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 May 2013

Tiger brand To Invest $98m In South Africa

With consumer spending still strained, South Africa’s largest food company, Tiger Brands, has said it will put R1bn into its domestic business over the next 18 months, as it seeks to improve efficiency to compete more effectively in the cut-throat environment.
At its interim results presentation on Thursday, CEO Peter Matlare joined the growing list of retail players highlighting South Africa’s difficult trading climate. "Our consumer remains under significant constraint," he said.
"That’s not about to change in the short term. In addition, our competitors continue to be as strident about success … clawing for each bit of opportunity because of this really volume-and value-strained environment in South Africa."
Tiger Brands’ strategy is to centralise certain parts of its business, invest in facilities, brands and market capability.
The company, which owns All Gold, Tastic and Koo brands, reported a 4% rise in headline earnings per share to 818c for the six months ended March. Dangote Flour Mills had an earnings-dilutive effect and rice margins, affected by the pricing differential between Thai and Indian rice, weighed heavily.
"There are two anomalies that have hit us hard in this period," Mr Matlare said. "One is ( Dangote), and we have always signalled since we made that acquisition that that was going to be a two-to three-year fix — we are now kind of saying 18-24 months.
"The regulatory impact of what the Thai government has decided about rice pricing and our decision not to commoditise our brand means we’ve taken a hit in some respect."
As part of its African expansion, the company last year bought a 63.35% stake in Dangote, the second-largest Nigerian flour milling firm, for R1.5bn.
According to the African Development Bank, in 2060 there will be 1.1-billion middle-class Africans, and consumer goods companies are hoping to tap into that market.
Independent analyst Ian Cruickshanks said Tiger Brands’ expansion into Nigeria was a good thing. "I think Dangote was a good choice — it’s the right thing to have done; it gave them a leap ahead.
"Getting Dangote on track … has been more of a challenge than they have expected."
Dangote, saddled with debt, faced a number of challenges during the reporting period including rising competition and costs, internal operational inefficiencies, and weak financial discipline.
Turnover for Tiger Brands’ groceries business was flat year at R2bn, with raw material cost pressures driving above-inflationary price increases. These negatively affected volumes and exacerbated the price-driven market competition.
The group’s snacks and treats business grew turnover 11%, underpinned by volume growth of 7%. In aggregate, its exports and international businesses, excluding the Nigerian businesses, achieved 13% growth in turnover to R1.8bn and operating income growth of 9% to R265m.
Avior equity analyst Jiten Bechoo said the results were weak. "They did signal that the Dangote business was not in a very good space.
"Their results for the full year are also likely to be weak. I like the fact that they’re addressing their cost inefficiencies.
"They’re also making it known that its going to be a long lead time till Dangote contributes materially. I think in 2015 or the latter end of the 2014 year, we might see double-digit growth, but at best for now single-digit to high single-digit is most likely."

-Business Day Live

Nigeria Implements Zero Tarrif On Aircraft Spares

Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation on Media, Joe Obi has confirmed that Nigerian government has started implementation of the much talked about zero tariffs on aircraft importation and spares for domestic airline operators.
According to him, “the implementation has started. What this means is that if you want to bring in aircraft and its spare-parts today, there will be zero taxation. The operator will not pay any import duty”
He said this waiver would allow domestic airline operators to bring in modern airplanes to boost their fleet.
Aviation experts, analysts and stakeholders have been waiting endlessly to see if the pronouncement by President Goodluck Jonathan will make good his promise to implement the policy.
This is just as the President of Aviation Round Table (ART), Capt Dele Ore, commended the government for the progressive policy, adding that the policy was long overdue.
In an interview with “Daily Independent”  in Lagos, Ore pointed out that the policy was long overdue, adding that Nigerian domestic airlines would have been enjoying the tariffs waiver if only the past administrations were serious about the matter.
The zero tariffs policy was pronounced by the president during his budget proposal to the National Assembly (NASS) in October 2012.
According to Ore, “investigation showed that the policy was already been implemented and I praise the government for it .But to me that is what they should have done a long time ago. It is not as if they have done a wonderful thing. It took the Aviation Round Table 10 years making the noise for a zero tariffs.”
“I commend them for implementing it though there are a lot  lacunas  and a lot of mistakes .The most important part of aircraft is the tyre ,It is the one that connects the ground to the heaven when they are landing it is the contact ,when they are taken off and it is also the one that sustain them. And the tyre from what I head is excluded and they say except the things are coupled with the wheels and the break before you call it tyre.  I appeal that they should not misinterpret what a tyre of an aircraft is .They can see that it cannot be used for lorry, it cannot be mistaken. They cannot be coupled until when they are brought here one by one and they are assembled,“ he added.
On manpower development, the aviation lawyer said that the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) was under funded by the Federal Government and that as result it cannot provide the manpower need of industry which according to him has work force.

