Africa Top10 Business News

1Headhunting in Africa

Headhunting in Africa

According to a 2015 survey of 230 African executives by recruiting firm Russell Reynolds Associates, 53% of Nigerian respondents highlighted the challenge of attracting leadership talent, with 43% of Kenyan and 46% of South African respondents similarly pessimistic about their ability to lure gifted executives. Traditional management skills, including team building and an ability to drive change, were scarce in all three countries, according to those surveyed. Many firms rely on recommendations or in-house promotions to fill critical roles, stymying boardroom competition and restricting leadership dynamism. In a bid to better match executive talent to Africa’s increasingly sophisticated businesses, specialist recruitment and executive search firms are talent hunting for their clients, honing in on local executives and diaspora business leaders tempted by robust growth, exciting professional opportunities and improved pay packages. Yet the tradition of word-of-mouth hiring and occasional technological barriers present unique challenges to the young recruitment industry. 


2Africa Stands to Benefit most from Artificial Intelligence

Africa Artificial Intelligence

Internet technology giant Google has officially opened its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Centre in Ghana with high hopes of finding solutions to Africa’s problems. Artificial intelligence is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and reacts like humans. It helps find solutions to real-world problems. It can help people focus on what is relevant and open up new ways to solve problems in almost every imaginable field such as AI helping pathologists to spot cancer cells on slides, advising farmers on how to address problems with their crops and helping manufacturers detect equipment breakdowns. Google is optimistic the lab in the West African country – the first in Africa – will transform lives by coming up with bespoke solutions for the continent’s problems including natural disasters. Machine Learning researchers and software engineers run the AI centre to populate the system with local AI content. Google is collaborating with stakeholders such as universities and start-ups to enhance AI development on the continent.


3Big Name African Investors Invited to Back Local Startups

African Investors

Already in the first quarter we’ve had two nine-figure later-stage funding rounds with Andela’s $100 million Series D in January and this week fintech player Branch raised $170 million in a debt and equity Series C round. Impressive rounds are happening in all types of sectors—off-grid solar company PEG Africa raised $25 million in debt and equity for its Series C last month. Depending on whose numbers you use, African startups raised between $700 million and $1.2 billion last year. As the pipeline of well-run businesses improves, interest is growing in new funds being created to target later- stage African startups. They’re moving well beyond the experimental, impact-only, five-figure grant model seemingly necessary to get things started in many African markets even five years ago.


4The Nigerian Startup that Serena Williams has been Secretly Funding

Serena Ventures

The tennis star recently revealed her very own venture capital firm, Serena Ventures on her Instagram page. Apparently she has secretly being investing in startups across the world over the last four years. And Nigeria’s developer trainer and outsourcing company, Andela is one of her notable investments. The news is quite surprising. Particularly because every Andela funding round since the $40 million investment by Zuckerberg Foundation, has been publicly announced. There was no record or statement mentioning a Serena Ventures. Serena really did an awesome job keeping the portfolio secret.


5Buhari Raises the Minimum Wage

president Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari signed into law a bill increasing the country’s minimum wage to 30,000 naira ($98) from 18,000. The cost of living has become a key issues for many in Africa’s most populous nation, where most people live on less than $2 a day. Unions went on strike last year over the minimum wage, initially demanding a rise to 50,000 naira a month. Inflation in Nigeria stood at 11.25 percent in March. The new rate, comes into law immediately, is applicable to both the private and public sector, but smaller businesses which employ fewer than 25 people would be exempt. The last increase was in 2011, when wages were more than doubled, from 7,500 to 18,000 naira.


6South Africa’s Battle for Eyeballs


ICASA has been anxious that MultiChoice group is using its dominant position in the market to limit competition in the streaming market. MultiChoice has submitted that streaming services such as Netflix pose a significant threat to its operations in South Africa and are therefore calling on ICASA to regulate international streaming services. According to Icasa, Multichoice submitted that the entry of over-the-top players, particularly Netflix, posed a significant competitive threat to its operations in South Africa. However, the authority said that the group’s business plans – heavily redacted in the report – contradicted this, saying there is a big difference between streaming services such as Netflix and other services being offered by traditional broadcasters in South Africa – such as DStv.


