Africa Top10 Business News

The Importance of Having Cloud Services in Africa

Yousef Khalidi

Yousef Khalidi, Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of Azure Networking, was in Johannesburg to announce two data centers in the country; while Amazon’s chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, was also in town to launch the first so-called “Pop-up Loft” in Africa. This comes ahead of Amazon Web Services (AWS) first datacenter to be opened in Cape Town in the first quarter of 2020. And it’s not just the big American companies, Huawei, China’s giant telecoms company, is also building out data center in South Africa and announced it had begun offering commercial cloud services this month. Analysts say the Huawei announcement is of strategic significance but is nowhere near the scale of Azure and AWS. However, it does underline the sense that South Africa and the African continent are finally being taken seriously by the world’s major cloud vendors.


Africa’s Tax System Needs a Digital Overhaul

Africa’s Tax System

The Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development kicked-off in Marrakech on Wednesday with a session focussed on the economic and social trends sweeping Africa over the last seven years. A panel of experts including the director of the macroeconomic policy division of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Adam Elhiraika, debated the reforms and legal frameworks needed to remake Africa’s tax collection system with country delegations. Elhiraika says that while some countries aren’t ready for digital reforms, digitalization can go a long way in resolving the region’s fiscal woes. Ten years ago, African tax GDP ratio was about half of what we have today, and the potential is still there to double it to 30% over the next 5-7 years. So there are two forms of interventions governments need to put in place to make use of digitalisation: First we need legislations and institutional changes, and second we need soft systems, not new hard infrastructure.


A Humanitarian Crisis Costs Southern Africa Dearly

Beira, Mozambique

Overnight, Mozambique’s second-largest city disappeared. All the lights in Beira went off. Its buildings vanished under six metres of water. Its roads were washed away, its bridges were torn from their foundations, and its people — well, still no one knows how many of its people survived. This was no ordinary natural disaster. Mozambique has weathered more than its fair share of floods over the years. Cyclone Idai was more powerful than anything that has come before. The WFP believes 1.7 million people in the country will eventually need help as a result of the disaster. Poorer areas, made up of makeshift homes, in Beira and elsewhere have been particularly badly hit. In Zimbabwe, 200,000 people have been affected, with most of the damage occurring near the Mozambique border.


Rallying Behind Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines

Financiers, passengers and industry partners are, for now, still backing Ethiopian Airlines’ quest to become Africa’s dominant carrier, despite a March 10 crash that killed 157 people.  Passenger confidence in Ethiopian Airlines, long regarded as one of the most reliable in Africa, has remained steady, according to the company. Cancellation and booking rates are unchanged since the crash, said spokesman Asrat Begashaw. “Ethiopian is a solid company,” said one, an official from an international bank that helped finance the acquisition of some Ethiopian Airlines planes. “No reason to change the way the bank sees its credit risk at this point.” Analysts said the crash was unlikely to damage Ethiopian’s partnerships with African carriers, key to a strategy that helped increase passenger numbers from 2.5 million a decade ago to 10.6 million last year, or with other industry players. Ethiopian Airlines, which grounded its handful of remaining 737 MAX planes, said it would decide whether to cancel orders for 29 others after a preliminary investigation.


A Google Glitch has Added to Ghana’s Currency Woes

Ghana’s Currency Woes

It’s been a rough 2019 for Ghana’s currency, the cedi. It fell to a record low against the dollar in February, according to Bloomberg, and has depreciated by 8.6% this year, the most of more than 140 currencies tracked by the financial news agency. Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has attributed the cedi’s poor performance to an over-reliance on imports. But it was still a shock for Ghanians who checked Google’s currency conversion rates on March 15 to discover that the cedi was trading at a rate of 22.72 to one US dollar – an increase of more than 300% on the previous day. The figure was the result of an error from the search engine, not a disastrous financial crash. “We are aware of the issue of inaccurate conversions for Ghanaian Cedi currency on Friday the 15th of March. This was caused by a minor glitch that was quickly fixed,” wrote Titi Akinsanmi, Google’s head of Public Policy & Government Relations, West and Francophone Africa.


South Sudan’s Taxman to Out Tax Evaders

South Sudan’s Taxman

The South Sudan National Revenue Authority is threatening to publicly shame government and bank officials who steal tax revenue. The Authority said it collected more than $9 million in February 2019 compared to $4.7 million dollars the month before, but Authority Commissioner Olympio Attipoe accused some tax officials of conspiring with certain commercial bank operators to divert tax revenue into private accounts. He advised corrupt bank officials to “Put your house in order because very soon we are going to crack the whip and no bank is going to be immune.” Attipoe said the tax body will soon introduce an electronic tracking system to stop those who are evading taxes on cargo that comes into the country. The revenue authority says it will make sure the tax collection system in the country transparent but warns that after the money is collected, it is up to South Sudanese citizens and their elected representatives to hold government officials accountable as to how that money is used.


Counting Calories and Job Cuts with South Africa’s Sugar Tax

South Africa's Sugar Tax

South Africa’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, and now the country’s rates of diseases like diabetes are also rising. The two rates are now pitted against each other, as a tax aimed at reducing the consumption of sugary drinks and improving citizens’ health in the long-run, is said to be leading to short-term job losses. But critics of the industry’s calculations say a drop in international prices and dumping has led to the perceived crisis in the sugar industry. Health experts, who prefer to refer to the tax as “the health promotion levy,” have accused the sugar industry of exaggeration. Sue Goldstein, a researcher with Priority Cost Effective Lessons for System Strengthening South Africa (Priceless SA) at the University of the Witwatersrand, argues that the 7% loss to GDP caused by healthcare requirements and missed work due to illnesses like diabetes, which will be the leading cause of death by 2040.


Making Kenyan Coffee World Class Again

Kenyan Coffee

Kenya is set to host the 124th Session of the International Coffee Council (ICO) meeting to discuss challenges facing the sub-sector.  Joseph Kieyah, chairman of the organizing committee said “The meeting will help open up Kenyan coffee to the outside market especially now when we are looking forward to doubling annual production of the crop from 46,121 metric tons to 92,000 metric tons over the next 5 years.” He adds that Kenya is committed to overhauling the coffee sub-sector to ensure benefits trickle down to smallholder farmers.


Banking Services for South Africa’s Unbanked

South Africa’s banking

The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services has gazetted a notice for transferring the enterprise of Postbank from the South African Post Office to the newly incorporated South African Postbank Company. The date of transfer has been pegged at 1 April 2019. This is a vital step in Postbank becoming a fully-fledged banking operation in South Africa, with the Financial Matters Amendment Bill – recently adopted by Parliament – paving the way for the group to get a banking licence and proceed to compete with other South African banks. Currently, Postbank operates under the South African Post Office, functioning through several exemptions from the country’s Banking Act, which allows it to receive deposits and provide basic services.


Promoting a Healthy Exodus of Africa’s Top Talent to Lucrative Football Leagues

Africa’s Top Talent

By the time the mid-season transfer window closed at the end of January, an estimated 2,000 footballers used the month-long opportunity to transfer from one club to another. African footballers are still a wanted commodity, but not necessarily those from the continent. Instead, it is the ever-increasing numbers from the diaspora – second- and even third-generation kids born in Europe to African parents who are prized for the physical prowess and creativity that their African genes provide, but also having had the benefit of a more formal footballing education in Europe. Historically, most transfers from Africa are from the west. Players from north and southern Africa are paid better in their domestic leagues and, therefore, tend to stay home.


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