19 July 2012

New markets for African handicraft products

Seeds of Hope: Buy the products, change lives

Hutu and Tutsi women come together in handicraft

To many people in Africa, earning one dollar or euro may be enough to feed a family for a day. Selling handicrafts is a solution for some, but how can they be sold to far-off markets like the US? That is where Seeds of Hope, a non-profit organization in Charlotte, North Carolina (US) comes in. 
The organization ships handicraft products – beads and various woven products such as baskets and purses – made by widows and marginalized African women in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to the US. They sell well in local stores and at ‘home parties’. The proceeds of the sales go to the women and the expansion of the microeconomic enterprise to help more women, says Celeste Bundy of Seeds of Hope.

Who makes these products?

“We buy the products from widows of genocide and HIV/AIDS in Rwanda, Burundi and Northern Uganda. Currently, there are 135 women involved in the bead/jewellery making initiative and approximately 40 women in the basket making program in Rwanda and Burundi.”

How did you get the women to work together?

“With the support of local organizations, the women formed work groups, irrespective of their Hutu and Tutsi native tribes. We found that this has been essential in offering social support to members. They can thus counsel and advise each other within the groups and even offer moral support. For example, when a lady in the Gulu group lost a son in an accident, the group members supported and encouraged her during this tough time. Also when one of them is sick they visit the woman and provide needs when necessary. No matter what tribe she is from.”

What do these women get out of it?

“First of all, it is the money to survive without the help of a husband or of families. Feeding and educating children may seem like a small dream, but it is HUGE for a woman whose husband was killed in a rebel attack. Making the handicrafts allows these women to escape the stone quarry where she and her children were previously working to earn the 50 cents a day they need to simply feed themselves.”

What is in the future?

“The bead project has also given many women a brick and mortar house, a better alternative for their former mud and wattle houses. As part of a group activity, adult literacy classes have been initiated for the women, most of whom were initially illiterate.  Group bank accounts have also been established for group saving which helps them to develop a culture of saving and also have a savings when times get hard. These achievements all started with the idea to start selling handicrafts from these regions to homes in the western world. It is in no way ‘aid money’, but well-earned money, coming from hard work. And literally changing the lives of these women.”

New Hana Signs Definitive Agreement to Option the Formerly Producing Musina Copper Project in South Africa

New Hana Signs Definitive Agreement to Option the Formerly Producing Musina Copper Project in South Africa

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Jul 18, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- New Hana Copper Mining Ltd. ("HML" or the "Company") - (tsx venture:HML) is pleased to announce that it has entered into an Acquisition and Joint Venture agreement (the "Agreement") with BSC Resources Limited. ("BSC") of South Africa whereby the Company has the option to earn up to a 100% interest in the Musina Copper Project (the "Project"), located in northeast South Africa.
The Musina Project
The Musina Project area is comprised of six Prospecting Rights covering 100 square kilometers (10,006.88 hectares) of highly prospective ground which encompasses the Musina fault which is a structure that is known to host a number of formerly producing high-grade copper mines. The Project includes the formerly producing Artonvilla, Spence, Messina, Harper and Campbell underground copper mining operations.
Mining commenced at Musina around 1905 focusing on high grade (25% Cu) surface outcrops. Subsequently, copper mineralization was exploited by five main shafts along the Messina fault zone over a strike length of 15 kilometres to depths of over 1,400 metres below surface. From 1905 to 1993 Musina was operated by Messina (Transvaal) Development Company, after which the name was changed to Messina Ltd. The mine was closed due to low copper prices.
Over 750,000 tonnes of wire-grade copper ingots were fire-refined on site until 1993 when it became uneconomical to continue operating the company's own smelter. Subsequently, concentrates, with an average grade of +40% copper, were transported by rail to Phalabora for smelting and refining.
The management of BSC estimates that tens of millions of tonnes of mineralized material remains at Musina.
Copper mineralization has also been confirmed, through drilling and trenching, at the Mollytoo target. BSC geologists believe that there is considerable potential for the discovery of additional copper mineralization within this target area to a depth of at least 1,500 metres, which is the historic depth of the Harper and Campbell mines, and along strike within and adjacent to the Musina fault.
There is also exploration potential at a partially drilled breccia pipe which may extend mineralization from surface to a depth of at least 1,500 metres. In addition, there are a number of high quality historic copper soil anomalies that remain untested.
The Project area has not previously been flown with modern geophysical techniques which could detect additional blind massive sulphide bodies and/or zones of disseminated mineralization.
Copper sulphide mineralization consists mostly of chalcopyrite, bornite and chalcocite whereas oxide mineralization consists of mostly of malachite and some minor covellite and azurite. The copper mineralization is believed to have originated from magmatic intrusions of late to post-Karoo age. Mineralized emanations intruded the country-rock, mainly along the Musina fault, to form breccia bodies in this fault zone, as well as breccia pipes.
The Project is well supported by infrastructure including roads, railway and is adjacent to the national electrical grid. The Phalabora Copper Smelter and Refinery is located approximately 326 kilometres away from the Project.
Terms of the transaction
The Company can earn its initial undivided 50% interest in the Musina Project by making an initial US$200,000 cash payment to BSC within five (5) business days of the later of that date that five of the six project's prospecting rights are renewed by the South African authorities and TSX Venture approval (the "Effective Date"), and three equal payments of US$100,000 every six months thereafter. As a result, the total cash payment for the initial 50% interest is US$500,000.
To earn its initial undivided 50% interest therein, the Company must also incur total work expenditures aggregating US$5,100,000 on the Project within 36 months of the Effective Date of the Agreement.
The Company shall have the sole exclusive right and option to acquire the remaining 50% undivided interest of the Project by paying a cash amount of US$2,600,000 to BSC and by issuing up to 10 million common shares of the Company to BSC, such that the number of shares will, on the date of issue, equate to a value not greater than US$30 million. Such shares will be issued to BSC within 10 business days after the receipt of a Mining Right from the South Africa Minister of Mineral Resources. The Mining Right shall cover the entirety of the property or any smaller area selected by the Company.
If the Company acquires the initial 50% interest and does not elect to acquire the remaining undivided 50% interest, the Project will be managed on a joint-venture basis with the Company being the operator of the Project.
The Company may terminate the earn-in in respect to all or a portion of the Project at any time during the earn-in period, by delivering a notice on at least 30 days' notice to BSC terminating the earn-in in respect to the Project.
About BSC Resources Ltd.
BSC is a South African Black Economic Empowerment company which is focused on the exploration for and development of precious, base metal and coal projects in South Africa. BSC was incorporated in 2005 and since then has acquired one of the largest prospecting areas in South Africa which includes the ex-Falconbridge Insizwa nickel, copper and platinum project, which BSC has optioned to a major global mining company.
Update on New Hana Copper Mining Ltd.'s Kuke Copper-Silver Project in Botswana
The Company's recently concluded its exploration drilling program at Kuke and results are pending. The company will provide an update on the Kuke Project once it has assessed the results from this program.
This press release was reviewed and approved by Marek Kreczmer., Chief Executive Officer for New Hana. He is the qualified person as defined in NI 43-101.
The Agreement remains subject to receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals, including acceptance of the TSX Venture Exchange.
Please visit the Company's website at www.newhanamining.com for additional details on the Company and the Kuke Project.
Statements in this press release, other than purely historical information, including statements relating to the Company's future plans and objectives or expected results, may include forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions and are subject to all of the risks and uncertainties inherent in resource exploration and development. As a result, actual results may vary materially from those described in the forward-looking statements.
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
        New Hana Copper Mining Ltd.
        Investor Relations
        (604) 682-4262
        (778) 370-0146 (FAX)

