Africa In Focus

Africa In Focus: "The mainstream thinking now is that Africa is different and we could get it right if we want. The choice is fully ours, and it is now time for us to define what we want."

African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Zimbabwe Woos Australia Investors


To channel in more investors in the upstream and downstream industry, Zimbabwe is calling on Australia investors to invest in its mining sector which is playing a major role in its economic recovery.

This call was made by Zimbabwe’s Deputy Mines and Development Minister, Gift Chimanikire, at the Africa Down Under Conference in Perth.

Although, Zimbabwe’s mining sector grew by 25.8 percent in 2011 and contributed 13percent to the country’s GDP and more than 60 percent of its total earnings; Chimanikire call came at a time when the Zimbabwe’s mining industry is suffering from under-capitalisation.
Zimbabwe is therefore calling on Australia resource companies which are known for their investment in resources like coal, gold, iron ore and uranium; that are in abundance in the Southern African country.
Chimanikire revealed that Zimbabwe government is ready to enter a joint venture partnership with Australian investors and an open door policy has been given to such investment.
 “While the Government has provisions for local empowerment as part of any new investment deals struck, it is in an environment of ensuring community participation in the exploitation of our natural resources,” he said.

“We provide for mining companions to have the right to market their mineral directly, and there is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Zimbabwe to crystallise new resources investment,” he added.
The minister however stressed that investments of more than US$100 million would qualify for special mining leases.

Speaking on the country’s vast resources, Chimanikire stated that “Of our more than 4,000 recorded gold deposits, nearly all of them are located on ancient workings, revealing inherent investment opportunities in vastly under-explored areas away from the ancient workings – even though more than 90% of Zimbabwe’s gold deposits are in greenstone belts associated with some of the richest gold mines in the world.”

“If I look at Australia-Zimbabwe commodity comparisons, Zimbabwe hosts large reserves of thermal and coking coal with some 29 locations hosting estimated resources of more than 12 billion tonnes of coal – yet more require capitalisation and therefore need a partner.

“We also have huge iron ore deposits, like Australia, with the lead deposits estimated to host more than 30 billion tonnes of iron reserves – yet most await full exploitation.

“And in uranium, we have done some minor work in the Zambezi Valley and that at a time of low prices so the global market presents good opportunity for uranium upside.”

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Australia Affirms Investment Partnership with Africa

Australia Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, has expressed Australia’s repeated commitment to investment in Africa.

"In the spirit of co-operation and in our own national economic interest, Australia is committed to developing a long term partnership with Africa," he said.

According to Carr, with more than 200 Australian companies undertaking more than 650 projects in 37 African countries, the continent now hosts 40 per cent of overseas Australian resource projects.

Carr stated that with Australian companies engaged in billions of dollars worth of projects across Africa, the pessimism about instability and risk has been progressively displaced by optimism.

He says with improved security and more stable government, along with a growing skilled middle class, Africa has the potential to match the economic transformation of Asia.

To further support investment ties with African countries, Carr revealed that the Australian government will provide $5 million to fund the establishment of the African Minerals Development Centre, to help guide the sustainable development of Africa's mineral reserves.

Meanwhile, South Africa's Mineral Resources Minister, Susan Shabangu, has urged Australia mining companies operating in South Africa to correct the unbalanced relationship that favours resource investors over African citizens.

She stated that Australia mining companies must move beyond partnerships that favour investors above all else to embrace a wider role in building the social infrastructure of the countries in which they are operating.

"This relationship must benefit both host mining jurisdiction and the investors alike, and not one over the other as the current characterisation of this relationship prefers the investor over others," she said.

Shabangu says companies need to see Africa as a long-term investment and do more to establish enduring partnerships.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Senates, TUC Calls For Withdrawal of N5,000 Introduction Plan