7New Tax has Kenyans Seeing Red

Kenya New Tax

There has been an angry response in Kenya to a decision by the authorities to introduce a new salary levy to help build low-cost homes. From next month, employees will pay 1.5% of their pay to the housing fund and that amount will be matched by the employer. The anger stems from suspicion that the extra money could be lost through corruption. The government aims to build 500,000 affordable homes by 2022. The total monthly payment per person will not exceed $50, but it is hoped that $500m will be raised every year. The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) says the move to introduce the levy is against a court order, which suspended its introduction pending a hearing on the FKE’s objection. A trade union umbrella body has also opposed the money-raising move.


8Côte d’Ivoire: Returning to Glory

Côte d'Ivoire

By many standards, Côte d’Ivoire (also known as Ivory Coast) is the economic glue to the eight-country West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). The country once accounted for 40 percent of the GDP in the union, and it is the largest and most diversified country in the union, which includes Senegal, Mali and Niger. Côte d’Ivoire is fundamental to trade for its landlocked UEMOA neighbors: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. It is also gaining greater influence as one of sub-Saharan Africa’s more populated countries. Recent fundraising of more than $430 million by electricity production company, CIPREL, to finalize power plant expansion speaks to the excitement surrounding the country. An investment fund company Amethis Finance’s purchase of Petrolvoire, a downstream oil and gas operator in Côte d’Ivoire, demonstrates that first-time fund managers are approaching the country with zeal. A new investment code – recently passed in June 2012 – that introduces new tax incentives, new commercial courts and improved investment protection mechanisms – further underscores investor confidence. The transformation of the mining sector, including oil and gas, is well under its way, with many investors speaking of unimaginable potential for the country, especially if it has similar offshore success seen by neighboring Ghana.


9Zimbabweans Living below the New Breadline


The price of bread nearly doubled in Zimbabwe on Tuesday, another burden for citizens already struggling with a weakening currency and rising prices for basic goods. Bread now costs 3.50 RTGS dollars a loaf, up from 1.80. Bread is the most consumed staple after maize meal, and the increase follows that of other products like cooking oil, sugar and milk. President Emmerson Mnangagwa criticised business leaders for price increases as companies in the struggling economy cushion their bottom lines by hiking prices in line with steep rises in the parallel market currency rates. In February, faced with acute shortages of U.S. dollars, Zimbabwe introduced a new currency, called the Real Time Gross Settlement dollar. The RTGS has been losing value ever since, forcing companies to increase prices. Year-on-year inflation raced to 66.8 percent in March, up from 59.39 the previous month, according to statistics agency Zimstats. On Tuesday, the RTGS dollar was trading at 3.19 to the dollar on the interbank market and 5 on the black market. That means a loaf of bread costs about 70 U.S. cents a loaf, in a country where the average income is around $4 a day.


10South Africa’s Savings Clubs

South Africa’s Savings Clubs

The name stokvel is a mashup of the “stock fairs” in which 19th-century Xhosa tribespeople would pool resources to trade livestock with the British settlers. In their current form, stokvels date back to the 1930s, when migrant labor — with little access to formal banking structures — flocked to the gold mines on the Highveld. These days stokvels exist alongside, not instead of, formal savings vehicles. In fact, data shows they are on the rise: Penetration was 49 percent of the Black population in 2008. The Savings and Investment (SIM) — now in its 11th year — is the result of face-to-face interviews with 1,000 metropolitan households across seven South African cities. But, if anything, stokvels are probably even more popular in rural regions. According to the National Stokvel Association of South Africa, there are around 800,000 stokvels in the country, each comprising an average of 27 members, with a total annual market of $3.5 billion. Like South Africans, stokvels come in many shapes and sizes. In the purest form, members contribute every month (or week, or quarter) and take turns claiming the kitty. This negates the need for a bank account and greatly reduces trust issues, as the money can be gathered and distributed during the same meeting (these are a big part of stokvels, as are written rules and strict penalties for late payments).


ADC Editor
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