SOURCE: New Hana Copper Mining Ltd.

Meet Africa's Mark Zuckerberg: Uganda’s billionaire student & tech guru - by Erika Amoako-Agyei

He’s been described as the Mark Zuckerberg of Africa: Twenty-two-year-old Ugandan IT student Abdu Ssekalala has made a fortune from mobile apps, benefiting from Africa's fast-growing telecoms market. His applications have rivaled some of the world's most popular platforms in downloads.

He's only 22 and already a billionaire - at least in Uganda where he lives. The Computing and Information Technology student at Makerere University in Kampala, develops mobile applications.
So far he has developed nine internationally recognized applications including Wordbook -- a dictionary app with a "word of the day" capability that includes definitions, examples and synonyms. "We have word book which is a dictionary and the Tutu translate which is basically a translator and then there is world sports which is a sports application for soccer fans,” he said.

Wordbook is among the most successful. The app, alone, makes him about 1.25 US dollars per download from Nokia's Ovi store and has been downloaded over 300,000 times, earning the young entrepreneur around 375, 000 USD (907 million Ugandan Shillings) so far. The highest downloads for Wordbook was in Asia. His other applications 101 Romantic SMS, nLightFlashlight and Tutu Translate, among others, also earn him a fortune through advertising deals with an elite Indian advertising network called Vserv.
With a hefty $500,000 (about Shs 1.2 billion) in savings, Ssekalala will probably rank among the richest - and humblest - Ugandans next year, when he wants to make a million dollars.

ch guru - by Erika Amoako-Agyei

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He’s been described as the Mark Zuckerberg of Africa: Twenty-two-year-old Ugandan IT student Abdu Ssekalala has made a fortune from mobile apps, benefiting from Africa's fast-growing telecoms market. His applications have rivaled some of the world's most popular platforms in downloads.

He's only 22 and already a billionaire - at least in Uganda where he lives. The Computing and Information Technology student at Makerere University in Kampala, develops mobile applications.
So far he has developed nine internationally recognized applications including Wordbook -- a dictionary app with a "word of the day" capability that includes definitions, examples and synonyms. "We have word book which is a dictionary and the Tutu translate which is basically a translator and then there is world sports which is a sports application for soccer fans,” he said.
Wordbook is among the most successful. The app, alone, makes him about 1.25 US dollars per download from Nokia's Ovi store and has been downloaded over 300,000 times, earning the young entrepreneur around 375, 000 USD (907 million Ugandan Shillings) so far. The highest downloads for Wordbook was in Asia. His other applications 101 Romantic SMS, nLightFlashlight and Tutu Translate, among others, also earn him a fortune through advertising deals with an elite Indian advertising network called Vserv.
With a hefty $500,000 (about Shs 1.2 billion) in savings, Ssekalala will probably rank among the richest - and humblest - Ugandans next year, when he wants to make a million dollars.

"Friends now call me 'Billionaire' and all sorts of flattering names but I am not letting it get to my head because in the first place, I was not targeting the money," Ssekalala says.
"I still go to class, greet friends and prepare my own breakfast. I live a normal life."
Software development has lately become a global phenomenon with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the social networking site Facebook, which he founded with colleagues while a student at Harvard in 2004. At age 27, Zuckerberg is already worth $17 billion (one and a half times bigger than the entire Ugandan budget for last year.

