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.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Western Union, Paga Partners On Mobile Money


Leading global payment services firm, Western Union has broaden its reach of digital offerings by partnering with Paga, a leading mobile payment platform in Nigeria, to launch a new mobile money transfer (MMT) service that will help increase its reach of payment options in the country.

The MMT service will integrate directly with Paga, giving the platform’s more than 1.2 million users the option of receiving a Western Union Money Transfer transaction directly into their Paga account.

Using Paga’s multi-channel platform also complements Western Union services offering through its retail Agent network of more than 500,000 locations around the world, which includes 4,900 locations in Nigeria.

Regional Vice President, Africa, Western Union, Aida Diarra, says the introduction of the new offering will help the company expand its mobile footprint as part of its omni-channel strategy, which facilitates financial inclusion for consumers who may not have access to traditional banking products.

It will also help “broaden the reach of our digital offerings and access points for consumers in Nigeria, as this supports the move towards a cashless society as per the Cashless Policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),” Diarra said.

Tayo Oviosu, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Paga, added that Paga’s relationship with Western Union extends its services to the world – and anyone across the globe who needs to send money to Nigeria can ‘Just Paga it’ through Western Union. 

Established in 2009, Paga has been helping to deliver innovative and universal access to financial services in Africa with secure payments platform that is built with the flexibility to operate in any environment and on the most basic mobile phone.

2014 Imagine cup: Young Techies, This is For You!

Microsoft Incorporated has begun search for best technology students in Nigeria to participate in its 2014 annual Imagine Cup student technology competition aimed at encouraging students to create imaginative technology solutions that can solve some of the world’s toughest problems.
Now in its twelfth year, the competition has grown to become the world’s global student technology competition with more than 1.65 million students from more than 190 countries having participated in the Microsoft Imagine Cup annual competition from inception.

Who can apply: student who is sixteen years or older as of 10 September 2013 and would be enrolled as a student of a University at any time between 1 January 2013 and 31 July 2014 is eligible to compete for the competition.
Requirements: To register for this year’s competition, the software giant will focus on three main competitions: Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship.
A team is made up to four eligible students and a mentor, who advises on the teams’ project. Each competing team will make an original technology project from start to fi nish: come up with a great idea, make a plan, build a project, and submit it to Imagine Cup.  It can be either purely software or a combination of software and hardware. It needs to use either: Windows, Windows Phone, or Windows Azure.

Important dates (Nigeria): The National Finals selects the best teams from Nigeria who then enter the World Semifinals. The very best of teams at the World Semi-fi nals in-turn wins a trip to Seattle in July 2014 for the Imagine Cup World Finals.
To accommodate the anticipated number of entries the national finals will hold in Lagos on April 24th 2014 while the Worldwide Finals, previously hosted in Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Korea, France, Egypt, Poland, USA, Australia and Russia goes back home to Seattle, USA in July 2014.

Deadline: 12.00am, April 10th, 2014.

What Do you stand to gain: Aside from the recognition from competing on the world stage at the technology competition, participants in Imagine Cup stand to win cash prizes and grants.

Interested?: Register for the competition on http://www.imaginecup. com/ and follow up with news and updates about the competition on Imagine Cup Blog.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Transnet Signs GE, Bombardier, Chinese Firms Among Winners In $4.7 Billion Locomotives Deal

As part of its $28 billion seven-year expansion plan, Transnet, a South African state-owned logistics company has awarded General Electric, Canada’s Bombardier and two Chinese train makers (CSR Corp  and China CNR Corp) a contract to supply over 1,000 trains.

The expansion plan will help Transnet upgrade its transport networks for easy logistics from Africa’s top economy by 2019.

The contract, which is South Africa’s single biggest corporate infrastructure projects, is expected to be effective by end of March 2014, following administrative approvals. The50 billion rand ($4.7 billion) contract will also see the consortium supply of 599 electric trains and 465 diesel trains.

Transnet Freight Rail CEO Siyabonga Gama said the figure is more than 40 percent higher than a previous government allocation for the commission. By 2019, all the 1,064 units will be delivered.

While delivery of the first locomotives will be delivered in mid-2015 and the last batch three years later, Transnet says the trains will mainly be used for transportation of general cargo.

Rail technology leader Bombardier Transportation South Africa (Pty) will supply electric locomotives which will include Bombardier's 240 TRAXX Africa locomotives. The dual-voltage electric locomotives, designed for speeds of up to 100 km/h are well known for their high reliability, excellent traction capabilities, energy efficiency and low maintenance cost.

