27 June 2011

ECOWAS to Emulate Chinese Devepment Model

Beijing — ECOWAS would explore the possibility of emulating the integrated approach to development which has transformed China into an economic giant for the benefit of the citizens, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency, James Victor Gbeho, has said in Beijing.
At a meeting with the Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Zhai Jun, at the start of a week-long visit to mobilize additional Chinese support for the development of West Africa, the President said that such a development approach would enable the region to realize the dividends of democracy more expeditiously. "ECOWAS will continue to look at the Peoples Republic of China as a source of inspiration on how to bring economic progress and integration to the West African region," affirmed President Gbeho, who is leading a high-level ECOWAS delegation for talks aimed at strengthening cooperation between China and the Commission and its Member States. He conveyed the gratitude of the ECOWAS Chairman and Member States to the Government and people of the Peoples Republic of China, for their contribution to the development of West Africa.
Recalling the historic links between China and ECOWAS Member States which dates back to about 50 years, Ambassador Gbeho also used the opportunity to thank the United Nations Security Council of which China is a member for their support and understanding which contributed to the resolution of the recent political crisis in Cote d'Ivoire. Welcoming the delegation, Minister Jang said West Africa has a lot to learn from China which has prioritized the development of its infrastructure as the surest way of bringing development to the people in an integrated manner. He assured the delegation that China would continue to cherish its relations with the region through a deepening of cooperation toward the realization of West Africa's development objectives.
The ECOWAS delegation was also at the China-Africa Development Fund (CADfund) where President Gbeho canvassed the Fund's support for the development of the region's infrastructure and agriculture. He listed the priority areas to include investments in the energy, roads, rail, water and agriculture sectors, noting that in spite of its immense potentials, the region is characterized by subsistence farming with low productivity. To improve food security, the ECOWAS chief said efforts were being intensified to introduce business elements into the region's agriculture, adding that some Community Member States had already drawn up investment programmes with the purpose of infusing business elements into the sector. CADfund is active in the region with investments in the energy and other sectors. President Gbeho said the key objective of the mission is to deepen and strengthen cooperation between China and ECOWAS through increased private sector collaboration.
The visit, which is under the auspices of the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding between ECOWAS and the China Council for The Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) ,also enabled the ECOWAS team to hold discussions with officials of the China-Africa Joint Chamber of Commerce, the Export-Import Bank of China, the China Development Bank and the Deputy Minister of Commerce, Mr. Fu Ziying.

24 June 2011

USA/Africa-Trade Mission to Cameroon

Praxis Management Advisors LLC
Invites you to  a Presentation at the
Prince George’s County Africa Trade Office
                “Trade & Business Mission To Cameroon
July 22nd – August 2nd
Buea, Douala, Limbe &  YaoundĂ©

Business Leaders & Entrepreneurs are invited to find out about the opportunities in Cameroon.  Meeting  will take place:
Thursday, June 30th at 10am
Location:  PG EDC, 1100 Mercantile Lane Suite 115A, Largo, MD 20774
Admission:  FREE
Opportunities in:

Renewable Energy, Road & Bridge Construction, Seaport & Airport Construction, Real Estate Development, Telecommunications, IT, Cloud Computing, Nanotechnology, Banking,
Investments & PPPs, Tourism, Healthcare,
Distance Learning & Curriculum Development, Higher Ed Services, Research Park Construction,
Mining Services, Manufacturing, Import/Export, Data Services, Logistics & Agriculture

For More Information and to RSVP:  Viola Llewellyn Email: vllewellyn@PraxisAm.com  
Tel: 301-583-4615 OR Tel: 202-390-2165 (RSVP Deadline Wednesday June 29th

Time is getting short to invest in African financial services

Companies looking to enter Africa’s financial services space need to move quickly as the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