Sponsored by: AFRICA INTERCULTURAL CONSULTING: Expatriate preparation and Cross-cultural Business Training for executives with regional responsibilities in Africa. Contact us today to help your company increase productivity and develop a globally-minded workforce. 
The market for mobile phone apps is huge and growing. Africa is the world's fastest growing mobile market, and is the biggest after Asia. The number of subscribers on the continent has grown almost 20% each year for the past five years, the GSM Association report on Africa says. It expects there will be more than 735 million subscribers by the end of 2012. Analysts say bad and expensive landline connections in Africa are responsible for the high mobile phone usage. Creating software for these phones is a business that knows few borders. And programmers like Ssekalala understand the needs of this market and how to meet them.
Abdu Ssekalala got his big break last year when mobile phone company Nokia held a training session in Uganda to help software developers expand their skills in building applications. He went through the course and when he developed his own application, Nokia was willing to adapt it for its online applications offerings. The mobile phone giant now sells Abdu's Apps in its specialist store, Ovi.
The Nokia Ovi Store is the firm's application store. In 2010, Nokia rolled out a platform that allows developers of data to sell it easily to its intended users worldwide. And now, bloggers, online publishers and website developers can use Nokia's Ovi Store to sell their graphics, music, movies, ring tones, text, software, digital assets and document formats.
Agatha Gikunda is Nokia's Head of Apps in East Africa, based in Nairobi. She says developers like Ssekalala have a unique opportunity through Nokia to access an international market and make money either from advertising or from revenue share per download. Ssekalala makes money from both.
"Africa is definitely the next frontier,” Gikunda says. “Developers here have a huge opportunity that they have never ever had before to create businesses that require very little startup capital. They are already trained in development so we then take them to the next step to train them in the development for a mobile phone and all you need is your computer and your idea, you publish your application for free, you select which countries around the world and that is it."
Nokia shares roughly halved last year as the company struggled to keep up with the pace of smartphone development while also losing ground at the cheaper end of the market to Asian brands.
But officials at the company say that their strategy to focus on the next billion customers will put their products in more hands than anyone else, thus giving developers like Ssekalala a wider market at a time when the demand for applications to access the internet is at a peak.
Ssekalala is still studying IT at Makerere University and is now mentoring others. He already owns two companies; Gogetta which employs eight people and Foo Technology with seven employees. Both companies focus on mobile and website development.
“Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to do something with computers and my biggest motivation has always been a desire to innovate and leave a mark that says I was once here,” he said. 
By Erika Amoako-Agyei, Africa Business Review.

3 July 2012

Cameroon, China Eximbank sign $467 million loan

YAOUNDE, June 30 | Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:14am EDT

YAOUNDE, June 30 (Reuters) - Cameroon and China's Eximbank have signed a loan agreement worth 241.4 billion CFA francs ($467.03 million)for the construction of an expressway road linking the capital Yaounde to Cameroon's economic hub and main Douala.

Economy Minister Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi told reporters after the signing ceremony that the road will cut the distance to be travelled between the two cities from 265 km (165 miles) on the existing road to about 215 km.

He also hoped the six-lane highway would benefit trade for the Central African sub-region. Central African Republic, Chad and other countries rely on Douala for much of their trade.

Construction of the expressway is due to start imminently and will cost a total 284 billion CFA francs, Cameroon providing the remainder. It is due to take five years to completion.

Djoumessi did not comment on whether a Chinese firm would be likely to win the construction contract.

($1 = 516.8880 CFA francs) (Reporting by Tansa Musa; Editing by Sophie Walker)

31 May 2012

Young African Invents Touch Screen Medical Tablet


Arthur Zang, a 24 year-old Cameroonian engineer, has invented the Cardiopad, a touch screen medical tablet that enables heart examinations such as the electrocardiogram (ECG) to be performed at remote, rural locations while the results of the test are transferred wirelessly to specialists who can interpret them. The device spares African patients living in remote areas the trouble of having to travel to urban centers to seek medical examinations.

“the tablet is used as a classical electrocardiograph device: electrodes are placed on the patient and connected to a module that, in turn, connects to the tablet. When a medical examination is performed on a patient in a remote village, for example, the results are transmitted from the nurse’s tablet to that of the doctor who then interprets them.”
According to Zang, “software built into the device allows the doctor to give computer assisted diagnosis.”
Cameroon, a Central African country with a population of some 20 million people, lays claim to only 30 heart surgeons. To make matters worse, these heart surgeons are mainly concentrated in Douala or Yaoundé, the country’s two most important economic hubs. This severe deficit of medical personnel means that patients with heart ailments usually have to travel long distances to undergo heart examinations and consult with doctors. Even at that, it is still not easy. On some occasions, patients must make appointments months in advance, and some even die in the process of waiting for their appointment.
Zang believes his invention will cut down the cost of heart examinations. The Cardiopad is already generating a lot of interest in African tech and medical circles. The inventor is currently looking for venture capital to commercially produce the device.
Read the detailed report about the Cardiopad here.
Follow me on Twitter @EmperorDIV

Arthur Zang With The Cardiopad
               Why Africa May Never Produce a Facebook, Groupon, Zynga or Google

28 May 2012

Your gateway for infrastructure business opportunities in Angola is now taking place in July

Your gateway for infrastructure business opportunities in Angola is now taking place in July

According to a comparative study from the World Bank published in Washington, Angola needs to invest USD 20 billion in infrastructure to catch up with other developing countries.

Every action being implemented to foster this country's development needs to be absolutely synchronized so that both the public and private sector can take the maximum benefits from it. In order to guarantee the total satisfaction of our clients, the success of the business goals of all companies visiting us in Luanda and the maximum relevance of iPAD Angola for the country´s development, both the organization and official partners have decided to change the dates of the event.

Save the new dates: 3 - 5 July 2012

What will you and your company benefit from this change:

  • Get aware of more business opportunities

  • More time to apply for your VISA

  • Greater flexibility in organizing your trip to Luanda

More time to register but less time to decide. Space is limited and close to completion. Book your place now!

What iPAD Angola has to offer to you and your company:

Mining | Power | Telecommunications | Water & Sanitation | Transport & Logistics | Industry | Finance & Investment

Download programme here


Jean-Pierre de Carvalho +27 21 700 3512

Moisés Antunes +27 21 700 3534

Sponsorship and exhibition

Michela Valigy+27 21 700 3534

Lello Sekesseke+27 21 700 3526

Join our conversation

Visit our blog

27 March 2012

Charlotte Africa Business Week 2012:April 24-28, Charlotte, NC, USA

Written by: Editorial Staff on March 18, 2012.on March 21, 2012.

The Charlotte Africa Business Week (CABW) 2012 is the first ever initiative of this kind to connect Charlotte with business opportunities in Africa. CABW partners are the Global Business Roundtable (GBR); Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI), an umbrella chamber of commerce organization for chambers across Africa and based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Afribiz, a division of Conceptualee, Inc.; and University of North Carolina Charlotte’s (UNCC’s) Africana Studies Department. Ecobank is the anchor sponsor.