PZ Cussons, Wilmar International To Develop Nigeria’s Palm Oil Industry With 50, 000 hectares Land Production

150213N-Palm-plantation.jpg - 150213N-Palm-plantation.jpg

In a bid to revive Nigeria’s palm oil industry, PZ Cussons and Wilmar International are working on a multi-billion palm produce investment that will be developed on 50, 000 hectares of land.

The investment which will cost over N100bn in the next few years is also expected to create 12, 000 direct and 33, 000 indirect jobs at various skills.

PZ and Wilmar’s partnership which started two years ago, is line with Nigeria’s vision 2020. Their aim is to invest in new plantation and refining facilities built to world class standards, and support the development of local agriculture and industry.

Speaking at the PZ Cussons-Wilmar editors’ parley in Lagos on Tuesday, an event also attended by the Managing Director, Wilmar Limited, Mr. Santosh Pillai;  PZ Cussons’ Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Christos Giannopoulos, said ““The refinery will process crude palm oil in the most hygienic way to fill the significant demand gap in the Nigerian market. We are also developing a range of branded healthy, authentic palm oil-based cooking ingredients to meet the current needs of the Nigerian consumer. This gap is currently filled by imported finished products smuggled into the country.”

He stated that PZ Wilmar has almost completed a refinery at the cost of N10bn, and capable of processing 1, 000 tons per day.

Giannopoulos added that both companies are also working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cross Rivers State to implement a palm out-growers scheme, which would be promoted under the Cross River Agriculture and Rural Empowerment Scheme.

“The aim is to develop a symbiotic arrangement between small scale farmers and PZ Wilmar for the purpose of self-support and to enhance local capacity through the transfer of world class technical skills to local farmers,” he said.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

African Americans To Invest $100 Billion In Africa Annually

A bold and ambitious plan has been initiated which calls for African Americans to invest $100 billion in Africa annually. The author of the initiative will forward an advance copy of the plan and White Paper to South African President Jacob Zuma, African Union Chairman and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, and African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma.
According the Selig Center at the University of Georgia, this represents less than 10% of African American consumer spending (  The author began to formulate the groundbreaking initiative after talks with African National Congress Canadian head Peter Mahlangu during the apartheid era, and through field testing and real world modeling has devised a blueprint that drastically changes African Americans relationship with Africa. The White Paper indicates that if these changes are not adopted the current diaspora efforts lead by President Zuma and documented by a noted African scholar in Hong Kong will fail (
According the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) World Factbook, African Americans would be the 17th wealthiest nation on Earth based their consumer spending out of 229 ranked by the spy agency ). The CIA report indicates that African American consumer spending dwarfs the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of wealthy global powerhouses such as Australia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden. Economist put the current African American GDP at $2.25 trillion (USD) growing to $2.6 trillion (USD) by 2017, larger than France and Russia at number 10 and 7 respectively.  The plan calls for the total Black American investment in Africa to reach $230 billion by 2017, with $110 billion being directed grants. The plan will create thousands of new African and African American millionaires, dozens of new billionaires, and elevate the poor to the middle class.
Corporate advertising studies such as “Facts About Blacks” and Clear Channel Urban indicate that African Americans send hundreds of billions of dollars to countries such as Lebanon, Canada, South Korea, and Iraq annually without any benefit. The same reports cite African Americans as spending less than 7% of their total consumer income with African or African American businesses. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the $1 trillion in consumer spending creates between 29 million and 50 million jobs. Additionally Reuters reports that African Americans donate $11 billion to charities annually, yet Black communities receiving no visible benefit from this largesse ( The plan calls for the $11 billion to be redirected in a mutually beneficial way to African and African American joint ventures that would end many of  the ills plaguing both societies in areas such as crime, infrastructure, clean energy, innovation, business ownership, advanced education,  wildlife conservation, healthcare, and employment.
The plan’s conclusions are supported by the successful role that Chinese and Indian Americans have played in the rise of China and India as global economic powers. According to $1 trillion plus dollars African Americans spend annually is enough to buy every stock on the Toronto stock exchange, or buy every sports team on Earth, or fund the military of every country in NATO. Google Finance data shows that African American consumer spending is greater than total value of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft stock combined.
The plan will move into full implementation at an invite only conference of African and African American scholars, business owners, and government officials. Several open events and the will present the complete blueprint of the innovative initiative. The plan’s author is being closely advised by a prominent African scholar.