Nigeria senate committee on Banking, Currency and other Financial Institutions has discredited the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) idea to introduce N5,000 note into the economy next year. It asked CBN to withdraw the monetary plan.
According to the committee’s chairman, Senator Bassey Otu, such decision made by the CBN requires parliamentary approval because it has fiscal implications on the economy.
He posits that “This type of action is only taken where there is a major crisis and the CBN must be very careful in order not to send a wrong signal or message to households, domestic sector and even the external ones that the Nigerian currency is valueless, which I believe it is definitely not, and that for every unit of value they need to carry a large quantity of cash.”
Otu, who said this in a press briefing at the National Assembly yesterday, criticised the monetary change plan of the apex bank. He said that the CBN did a similar thing four years ago with the introduction of N1,000 and the outcome was not pleasant.
On the reintroduction of coin, Otu said the country had not developed the basic infrastructure for efficient use of coins.
 “We believe that the coinage works very well where there are infrastructures and we have not developed that basic infrastructure and even now, the coins are nowhere to be found.”
“In 2005, the CBN undertook a major currency restructuring which ran into billions of naira. Till date, the proper value assessment has not been done to know its cost to the Nigerian taxpayer and the extent of the benefits and in that 2005 coinage, I think it did not work at all because both the goldsmith and the blacksmith converted the coins to moulding bangles and earrings and so on and so forth.”
He therefore calls on the CBN to prove that the policy is not a clear contradiction with its cash-less initiative.
 “We are asking, and we will be sending a letter to them (CBN) to stop all further actions until the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is properly briefed. We have not been properly briefed and we don’t know the reason for it; even though at the moment, we do know that inflation is really a problem but I don’t think we have used all the mechanisms we have to tackle it and it’s not really out of hand.”
“I believe that a project of this nature requires parliamentary approval because there are numerous monetary and fiscal implications on the nation’s economy,” Otu said.
The senates are no alone in criticising the monetary move. Some economists also belive that the introduction of the N5,000 note is inappropriate as it would later cumulate to inflation in the country.
The leadership of the Trade Union Congress has also called for the withdrawal of the approval on the introduction of the N5,000 denomination.
 “We do not see any serious value in what the CBN intends to do, especially at this time when we are confronted with bigger issues of insecurity, unemployment, hunger, poverty, disease, decaying social and physical infrastructure and the deepening of mistrust and widening of the ethnic gaps within the nation,” a  statement released by the congress stated.
“Stability is the name of the game in money management if we are to achieve result but we do not see how this present action will lead to that.”
However, while others criticise the action of the CBN, Prof. Omo Omoruyi, the former Director-General of the defunct Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS) stated that it is the right of the apex bank to take such decision.
“We tend to politicise everything in this country. I believe the CBN must have done its homework. The moment we make so much noise about such things, there could be unanticipated results. Whatever the argument is, the CBN has the exclusive right to do so,” Omoruyi posits.
The proposed currency review which will cost about N40billion naira was approved by President Goodluck Jonathan was approved on December 19, 2011.

Monday, 27 August 2012

N5000 Notes Production To Cost N40Billion as Policy Meets Opposition Among Opinion Leaders

Following the announcement of impending currency change in the Nigeria market by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last Thursday, and the non-disclosure of the expenditure of  the proposed monetary plan, a source has been quoted as saying the apex bank will spend 40.3 billion naira ($256 million) to produce the new currencies.

According to The Punch, a member of the CBN board revealed to the paper that “The bank is spending over N40bn on the production of new coins and notes. The N40bn is the total sum for the production of the coins and the new notes.”

Out of the amount, 11.8 billion naira ($75 million) will be spent on the new N20, N10 and N5 coins, the newspaper stated.

The CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi had stated last Thursday that the cost of the printing will be communicated at the end of the financial year. “The cost of printing the currency is publicly available information in the published account of the Central Bank of Nigeria and you will see the cost of printing the naira in our balance sheet at the end of the year.”

The newspaper source also revealed that only the N5,000 note would be printed by a foreign firm which had “the technology and the capacity to handle the sensitive features in it.”

In a related development, the announcement of the introduction of the N5000 note has been met with criticism by some opinion leaders in the country.

A statement released by opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) through its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday stated that introduction of the N5000 may be detrimental to the economy of the country.

Citing the example of countries like Zimbabwe, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Angola and Zaire/DRC; the opposition party argued that these countries experienced inflation as a result of the introduction of higher currency. It advised the country to learn from the bitter experiences of Zimbabwe and others that introduced higher denominations.

Speaking on Zimbabwe’s situation, the political party said, “On May 5, 2007, Zimbabwe issued currency notes with face values of Z$100m and Z$250m. On May 15, 2007 a new bank note of Z$500m was issued, followed by the issue on 20th May 2007 of currency notes in denominations of Z$5b, Z$25b, and Z$50b. Finally, on July 21, 2007, bank notes with a face value of Z$100b were issued.