Charlotte’s competitive strengths in Banking, Finance, and Investment, Energy, Healthcare, Education, Technology, as well as the State of North Carolina’s additional strengths in these areas and agriculture, match many of the needs of the fast growing African continent with a population over 1 billion and annual GDP of over $1 trillion. In several countries in Africa, the middle class is growing faster and has greater purchasing power than the middle class in China or India. Also, seven of the fastest growing economies (Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo) in the world for the next five years are in Africa, according to The Economist. The Economist expects the Africa region to overtake the Asia region in growth within five years.

CABW 2012 will bring together not only the private sector in Charlotte and across Africa, but also those in the academic and social sectors. It will also create a basis for energizing the African diaspora in the area to work more collectively to create bridges between Africa and the United States.

The week’ schedule includes:

Tuesday, April 24 – A one-day workshop, “Going Global in Africa,” designed for local SMEs, entrepreneurs, faculty, and students about practical strategies and tactics for doing business in Africa will be held. The workshop is being hosted by the University of North Carolina Charlotte Africana Studies department.

Wednesday, April 25 –The Global Business Roundtable USA and Global Fund for Christ launch dinner is scheduled for this day.

Thursday, April 26 – Key industry and society meetings (closed to public) covering areas, such as banking/finance, energy, healthcare, and urban planning, will be held. The day will also include business-to-business meetings between Charlotte and African firms.

Friday, April 27 – The one-day conference, “Doing Business in Fast-Growing Africa: A Focus on Regional Markets and Economic Hubs,” will be held for the general public.

Saturday, April 28 – The one-day workshop, “Building Sustainable Prosperity in Africa,” for ministries, NGOs, and kingdom entrepreneurs to develop sustainable programs in Africa while embedding economic development into African communities they serve.

For further information, call Darlene Tolbert at 704.819.3333 or email at darlene.tolbert@conceptualee.com.

Partners and Organizers:

Senegal host to first Startup Weekend in Francophone Africa

By Bertil van Vugt on March 27, 2012

During the presidential elections of last weekend the world was looking at Senegal and many observers were surprised when Wade handed over the power to opposition candidate Sall. Soon after the celebration of this ‘victory for democracy’ it will be time for the first Startup Weekend in Francophone Africa as Senegal’s capital city Dakar will host the worldwide event from 30 March to 1 April. VC4Africa spoke to Yann Le Beux, one of the organizers.

How will the outcome of Sunday’s election influence starting entrepreneurs?

“This peaceful and loyal second round of elections which saw the arrival of a new president is another proof of the historical political stability of Senegal. It is also great news for foreign investors and businesses here. The new president Makcy Sall announced an ambitious program for IT and entrepreneurship and we hope he will keep this position. Several actors like our incubator CTIC Dakar, the ICT Business Association (OPTIC) and the Senegalese Accelerated Growth Initiative (SCA) are constantly pushing the government for a stronger support to entrepreneurs. The presence of officials at the first StartupWeekend Dakar is for instance a good thing but should only a first stone.”

Why is there a need for a Startup weekend in Senegal?

“Firstly to put Dakar and its active tech scene into the international startup community. Secondly to create a highly engaging and business oriented event for developers and entrepreneurs. Thirdly to make people from different background and sectors work together on concrete business ideas and start long term collaborations. And last but not least to prove decision makers, corporations and investors that motivated people can develop prototypes of meaningful IT solutions in a short time and at no cost and thus, that well supported IT startups can have a tremendous impact on the country’s economy.”

Can you describe the startup scene in Senegal and Dakar in particular?

“The Senegalese startup scene has been really booming in the past year or two and Dakar is clearly becoming a leading tech hub for West Africa. The first reason for this recent activity is certainly the quality of the network and the mobile phones’ penetration, Senegal having one of the best telecom and internet infrastructures on the continent.

Another asset of the Senegalese ecosystem lies in the regionally recognized academic institutions like the Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique, UCAD, ESMT and many others institutions that attract the best talents from all francophone Africa. The highly connected and entrepreneurial Diaspora that has been through world-class universities and companies in Europe and the US also plays a crucial role in the environment. A lot of them actually came back to found their own venture. Dakar is the West-African base for most of the major IT corporations like Google, Microsoft, HP, IBM, Nokia and Samsung that are all actively involved in the ecosystem.

Lastly, the past two years have seen the emergence of dynamic initiatives driven by the private sector to boost entrepreneurship like the incubator and accelerator CTIC Dakar, the coworking space Jokkolabs, or the Mobile Senegal group. Dakar also has very active BarCamp, Android and Open-Source communities.

The startup scene is mostly concentrated in Dakar but we recently saw a dynamic ecosystem emerging also around Saint-Louis thanks to the University UGB and the coworking space Bantalabs. These are all great assets for an entrepreneurship ecosystem, but Senegal is still lacking of risk-investors at the seed stage even if some international VCs like Investisseurs et Partenaires, Aureos Capital or Cauris are around and made some later stages investments. We are still lobbying the government towards the creation of a national IT seed fund and for a law giving a fixed quota of the public markets to local SMEs.”
IT is often regarded as a sector on its own and due to a lack of cross-linkages, IT solutions struggle to impact sectors where they could have an enormous leverage for the Senegalese economy. We then decided to focus the event on this two sectors first but others events will target m-health, m-finance and other key areas. However, it’s important to point out that the event remains open to any great idea from any sector.”

What can visitors of the StartupWeekend Dakar expect?

“They can expect concrete networking opportunities with other talented developers and entrepreneurs. They will also have the chance to share with seasoned entrepreneurs part of our mentors and jury like Cheikh Tidiane Mbaye, CEO of Orange-Sonatel (1 billions € revenues in 2011), Tidjane Deme, Director of Google Francophone Africa, Chams Diagne, Director of Viadeo Africa and the founders of some of the most successful IT companies in the region: Antoine Ngom of GSIE, Abdoulaye Mbaye of Neurotech and Omar Cissé of 2SI and now director of CTIC Dakar.

The participants will also have the opportunity to boost their project and get a lot of media attention. The national TV channel RST1 will for instance follow and broadcast the entire weekend. Of course, winning teams will received some reward from our partners like a 3 months incubation program at CTIC Dakar, working spots at Jokkolabs, access to Bizpark and a SME manager training from Microsoft, and others…”

You work for CTIC Dakar, please describe the organization and your role?

