's a tremendously diverse place," explains Anthony Giustini, co-head of Clifford Chance's Africa group. "You can't compare the type of business you'll do in smaller countries on the continent to the type of opportunities there are in Nigeria or South Africa. Firms are going to need to look over the whole continent and pick and choose where they're going to devote their efforts."
But it is worthwhile putting that effort in.
"The continent boasts an abundance of riches," notes a recent report by consultants McKinsey, "including 10 per cent of the world's reserves of oil, 40 per cent of its gold and 80-90 per cent of the chromium and platinum group metals.
"Demand for raw materials is growing fastest in the world's emerging economies, which now account for half of Africa's total trade.
"As trade patterns have shifted, African governments are forging new types of economic partnerships, in which buyers from these countries provide upfront payments, make infrastructure investments and share management skills and technology. "Foreign direct investment in Africa has increased from $9bn [pound 5.6bn] in 2000 to $62bn in 2009 - almost as large as the flow into China when measured relative to GDP."
The report predicted that, by 2030, Africa's top 18 cities could have a combined spending power of $1.3tr. It said the unmet infrastructure needs of the continent required "at least $46bn more in spending per year".
Cash call
Lawyers say these needs and the way they are currently being met (or not) are evident on the ground.
"There's no country where there's no development required in Africa.

2 April 2011

Nigeria: The Country Fourth Fastest Growing Economy - UK Govt

The UK Government in London described Nigeria as the fourth fastest growing economy in the world.

Mr Henry Bellingham, UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State For Africa and Overseas Territories, said this at a two-day investment forum tagged: "Making Nigeria Your Goal."

"Nigeria has averaged growth of 8.9 per cent which is really stunning.

"Nigeria is the world's fourth fastest growing economy with solid growth in the next five years and beyond ; this is truly remarkable," he said.

Bellingham said the Nigerian economy may outpace that of South Africa in the next 10 years if the current reform in the banking sector was extended to the power, oil and gas sectors.

He commended the Lagos Government for good governance, fiscal responsibility and infrastructure development, saying the state was a model.

Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Managing Director of Access Bank PLC, said the event was an opportunity to consolidate on the economic gains that had characterised trans-border economic relations between the two countries.

Aig-Imoukhuede, whose presentation was entitled, "Nigeria: Your Market," cited some sectors that had contributed to the real growth of the nation's GDP in the last five years.

These, he said, include telecommunications accounting for 7.5 per cent; construction 6.4 per cent; food and beverages 3 per cent, agriculture 31.9 per cent; cement 1.3 per cent as well as oil and gas 25 per cent.

Earlier, Mr Ben Akabueze, Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, highlighted some investment opportunities in the state.

He cited the areas of investment to include power, water supply, real estate and road transport.

Akabueze said the Lekki Free Zone (LFZ), when fully completed, would give priority to manufacturing, warehousing and provision of logistics for industries in the zone.

"The LFZ is turning into a new industrial city as well as a multi-functional special economic zone of Lagos metropolis," he added.

The second leg of the event will continue in Manchester under the same theme.

Participants at the forum were drawn from the organised private sector in Nigeria, the Nigeria High Commission and UK businesses. NAN