In a report titled At the tipping point: African financial services come of age, consulting firm Accenture notes that due to growing income levels, many Africans are embracing financial services. However, once consumers have access to a particular bank or insurer, they are not likely to switch easily.
“So companies that hang back now may find that the early movers have already gained an unassailable lead at a defining moment,” says Accenture. “Decisions that companies make now with regard to Africa will shape their future ability to participate in the continent’s rapid expansion over the coming years.”
The report says that many African and international banks and financial services firms are already positioning themselves to capitalise on the continent’s underserved markets.
In recent years there has been considerable merger and acquisition activity in the financial services area. To name a few: Barclays has bought stakes in South Africa’s Absa bank and Nile Bank in Uganda; the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) acquired a 20% share in South Africa-based Standard Bank; and Portugal’s Banco EspĂ­rito Santo bought 25.1% of Mozambique’s Moza Banco. “Soon there will be fewer . . . companies to buy,” says Accenture.
Many lenders have also secured partnerships with mobile network operators to develop their mobile banking capabilities. “Telecom providers typically establish close partnerships with only a few selected banks, so their dance cards could soon be filled.”
Accenture has developed a Tipping Point Index, which ranks the maturity and attractiveness of Africa’s financial markets. Key factors such as financial infrastructure, consumer financial services and economic development have been used to segment African countries into four distinct groups.
Established markets
Key characteristics: Mature financial markets. Large stock and bond markets. High percentage of bank assets and retail deposits relative to GDP. High percentage of people with bank accounts.
Countries: South Africa, Mauritius
Forging ahead
Key characteristics: Fairly large, mid-level income economies. Relatively well-developed institutional frameworks, but awaiting critical financial reforms. Emerging stock and bond markets. Lower percentage of people with bank accounts. More difficult business environments than established markets.
Countries: Nigeria, Botswana
Next movers
Key characteristics: In the process of overcoming barriers of low income, limited financial access and institutional or governance deficiencies. May lack fully developed stock and bond markets.
Countries: Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Zambia, Namibia, Uganda
Transitional economies
Key characteristics: Constrained by poverty. Little or no access to financial services. Difficult business environments. Lack of financial infrastructure.
Countries: Gabon, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Sudan.

14 June 2011

AFRICA: Eight business opportunities for June

Below are eight business opportunities entrepreneurs in Africa can pursue in the month of June.

1. Vending machines – the ultimate passive income business
Pro Vending, South Africa’s leading supplier of vending machines, is offering entrepreneurs in Africa the opportunity to run their own full-time or part-time businesses. The machines can also be used by shop owners to boost sales at retail outlets. Read more
2. Manufacture quality beverages for the growing African market

Soda King, a manufacturer of soft drinks and purified water, is offering business people and entrepreneurs across the continent a unique franchise opportunity to establish a localised bottling plant. Read more
3. Tap into the market for furniture
Furniture manufacturer Outdoor Lifestyle is expanding into Africa and seeking distributors in the rest of the continent. Read more
4. Establish your own ice manufacturing business
Minus 40′s Ice Block Maker offers an excellent business opportunity for entrepreneurs across Africa. The company has drawn-up a full business plan that entrepreneurs purchasing the Ice Block Maker can follow. Read more
5. Manufacturing company looking to partner with stakeholders in Africa
Calculus Products is offering firms in Africa a complete solution to all their manufacturing needs. The company is also enthusiastic about assisting stakeholders in expanding their manufacturing capacity. Read more
6. Grow your business by investing in bottle filling technology
Aspiring entrepreneurs as well as established food and beverages companies can benefit from using Marefa International’s state-of-the-art bottle filling equipment. We sat down with Marefa’s Peter Vermaak to talk about the company’s products and the opportunities in bottle filling. Read more
7. Why dairy production is a good business venture
Central Milk, a South Africa-based manufacturer of stainless steel equipment for the dairy industry, is able to offer African farmers a complete solution for the establishment of a dairy processing facility. Read more
8. Fruit juice has good potential in Africa
Pacmar, a contract packaging company, is seeking capable distributors in West and East Africa for its own brands of fruit juice. Read more
All the above business opportunities are sponsored advertisements. For more information about promoting business and investment opportunities on How we made it in Africa, email us at sales@howwemadeitinafrica.com