Press Release

First Bank, LEGO Partners To Launch Products For Youths

To encourage saving culture among children,    First Bank of Nigeria Limited has partnered with LEGO, the world’s fourth largest manufacturer of children’s toys, to introduce three new products, exciting content partnerships, a dynamic new website and CSR activities for the youth segment of Nigeria market.

At separate events in Lagos and Abuja to mark the Children’s Day on Monday, First Bank unveiled a programme that included three new products designed for children.
The new initiative, according to the bank, is aimed at creating a platform that encourages savings culture amongst children while also engaging, entertaining and rewarding them.

Speaking on the programme, FirstBank’s spokesperson, Folake Ani-Mumuney said the partnership with LEGO signposts the Bank’s quest to create a platform for Nigerian children to express their creative talents, to deploy their innate abilities to something positive while also instilling in them the culture of financial discipline.

“In choosing LEGO as our partner for this project, we considered their brand values of creativity, fun, learning, caring and quality. All these resonate with us because they are values we hold dear. We are passionate about impacting the lives of today’s children in a positive way because we believe the future of this country is in their hands”.

Speaking further, Ani-Mumuney said the initiative is targeted at children between the age of 0 – 24. Acknowledging the huge differences in the needs and interests of those within this broad segment, she said the Bank created sub-segments in order to provide more relevant and useful products and benefits to its young customers.
“These sub-segments are 0-12, comprising pre-school and primary school students; 13-17, comprising Junior Secondary and Secondary School Students and 18-24, comprising young adults. Each sub-segment has its owned tailored product and 360_-engagement programme”, she said, adding that one of the strongest values of this initiative is the fact that all account holders have the benefit of operating their accounts even after crossing the age bar of each segment, she said.
The first of the three products to be launched is KidsFirst, the product for the 0-12 sub-segment which combines the fun and excitement that children are looking for with the dependability and convenience that parents need. The partnership with Lego will give KidsFirst account holders access to exclusive Lego events, content and products. As a children’s brand known for both entertainment and educational value, LEGO was the perfect partner for KidsFirst.
The partnership with Lego is a fully integrated one, which offers the children an exciting range of benefits, from the website, through to gifting, branded collateral and experiential engagements. Lego is an educational as well as a fun brand, which is in line with First Bank’s brand values, and with the additional benefit of being gender neutral.
KidsFirst Account features minimum Account Opening Balance of N2,000 and minimum operating balance of N1000. Premium interest rate of 1% above regular savings interest rate (which is presently 2% PA)
Tayo  Obasanya, the exclusive distributor for Lego said children are able to use Lego to express their creativity.

“Lego is not just a toy, but a tool for helping children with learning”, he added.
In addition to great product features that include low opening and operating balances, an annual scholarship scheme and the convenience of internet banking, through KidsFirst, FirstBank offers parents useful online tools to help them plan for their children’s future and exciting real world experiences to engage and entertain the kids. KidsFirst is a must for any savvy parent looking to build a solid financial future for their child.

Monday, 27 May 2013

“Experience has been our mentor”, Chika And Chidi Of PicRate.Me (Formerly Lagbook)

Recently, owners of Nigeria leading social network, University of Lagos undergraduate - Chidi and Chika Nwanogwu recently changed the name of their platform to PicRate.Me.

