1[OPINION] Do Advertisers and Brands Get ROI at Afcon?
At the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the visual imagery of almost empty stadiums is a powerful narrative. Official broadcast camera crews have done a creative job minimizing the visual gaps of empty seats. But wide camera angles reveal the obvious … a lack of attendance and public enthusiasm, in spite of the presence of some of the biggest names in world football on the field. The lack of attendance in Egypt speaks volumes high ticket costs; the timing of matches bang in the middle of work days; the difficulties faced by national team supporters in obtaining entry visas to Egypt; and challenges with the Confederation of African Football’s complicated online ticket purchasing system. The lack of fan attendance has obvious economic and financial implications across the sports value chain for team owners, sports federations and confederations, players, sponsors, advertising and marketing agencies, merchandisers, vendors, and local communities who once counted on fan attendance to boost fledgling economies.
SOURCES: CNBC AFRICA
2Africa is the World’s Biggest Producer and Consumer of Cannabis
Cannabis has been employed in traditional African herbal medicine since time immemorial. Today, much of the world is playing catch-up. The multi-billion dollar global cannabis industry is booming as companies cite the benefits of medical marijuana for treating pain and inflammation and possibly even soothing mental illness and addictions. The global legal cannabis market could be worth $272bn by 2028, according to the 2018 European Consumer Staples Report from Barclays. The industry has the potential to make $7.1bn annually by 2023, European-based cannabis market consultancy Prohibition Partners estimates in its latest Africa Cannabis Report, but a lot of work needs to be done if it is to realise its full potential. Illegal cultivation of the plant is a key source of income for impoverished rural areas of countries such as Morocco.
SOURCES: AFRICA BUSINESS MAGAZINE
3Growing Tech Incubators in Africa
Africa’s technology ecosystems have experienced “incredible growth” as they have rapidly expanded in recent years, with 618 active tech hubs providing “the backbone of Africa’s tech ecosystem,” according to the GSMA. This is a 40% leap over the 442 hubs counted last year, while this ecosystem was “mainly boosted by a torrent of venture funds, development finance, corporate involvement, as well as ever-growing, innovative communities,” it said. An active tech hub is defined as “an organisation currently active with a physical local address, offering facilities and support for tech and digital entrepreneurs” in research conducted by Briter Bridges and the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator programme, which identified an “innovation quadrangle” encompassed by Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya. Nigeria and South Africa are still the most advanced ecosystems, the report found, with 85 and 80 active tech hubs respectively. Lagos is now the top innovative city by number of hubs (40+), while the Western Cape, Gauteng and Durban are the core of South Africa’s tech hubs scene.
SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA
4Why Intra-Trade in Africa is Such a Big Deal
There are almost 300 trade treaty agreements worldwide according to data from The World Bank but none are as big as the one set in motion by the African Union. The African Union has established the operational phase of an African free trade agreement on July 7 2019. 54 countries have agreed to adopt a free trade area covering the continent. Inter-country trade is exceptionally low in Africa compared with Asia and Europe, but the agreement could create $3.2-trillion in trade within the continent. After months of reluctance over competition concerns, Nigeria’s support gives weight to a 55-nation bloc worth $3.4 trillion. Intra-African trade makes up only 17% of exports, which are hampered by poor infrastructure, taxes, bureaucracy and corruption. The trade pact aims to boost cross-border trade by reducing or eliminating duties and red tape. To help lower costs, the AU launched a pan-African payment system at the summit in Niger’s capital. African exporters want the free trade area to quickly enter into force to eliminate barriers and create free movement between states. Despite the African free trade area’s launch, much work remains before the agreement becomes effective. While all of the African Union’s 55 members except Eritrea have signed on to the free trade area, only half have ratified the deal. And even after costs are reduced, Africa’s exporters still will have to contend with non-tariff barriers that will take much longer to fix — such as corruption and poor transport links between nations.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE
5Top 10 Countries To Invest In Africa
Painting Africa with the same economic brush is always a mistake; the Africa Rising narrative has cooled down since growth lost momentum in some countries and investors have become more strategic with chasing investment deals. Egypt remains the most appealing for investors, according to RMB’s Where to Invest in Africa. The Arab country has stabilised its economy since the revolution and coup a few years ago. South Africa continues to be strategic for investors coming into the continent. Nigeria made a comeback into the top 10 this year helped by recovering oil prices and improved access to foreign currency. Morocco is positioning itself as the new gateway to African markets, whilst Ethiopia has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Kenya still leads investments in East Africa and is joined by Rwanda and Tanzania for their stable poltical environments. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire close off the list with opportunities in the cocoa and agricultural industries.