“Eventually, Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency and legalised the use of only foreign currencies. Curiously enough, in certain places in Nigeria today the American dollar is the accepted legal tender.”
According to the opposition party, the issuance of such high value currency notes is likely to be perceived as an indication of government’s failure to effectively control inflation.

“Unfortunately once this perception takes hold, increased inflation expectations can be built up quite rapidly and these have pushed many countries into a situation of hyper-inflation in the past, which has typically culminated in the re-denomination or even complete abandonment of the entire currency system,” the ACN said.

It disagreed with the assertion of the CBN that the introduction of reproduction of coin into the Nigeria monetary system will aid the effectiveness of the cashless policy. It said that “The introduction of a high face value currency note actually does the opposite because by reducing the unit cost of printing and transportation, it actually would promote the use of cash.”

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Director-General of the Obafemi Awolowo Institute of Government and Public Policy, Lagos (an independent think tank and research institute), Prof. Adigun Agbaje, also enjoined that the introduction of  the new currency is “a slippery slope towards hyper -inflation and that it is time to abandon failed inflation-control policies and inadequately thought- through experiments.”

He posits that the proposed plan “runs counter to the recent policy of the CBN to promote a “cash-less” economy by encouraging the increased use of non-cash transaction instruments.  This policy, which is aimed at reducing the use of cash has been justified by the need to reduce the burden of the cost of printing and distributing currency notes.  The introduction of a high face value currency note actually does the opposite. 

“By reducing the unit cost of printing and transportation, it actually should promote the use of cash.”
The institute stated that the impending consequence on the introduction of the N5000 note include the possibility to “raise government revenue”, “reduce the cost of transactions, with the possibility of inflicting “collateral damage” or having “unintended effects”.

Posted from Ventures-africa

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Marishane Ludwick: World's Best Student Entrpreneur

By Oluwabusayo Sotunde

Whether he positioned himself as a student, an entrepreneur, a Google EMEA Campus Ambassador or the founder of Headboy Industries Inc;  Marishane Ludwick’s instinct has always been a mixture of luck and cunning. As an inquisitive chap, he has always been ambitious in his dealings while thinking ahead of situations as an opportunity for advancement.

At the age of 18, the South African entrepreneur ventured into business at a time when most of his peers are still thinking of how to get their way into the labour market.

Born into the family of Lovemore Marishane and Stanford Malatji in the region of Limpopo, South Africa; 22 year old Ludwick journey into “creative” entrepreneurship was not by accident or chance; rather it was cultivated and nurtured by his father who had always encouraged innovative ideas. He credited his dad for fanning the flame of entrepreneurship in him while he was in his first year in high school.

His love for science also encouraged his quest in inventing things. When he was in 9th grade, he formulated his own biodiesel fuel, invented a healthy cigarette; and in 10th grade he authored a mobile dictionary and attempted to publish a nationwide security magazine.

However, what actually brought Marishane into the limelight was his invention of the first Drybath product in the world.

When Marishane was in 11th grade, a simple question from a lazy friend (“why doesn’t someone invent something you can just put on your skin and avoid the need to bathe?”) who refused to take his bath after they had both sunbathed, triggered Ludwick’s ever-inquisitive mind to make a research on a probable solution to the problem.

He went home that day and used his “well-enabled basic cell phone” to search if such product exist and on discovering that it doesn’t; he took it upon himself to research on the product before coming out with something tangible that could serve as an alternative for using water to bath.

His idea led to the creation of an anti-bacteria cleanser he called “Dry- Bath.” DryBath, a clear gel, is the world’s first and only bath-substituting skin gel. It works without soap and water.

“It took 6 months and endless time on Google & Wikipedia to do it”, he once said in a media interview.
Since the invention of DryBath in 2008, Marishane has patented the product and registered it as a company to commercialise it.

As young as he is, Marishane knows the value of time to a growing business; “I commit 30 hours per week to running the company,” he said.

However, prior to that time, the question, “How do I save water?” had often been on his mind and he had been interested in renewable energy and sustainability for a while. He took that thought and begged the question that –  “although solar water heaters and the like are great for providing sustainable alternatives, what if you could go one step further and save both water and electricity at the same time?.”