Made in Ethiopia: The story of Holland Car

When Tadesse Tessema’s company first started to sell its locally assembled cars in Ethiopia, one of the biggest challenges was to convince the public that its vehicles were of the same quality as the brands imported from the west.
Holland Car's Awash Executive model in Addis Ababa.
Holland Car's Awash Executive model in Addis Ababa.
“Our main achievement is that we have been able to change the minds of the people,” says Tessema, general manager of Ethiopia’s first indigenous vehicle assembly company Holland Car.
Born in Ethiopia, Tessema lived in the Netherlands for many years. During his occasional visits to Ethiopia he discovered a big demand for cars. So he created a company which exported used vehicles from the Netherlands to Ethiopia. After a while he, however, spotted an opportunity for local assembly. “I thought, why don’t I go back and assemble new cars in my country.”
To access funds for the new business, Tessema went into a joint venture with a Dutch firm, Trento BV Engineering. This allowed Holland Car to obtain additional funding from the Dutch government. After launching operations in 2005, the company in 2006 celebrated its first assembled car during a ceremony at the Hilton hotel in Addis Ababa.
All car parts are imported from China and assembled at a facility outside the capital. The Daily Monitor newspaper earlier reported that Holland Car used to import parts from Chinese auto manufacturer Lifan Motors. This partnership was later ended and the company currently works with JAC Motors.
At first the assembly plant was only able to turn out one car per day, but following additional investments and facility improvements, the company currently has the capacity to produce up to six units. Tessema wants to increase this to ten cars per day. He also has plans to go from assembling cars to manufacturing the parts as well.
All Holland Car’s models are named after rivers in Ethiopia, with names such as Abay, Tekeze and Shebelle. Tessema says this is to emphasize the cars’ local credentials and to foster a sense of national pride.
Plans are also underway to roll-out a biogas powered car. The goal is to not only assemble the vehicle, but to also produce the gas itself. Holland Car is, however, seeking further government assistance before going into full-scale production. “From the distance we have travelled so far, we have come to the conclusion that there is nothing to hinder us from manufacturing biogas cars here in Ethiopia,” reads a statement on Holland Car’s website. In addition, the company is also marketing a mass transportation bus designed and manufactured in Ethiopa, for both the local market as well as the rest of the continent.
With a population of around 80 million and double-digit GDP growth rates in recent years, many are viewing Ethiopia as the next big investment opportunity in Africa. Last month, Ethiopia’s newfound importance as a business destination was confirmed when it was announced that the 2012 World Economic Forum on Africa will be held in Addis Ababa.
Tessema says that companies like Holland Car are changing perceptions of Ethiopia. He said that “the sky is the limit” for investors looking to do business in the country and that “now is the time” to invest.
Africans themselves need to grab hold of the opportunities on the continent. “Investors from Asia are coming to invest money here, while we Africans still sit down and wait,” Tessema notes.
He believes that the African diaspora can play a significant part in the continent’s transformation. “If 10% of these people can come back to Africa, most of the problems in Africa would be solved. Governments have to give the opportunities . . . and incentives to bring these people back . . .”