“CTIC Dakar is the first incubator and accelerator of Senegal for high-potential IT and mobile entrepreneurs. We are a non-profit and our vision is to become one of the leading hubs in West Africa for the training, the growth and the funding of high-potential entrepreneurs. Originated by the private sector and the World Bank InfoDev program, CTIC is also supported by corporations like Orange-Sonatel and international donors. After less than one year of activity, we incubate nine companies of 5 to 20 employees each and we accelerated more than 15 startups projects through our different programs.

We organize events for the tech community, private business networking and seminars for IT entrepreneurs and we are now building strong links with universities. I joined the management team few months ago as a Catalyst. My role is to work with entrepreneurs on their strategy and business models, coordinate the team of consultants and mentors and to work on innovative funding scheme for tech startups. On the incubator side, I help building international partnerships, design new programs and develop our long term strategy along with our Director Omar Cissé.”

What are examples of recent successful startups in Senegal? And who should we watch in the coming year?

“We can mention ‘People Input‘, which recently received an award as the best West-African web and social media agency. Created 7 years ago, the network solution provider ‘Neurotech‘ also had an amazing growth and now boosts a nice +€3m revenue. There is then ‘GSIE‘, ‘2SI or Chaka‘ computers that all have more than 5 years of continual growth in the field.

On the newcomers’ side, I think of ‘Nelam Services‘, a great startup team which provides high-value African content on different platforms and notably creators of Agendakar.com; ‘M-Loumas‘, a promising startup that provides a mobile app connecting producers and vendors in rural daily markets; ‘Signupcard.com‘ that provides a platform to create personalized online video business cards and ‘SenMobile‘, which develops various mobile apps and recently won the Ericsson’s App for Africa challenge.

As far I am concerned, I think we should really watch and develop local content mobile apps, crowd sourcing and funding platforms, private social networks for businesses, group texting and gaming applications, notably via Facebook.”

How can people contact you?

“Via email Yann.lebeux [at] cticdakar.com, Phone +221 33 889 9360, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and via our website www.cticdakar.com.”

GroFin expands pool of SME funding to $323 million, enters three new countries

GroFin, the multinational pioneer of growth finance working to create real impact through the support of small and medium businesses, has announced a growth in funds under management from $260 million to $323 million. These funds are invested in supporting entrepreneurs and business people to start or grow a business. The company also announced that it will be launching three new offices in 2012 in Zambia, Jordan and a regional office serving the UAE.

Since launching in 2004, GroFin has established a reputation of being a leading provider of finance and business support to entrepreneurs and business owners in Africa and the Middle East.

Guido Boysen – CEO GroFin Africa adds “We are thrilled to announce an increase in the funds we have available, as well as our entry into three new markets rich with potential. We have a strong foundation in place, a proven and scalable model and a firm commitment to make a lasting impact in the growth of the SME sector.”

GroFin’s choice to invest in entrepreneurs and businesses that are locally owned and managed in the markets in which it operates, is rooted in the vision that these businesses hold the potential to create sustainable economic and social impact. However while this sector of the market is theoretically best able to empower and mobilise societies, the majority of these businesses fail to survive past their early years of operation.

Mohamed Toki – CEO GroFin MENA explains “Many so-called SMEs find themselves in the ‘missing middle’ where they do not have the collateral required for traditional secured lending and are too small for private equity but too large for micro-finance. Entrepreneurs and businesses in this sector are underserviced with few capable partners offering the combination of risk finance, experienced business support, and market linkages required to succeed. Recognising both the challenge and the opportunity GroFin was formed to successfully service this sector”.

GroFin’s unique viability based model is recognised as a pioneering model globally in the provision of risk based finance. The success of the GroFin business model has been recognised by the UN Development Programme, who in 2010 recognised GroFin for its contribution to developing local businesses, and in so doing promoting the Millennium Development Goals. The business also won the Africa Investor Awards consecutively for two years. The GroFin model is furthermore widely used as a benchmark and role model for growth finance to SMEs.

About GroFin

GroFin is an award winning multi-national fund manager and growth financier focused on sustainable investment in the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector. Operating in the growth finance market our vision is to see committed entrepreneurs and local business people who have viable businesses or ideas able to access the funding and support they require to succeed and in doing so drive economic and social empowerment in their societies.

Established in 2004, GroFin is able to leverage significant management experience, expertise and operational capacity developed across our 14 offices in 13 countries into fully integrated and customised local market solutions. With an investment portfolio of 300 transactions and a proven track record of managing approximately US$300 million across seven funds we are a pioneering and global leader in our sector.

For more information contact PR and Communications Officer: Amy Heydenrych

Phone: +27 12 998 8200.

GroFin website: www.grofin.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/grofin

Ethiopia: from hunger and despair to business opportunities

Entrepreneur Addis Alemayehou firmly believes in his country’s strengths

Addis Alemayehou: "Ethiopia is a different country now"

“A lot has changed for the good in Ethiopia. Although the famine of the eighties is long ago, many still have an unbalanced image of Ethiopia.” Meet Addis Alemayehou, an entrepreneur in Ethiopia, who firmly believes in the economic potential of his country. Ethiopia will be hosting the World Economic Forum Africa in May and Addis’ will be co-organizing an ‘Invest in Ethiopia’ forum for the participants coming to the event.

Addis, now 41 years old, left his country with his parents at the age of 7; he was raised in Kenya and Canada but returned to his country ten years ago. Addis is member of the board of the ICTET, the ICT association of Ethiopia, but he is probably best known for his work in the advertising and communication sector. Two years ago the managing partner of the Addis Ababa ad and PR agency 251 Communications started the first English-language radio station of Ethiopia, AFRO FM, covering African business news.

There is definitely a lot to report on in Ethiopia. “It has been 26 years since the world was shocked by the pictures of hunger and despair. It is a different country now and I would love to help change the image of Ethiopia; one of the fastest growing countries in the world today. This year, our economy is growing almost as fast as India’s and China’s. We have had double digit growth for six years now!”

