Africa Top10 Business News

1Celebrating the Captains of Africa’s Banking Industry

Africa’s Banking Industry

The 2019 edition of the African Banker Awards held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, recognised their  contributions to banking excellence. The Awards, held annually on the fringes of the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank have established themselves as ‘the Oscars of African banking’. The two big awards of the night went to development finance institutions.
Afreximbank won Bank of the Year and the Trade and Development Bank’s (TDB) President, Ethiopian Admassu Tadesse, won African Banker of the Year. TDB has grown its portfolio five-fold since Tadesse took over as President, largely increasing its presence in East and Southern Africa, where it operates. Afreximbank in the past 18 months has launched a number of game-changing products. This year’s lifetime achievement went to former First Rand Group CEO, South African Sizwe Nxasana. In other categories, Ecobank won Retail Bank of the year; Kenya’s KCB won the prize for innovation and Equity Bank for its CSR activities. Nigeria’s Bank of Industry won the prize for Financial Inclusion. No one region dominated this year’s awards although there was a call from the organisers for greater effort to ensure banking was more inclusive, both in terms of gender representation across senior management in banks and in lending to small and medium sized enterprises.


2Africa’s Blue Economy is Set for a Tech Tsunami

Africa's Blue Economy

From the Caribbean to the South African coast, marine  archaeologist Matthew Arnett’s work involves recovering treasures from the deep – and preserving them for posterity. PO8 is a marine archaeology startup that uses blockchain technology to recover sunken artifacts from the ocean floor. Using the blockchain model, through PO8, ownership of the recovered treasures and artifacts is with non-fungible tokens, which are asset-backed tokens. The growing historical tourism market in the Caribbean generates revenue without selling any of the recovered artifacts, leading to social and economic impact that he says can be duplicated in Africa, “Because of the success in the Caribbean, it only makes sense to come back to Africa to put the same model in place. There are millions and billions of dollars in the ocean. We are going to find other things that relate back to Africa, so we might also be able to find some missing links from an anthropology stand point.” 


3Here’s What Business Heard in South Africa’s SONA

South Africa's SONA

Business Unity South Africa has lamented the absence of “real implementation plans” from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s June State of the Nation Address (SoNA) and has urged him to work with business to table a clear implementation plan, with timeframes and milestones, to address South Africa’s prevailing economic “crisis”. Busa welcomed Ramaphosa’s commitment to a social compact and said it was prepared to work with him in building such a consensus in the national interest. However, such a compact could not avoid hard decisions and should send unequivocal messages in support of building investor confidence. President Cyril Ramaphosa described the youth unemployment rate of 50% as a national crisis. He pledged to create two million jobs for young people over the next decade. He listed economic growth, job creation as well as improving education and health as the country’s top priorities. He also promised to support the country’s struggling electricity utility Eskom.


4Solving Nigeria’s E-waste Problem

Nigeria's E-waste Problem

The Nigerian government, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment today launched a new $15 million initiative to turn the tide on e-waste in Nigeria. A global model for a circular electronics system, the project was announced at the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019 and will kickstart a sustainable electronics economy in Nigeria, protecting the environment while creating safe employment for thousands of people. The initiative will transform Nigeria’s current informal and hazardous recycling into a formally legislated system that benefits all actors by including a small fee on the sale of electronics to subsidise formal recycling. With 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore, alongside other scarce and valuable materials such as platinum, cobalt and rare earth elements, a safe and efficient recycling industry has huge economic potential. According to the International Labour Organization, up to 100,000 people work in the informal e-waste recycling sector in Nigeria, and over half a million tonnes of discarded appliances are processed in the country every year. Yet waste that is considered to have no economic value is often dumped or burned – releasing pollutants like heavy metals and toxic chemicals into the air, water and soil. The initiative will develop systems for the disposal of non-usable and toxic waste, aiming to collect, treat and dispose of more than 270 tonnes of e-waste contaminated with persistent organic pollutants and 30 tonnes of waste containing mercury. The project also aims to have an impact beyond Nigeria through the development of a practical circular electronics model for Africa and beyond, by sharing best practices, promoting regional and global dialogue, and engaging global manufacturers.


5The World Bank’s Bid to Aid Ebola Prone Countries has Strict Conditions

Ebola Prone Countries

Since 2017, the World Bank has been issuing “pandemic bonds,” which use private investment to help developing nations tackle outbreaks of infectious diseases. The particular bond that covers Ebola, among other diseases, pays investors a coupon of 11.1 percent over Libor, funded by donor nations Japan and Germany. Since the first case of Ebola in August last year, almost 1,400 people out of 2,000 infected have died in eastern Congo, a region with rich mineral deposits but one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the UN. But that doesn’t mean they get the aid money. Despite thousands of deaths in Congo, the bonds will only benefit affected nations once they jump international borders and a positive rate of growth of the outbreak is confirmed, according to a person familiar with the bonds. Then and only then would the Washington-headquartered World Bank pay $90 million to help both governments and international aid responders tackle the crisis. Additionally, since their introduction, pandemic bonds have yet to pay out to affected nations. In February, the development bank gave the DRC $80 million in grants to help finance responses for the Ebola outbreak. But the bank’s readiness to allow the death toll to rise, before paying out fully on the insurance element of the facility, is likely to fuel criticism over the deal’s structure. If the bonds mature without paying out, investors get their money back, plus the chunky coupons.


