Africa Top10 Business News

Pan-African Firm to Invest in Infrastructure on the Continent 


Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to Africa’s growth; its COO, Carole Wainaina, talks to African Business about how Africa50 is building a team to support its mission and describes some of its priority projects in the energy, ICT and transport sectors. Infrastructure is essential for development and affects industrialisation at all levels, be it building up traditional manufacturing, which is a priority, to the fourth industrial revolution based around ICT and innovative technologies. It helps diversify production, expand trade, raise productivity, and lower costs. Road, airports and ports open and connect markets; telecommunications enable information and services; water and sanitation improve health; and electricity binds it all together. In many African countries expansion of traditional infrastructure is unlikely to keep pace with technological advances, so innovative technologies, mostly in ICT, must bypass existing constraints by leveraging alternative forms of tech-enabled infrastructure.


What the Most Admired Brands in Africa Tell Us about Consumer Behaviour

Consumer Behaviour

Overall, African brands faltered to an all-time low 14% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa. Faced with a relentless focus on the African opportunity and investment by non-African brands, Africa’s share of the most admired brands has been rapidly declining over the past 3 years from a high of 25% in 2013/4 to lows of 16% in 2015/6, 16% in 2016/7 and 17% in 2017/8.  Non-African brands have entrenched their positions in Africa, with North American brands, dominated exclusively by United States of America brands (28%), leading with a growth of 17% versus 2017/8. The strength of USA brands was boosted by the entry and/or re-entry of stalwart American brands such as #71 Levi’s, #91 Chevrolet and Pepsi’s Miranda at #80, who are all among the 20 new entrants. European brands (41%) are up by 2,5% and Asian brands (17%) down by 10%, round up the continental spread of brands Africans admire. The Brand Africa 100 rankings are based on a survey among a representative sample of respondents 18 years and older, conducted in 25 countries across Africa. Covering all African economic regions, collectively these countries account for an estimated 80% of the continent’s population and 75% of the GDP.


Building the First Waste to Energy Facility in Africa

Waste to Energy Facility in Africa

Ethiopia’s largest rubbish dump Koshe was for almost 50 years, home to hundreds of people who collect and resell rubbish trucked in from around the capital Addis Ababa. It, however, made headlines last year when it killed about 114 people, compelling the government to rethink an alternative use for the site which is said to be the size of 36 football pitches. Ethiopia has since turned the site into a new waste-to-energy plant via the Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project which is the first of its kind in Africa. This forms part of efforts to revolutionise waste management practices in the country. The plant is designed to generate electric power from solid waste collected from the capital. Incinerating 1,400tn of waste a day, the plant is meant to contribute 185GWh of electricity a year to the national grid. But disputes which was between EEP and two contractors, Cambridge Industries and its partner, China National Electric Engineering Company led to the plant ceasing operations after its inauguration.


Lagos Becoming Go-to Place for Tech in Sub-Saharan Africa


The fading facades of century-old buildings in a neighborhood of the Nigerian megacity of Lagos house a vibrant technology cluster that’s caught the eye of Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. The Yaba area, home to the Yaba College of Technology and the University of Lagos, is an emerging technology ecosystem — from fewer than 10 startups in 2013 to more than 60 today, including businesses like booking site It also hosts digital labs for Nigeria’s oldest bank, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., and Stanbic IBTC, the local subsidiary of Africa’s largest lender. Lagos, like other major cities such as Nairobi and Accra, is at the height of this exciting expansion in innovation across tech, with Yaba quickly finding itself at the center,” said Chimdindu Aneke, program manager of platform partnerships for sub-Saharan Africa at Facebook, which last year launched a hub space in the neighborhood.


East Africa Plans to Increase Spending on Infrastructure Projects 

Infrastructure Projects

But the question many ask is whether those countries can afford it? Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi will unveil plans to fund the building of more roads, railways and power plants, as well as expand services such as health care and education, for the year starting July 1. In most cases, this will raise budget gaps as a percentage of gross domestic product, and increase borrowing requirements. Spending will probably climb about 10% in Kenya in the next fiscal year, 17% in Uganda and 11% in Rwanda, while it will be broadly flat in Tanzania, the nations’ respective governments have said in forecasts. While the governments forecast that revenue will increase by double digits next year, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania all have plans to approach the debt markets to help raise the funds to finance their deficits. GDP in East Africa will probably expand 5.9% in 2019 and 6.1% in 2020, according to the African Development Bank, making it the fastest-growing region on the continent. 