Growth numbers

An entrepreneurial spirit in the local business community fuels Ethiopia’s growth numbers. “We are now the second largest flower producer – next to Kenya – of Africa, exporting a growing number of our products to Europe. There is a tremendous amount of investment going on right now. Heineken just invested $ 175 million in Ethiopia and Diageo brought in another $ 230 million. There are a lot of investment opportunities in other sectors.”

What sectors look promising? “I would say agriculture is number one. This is a huge, green country, with lots of opportunities. Two would be manufacturing, because the 86 million inhabitants are rapidly becoming consumers; we have a fast-growing middle class that has real spending power. Three would be tourism: this country has seven Unesco World Heritage Sites! It is an old country that has been around for 3,000 years and that has never been colonised! Number four and five on the investment list are the IT and energy sectors, because there is a lot happening in these areas now. Ethiopia is like a plane waiting to take off: either you get on it or don´t.”


Of course, there is work to be done. “We do need to get rid of some of the red tape. We do need to work on logistics and infrastructure; fortunately, the government has a strong focus on building roads, domestically and regional, to better connect Ethiopia to the world. I call this ‘work in progress’. To businessmen I would say: come now and don’t wait until Ethiopia is finished.”

New Report Finds Agriculture Promotes African Economic Growth

A new report says African agriculture can contribute to sustained global economic growth. But it says there must first be greater investment in farming, markets and social development.

The Montpellier Panel, made up of European agricultural experts, is calling for “growth with resilience” in Africa.

“If you look at African countries now you’ll see that large numbers of them are growing very well. The average growth rate for the whole of Africa is about six percent. But there are many that are growing faster. And a key component of that growth is agricultural development. So that is all very good,” said Sir Gordon Conway, panel chair and professor of international development at Imperial College London.

On the other hand, Conway said, there are threats to that development.

“There are some terrible pests and diseases that destroy crops virtually overnight in Africa. There are all the problems arising from global warming. There are likelihoods of increased drought, of rising temperatures and of course extreme events of major flooding or heat waves. And all of these mean that the growth by itself is not going to be enough,” he said.


The Montpellier Panel is recommending a three-part strategy: resilient markets, resilient agriculture and resilient people.

“What Africa ought to look at is the potential for growth with resilience. Resilience being the capacity to cope with these threats of many kinds. And we also argue that the resilience has to be built in right from the outset. It’s not something you can just sort of tag on at the end. So the future lies really with having these two components welded together – growth and resilience,” said Conway.

He added resilient markets reduce food price volatility, attract more investors and encourage greater productivity for smallholder farmers. Resilient agriculture, he says, requires partnerships involving governments, the private sector and NGOs to reduce land and water degradation and increase climate smart farming techniques.

“You’ve got to have good, enabling environments that allow new technologies to be adopted. But most important, you need technologies that will give you the resilience and the production at the same time. Some of these can come from agro-ecology. Things like mixed cropping or micro-dosing or so on. Or they can come from new crop breeds, which will give you tolerance if not resistance to drought and flooding and so on,” he said.

The Montpellier Panel describes resilient people as those “able to provide stable incomes, adequate nutrition and good health in the face of recurrent stresses and shocks.”

“You need better nutrition, particularly for young children in Africa. Something like 50 percent of the children in Africa, in many countries, are stunted. And if they get better nutrition then they’re more resilient to diseases,” he said.

The recommendations, said Conway, will take political will to implement, both from donor governments and the African leadership. He says a growing number of African leaders are investing in agricultural. He describes Ghana as a shining example of how investments spur economic growth.

Cameroon’s hydroelectric plans

27 March 2012 - Negotiations have begun between Cameroon’s ministry of water and energy and Joule Africa of the UK as well as German company Lahmeyer. This relates to the potential construction of an up to 500 MW hydroelectric dam in Menchum in northeast Cameroon. The consortium is preparing to launch an assessment of what is called the Kpep project's estimated costs.

22 March 2012

Africans inherited corruption

Most well-intentioned corruption-busting remedies in Africa fail because the root causes are often poorly understood. Post-independence African countries inherited deeply corrupt institutions, laws and values from colonial and apartheid governments.

Instead of changing these for the better, African ruling parties and leaders entrenched these deeply compromised governance systems.

In most African colonies, the colonial elite centralised political, economic and civic power, reserving top jobs in the public and private sector, and education only to fellow colonials. In the colony, the institutions that should traditionally serve as watchdogs against corruption – the judiciary, police, security services and laws – selectively served only the elite. These institutions were more often subservient to the all-powerful colonial administrator or governor.

The colonial private sector, producing in most cases for export to the imperial market, was usually deeply dependent on the colonial government for licences, contracts and subsidies and rarely held the colonial government accountable.

With few exceptions, the colonial media were equally bridled.

At independence the African colonial elite were now often replaced by another narrow elite, this time the independence movement aristocracy – the dominant independence leader and dominant “struggle” families, or the dominant ethnic group or political faction.

African independence movements are often highly centralised or strongly dominated by one leader and his political, ethnic or regional faction. The dominant structural make-up of these movements means that they can seamlessly fit into a similar centralised political culture of the colonial government.

At independence, the indigenous communities of most African countries were relatively poor, unskilled and without any significant holdings in the private sector.

Very few grassroots cadres of independence movements had professional careers outside the struggle. They have to be given jobs after the struggle. This situation is fertile for corruption.

The newly acquired state bureaucracy, military, judiciary, nationalised private sector were often seen as the “spoils” of victory of the independence struggle. The whole process often becomes corrupted with struggle aristocracies dishing out patronage – jobs, government tenders and newly nationalised private companies – to their political allies, ethnic group or region.

Giving jobs to members of the same faction, ethnic group or region means the idea of merit-based appointments is thrown out of the window. This means that even if the newly empowered independence movement launched economic development programmes to transform the colonial economy, such reforms are hardly ever going to have any impact given that unqualified cronies are managing key public institutions.

Jobless cadres are also forced to seek out the patronage of leaders who have control over the distribution of the “spoils”.

In most cases, cadres critical of the dominant leaders or policies are likely to be excluded from work in the public and private sectors.

Very few African countries at independence had a significant private sector. Those that had a large private sector more often than not saw it nationalised.