On the other hand, General Electric Co. and China’s CNR Rolling Stock will supply 465 diesel locomotives while China’s CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive will supply part the remaining electric engines needed in the project.

Transnet Chief Executive Brian Molefe said the contracts were splited between the four companies because "no single supplier would have the capacity or resources to deliver within the timelines envisaged."

Molefe said the deal would "transform the South African rail industry by growing existing small businesses and creating new ones," adding that it would also “create and preserve approximately 30,000 jobs."

Bombardier will build all its new locomotives in South Africa and is committed to localising more than 60 percent of the contract scope, signifying investments in local manufacturing capacity, training and further improving the skills development of local employees.

Hence, the project is expected to create a significant number of quality jobs and skills to complement overall developmental objectives.

Transnet which moves coal and iron ore and other commodities to the country's ports operates the country's main refined fuel pipelines. It also owns and manages about 20,000 kilometers (12,400 miles) of rail lines.

Rwanda Beats SA, Nigeria, Kenya In A.T. Kearney's African Retail Development Index for Market Opportunity

 Rwanda, Nigeria, Namibia, Tanzania and Gabon occupied the top five places of the inaugural A.T. Kearney African Retail Development Index (ARDI), a new study designed to help large, organized retailers determine where and how to best enter Sub-Saharan Africa's rapidly growing retail market. The ARDI is a useful framework for retailers because it not only identifies the markets in Africa most attractive for retail expansion today, but those that offer the most potential in the future.

"Formal" retail, that which takes place in malls, shopping centers, and other defined trade areas, remains in the nascent stages in most Sub-Saharan Africa countries, limited primarily to a handful of urban areas. Low rates of formal retail coupled with increasing urbanization and the relative stability of many African economies represents massive room for retail growth.
This first edition of the retail index for Sub-Saharan countries represents a valuable tool for retailers in the Middle East to understand the opportunity in Africa. A segmented approach to the markets is critical to identify the few spots where investment is already attractive vs. countries or cities at an earlier stage of development that require monitoring.
Emanuele Savona, Principal at A.T. Kearney Middle East, commented: "Africa represents a development area for Middle-East retailers. Since retail and consumer brands are not yet well established in many African countries, there is an opportunity to benefit the first mover advantage if retailers in the region select the right formats that can match the needs of the growing African middle class. In addition, the large presence of traditional small stores creates an additional opportunity for retailers that want to introduce Cash & Carry formats to provide a 'one-stop-shop', stable purchasing offering at competitive prices."

ARDI Results
The ARDI is based on four elements: Market Size, Market Saturation, Country Risk and Time Pressure, and ranks the potential and urgency of moving into each country accordingly. The top 10 markets in the Index are segmented into three high level approaches: Start with the Basics, Move Quickly and Differentiate.
Start with the Basics: The vast majority of Africa, including Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana, Mozambique and Ethiopia, has limited market saturation, but also low maturity. While these markets are promising because of favorable demographics and recent growth trends, the main retail markets remain small, scattered and informal. The largest opportunities available in these markets revolve around offering basic consumer packaged products at low prices.
Move Quickly: The countries in this group - currently only Nigeria and Gabon from our Top 10 - have rapidly evolving retail dynamics and demographics, with some established retail players and many other global retailers planning entries. There is no time to spare entering these markets before these first movers gain an advantage as they establish their brands early and secure loyal customer bases.
Differentiate: These markets (Botswana, Namibia and South Africa) have Africa's most advanced retail sectors as well as an existing presence of international retailers. These markets offer opportunities for retailers that have the capability to deliver differentiated products or formats that are hard to find and appeal to a growing middle class and globally minded citizens.
Bart van Dijk, A.T. Kearney partner and ARDI co-author noted, "There are wide differences in infrastructure and supply chain development across African countries. Understanding the opportunities and limitations from country to country is a critical element of the retail expansion decision."
By 2020, nearly half of all Africans will be living in cities. As disposable incomes rise, consumer spending will grow to almost $1 trillion. Even with the challenges of entering and succeeding in Africa, the opportunity is impossible to ignore.
"Although there are many challenges, Africa has reached a point in its economic development where global retailers must evaluate the significant potential for growth in this market," noted A.T. Kearney partner and ARDI co-author Mike Moriarty.
The 2014 Africa Retail Development Index Ranking and Recommended Approach
Index Rank
How to approach
Start with the basics
Move quickly
Start with the basics
Move quickly
Start with the basics
South Africa
Start with the basics
Start with the basics
To read the full 2014 Africa Retail Development Index, please go to:
About the Study

The Africa Retail Development Index ranks Sub-Saharan Africa countries on a 0-to-100 point scale: the higher the ranking, the higher the potential and urgency to enter the country. The countries considered for the rankings were pre-selected based on three criteria - a country risk of 35 or higher in the Euro money country-risk score, population size greater than 1.5 million, and GDP per capita (PPP) of more than $1,000. The ARDI scores are based on Country and Business Risk (25 percent), Market Size (25 percent), Market Saturation (25 percent), and Time Pressure (25 percent).