13 June 2011

UO to export sustainability expertise to Gabon

University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, left, speaks with Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba following the Friday signing ceremony to establish a joint research center at the UO and in the west-central African nation of Gabon.
University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, left, speaks with Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba following the Friday signing ceremony to establish a joint research center at the UO and in the west-central African nation of Gabon. (Photo by Peter Lockley, courtesy of University of Oregon.)
University of Oregon is establishing a joint research center headquartered in Eugene and Gabon, West Africa, to study sustainability, economic development and natural resource management.
Richard Lariviere, UO's president, was in Washington, D.C., Friday to meet with Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba to sign the agreement, which will include research and training.
The Gabon-Oregon Transnational Research Center on Environment and Development is part of the university's Global Oregon Initiative, one of UO's five "Big Idea" priorities for research and teaching.
In a press release, President Ondimba emphasized the educational benefit the agreement will bring to Gabon.
"This unique cooperative agreement will enable us to address our urgent educational needs and also modernize our universities and research centers," he said.
The Oregon African Studies Consortium, which includes UO, Oregon State University, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University and Willamette University, will partner with the Gabonese government to create a new model for sustainable development in Africa.
Gabonese leaders are pushing to move from an economy based mainly on oil to sustainable natural resource management, low-impact ecotourism and significant investments in education and human capital development.
Gabon, nestled south of Cameroon and west of Congo, has a population of 1.5 million and its economy is supported by its coastal and offshore oil industry. It also boasts national parks covering 11 percent the country, with rain forests covering much of the rest.
While it's sometimes called the "Eden of Africa," Gabon is not without its problems. A meeting between President Ondimba and U.S. President Barrack Obama was called into question this week because of human rights and corruption charges leveled at President Ondimba's family.
"Gabon can be recognized as the place in Africa for a green, sustainable model of development," said Dennis Galvan, an Africa expert, associate professor of international studies and co-director of the Global Oregon Initiative at the UO. "There are few places where you can learn about how to do this in the U.S., and Oregon is at the cutting edge of sustainability and green development. So Gabon is making a strategic investment for its future by partnering with the UO."
Collaboration in the project could include organizations such as the Smithsonian Institution, which has had a center in Gabon for several years and will help in developing a forest and ecosystem management curriculum

9 June 2011

Hedge funds 'grabbing land' in Africa

Hedge funds are behind "land grabs" in Africa to boost their profits in the food and biofuel sectors, a US think-tank says.
In a report, the Oakland Institute said hedge funds and other foreign firms had acquired large swathes of African land, often without proper contracts.
It said the acquisitions had displaced millions of small farmers.
Foreign firms farm the land to consolidate their hold over global food markets, the report said.
They also use land to "make room" for export commodities such as biofuels and cut flowers.
"This is creating insecurity in the global food system that could be a much bigger threat than terrorism," the report said.
The Oakland Institute said it released its findings after studying land deals in Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Mali and Mozambique.
A worker on small-scale farm in Zimbabwe (archive shot) Foreign firms are snapping up farming land in Africa, a new report says
'Risky manoeuvre'
It said hedge funds and other speculators had, in 2009 alone, bought or leased nearly 60m hectares of land in Africa - an area the size of France.
"The same financial firms that drove us into a global recession by inflating the real estate bubble through risky financial manoeuvres are now doing the same with the world's food supply," the report said.
It added that some firms obtained land after deals with gullible traditional leaders or corrupt government officials.
"The research exposed investors who said it is easy to make a deal - that they could usually get what they wanted in exchange for giving a poor tribal chief a bottle of Johnnie Walker [whisky]," said Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute.
"When these investors promise progress and jobs to local chiefs it sounds great, but they don't deliver."
The report said the contracts also gave investors a range of incentives, from unlimited water rights to tax waivers.
"No-one should believe that these investors are there to feed starving Africans.
"These deals only lead to dollars in the pockets of corrupt leaders and foreign investors," said Obang Metho of Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia, a US-based campaign group.
However, not all companies named in the report accept that their motives are as suggested and they dismiss claims that their presence in Africa is harmful.
One company, EmVest Asset Management, strongly denied that it was involved in exploitative or illegal practices.
"There are no shady deals. We acquire all land in terms of legal tender," EmVest's Africa director Anthony Poorter told the BBC.
He said that in Mozambique the company's employees earned salaries 40% higher than the minimum wage.
The company was also involved in development projects such as the supply of clean water to rural communities.
"They are extremely happy with us," Mr Poorter said.

2 June 2011

Africa's Green Revolution may be a long time coming

Africa needs the kind of Green Revolution that caused a huge leap in agricultural productivity in many parts of the world in the 20th century. But efforts to change how farmers work may take decades.