Marishane’s Drybath product came at a time when the amount of people in the world without access to water exceeds 2.5 billion people. Having a complete lack of water for an extended period of time often results in trachoma. The disease affects the eyes and can cause blindness if the person is repeatedly infected. The only preventative measure one needs to take to avoid contracting it is to wash their face.

The product was first designed for sleepy college students who are lazy to shower but today its greatest application is for millions of people who have no access to clean water. The product is also commercially available to global airlines on long-haul flights and governments who have soldiers on the field.

Speaking on his product- Dry Bath, he said, “I invented it to benefit people from the poorest communities in the world, and also for people in the developed world. For people without water, DryBath provides empowerment as an affordable tool to achieve lifesaving personal hygiene without having to be dependent on stagnant community water infrastructure development. For wealthier communities, it offers a convenient way to save time and decrease their unhealthy practice of unnecessary daily bathing (which is proven to cause continuous drying of the skin), while achieving adequate personal hygiene. In both situations, precious water is saved, which can be put to better use.”

His invention won him the Global Student Entrepreneurship Award (GSEA) at the Global Entrepreneur Week (GEW) for two consecutive years (2010 and 2011). This makes him the current best student entrepreneur globally.

The  GEW  is the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators, who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and human welfare. It features the Global Student Entrepreneurship Award- a premier international competition for High School, College, and Graduate students who have founded and are operating revenue generated business. The award is conducted by Entrepreneur’s Organisation, an elite society of entrepreneurs whose companies have combined annual revenues of over $124 billion.

“Participating in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards was a game-changing experience for my personal and professional growth, and winning is proof that crazy high school dreams can go on to bring about real change in the world.”

Marishane once said, “Find what you love doing, and exert all your effort on pursuing it. Do as much as you can on your own, and always ask for help when you need it. Embrace failure, because you will only ever experience it if you give up, not if you try & fail to succeed.”

Meanwhile, apart from being a student of the University of Cape Town with a degree in Bachelor of Business Science, Accounting and Finance (2012), Ludwick is a Google EMEA Campus Ambassador at his alma matter (The Google Ambassador Program was created in 2006 to support outstanding students in Computer Science and a variety of other majors such as Business and Marketing) and a former residence Tutor (Leo Marquard Hall residence) & Mentor at University of Cape Town.

Speaking on his course of study, Marishane sees himself as a visionary, pursuing a degree which will help him understand the world of business whereby Africa will be the first to benefit from his skills. “I decided to study an accounting degree because I think it will provide me with the broadest understanding of business.”
Noted to have turned down a position as “Head boy” according to him, the decision was made because:  “I turned down the position to give others a chance to lead.”

Expressing confidence in a recent interview, he quipped: “I do not think that you will ever encounter many teenagers who are as passionate about business as I am. I have good leadership capabilities, and an innate understanding of people and business processes.”

Below are some awards Marishane has  to his credit:

2011 Google Zeitgeist Young Mind
2011 SMU 6th LKY Global Business Plan Comp
2010 and 2011 Cape Town Entrepreneurship Competition – Finalist and Winner
2009/10 National Innovation Competition (NIC)- National Finalist
2010 Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) SA- 2nd National Environmental Prize
2010 Golden Key Honours Society- Best New Member
2010 Afriversity Entrepreneur of the month- July
2010 Cape Town Entrepreneurship Competition finalist
2009 Brightest Young Minds (Youngest delegate ever)
Allan Gray Fellow,
Deans Merit List,
2009 Regional Finalist for the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards,
2004 Maths, Science & Technology Olympiad (Gauteng Provincial winner),
Student of the Year (2000 to 2008)

Posted from Ventures-Africa

Friday, 24 August 2012

Sanusi: Inflation Will Not Affect the Introduction of N5000 Note Into Nigeria Economy

Following yesterday's announcement that  5000 Naira notes will be introduced into the Nigeria market, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor,  Lamido Sanusi, has stated that the introduction of the new note will not cause inflation to the country's economy.

According to him, introduction of  new currency in countries like Singapore, Japan and Germany which have higher bills of 10, 000 have not being weighed down by inflation.