6Calls to Diversify Africa’s Biggest Company

Africa's Biggest Company

Naspers Ltd.’s biggest shareholder is considering whether to reduce its 16.5 billion stake in Africa’s biggest company because of concern it’s overexposed to a single stock. South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund is being encouraged by its manager, the Public Investment Corp., to reduce its Naspers shareholding of about 16%, said three of the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private. Any decision is ultimately up to the GEPF. Naspers’s value has grown 72-fold since 2004 on the back of the success of an early-stage investment in Chinese games developer Tencent Holdings Ltd., which listed in Hong Kong that year. That’s turned Naspers, a Cape Town-based internet technology investor once focused on South African newspapers, into a $101 billion global entity. But it’s also made the company dependent on China, where it has little influence. The shares gained 2% in Johannesburg as Tencent gained in Hong Kong. “Naspers success is dependent on the Chinese government,” said Tahir Maepa, deputy general manager for members affairs of the Public Servants Association, whose 240,000-members make it the biggest labor union representing contributors to the GEPF. “It’s a huge risk, not only for the PIC, it’s a risk for the South African economy and the JSE,” he said, adding that the GEPF should “definitely” cut its stake.


7Investing in Innovation and Smart Digital Growth in Africa

Africa's Biggest Company

The African Development Bank and its partners have launched the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), designed to aid safety and expansion of digital financial transactions in Africa. The Fund, launched at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Government of Luxembourg, as initial contributors. Bank Vice President Pierre Guislain, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, said the goal is to ensure that at least 320 million more Africans, of which nearly 60% are women, have access to digital financial services. The fund will deploy $100 million in grants and $300 million in the form of debt from the Bank’s ordinary capital resources by 2030, to scale up electronic financial services for low-income communities. The interventions will be aligned to four pillars; infrastructure, including digital and interoperable payment systems; digital products and innovation; policy and regulatory reform and harmonisation; and capacity building. It will help to close the transaction gender gap between men and women.


8African Countries with Small to Medium-sized Economies Pay Far More Money for Less Effective Drugs

African Countries

In countries such as Zambia, Senegal and Tunisia, everyday drugs like paracetamol can cost up to 30 times more than in the UK and USA.  Leading health expert, Kalipso Chalkidou from the Centre for Global Development, co-authored a report on drug procurement that concluded that small to middling economy countries buy a smaller range of medicines, leading to weaker competition, regulation and quality. It says richer countries, thanks to public money and strong processes for buying drugs, are able to procure cheaper medicines. Poorer countries, however, tend to buy the most expensive medicines, rather than cheaper unbranded pharmaceuticals which make up 85% of the market in the UK and US. The very poorest countries are not affected when foreign donors purchase medicine on their behalf, meaning their over-the-counter medicines remain at low cost.


9Investigating Human Rights Abuse Mining in Tanzania

Abuse Mining in Tanzania

Electronics companies, including Canon, Apple and Nokia, are re-evaluating their supply chains following reports they may be using gold extracted from a Tanzanian mine that has been criticised for environmental failures. Over the past 10 years, at the North Mara goldmine – which is operated by London-listed Acacia Mining – there have been more than a dozen killings of intruding locals by security personnel. More recently, the Tanzanian government has imposed penalties on the mine and ordered the operators to build an alternative to its tailings reservoir, which is used to store the byproducts of mining. Under Tanzanian law, no mine should operate within 200 metres of a home or 100 metres of a farm, but Acacia told the Guardian it had not been able to meet this requirement. The company has built a wall in some areas, improved security training and introduced a grievance mechanism, which have led to a marked reduction in conflict over the past two years, but locals claimed there were still accidents and violence as a result of incursions, and toxic wastewater continued to seep from the mine into residential areas and waterways nearby.


10Light Bulb Moments as Egyptians Bypass Blackouts

Egyptians Bypass Blackouts

Egypt has been working to diversify its sources of electricity, building wind, solar and nuclear plants, in addition to boosting traditional oil and gas-fired energy production in a bid to end chronic power shortages. The push comes after the country experienced crippling blackouts during the summer of 2014. As temperature soared, so did the tempers of Egyptians. The year before, anger over power cuts had fueled demonstrations that led to the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood government and the ouster of the late President Mohamed Morsi. Today, as in years past, many Egyptians blame corruption for the decrepit state of Egypt’s power grid and many welcome the government’s efforts to modernize it.With rates continuing to rise, Egyptian families often reduce costs by limiting lighting to one bulb for an entire room. A rigged electricity meter in a Cairo apartment building is a usual sight as residents sometimes resort to stealing to save money on electric bills.