6Harare Considers Pulling the Plug on the Kariba South Plant
Zimbabwe has proposed reducing the flow of the Zambezi River in exchange for receiving discounted power from neighboring Mozambique. The proposal would result in the closing of Zimbabwe’s Kariba South hydro plant, which would bolster critically low water levels in the world’s biggest man-made reservoir. The plan would also limit the flow into the already full Cahora Bassa dam in Mozambique, as water wouldn’t need to be pushed through the plant’s turbines. Opening the flood gates at Cahora Bassa could inundate the low-lying Zambezi Delta on Mozambique’s coast. In return for limiting the river flow, Zimbabwe would want to be compensated with cheap power from Cahora Bassa, which has the capacity to produce 2,075 megawatts. Kariba is 28.9% full, according the the Zimbabwe National Water Authority’s website.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
7The Northern Cape is the Future of South African Mining
After being laid off from her job as a quarry manager in South Africa, Shirley Hayes struck a deal with the owner of the nearby Blesberg mine: She would rehabilitate the abandoned site for free, and he would buy back whatever minerals she was able to extract. Fast-forward 20 years and Hayes’ company, SHiP Copper, is finalizing exploration on an 89,000-acre concession she was granted in 2009. Within two years, she plans to begin production on the first of 10 mines, which SHiP will operate using an innovative cluster mining model, bringing all ore to a central processing plant to reduce costs. The mines — which could generate up to $30 million in annual profits for around 70 years — will breathe new life into an underpopulated and overlooked region where centuries of mixed fortunes have been tied to mining. SHiP has not processed an ounce of copper yet, but already Hayes has become the darling of women’s empowerment in a male-dominated industry. Not that the glove always fits. “I am passionate about women,” she says, “but I’m even more passionate about every person who wants to go from rags to riches.”
8Looking into Facebook’s New Product in Africa
The most consistent and promising approach to tackling this huge obstacle to development has come with the off-grid pay-as-you-go solar power model, now called PayGo. The sector started out in East Africa built around combining the improving and increasingly cost-effective solar technology with the region’s mobile money advantage, thanks to the successful reach of Safaricom’s M-Pesa in Kenya. Companies like Nairobi-based M-Kopa have signed up 750,000 homes in the region on the back of that payment platform which has been key for also enabling users to obtain credit and manage their payments. PayGo solar isn’t just reliant on classic mobile money solutions. In some countries it’s being used with local bank partnerships such as in Nigeria or with credit bureaus in India, for example. When it comes to demand Kenya and Uganda score high particularly when it comes to users’ “willingness to pay”, while Kenya also does well on the supply side along with Indonesia, driven by the availability of finance to support the sector.
9Boosting the National Energy Mix in Morocco
The Moroccan agency for sustainable energy (Masen) has opened the first stage in a tender process to build, operate and maintain a 230 megawatt solar plant near the town of Midelt in the Atlas mountains. Applications for the pre-qualification round of the Noor Midelt II project are open until September 16. Morocco plans to exceed 52 percent of renewable energy in the national energy mix by 2030. Last May, MASEN awarded Noor Midelt I, a 800 MW plant worth $781.5 million, to a consortium of France’s EDF Renewables, UAE’s Masdar and Morocco’s Green Energy of Africa. Both plants will use concentrated solar plant (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) technologies, with a combined capacity exceeding that of the already operational 580 MW Noor Ouarzazate CSP plant in southeastern Morocco, one of the largest in the world.
SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA
10Uber Wants to Expand its Services to Senegal’s Capital
But in a city full of taxis and drivers who don’t have smartphones, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing app company will have to overcome a lot of challenges to be useful to Dakar residents and turn a profit. The city, like most African capitals, has an abundance of taxis. In most parts of the city, any time day or night, it’s easy to find a ride. But the city is rapidly expanding, and Uber says it has seen an opportunity to move in. Among the challenges Uber will face in Dakar is a lack of fixed addresses. Taxi drivers know the city inside and out and tend to navigate based on landmarks. How the app could work in a city that rarely uses map applications is a big question for some residents. Whether taxi drivers, most of whom don’t have smartphones, will be able to join Uber or compete with them, is yet to be seen. Uber has expanded to 23 cities in Africa, including Abuja, Lagos and Accra in West Africa.