“These denominations have relatively high dollar equivalent. The levels of inflation are, however, low at 2.8 percent, 1.1 per cent and -0.7 percent, respectively as of 2010. Furthermore, we believe that the introduction of a higher bill will complement the bank’s cash-less policy, as it will substantially reduce the volume of currency in circulation, particularly in the long term,” he said.

The new currency, which will be introduced into the Nigeria market next year (2013) will feature the faces of three Nigeria female nationalists - Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Kuti and Gambo Sawaba.

Speaking on the physical attribute of the proposed legal tender, CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, said “we have chosen three Nigerian women involved in the pre-independence struggles. And at the back, we have the National Assembly, denoting democracy.”
The last comprehensive review of the country’s currency was carried out in 2005, which resulted in the introduction of the N20 polymer banknote, followed by the withdrawal of the N50, N10 and N5 bank notes in 2007, which were also converted into polymer banknotes in 2009.

However, as part of the new currency appraisal, the N1000, N500, N200, N100, N50 notes will be redesigned and upgraded for security purpose while the N20, N10, and N5 notes will be converted to coins.  50K, N1, N2 are also to be included in the coins category.

Sanusi adjudged that the usage of coins will curb inflationary pressures, enhance the quality of banknotes and promote the cash-less policy.

To encourage the use of coins in the Nigerian market, Sanusi said that the apex bank would liaise with the relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government, Deposit Money Banks, road transport workers, market operators, small businesses and supermarkets.

According to him the change of the naira note which he called “Project Cure,” was aimed at upgrading the design of the entire range of currency denominations in order to enhance their quality and integrity, incorporate more effective features for the visually challenged, and introduce new security features on the redesigned banknotes.
He also stated that the currency change plan is done to achieve an optimal currency structure that will ensure cost effectiveness and balanced mix and utilisation of all the currency denominations; introduce new series of coins that will be generally acceptable for the purpose of transactions; and reducing the cost of production, distribution and disposal of banknotes by introducing higher bills that will reduce the volume and cost of banknotes in circulation.

Sanusi stated that, “On November 28, 2011, the CBN board considered and approved the new currency series. It subsequently sought and on December 19, 2011, obtained the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan.”
He however said that “There would be no urgent need for exchange of the old for the new bank notes by the general public for as long as the old banknotes are in circulation; they will remain legal tender.”

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Egypt Gets Android Snapdragon Smartphone From Etisalat


Credited with the introduction of the first 3G network in Egypt, U.A.E telecommunication giant, Etisalat, has taken another bold step to introduce its own Android-powered smartphone into the Egyptian Market.
Launching the mobile device is the first step in Etisalat Egypt’s plan to provide several smartphones that will bear the company name to meet the needs of  the Egyptian society in terms of the smart look and applications.
“This is the first step toward providing smartphones to all members of the society,” Wael Abu Al Ila, Head of Marketing at Etisalat Egypt said.
The android phone is enabled with a 3.5″ touch screen and a highly sensitive 2 Mega Pixel camera. It has a radio and a front and back camera with flash and zoom that gives users a unique experience.
The Qualcomm’s S1 Snapdragon processor Android-powered smartphone also comes with many pre-loaded advanced application such as PDF and Microsoft Office, Wi-Fi and GPS services, social communication programs like Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube as well as road maps through Wasalny app.
The Qualcomm advanced Snapdragon S1 processor will enable the Smartphone to combines high speed and energy efficiency to give users faster downloads and longer battery life.
The Senior Vice President and President of Middle East, Africa and Central Asia operations at Qualcomm, Jihad Srage, commended the effort of the telecommunication company. He said, “We are excited that Etisalat has chosen our Snapdragon S1 processor to power their first smartphone release. Etisalat’s new smartphone is a powerful device for today’s value driven consumer. Qualcomm is very proud to have its Snapdragon S1 processor be part of this innovative product offering.”
As an incentive, the telecommunication company has issued a special tariff for the users of this mobile to meet their needs for data and voice services.

Posted from Ventures Africa

Nissan South Africa To Increase Production Capacity by 2014


With approval from its parent company, Nissan Motor Company Limited, Nissan South Africa (Nissan SA) is planning to increase its Rosslyn-based plant to 100,000 units a year.

The increase which is set to begin at the later part of 2014 will feature a rise in the company production of new pick-up generation from Nissan. The production capacity has already increased at the Rosslyn plant to 50,000 from its production capacity of 25,000 in 2008.