About A.T. Kearney

A.T. Kearney is a global team of forward-thinking partners that delivers immediate impact and growing advantage for its clients. We are passionate problem solvers who excel in collaborating across borders to co-create and realize elegantly simple, practical, and sustainable results. Since 1926, we have been trusted advisors on the most mission-critical issues to the world's leading organizations across all major industries and service sectors. A.T. Kearney has 58 offices located in major business centers across 40 countries. From our Middle East offices in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai and Riyadh, A.T. Kearney supports both private and public sector clients as well as nations to excel and prosper by combining our regional expertise and global business insights to achieve results. For more information, visit

About the A.T. Kearney Global Consumer Institute
The A.T. Kearney Global Consumer Institute is a worldwide network of professionals and executives. The Institute combines proprietary and public data resources with local knowledge to deliver strategic and operational insights to executives in consumer-facing industries seeking long-term growth and competitive advantage. For more information, please contact

© Press Release 2014

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

New Study Shows Accra, Johannesburg and Nairobi As Africa's Top Tweeting Cities

Twitter in Africa

Twitter activity in Africa during the last quarter of 2013 peaked on the day of Nelson Mandela's death, according to How Africa Tweets, a new study analysing Twitter activity on the continent.

In a follow up to its 2012 study, strategic communications agency Portland analysed geo-located tweets originating from Africa during the final three months of 2013. The second How Africa Tweets study dives deeper into Twitter use on the continent, looking at which cities are the most active, what languages are being used the most and what issues are driving the conversation online.

How Africa Tweets found that, during the final three months of 2013:
·        Johannesburg is the most active city in Africa, with 344,215 geo-located tweets, followed by Ekurhuleni (264,172) and Cairo (227,509). Durban (163,019) and Alexandria (159,534) make up the remainder of the top five most active cities
·        Nairobi is the most active city in East Africa and the sixth most active on the continent, with 123,078 geo-located tweets
·        Accra is the most active city in West Africa and the eight most active on the continent, with 78,575 geo-located tweets
·        English, French and Arabic are the most common languages on Twitter in Africa, accounting for 75.5% of the total tweets analysed. Zulu, Swahili, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Portuguese are the next most commonly tweeted languages in Africa
·        Tuesdays and Fridays are the most active tweeting days. Twitter activity rises steadily through the afternoon and evening, with peak volumes around 9pm
·        The day of Nelson Mandela's death - 5 December - saw the highest volume of geo-located tweets in Africa
·        Brands in Africa are becoming increasingly prevalent on Twitter.

Portland tracked major hashtag activity from top brands such as Samsung (#SamsungLove), Adidas (#Adidas) and Magnum ice cream (#MagnumAuction)
·        Football is the most-discussed topic on Twitter in Africa. Football was discussed more than any other topic, including the death of Nelson Mandela. The most mentioned football team was Johannesburg's Orlando Pirates (#BlackisBack, #PrayForOrlandPirates, #OperationFillOrlandoStadium)
·        Politically-related hashtags were less common than those around other issues, with only four particularly active political hashtags tracked during the time period. This included #KenyaAt50 - celebration of Kenya's independence - and the competing #SickAt50

Allan Kamau, Head of Portland Nairobi, says: "The African Twittersphere is changing rapidly and transforming the way that Africa communicates with itself and the rest of the world. Our latest research reveals a significantly more sophisticated landscape than we saw just two years ago. This is opening up new opportunities and challenges for companies, campaigning organisations and governments across Africa."
Mark Flanagan, Head of Digital for Portland, says: "As well as adding diversity of perspective on political and social issues, Africa's Twitter users are also contributing linguistic diversity. Twitter is now established on the continent as a source of information and a platform for conversation".
Join the discussion on Twitter and let us know your thoughts on Twitter use in Africa with #AfricaTweets

Press Release

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

NSE listed bond wins African Deal of the Year Award


African man in business suit clenches his first for success in his first deal  Stock Photo - 9967840

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) joined foremost Halal investment management firm, Lotus Capital at the prestigious 2013 Islamic Finance News (IFN) Awards on Monday, February 24, 2014 in the United Arab Emirates. Lotus Capital won the Africa Deal of the Year category as the Lead Issuing House for the N11.4 billion Osun State Sukuk issue which was listed on the NSE in September 2013. This was the first ever sub-sovereign Sukuk in Africa. 