Partly for these reasons, the private sector in post-independence African countries is usually docile is unlikely to demand accountability from the government.

In some instances the liberation movement government embarks on a policy of creating a “capitalist class” or new “indigenous” business owners, black economic empowerment (BEE) or indigenisation programmes.

In many such instances political capital forms the basis of these attempts at creating indigenous capitalists: political leaders either get stakes in newly privatised public companies, or get state tenders to supply services for the government, or get slices of private companies owned by former colonials, minority groups or foreign companies.

Those who benefit from BEE, indigenisation or privatisation programmes will not hold African governments accountable.

Before independence, the small colonial elite often lived lives of conspicuous consumption – expensive mansions, exclusive shopping trips in the mother country capital, lavish parties. A culture of hard work was often absent.

Sadly, many of the post-independence African elite – both the political and economic empowerment class – took the colonial elite’s conspicuous consumption standard as the standard of “success”.

Not surprisingly, some of the poor also want to emulate this “bling” lifestyle – and may not see any problem with leaders living like this, if they themselves remain poor.

During struggles for liberation, progressive civil groups usually join the liberation as part of an anti-colonial alliance. At independence most liberation movements argued that civil society had now played its historic role and should be “demobilised”, or some are often incorporated as “desks” or “leagues” of the now governing party.

During the struggle, independence movements were by their nature secretive. They often had to act in secrecy and subterfuge to foil the secret or security police of the colonial or white-minority governments. Sadly, in power, most govern with obsessive secrecy, which encourages corruption.

Liberation and independence leaders were often put on a pedestal by supporters. This often continues after independence – and allows the leader to get away with corruption.

The colonial system of legal unfairness necessarily forced many among the oppressed to find ways to escape the (unjust) laws and rules. Unless independence in the post-colonial period set clear examples of following the rule of law, the masses will continue such practices

In some African countries, the main opposition parties are either associated with the colonial or the minority governments, or had opposed independence.

But opposition parties that eventually come to power in Africa have often offered few alternatives to the corrupt regimes of independence movements.

Most African ruling parties and leaders lack the political will to genuinely tackle corruption. This will have to change.

Sadly, enforcement and compliance in African public sectors has often been very low – opening up the system for corruption. The corruption-fighting capacity of existing institutions dealing with corruption must also be strengthened.

African ruling parties must punish bad behaviour of their leaders and members, legally, socially and politically, and reward good behaviour. Only if that is done publicly will the government restore the moral authority to deal credibly with transgressions from ordinary citizens. This will help to compel ordinary citizens to follow the rules.

African ruling parties must bring in a new calibre of leadership at all levels – competent, honest and decent. A system of merit must be brought into the internal party elections.

Africans need to actively encourage new kinds of leaders, with a new value system – not solely based on struggle credentials.

The solution is more exposure of corruption by the media. Right now, the perception across Africa is that whistle-blowers are more likely to be prosecuted than the corrupt individuals.

African public officials often dismissed international organisations’ corruption reports on Africa, saying these reports are infused by Western bias, which overlook corruption in Western countries and focus only developing countries.

Of course this is true to some extent. However, that should be a separate debate and should not downplay the real serious issue of corruption at home.

Blaming the legacy of colonialism and apartheid – although certainly with us – has become an easy answer for not acting against corruption. This will have to change.

Gumede is honorary associate professor at Wits, author and co-editor of The Poverty of Ideas .
March 19 2012 at 11:55am

By William Gumede

16 February 2012

China Petroleum Corp. Set To Ship Its Oil Via Cameroon By End Of 2012 - Official

YAOUNDE, Cameroon -(Dow Jones)- The China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) and the Cameroon government have agreed that the Chinese firm will ship its crude from Chad through Cameroon by the end of 2012, a top Cameroonian official involved in the talks told Dow Jones Newswires Monday.
"With negotiations near completion, Chadian government authorities have reached an agreement which authorizes the Chinese company to start shipping its crude oil from Chad through the Chad-Cameroon pipeline," said the official, who is member of the Cameroon-based Pipeline Pilot Steering and Monitoring Committee in Yaounde.
"This is because CNPC will start production by this year's end and wants to benefit from the existing Chad-Cameroon pipeline," added the source, who preferred speaking on condition of anonymity.
Last talks between CNPC and the Cameroon Oil Transport Co., the Tchad Oil Transportation Company (TOTCO), and Exxon Chad were held last November.
TOTCO manages the 1,080-kilometer pipeline that runs from southern Chad and terminates at Cameroon's Atlantic coastal town of Kribi.
Since its operations began in October 2003, the Chad-Cameroon has been shipping crude produced by American oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM) , Chevron Corp. (CVX) and Malaysia'sPetroliam Nasional Bhd. to date.
China's CNPC had begun oil and gas exploration for seven-expectant oil wells in Chad in since 2003.
Also, Canada'sGriffiths Energy International Inc. is also in talks with Cameroon authorities to ship crude through the same pipeline.
Griffiths Energy won three permits in 2011 to explore and develop oil in southern Chad, the official had told Dow Jones Newswires last month.
As it is still in the exploration stage it is unclear how much crude Griffiths would be seeking to ship through the pipeline, the official had said.
Some 37 million barrels of Chadian crude were shipped through the pipeline in 2011, around the same amount as were shipped in 2010. Potential alternative routes for Chad crude include north to Libya, or south to Republic of Congo through Central African Republic, although no infrastructure exists on either of these routes.
-By Emmanuel Tumanjong, contributing to Dow Jones Newswires; +237-9655-6261; tnuel@yahoo.com

14 February 2012

Saudi Fund to Help Finance Congo Republic-Cameroon Road Project

By Robert Mbakouo
Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- The Saudi Fund for Development will provide as much as 5 billion CFA francs ($10.1 million) of funding for a road linking the Congo Republic town of Ouesso with Sangelima in neighboring Cameroon, Congo’s government said.
The project is part of a plan to improve trade and economic links in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, the Economy and Planning Ministry said in a statement handed to reporters today in Brazzaville, the capital.
The Saudi fund provides loans that are repayable over as long as 50 years with a 10-year grace period, according to the Saudi Arabia Market Information Resource. The cost of the loans is “generally” 1 percent, according to its website.
The community comprises Cameroon, Congo Republic, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Chad.
--Editors: Paul Richardson, Alastair Reed.
To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Mbakouo in Brazzaville via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

