1Innovative Solar Strategies form a Central Part of Egypt’s Transformation
The country’s power mix is undergoing a transformation; its current installed electricity capacity is around 42GW, of which 91% is backed by fossil fuels, the rest renewables. The government, however, envisages a rebalancing, with renewables responsible for 20% by 2022 and 37% by 2035. Solar, alongside hydro and wind, will be the driving force behind this capacity shakeup. Benban solar park – located just north of Aswan – is set to be the world’s largest solar complex, and after some initial difficulties the project is shaping up as a trailblazer. The Egyptian government has utilised two distinct models to drive investment into solar: feed-in tariffs (FiTs) and competitive tenders. FiTs work on the basis of a set price paid to the producer over a number of years, meaning that the price of the energy is not market-based, and therefore acts like a subsidy.
SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE
2Zambia’s Vision 2030 Target of becoming a Middle-income Nation
Through its Seventh National Development Plan, the five-year plan currently underway (2017-2021), it aims at building a strong and diversified economy through the implementation of growth reforms and fiscal consolidation, with an in-depth focus on private sector investment in infrastructure and agricultural development. “The prospects of going forward are huge,” states Dr Denny H.Kalyalya, Governor of the Bank of Zambia. “For an investor looking for good returns, a peaceful and liberal environment, Zambia is the place to be.” ‘Smart Zambia’ sees ICT as a key driver of socio-economic development and an essential tool to achieving Vision 2030’s goal. In 2018, the government launched a US$280 million project will add 1,009 communication towers to the hundreds already built and boost mobile penetration rates to 94%.
SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA
3The Future of Nigeria’s Biggest Wealth Creator
The state-owned oil refinery in Kaduna is a rusted hulk set on about 1.1 square miles on the parched outskirts of the northern city, has the capacity to process 110,000 barrels of oil a day. Last year it processed virtually nothing. The three other state-owned refineries — in the oil-rich Niger delta region in the south of the country — did not do much better. In the year to October, the refineries operated at barely 11 percent of their capacity of 445,000 barrels a day. In October itself, none of the refineries processed any crude, and they operated at a combined loss of $30 million. The state of the refineries in Africa’s largest crude producer is not only a reflection of the oil and gas sector starved of investment but also a reminder of the country’s sluggish crude-driven economy.
4Zimbabwe Introduces a New Currency
Zimbabwe’s new currency is expected to begin trading at around 2.5 to the U.S. dollar. A decade after Zimbabwe scrapped its own currency to end hyperinflation and began using mainly the USD, the economy is back in free fall. Fuel, medicines and other basics are hard to come by and less than 10 percent of the workforce is formally employed. While the new currency regime initially helped stabilize prices, it also increased imports, curtailed exports and gave rise to a chronic shortage of banknotes. To fund government spending and help ease the liquidity crisis, the central bank printed bond notes theoretically pegged to the dollar, while most commercial transactions are conducted using an electronic currency known as RTGS$. This combination of parallel systems has resulted in a convoluted system of exchange rates, with consumers charged different prices depending on how they pay for purchases, and the cash scarcity has only worsened.
5Amazon is Tapping into E-commerce Customers in Kenya
The e-commerce giant has rolled out a service that will allow customers to purchase goods and then pay for them at a local Western Union retail agent. During checkout, a special QR code will be generated that will be used to verify the customer’s identity and matched to the order confirmation for payment. Dubbed Amazon PayCode, the cross-border payment option has been launched in Kenya in Africa, along with nine other countries in Asia and Latin America. The service’s launch underscores Amazon’s pivot towards e-savvy consumers in Kenya, who are keen on buying things online but might not have access to international credit cards or prefer to buy goods in cash and in their own currency.
SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA
6Getting the Ball Rolling for Ethiopia’s Grand Hydro Project
In a bid to accelerate the pace of the construction of Ethiopia’s strategic dam, the country has contracted the services of two Chinese companies. The Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) signed a contract worth $40m with China Gezhouba Group Co., Ltd (CGGC) to handle the pre-commissioning activities at the dam. Another contract worth $113m with Voith Hydro Shanghai, that includes the electrical, mechanical, and various civil/structural works required to complete the construction of the generating station and spillways was signed. Last year, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed cancelled the contract of a state-run military conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), to build the dam’s turbines saying that at the time not a single turbine was operational more than seven years after the government awarded them the contract.
SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS
7South Africa’s Budget Speech in a Nutshell
Finance minister Tito Mboweni delivered a gloomy budget that showed a deterioration in SA’s finances and economic outlook, which may raise the ire of ratings agencies. Delivering his first budget speech since he returned to the cabinet in October, Mboweni predicted that budget deficits would be wider than expected four months ago owing to a weak economy, another shortfall in revenue collection and the need to set aside more cash for the ailing state-owned enterprises. Taxpayers, and the Reserve Bank governor, might be happy with Mboweni pledging that MPs will lead by example and not get salary increases in the current fiscal year, together with provincial legislators and senior executives at SOEs.
SOURCES: BUSINESS DAY LIVE
8East African Real Estate Investors Discover the Working Class
The last 20 years of real estate boom in East Africa has changed the building landscape and inventory. The starting point was a region that was short of every kind of building, from housing, to shops, through offices, warehouses, hotels, and even student hostels. In all, the region faced a real estate landscape that was cripplingly underinvested. Investment opportunities in real estate remain enormous and now it is the turn of the working classes. And the returns are just as high for investors. The region’s annual investor conference, the East Africa Property Investment summit, set to be the largest yet and a key platform for developing real estate policy and white papers for government.
9A Solution for Beekeeping Challenges in Africa
Farmer Amaete Umanah is a Nigerian-American entrepreneur, who describes himself as a “farmhacker”. He has developed a sophisticated monitoring system with his company Honeyflow Africa, founded with partner Joshua Agbomedarho, which he believes can revolutionize the Nigerian honey industry. “We’re digitizing how we monitor bees,” says Umanah. “With modern technology…we can help local economies and alleviate poverty.” The Honeyflow Africa system is composed of a battery of sensors feeding information to a smartphone app that allows the beekeeper to monitor their hives remotely. A device installed inside the hive monitors temperature and humidity to ensure that optimal conditions are contained. The device also captures sound, which is analyzed with artificial intelligence software to detect the behavioral patterns of the bee colony, such as preparations for departure. Bees might leave for a variety reasons such as lack of space or water, or too much noise and an early warning system allows beekeepers to take preventative measures.
10Africa’s Social Safety-nets
Tanzania’s main welfare scheme, known as the Productive Social Safety Net (pssn), has expanded quickly since it was created in 2013. Today, 1.1m households, or about 10% of the total are enrolled. Recipients receive some money simply for being poor. They can earn extra cash from toiling on public-works projects or for making sure their children attend school and health clinics. On average, recipients are paid the equivalent of $13 per month.
SOURCES: THE ECONOMIST