LAGBook was originally created on the 17th of April, 2010 to  serve as an exclusive network for their university. Today, the network has grown outside the campus range, accounting for more than a million users so far.

In this interview, the twins  talk about the management of their new brand, PicRate.Me, what they hope to achieve with the new project, their passion for what they do and more....


LAGbook recently changed its name to PicRate.Me; what was the
reason for this?

When we started LAGbook some three years ago, our mission was to
provide a platform that helps students of University of Lagos to
unwind, connect with one another, and share their daily experience on
campus, and the name 'Lagbook' was just perfect. Subsequently, we
started expanding beyond the walls of the University, and our mission
changed. We expanded to the Nigerian market, and the name 'Lagbook'
was found wanting, and unable to depict our new mission. We didn't
want to change the name because of our previous success and growing
popularity. We believed it's like starting all over again, so we
decided to reinvent the name 'Lagbook'.

The reinvention was simple; we capitalized the letters; l, a, and g,
giving us 'LAGbook'. LAGbook was a backronym for the words 'Ladies And
Gentlemen book', and this fitted exactly to our mission to expand the
social experience of the youth demographic (18-30) around the world.
Since domain names do not permit uppercase, there was no need for a
reflection in our domain name. We didn't have a problem in growing
virally since 'LAGbook' and 'Lagbook' are verbally communicated in the
same exact way.

Recently, we wanted to add 'picture rating' to our mission. This made
us a social network for meeting new people and rating pictures. After
reaching the milestone of a million registered members, we wanted to
cover more grounds internationally, and penetrate a wider area. This
could lead to a possible lawsuit from Facebook, so we decided it was
time to change the name, and 'PicRate' was a good option.

Unfortunately, to realise the mission of PicRate, we had to move to a
new hosting service, and an instant migration of all data on LAGbook
to the new host wasn't feasible, so we had to send a message to all
our registered members about the name change, and that they should all
register to the new site. The signup has been encouraging, and PicRate
is fast growing than we imagined.

Is there still a correlation between LAGbook’s mission and PickRate.Me?

LAGbook was born out of our curiosity to know what faculty a girl we
(the founders) saw on the campus of University of Lagos. Then, we were
freshers. My twin and I argued on what faculty a girl we saw on campus
may belong to. I (Chika) said she was a science student because she
was standing next to a hall of residence close to the Faculty of
Science. My twin (Chidi) said she wasn't because she was way too
fashionable and beautiful to have any interest in Science. My twin
proposed we create a social platform like MySpace, Facebook, and the
rest, where students of our University will sign up for with a valid
matriculation number. The idea was to grow a popular campus social
network where all students with an active social life will sign up to,
and we hoped the girl will sign up for an account too, and that way,
she could tell us what faculty she belonged to, since the answer was
required upon signup. Fortunately, she did sign up after eight weeks
of run, and I was right about her being a science student.

So yes, there's a correlation between the mission of both brands. PicRate
still nurtures the mission we had at LAGbook, which is to create a
virtual community for meeting new people everyday. Social discovery is
still a part of PicRate's mission. The difference between both brands
is that PicRate has an additional mission,  which is rating the picture
of your friends, and tell them how hot you think they're. At LAGbook,
the largest activity our members engaged in is the sharing of
pictures, liking and commenting on pictures shared by friends. PicRate
is just taking this activity to the next level, which is giving them
the best from what they like the most.

 Does your Mimiboard deal with Umutu continue with PicRate.Me?

The Mimiboard deal doesn't continue with PicRate but it will with our
newest brand

After the change of LAGbook to PicRate, and the change of web host as
well, we received a lot of mails from registered members especially
via other social networks expressing how much they do not find the
change pleasing. Many said they missed their LAGbook friends, photos,
videos, and other contents on the social network, and they want it
back. So, my twin and I are working in partnership with an American
social groupware platform 
GROU.PS to restore and revive the old
LAGbook under a new brand name called is LAGbook; same content, same registered members, same
everything. The only difference is the brand name. When we are through
with the restoration, LAGbook users can login without signing up for a
new account since it is the same social network. They will find their friend circle intact, and their photos, videos, and other share
contents available on the network just as they did on LAGbook, and so
will they find the contents of their friends too.