The commencement of Nissan SA production will create approximately 800 new jobs directly and about 4 000 more through the supply chain.

 According to Nissan SA Managing Director, Mike Whitfield, the introduction of the new investment will result in a new production platform at the plant with a total investment cost of more than 1billion rand ($121 million).
The automobile company is ramping up its production market to meet consumer’s need globally by using the Rosslyn plant in South Africa as a key manufacturing player especially in light of the growth opportunities in Africa.
Meanwhile, Whitfield noted that Africa is regarded as a huge opportunity by vehicle manufacturers not only because it had about 16 percent of the world’s population, but for its credibility in accounting for more than 1 percent of total industry new vehicle volumes.

“Nissan South Africa has demonstrated its competence in key deliverables — improvements in quality, cost and productivity — and we are confident in its capability to meet anticipated demand, and increased production is expected to during financial year 2014,” stated Whitfield.

He said that growth in vehicle sales is expected to come out of North Africa and South Africa.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Experts: Stakeholders Needs To Understand Business Realities In Africa

Sotunde Oluwabusayo

Despite the prediction that several African countries will experience positive turns in their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), experts assert that realities of doing business in Africa is now at a critical point with the need for support to boost continuous development.

Experts at the sixth KPMG’s Africa Conversations Series on transacting in Africa, were of the opinion that considerable focus on infrastructure upgrade, increase in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), improved banking supervision and more insurance policy uptakes; may increase  Nigeria, South Africa and other African countries GDP to $2.6 trillion by 2020. While noting that, historically, multi-nationals and larger listed African companies have conducted investment into and across Africa, especially from the South; Head of Transactions and Restructuring at KPMG, John Geel said, “We are now witnessing an increasing number of smaller companies undertaking investments due to improved growth opportunities and regulatory tax regimes. This means that companies are now seeking out the right entity to transact with, negotiate details of collaboration and sign legal contracts.”

He stated that the economic analysis group had noticed improvement on the continent’s banking sector with continued consolidation and expansion appetite.
Noting reports on a survey carried out by KPMG Africa in May 2012, Geel stated that of the fourteen countries surveyed in the report, life and short-term insurance markets were relatively mature in the southern region, with few obvious merger and acquisition opportunities.
He said that it is ultra competitive, well regulated and, in all likelihood, facing ongoing challenges regarding regulation such as IFRS Phase II, Treating Customers Fairly and others.

With this development, Partner and National Head of Insurance, Gerdus Dixon, posits that other African countries are presented with new untapped markets, massive potential customer populations and burgeoning economic growth.

He stated that “While Nigeria, Ghana and Angola’s growth rates are all in excess of this. In many ways, describing these African countries as the “new frontier” is also no longer accurate, as most of the big players are already out of the blocks, so to speak, and actively positioning themselves for an African play.”

Dixon however emphasised that individual African countries should be understood and assessed each on their own merits. The incredible diversity and subtle nuances are critical in unlocking the secrets to business success.

He asserted that “Africa’s gross domestic product is expected to reach $2.6 trillion by 2020, but expanding into African countries is not a short-term growth fix, it will take deep pockets and committed sustainable long-term business plans to develop the insurance market in these African countries – particularly the much vaunted retail or individual life insurance markets.”

He believes it is important for shareholders to understand the return profile of expanding into Africa.

“The underdeveloped formal economy and infrastructure will demand that innovative solutions need to be found with regard to strategy, product design and distribution. The barriers to entry are high, but Africa is simply too big and growing too fast for insurers to ignore,” Dixon said.

Story posted from Ventures Africa

Kenya’s Selection For IBM research Facility In Africa Raises Concern For Nigeria’s ICT Growth


 By Sotunde Oluwabusayo

 Nigeria may be falling behind in Africa’s ICT development race following Kenya’s choice as International Business Machines (IBMs) new facility domain – the first in Africa.

Justification for this trepidation arouse because despite the 168 million population and $270 billion economic factor working for Nigeria, the American ICT and software company bypassed it to launch its first facility in Africa with $34 billion economy Kenya, a country about the size of Nigeria’s commercial city, Lagos.
ICT development improves productivity growth and business performance. World Bank estimated that every 10 percent of incremental broadband penetration will result in a 1.38 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate.