The issue was oversubscribed by about 20% which was a positive confirmation of the trust and confidence the market placed on the offer. The Osun State Government, represented by the Honourable Commissioner of Finance, and the Solicitors to the Issue, Kola Awodein and Co, were also award recipients for the deal.

Close to 400 transactions were nominated for 2013 in over 30 categories in the IFN Awards Deal of the Year, signifying a 33% rise in the number of nominations and a 20% increase in categories over the previous year.

Mrs Taba Peterside General Manager, Listings Sales and Retention, who represented the NSE at the event in Dubai, said “The NSE is focussed on broadening investor choice by introducing  a variety of new products to the market ”We are therefore delighted that Lotus Capital has been recognised with this prestigious award in structuring the first sub-sovereign African listed Sukuk. Lotus also developed our first Islamic Index on the NSE and we look forward to a continued fruitful partnership with them.”

It will be recalled that Lotus Capital Limited had partnered with The NSE in July 2012 for the development and management of a certified Shari’ah compliant Index known as the “NSE Lotus Islamic Index” or NSE LII. The index consists of companies in conformity with the principles of Shari’ah and was the first index created to track the performance of Shari’ah compliant equities on the floor of the bourse. Investment instruments like Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are expected to be built on the Index which ethically minded investors, both in Nigeria and overseas can invest in.The Index recorded 44.21% in 2012 (NSE ASI: 35.45% same year) and 61.84% in 2013 (NSE ASI: 47.19% same year)

About the IFN
IFN is the world’s leading Islamic Finance news provider and its annual awards are considered to be one of the most prestigious in Islamic finance. The IFN Deals of the Year was established in 2006 and recognizes those who have participated in the industry’s most ground-breaking transactions each year. Financial institutions and intermediaries are invited to submit their chosen transactions from the previous 12 months, which fall under one of the carefully selected sectors. A panel of experts from non-competing organizations then sieve through all submissions during the elimination process until just one transaction in each category remains and is thus awarded the winner of that category.

About Lotus Capital
Lotus Capital was founded in June 2004 with the specific goal of meeting the investment needs of ethical individuals, businesses and organizations across West Africa. It is a full-service, Halal Investment Management Boutique specializing in Shari’ah compliant Asset Management, Private Wealth Management Advisory Services and Financial Advisory Services.

MasterCard Extends Service To Seven New African Markets


MasterCard, a leading global payment technology company has expanded its reach into seven markets across Central and West Africa, bringing its total serviced market in Africa to forty-eight out of the economically surging continent's 55 markets.

MasterCard’s new African markets include: Chad, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Gambia.

The mobile payment service now covers about 90 percent of the continent, championing financial inclusion and helping to take banking services to the unbanked population in Africa.

The introduction of electronic payments to these markets is providing positive social and economic impact as local citizens get access to safe and secure means of transacting, while companies get to conduct their businesses beyond the constraining and risky cash environment, MasterCard said in a statement announcing the expansion.

The company says it now has more than 58,000 ATM locations and 438,000 Point of Sale (POS) terminals across Africa. And since January 2013, the company says in countries such as Kenya, it has introduced ‘Mobile Point of Sale’ (MPOS) technology with the likes of Equity Bank.

                                                                Banking the unbanked Africans

Middle East and Africa president at MasterCard, Michael Miebach, said: “Africa’s ongoing economic development, steady population growth and encouraging political outlook means that there is an increasing need for innovative and secure payment solutions that address market needs.”

“The continent has immense strategic importance to MasterCard and we will continue to invest in infrastructure, people and know-how in this part of the world. This has been the fastest growing area for MasterCard for the past few years, and we expect it to continue to register high growth,” he said.

“Our investment in Africa, through sharing industry knowledge and best practice, and by providing training for our customer banks, merchants and retailers, means we are creating more opportunities for all stakeholders in the African payments sector and better integrating the continent’s economies with those elsewhere in the world,” says Miebach.

According to the International Monetary Fund, 11 of the world's fastest-growing economies through 2017 will be in Africa and multinational companies like MasterCard have been venturing into the economically surging continent.

MasterCard, a technology company in the global payments industry, operates in more than 210 countries and territories.