This means that our partnership with Mimiboard will continue with the
brand will be a social network for people available for
friendship or a relationship, which is the same as LAGbook's mission,
but with an online dating fusion.

 LAGbook prides itself as Africa’s fastest growing social network; with the name-change at this stage of the business, don’t you think it could affect the business?
No, it will not affect the business. This is because we made sure that
all our registered members received a message about the name change,
and the change has been widely communicated verbally to others.
Everybody who used LAGbook should have heard of the name change thus
making the new brand name PicRate as popular as LAGbook. It's more
like a musician who changes name; it wouldn't affect his popularity.
The domain name of LAGbook points to PicRate so the growth was
unaffected. PicRate will grow as fast as LAGbook.

 What has been the challenges posed by these new development and how has the activity on the site grown since the launch?
The challenge posed was the migration of all users login data so that
they will not have to register for a new account on PicRate, and
unfortunately, that wasn't feasible. So users have to re-register,
which is uncool in an ideal situation. Though, a wonderful percentage
of users have re-registered for an account on the new site, which is

The activity has grown by over 200%. People find picture rating fun
just as they find playing video games fun. Girls share loads of
pictures just to get rated by boys, and receive lovely comments too,
and it's fun watching people use and appreciate something you built.

 What is the deal with Baazar Media Pte Ltd?
That's the name of the new company that is in charge of PicRate.

Users pay to get themselves featured on Lagbook, is it also the same on the new platform?
No, they do not. On PicRate, there is currently no feature that
suggest friends, but if that feature is introducing in the future,
there's a possibility that users will have to pay to get their
profiles featured. It has been a wonderful source of monetization in
the past.

What are the challenges experienced since the inception (with LAGbook) and how have you been able to tackle these challenges?
My twin and I are not only good programmers but we are better
marketers. We're more of businessmen than programmers, so growing
LAGbook virally didn't pose a challenge. The only challenge we had was
turning our fast growing social network into lots of money. We had a
popular social network but we didn't have much profit. Though we
reached profitability after two years of run, the profit margin was
just narrow. Currently, we're looking at not only growing a popular
social network but also growing a popular social business.

What have you learnt since you created the business?

We've learnt a lot, and the leading lesson is that passion is a
greater fuel to success than the love for money.

Critics have said that you model your site after Facebook, what have you got to say about that?
The basic idea was to create a Facebook for Africa, and we wanted a
social network that is easy-to-use, and not difficult to understand
like Twitter. We figured out that if we positioned everything at the
same position they are on Facebook, people will not find it hard to
access, and that helped increase our user activity by a great deal.

 You created this business during your first year in school; how do you combine schooling and management of the site?
Being a student entrepreneur was uneasy for my twin and I. We often
missed classes in order to have time to sit in front of our laptops
and grow LAGbook. Thanks to our excellent performance at self
education, my twin and I will often photocopy our colleague's
notebook, read it up, sit for exams, and excel. That's how we got
through University.

What chance(s) does your business have to grow as big as Facebook?

We're over a million now, and we add thousands of new members everyday. Facebook is a billion. Growing as big as Facebook isn't
impossible, but it will be challenging; definitely will be.

What is that unique attribute that stands Lagbook out of all other
social network?

We're a social network without boundaries. We want to expand the
online social experience of our growing users without limits. We give
them the power to meet new people everyday, forge a great friendship
which may last for life and lead to positive synergy.

 What major deal has your company snagged in recent time?

We've worked with multinational companies like Etisalat and
Blackberry, to mention a few.

Source of income for the website?

What’s presently your staff strength?

At LAGbook, we had a staff strength of just 5 after downsizing from
25. The new company has a larger staff strength, but at,
it's just my twin and I, and some techies at 

What motivates you?

We were born motivated. We're the type of people that wants to try out
something every-time.

 Who are your mentors and how have they motivate you?

Mentor? We don't have any mentors at the moment. We simply learn from
our mistakes. Experience has been our mentor.

Advise to upcoming Techpreneurs. What should they look out for and
hold on to?