Experts however argued that the reason for Kenya’s selection is not left to chance as the country has been investing massively in ICT development over the years following its quest to be Africa’s IT hub. Progress towards this achievement is coming to bear with the country’s establishment of  its own Silicon Valley, Konza, a 5,000-acre site which will eventually be a cluster of technology companies plus a university. Kenya is also a global leader in mobile money, with its  MPESA service.

Although Nigeria also declares the desire to follow in this step, with its credibility as having the largest number of internet users in Africa (according to International Telecommunications Union data), Services strategy manager for IBM, Osamuyi Stewart, said, “Kenya is very advanced – they were ready for this in terms of know-how.”

Business Day also quoted Nigerian developer at Digital Craft Studios, Francis Onwumere, to have said that, “Kenya’s tech scene did not just explode over-night, they had it coming…they invested in competence and they are reaping the benefits.”

Nigeria’s proposed Silicon Valley, Abuja Technology Village which was conceptualised in 2004 and expected to cost $400 million to create “Africa’s preferred technology research, incubation, development, and outsourcing destination,” is only 55 percent complete some eight years later.

Meanwhile, IBM announced last week that it will be collaborating with the Kenyan Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) to open the first of its research labs in Africa. Each party will be contributing $10 million of funding over the next five years.

IBM president Ginni Rometty met with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki to mark the announcement.
The ICT giant’s Kenyan laboratory will seek to develop technology-assisted solutions to the problems of Africa’s fast-growing cities.

The lab will explore three key research areas, including the next generation public sector, creating smarter cities with a focus on water and transportation and the development of human capacity.

 Posted from Ventures Africa.

Lonmin Mine crisis Continues As Company Ask Workers To resume Work

Following the showdown at the Lonmin PLC mine last week which killed about 34 mine workers, management of the shut down Marikana mine have ordered its employees to resume work.
The London-listed company said this is the last call to return to work; else workers may lose their jobs.
However, workers have declined this warning saying they will not go back unless their needs are met. The miners are demanding for more pay.
Miners request result to violence last Thursday between the Miners union and Police leading to the death of 34 people, 78 injured people and 259 people detained. Additional 10 people have been declared dead, which raised the number of death from the mayhem to 44.
Police had claimed the act as a result of self-defence while a judicial commission has been launched to look into the issue.

South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, have called for a seven day national mourning to the gruesome death while the nation’s flag will fly half-mast while an official day for nationwide memorial service will be held on Thursday.
The unrest began on the 3rd of August, this year as some 3,000 workers walked off the job over pay in what management described as an illegal strike.
Those who tried to work Saturday were attacked, management and the National Union of Mineworkers said.
Barnard O. Mokwena, an executive vice president for Lonmin, said the company continued to meet with the police regarding the violence. "Until we know why 3,000 people are under this influence to kill ... people, it's hard for us to believe this is a genuine complaint about the rights of workers," Mokwena said
Meanwhile, Lonmin’s share has dropped since the crisis. 96 percent of all Lonmin's platinum production comes from the mine.

AP Report
While Friday's walkout appeared to be about wages, the ensuing violence has been fueled by the struggles between the dominant National Union of Mineworkers and the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. Disputes between the two unions escalated into violence earlier this year at another mine.
Mining helped give birth to modern South Africa, as prospectors and later international companies rushed to areas around Johannesburg and elsewhere looking for gold, diamonds and other precious metals. Today, South Africa remains one of the world's dominant producers of platinum, gold and chromium.
But miners long have faced low salaries and poor working conditions. Apartheid kept black African workers from more lucrative jobs offered to whites. Though the nation became truly democratic in the 1990s, the salaries of black miners remain low.
As the protest continued Tuesday, a report released by an organization monitoring international mining corporations criticized Lonmin's operation at Marikana. The Bench Marks Foundation said Lonmin workers often live in deteriorating shacks without electricity, as workers' children suffer from chronic illnesses brought on by broken pipes spilling raw sewage.
Meanwhile, prostitution, alcoholism and other problems run rampant in the mining communities.
Mokwena, the Lonmin executive vice president, declined to comment about the report's allegations. However, he criticized the timing of the report's release, saying: "It propels more violence unnecessarily."