Remote Classrooms to Improve Higher Learning in Africa

Higher Learning in Africa

Unicaf University is an African institution founded in 2012 in Zambia with programs in fields like business, education and health care management. Offering degrees largely online, with some blended learning options, Unicaf reaches 18,000 students across the continent, many of them working adults. Unicaf offers the convenience of anytime, anywhere study — as long as the internet service is sufficient. Initially, Unicaf was essentially a distance-learning platform, taking courses offered by British and American universities, translating them to an online environment and marketing them to Africans. Partner institutions set admissions standards, approve hiring and determine whether students meet graduation requirements. The cost of a degree, about $4,000, is not cheap by African standards, but it is within reach of the region’s growing middle class, and many students receive scholarships. Ms. Kamizi, a former safety worker in a mine, got a full ride after she won a Unicaf-sponsored business competition with an idea for manufacturing low-cost sanitary napkins. Africa’s longstanding public universities have wrestled with the pressure to expand capacity without sacrificing quality, and not always successfully, said Jamil Salmi, a higher education consultant and former World Bank official from Morocco. Such universities have grown up, but they vary in caliber and can be costly. Going abroad to study is an option for only a select few.


Solving Nigeria’s 900,000 Housing Deficit With Blockchain 

Nigeria’s 900,000 Housing Deficit

Rising population, rapid urban migration and uncoordinated policy direction of the government are some of the critical factors deepening the housing gap. Because of the scale of this deficit, innovative investment solutions are all-important right now. Crowdfunding is a permissionless way of raising money. So far, the trend of pooling capital from several retail investors to finance a new or existing business venture has proven successful in Nigeria. The growth of AgricTech platforms has provided a template for other poorly funded areas of the country. Thrive Agric, which crowdfunds investments for smallholder farmers, have funded more 14, 000 farmers with over ₦180 million ($500,000) raised in February, 2019 alone; and providing returns of up to 20 per cent for retail investors. Currently, there are up to ten different crowdfunding startups providing value in the agric space. Tokenisation on the blockchain makes it possible to represent ownership in a property on an open, distributed digital ledger. Simply, it means converting rights to an asset into a digital token. Hypothetically, say an apartment of 50, 000 square metres cost N30,000,000. That can be converted into 500,000 tokens (a token representing 10 square metres). Though blockchain is nascent and there are still few regulations around the industry, there are some apparent advantages to tokenising crowdfunded real estate projects.


Difficulty Repatriating Revenues Earned in African Air Travel

African Air Travel

The International Air Transport Association says that a number of African countries are holding up funds by airline operators as a result of foreign exchange crunch. At its annual General Meeting in South Korea early June 2019, IATA said as at the ending of March 2019, five African countries were holding a total of $413 million meant for airlines. Amongst them are Eritrea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Angola and Algeria. Eritrea is holding a total of $73 million of such funds with six million of the chunk belonging to Ethiopian Airlines. Other airlines impacted by the same situation include Egypt Air, Turkish Air and Fly Dubai. Reports say the financial difficulty had forced Qatar Airways and Luthansa to abandon the route. According to the IATA, Zimbabwe holds USD 192 million, Sudan 84 million, Algeria 80 million, Angola seven million.


Getting Around Africa’s Logistical Nightmare

Africa's Logistical Nightmare

Industries can make a variety of goods, but they struggle to transport them safely and quickly to customers without established networks. According to global property consultancy Knight Frank, the cost of transport takes up 50-75% of the retail price of goods. But there is hope, from both foreign investment and home-grown solutions. For example, in Nigeria, digital start-up Kobo360 developed an app that revolutionises cargo delivery by making sure that everyone in the supply chain is connected to ensure the safety and accountability of cargo in transit. n the Senegalese capital, Dakar, more and more people are shopping online, and getting goods delivered to your front door is a growing trend amongst shoppers. Quicarry is a service that delivers packages in Senegal from international ecommerce websites, particularly targeting young adults. There are other start-ups in Senegal also trying to offer new solutions, such as delivery app Paps, which aims to deliver anything you want to your front door in half an hour. But technology isn’t enough to fix Africa’s logistics problems – more support is also needed to help new businesses get off the ground.


Will Nationalising Part of the Kenyan Flag-carrier Lift it Out of Debt?

Kenyan Flag-carrier

Kenya Airways Plc. is willing to operate under a state-owned holding company after the troubled airline failed in its bid to jointly run the country’s main airport. Lawmakers in the East African nation are expected to issue alternative proposals, including the possible partial nationalization of Kenya Airways, after they last month rejected the airline’s proposal to operate Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with the state-owned Kenya Airports Authority. The airline, which reported a $59 million full-year loss, is proposing a model similar to Emirates Airline and Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, which operate as units of state-owned holding companies. Such an arrangement would enable it to double its fleet in five years. Kenya Airways, which is 48.9% owned by the government, is also on the hunt for a chief executive officer after Sebastian Mikosz said he would step down before the end of his three-year contract.


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