Bill Gates speaks after a meeting on global food security with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (l) and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (c.) last spring at the Treasury Department in Washington, DC. Finance ministers from the United States, Canada, Spain, and South Korea, as well as the leadership of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, met to announce an initial contribution of $880 million for a new fund to tackle global hunger and poverty.
It's tough to keep your eye on the long view when the prospect of famine is at the door. But that's what organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CARE, and the United Nation's World Food Programme are trying to do more and more.
The old adage seems to have truth in it: Give people a fish, they eat for a day. Teach them to fish, and they can feed themselves for a lifetime.
The Gates foundation is committed to spend $1.7 billion to alleviate the underlying conditions that create poverty and hunger in Africa, says an Associated Press story. But it may take two decades or more to bring its work to fruition.
"It takes years and years to shift the system," says Roy Steiner, deputy director of global development for the Gates foundation. "Giving food to people is certainly necessary when there's a crisis," he said. "But these people don't want to be depending on outside charity. And, frankly, who is going to pay for all of that food being given?"
The "fishing poles" that it and other relief agencies are trying to provide include more drought-tolerant seeds, better fertilizers, educating farmers on better farming techniques, and helping them get their crops to market more easily.
Agriculture has come under the spotlight as world population grows along with concerns about how changing climates may affect food production. A report released yesterday by the aid agency Oxfam, called Growing a Better Future, "warns that spiraling prices and endless cycles of regional food crises will create millions more hungry people unless we transform the way we grow and sell food." It predicts that the price of basic foods such as corn could more than double in the next 20 years.
What's needed in Africa is the kind of Green Revolution seen in other parts of the world in the 20th century. Whether genetic-modification of plants will be a key part of the answer in Africa remains to be seen (see "How science could spark a second Green Revolution").
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, led by African scientists, economists, and business leaders, helps small farmers, especially women, improve their farming methods. It's just one effort receiving aid from the Gates foundation.
By Gregory M. Lamb, Staff Writer / June 1, 2011

Africa Becomes Attractive To Foreign Investors

A few weeks ago, Ernst and Young launched the maiden edition of its annual Africa Attractiveness survey. It’s a must read for anyone serious about doing business in Africa. The survey analyzes the attractiveness of Africa as an investment destination for foreign direct investors and is the result of analysis from 500 international business leaders polled from a diverse range of industries.
The consensus: The continent is becoming more attractive than ever before to international investors, and perceptions are becoming more distinctively positive as a result of the improved socio-economic growth that has pervaded the continent. They agreed that Africa is the region with the fastest economic growth rates and the highest return on investment (ROI), and as the continent continually makes improved strides in political reform, macroeconomic stability and social development, these trends are likely to improve.
It’s a good time for the continent. Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows have strongly increased in the last decade, and it’s expected to get even better. Projected capital inflows are expected to hit the $150 billion mark by 2015. Among other things, this anticipated payday is fueled primarily by ever-increasing population growth and an unprecedented explosion in the size of the middle class. According to a recent report by the African Development Bank, it is estimated that at least 310 million Africans (about 30% of the population) now fall within the middle-class bracket, which makes for an increased consumer market base demanding to be serviced with new goods, products and services. These components have opened up untold opportunities for foreign direct investors, making Africa an investment haven of sorts.
It’s a great time to invest in Africa, and while the continent might be savoring its new-found sexiness to foreign investors, there is still a lot of work to be done. Despite the growth trends, Africa still attracts less than 5% of global FDI projects. This is relatively low when looked at on a global scale. The reasons include  political instability and an inadequate level of education in several countries.
More importantly, major African countries still suffer a dearth of infrastructure. Take Nigeria, for example: The country has suffered a major setback through a devastating electricity crisis it has suffered for several decades. Unfortunately, successive governments (even the current one) have displayed a lackadaisical commitment towards providing a lasting solution to the problem. Businesses cannot function effectively without electricity; hence, foreign businesses that would have otherwise thrived in the country have to look elsewhere. Similar infrastructural deficits are replicated in several countries all over the continent. Furthermore, corruption, despite experiencing a downturn, still remains a major component in doing business in several African countries.
But in spite of these little shortcomings, Africa is still the next best place to put your money. It’s about time you stepped in.

Mfonobong Nsehe The Africa Chronicles

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