9 February 2012

Farming – the one area where Africa can have a competitive advantage

Agriculture in Africa offers many diverse opportunities. This is one area where Africa can have a competitive advantage over every other continent for some of the following basic reasons:
  • Agriculture is ingrained in the culture; over 60% of Africans are already involved in farming, though largely subsistence.
  • There is an abundance of arable land estimated at a potential of over 300 million hectares, according to the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
  • The climate is largely favourable.
  • There is access to water.
  • Africa can meet diverse agricultural requirements.
  • There is a market right in Africa – local consumption currently far outstrips production.
  • There are relatively low labour costs.
  • Potential arable land and market size
    Citing an FAO study, the UNEP/GRID Arendal website says that there is a potential of 300 million hectares of rain-fed arable land above current availability. This would be a potential increase anywhere from 150% to 750%. The greatest potential is in Southern Africa.
    McKinsey estimates that Africa’s agricultural sector currently generates crops valued at $280 billion each year. It believes this could grow to $500 billion in 2020 and as much as $880 billion in 2030.
    The vast market opportunities come first from meeting the needs of the large, local population. Many African nations are currently net importers of food, spending billions of dollars on food imports yearly. For instance, the FAO reports that Nigeria imported $2.5-$2.7 billion in agricultural products between 2005 and 2007. Much of this food requirement can be produced locally.
    Exports and foreign involvement in African farmland
    The FAO estimates that Africa’s total agricultural exports reached a little over 25 billion in 2007. According to the OECD Development Centre, “The agricultural export composition has experienced a major shift. It has diversified from bulk commodities to horticultural products and, to a smaller extent, processed products …” However, Africa accounted for less than 3% of agricultural exports globally.
    But think about it, this is a huge opportunity. Food consumption is expected to rise globally and Africa holds about 60% of the world’s unused arable land.
    In fact, the focus on African agriculture has accelerated tremendously in the past few years, following the trend where foreign governments, international agribusinesses, investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds, as well as pension funds, foundations, and individuals are investing in Africa’s land for the purpose of producing food for export.
    This is probably by far the biggest single trend involving African agriculture in recent times. Rich nations currently hold millions of hectares of African farmland in a bid to tackle food shortages.
    One example is Saudi Star in Ethiopia as reported in The Guardian. Saudi Star has huge facilities, which pack 50 tons of food a day for export to markets in the Middle East. It currently employs over 1,000 women.
    Though the benefits of this trend to Africans are still being debated in many quarters, the foreign interest is contributing to an increase in the value of agriculture on the continent. Analysts from Neuafrika.combelieve that if this foreign supply is well balanced with local supply, it will add to creating an even larger potential market for agricultural products. Also, if properly handled, it will continue to bring in investment funds, technology, and create jobs. If poorly handled, it has the potential to become another form of colonisation.
    Tackling challenges of agriculture while creating opportunities
    Some of the challenges faced by the agricultural sector in Africa are inadequate infrastructure, e.g., roads, electricity, shortage of inputs like seeds and fertiliser, limited access to equipment and machinery for large scale farming, and land ownership issues. Every one of these challenges offers an investment opportunity.
    In the Naivasha district of Kenya, for instance, the challenge of bad road infrastructure adversely affected rose growers. Competing growers got together and fixed up their roads, thereby supporting the industry. The horticulture industry is one of Kenya’s top foreign exchange earners, making $922 million in 2009. Kenya exports 1,000 tons of produce and flowers, including roses, carnations, and lilies, per day. This sub-sector employs 50,000-70,000 people directly and over 1.5 million people indirectly.

    Another solution, which is systematic, is agriculture growth corridors. They are development corridors focused on the entire agricultural value chain from growing to harvesting to transporting to exporting. They are seen as a means to catalyse both agricultural and economic development. They follow the development of existing transport corridors, e.g., Harare-Mutare-Beira.
    In Africa, private sector, government, and NGOs collaborate on such initiatives. Yara International, one of the biggest fertiliser producers globally, and the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) are spearheading two agricultural growth corridors – Beira covering MozambiqueMalawi, andZimbabwe, and Southern covering Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and the DRC.
    NEPAD has thrown its support into the concept of leveraging the improvements expected along 12 development corridors in Africa for agriculture. They have set up a separate organisation called TransFarm Africa (TFA) to spearhead the initiative. Among its initiatives is an enterprise investment fund for agriculture called TFA Transformation Fund.
    As these develop, expect opportunities to grow like along transport corridors connecting major cities along the coast and in the interior of Africa. If foreign investors, or businesses, partner with local African agricultural firms, they will be able to leverage more of the benefits from these initiatives.
    With Africa’s natural assets conducive to agriculture and the increasing demand for food globally, Africa is headed down the path of being the key breadbasket for the world, if developed correctly.
    This offers extraordinary opportunities for businesses and investors for a long time.
    Food is a basic element for human survival, so it is a sector that doesn’t require much imagination as to its potential. The opportunities multiply as the global population is expected to be one-third more in 2050 than today.
    The FAO anticipates that there will be a 70% increase in food demand in 2050 based on the growing global population, but also the fact that people will have moved up the socioeconomic scale and increased consumption.
    Africa is a logical place for pursuing agricultural ventures because of the potential arable land and water. The challenges, such as yields, inputs, and infrastructure, can be addressed with systematic interventions.
    The rationale for Africa being a strategic location for the global agricultural food chain is strengthened by the current onslaught of foreign firms leasing land from African nations for agricultural production. It is also strategic in that firms can develop ventures to meet local consumption while exporting to other regions, offering many markets for food products. And markets like the United States provide preferential import mechanisms for certain agricultural products from Africa.
    Nissi Ekpott is a Nigerian-born entrepreneur. This article was first published in Redefining Business in the New Africa (2011). Click here to buy the book.