My advice is simple; dream like a beast, and chase your dream like a
possessed demon. When you come across obstacles, crush them down, and
if they prove difficult, bend around them. Make sure you're always on
the move.

Future plans concerning the business?
Keeping growing and expanding.

Any other information you did like to share with us?

Failure is in the head; if you don't think it, you don't see it, and
if you don't see it, you don't feel it. Make sure you think positive
at all times. Don't think about what can possibly go wrong. Think
about what can possibly go right. Make mistakes and learn, take
adventures and experience. Never live your life in a box because the
only time a man should live in a box is when he's dead, and since
you're reading this, you aren't, so live a little.

That's the philosophy that keeps us going.

Meet Umuntu’s Johan Nel: The Man Who Is Passionate About Solving Local Content Gap In Africa


Johan Nel is the brain behind Africa’s leading online publishing platform, Umuntu Media (Umuntu) that runs local content portals across Africa. The company, through its i-Portals and Mimiboard innovation, has presence in about 17 African countries including Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Botswana, Rwanda and Tanzania.  It continues to challenge traditional models by filling the gap in online publishing targeted at Africans.
Johan developed the concept for Umuntu using his experience as a marketing and new media specialist.

His concept Mimiboard was awarded “Best innovator Award” at the Nokia and World Bank Innovation Summit.

Recently, Johan was in Milan as one of the six South Africans selected to represent the country at the U-START BLOOM Global showcase Event in Milan, Italy – an event that puts dynamic entrepreneurs worldwide in touch with investors most focused on innovative, high growth and impact-driven projects.

In this interview, Johan talks about his business, his hope for the future of Africa tech scene and how his company plan to take over the Africa tech scene fully.


What was growing up like, Johan?   
I was born in Windhoek, Namibia where I spend most of my childhood. My father was the dean at the University of Namibia and my mother worked at the Afrikaans culture society. In 1995 they send me to boarding school in Stellenbosch where I attended Paul Roos Gymnasium. I then just walked to the other side of the river in Stellenbosch and attended University. I was always a media and marketing man. I was a finalist in the young entrepreneur of the year award while studying and Naspers offered me a position right out of university. That was when the media bug really bit me and I enjoyed every second working in such a dynamic media company.

         You created Umuntu after series of experience in the digital and media world. Have you always been interested in technology?

As mentioned earlier, my career started in the newspaper world. From an early stage in my career I was always fascinated by the future of media and how technology will shape the future of content creation and consumption. I knew I had to learn more and move into the digital space. My mind really became a sponge for digital when I moved to a company called Acceleration. I was their marketing manager and we had to understand the issues publishers face in the move from traditional to digital publishing. We worked on consultancy projects with some of the world’s largest publishers and helped them shape their digital vision.

         What is Umuntu and how does it work? 
“Umuntu” means “people” in Ndebele. A very widely spoken African Dialect.
I wanted to solve the local content creation and access to content problem in Africa. We started out by publishing local content websites / mobile sites across Africa. The traditional digital publishing model: Appoint local content teams, publish, and sell the advertising space to local advertisers across the continent. This worked/s well and then we quickly became the leading local websites in 9 African countries, secured 1st time digital spend by most of the local advertisers and build a really strong pan-African brand.

How far has Umuntu gone in filling the local content gap in Africa?

Umuntu aims to fill the local content gap in Africa. During my time at Naspers, I realised that local content is a rarity. And not all African nations have managed to provide local information and news. So it was then, that I realised there is an opportunity to provide local news and information in certain African countries. So we followed the traditional publishing approach and launched News and Information Portals. With Journalists on the ground providing hyper local content on a daily basis. I think we have been fairly successful due to the fact that they were small enough to move quickly and adapt to what the market wants. We only used the best of breed technology and with that we were able to position ourselves as one of the better Media companies in respected countries. Our knowledge of Digital Marketing and use of Social Media also benefitted us greatly as we relied heavily on Facebook to grow our audience.

         How have you been able to use your product to harness technology development in Africa especially in bridging the gap in providing local content for African people?

We have opened our technology to other publishers as well. So all other Media organisations will be able to gather and curate user generated content. If our reach and adoption is good enough, we should be able to say that we are solving the ultimate challenge of improving local content creation and access to this content in Africa.
         How does the iportal and Mimiboard work? To what extent have they (iportal and Mimiboard) been able to help Umuntu achieve its goal?

The iPortals are news and information portals. We have journalists on the ground providing content and we publish to the websites. Currently we also use aggregation from a variety of other news sources to provide up to the minute country specific news.
Mimiboard is a tool that has the ability to gather and aggregate specific content from a variety of Social network channels. With a big focus on user generated content, we also have the ability to receive SMS messages from users on the ground. Enabling the user of Mimiboard to find and source real-time hyper local content.
Through the use of Mimiboard and the iPortals – we are certainly on our way to achieve our ultimate objective – Solve the local content gap in Africa.

         You achieved commendable success with iNamibia; how has the responses been so far in other African countries?
It has been fairly successful thus far. We specifically focused on launching in countries with little or no real online competition. And with our clever use of Social Media we were able to create a serious brand presence in almost all of our 9 countries.
We are confident that with the complete use of Mimiboard on the iPortals, we will be to expand faster and offer better quality sourced information.
We now serve over 25 million ad impressions per month across all our properties.

What is Umuntu’s business model?
 Initially we focused on a good balance of Editorial and Marketing orientated team members. A pre-requisite for any staff member is a strong knowledge of Digital and a love for Africa. This enables us to focus on a few key elements within the Digital world, that is,  Sales, Marketing and Publishing. We have also been very lucky with Strategic partnerships and relationships that offer advice and consulting in a variety of areas. One such a relationship to mention is with eVA Fund, our current investors.

         What cutting edge does your business have among other Africa-target oriented startups?

We understand the publishing world. We understand the digital world very well. The knowledge and experience we have, puts us in an elevated position and offers us a strong competitive advantage over our fellow Media Organisations.

         You are already established in about nine African countries with plans to expand into three other African companies, can you briefly hint us about these plans.

We do have plans to expand aggressively into Africa. The use and integration with our technology, Mimiboard, will enable us to grow quickly and with little capital expenditure. We also aim to expand to a total of 28 countries with our iPortals. Currently between Mimiboard and our iPortals we are already in 17 African countries.

         What are the challenges you faced (or still face) in establishing Umuntu and how have you been able to overcome/manage these challenges?
Building a Pan African media company on bootstrap startup funds is a challenge.

         What has the progress been like since you launched Umuntu in 2010? How has Umuntu being able to hold its own admist competition in the African tech scene?

Progress has been excellent, however we are still very well aware that we have a long way to go. And we never rest on our laurels.

         You are one of the six South Africans selected to represent the country at the U-START BLOOM Global showcase Event in Milan, Italy; can you tell us about your experience, what you gained and the decisions you have made from this experience?

It was a great honour to be selected. I always jump at any opportunity to showcase African innovation on a world stage. I was very impressed with our African team, I think we have a unique outlook and solve real problems with technology. My perception of the other countries that attended was they try and copy US companies and tweak it slightly for their own markets whereas true innovation comes from Africa.

          The future of Africa tech scene from your perspective. What do you think are the insurmountable challenges that still need to be tackled?

We still have to sell the continent on a daily basis versus only selling our own products and services. Every investment meeting I attend most of the energy is to convince them that Africa’s time is now and that the continent has huge opportunities at hand.

         Many tech startups are springing up at this time, why is this so? What do you think is making Africa tech scene bullish at this time?

Connectivity throughout Africa has increased dramatically in the last few years. Young Technical entrepreneurs are choosing to create unique and opportunistic products and services, because of the mass availability of internet and users adopting new technologies. It is also a worldwide trend, the digital era has no geographical boundaries and real innovative companies that changes a part of the world can be started from a garage. This is an amazing time to live in.

         Any ongoing/future projects in Umuntu that you will like to talk about?

We value partnerships and are currently in discussions with key partners that will enable us to fuel our growth. We are aiming to reach the 1 billion impression mark in the next year and expand our offering to 28 African markets. No rest for us!

Thank you for your contribution Johan.

Originally Posted On

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Chariot Oil & Gas announces First Renewal Phase on the Central Area Blocks

Chariot Oil & Gas Limited (AIM: CHAR), the Atlantic margins focused oil and gas exploration company, today announces that the Ministry of Mines and Energy in Namibia has granted a one year extension for the First Renewal Phase on the Central Area Blocks, (Licence 19, covering Blocks 2312 A & B and Northern halves of 2412 A & B), offshore Namibia.
These licences are operated by Chariot's wholly owned subsidiary, Enigma Oil & Gas Exploration (Pty) Limited,which holds 90% equity and is partnered with AziNam Ltd. which holds the remaining 10% equity. This extension means that the current phase will now run to 31 August 2014.

Chariot has identified prospects within both the shallower and deeper petroleum systems and will be looking to open a data room on the Central Area during Q3 this year. There will be a focus on the shallower petroleum system, which contains attribute-supported prospects but recent third party results have de-risked the deeper petroleum system and the prospect portfolio identified here.

This recent drilling of the Wingat-1 well was undertaken in the Walvis Basin, approximately 70km from Chariot's Blocks, and the results have been encouraging for their prospectivity. The well reportedly encountered two oil generating source rocks and samples recovered good quality, light oil. Further third party drilling in the region, to be undertaken in the near future, will also help inform Chariot's prospect selection and the Company will look to secure a partner with the aim of drilling a well in 2014 on completion of the farm-out process.

Chariot’s CEO, Larry Bottomley, said, "I would like to thank the Ministry for granting us this licence extension. This will enable us to integrate our data with the information resulting from this third party activity as we seek to select the best prospects for drilling and subsequently partner with the optimum information to hand."

Forbes Name Malawi President, Joyce Banda As Africa's Most Powerful Woman

President of Malawi, Mrs. Joyce Banda has been positioned as the most powerful woman in Africa.

Banda who attained first on the list of Forbes’ 100 world most powerful women was ranked number 47 in the world. She climbed 24 places from last year’s list to reach number 47 most 
powerful woman in the world

Other African women on the list are Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Helen Johnson-Sirleaf  at number 83 and 87 respectively.

German Chancellor, Mrs. Angela Merkel, was the first on the list; Brazillian President, Mrs. Dilma Rousseff, came second. Melinda Gates, Mitchelle Obama and Hilary Clinton came third, fourth and fifth on the list, respectively.

Forbes said, “Our annual snapshot of the 100 women with the most impact comprises top politicians and chief executive officers, activist billionaires and celebrities who matter. In roughly equal measure, you’ll find the next gen entrepreneurs and media mavens, technologists and leaders in philanthropy — all ranked by dollars, media momentum and impact.

“We’ve selected women that go beyond the traditional taxonomy of the power elite (political and economic might). These change-agents are actually shifting our very idea of clout and authority and, in the process, transforming the world in fresh and exhilarating ways.”

This year’s list featured nine heads of state that run nations with a combined Gross Domestic Product of $11.8tn. It also listed 24 corporate CEOs controlling $893bn in revenues with 16 of the women that founded their own companies, including two of the three new billionaires, Tory Burch and Spanx’s Sara Blakely.

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Plans IPO

With the main industrial index at 38 percent high this year, Zimbabwe’s Stock Exchange is planning to sell shares through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) by the end of 2013, the country’s Securities Exchange Commission has said.

The market value of shares listed on the bourse may nearly double to $10bn from the current $5.4bn over the next 12 months as it plans to start automated trading to attract more investors.

Bloomberg News reports that the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tafadzwa Chinamo said this in an interview in Lusaka, the capital of neighboring Zambia, where he spoke at a capital markets conference.

An IPO might value the ZSE at $15m to $20m, he said.

Zimbabwe’s plans come as African bourses record some of the highest growth rates in the world this year.

The Ghana Stock Exchange, which began automated trading in 2009, has seen its composite index rally a global-best 47 per cent. Nigerian and Kenyan markets are among the top 10 best performers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The ZSE has appointed Imara Holdings Limited, the Botswana-listed investment bank, and Harare-based Corporate Excellence as financial advisers for its planned share sale, Chinamo said.

The move is different from a demutualisation, which is commonly done by securities exchanges, because the Zimbabwean government claimed ownership of the bourse since it was established in its current form in 1974, he said.