Africa Top10 Business News

1How to Commercialize the Vast African Database

Tshilidzi Marwala

Tshilidzi Marwala from the South African Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution says ” We need to develop technological capacity to gather, process and monetize the African database. To achieve these, we ought to improve and expand our educational institutions, paying attention to the development of programs in data science. We need to embed data science subjects such as data analytics and software engineering into primary, secondary and tertiary education. Governments and the African Union ought to expand projects such as the Deep Learning Indaba as well as the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences that are developing mathematics, machine learning and artificial intelligence expertise in Africa. To gather data, we need to politically organize ourselves to create economies of scale. Regionally, organizations such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should create regional data banks that collect, protect and store regional data.


2Why Zimbabwe’s Inflation Soared to its Highest Level in a Decade

Zimbabwe’s Inflation

On paper finance minister Mthuli Ncube seems to be doing everything by the book, he is using the orthodox economic policy often prescribed by the global Bretton Woods lending institutions to try to turn around a sickly economy. The government is running a budget surplus for the first time in years and has stopped runaway money printing, which led to hyperinflation of 500-billion percent in 2008. Last month the central bank raised its overnight lending rate to 50% to protect the local currency after ending a decade of dollarisation. Ncube, a former chief economist at the African Development Bank, agreed to a staff monitoring programme with the IMF in May, under which Harare promised not to borrow offshore and to cut reliance on the central bank to finance deficits. All that points to a government willing to break with the ruinous policies of the past yet inflation came in at 175% in June. Analysts note, that government reforms to set fiscal discipline aren’t in place; more than 80% of Zimbabweans earn a living in the informal sector, which is typically unresponsive to the kinds of fiscal and monetary policy tools used by finance ministers and central bankers to lower prices and stimulate the economy and finally is the lack of confidence many Zimbabweans have in the country’s economic polices and its national currency.


3What the New Prosper Africa Policy Means for US-Africa Relations

US-Africa Relations

Africa has been low on the list of US foreign policy priorities, but its new Prosper Africa policy seeks to accelerate two-way investment and trade.Gyude Moore, a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development say the new policy needs to align with promises made in the newly adopted African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) to be of mutual benefit to both the US and Africa. This mix of challenge and promise forces Africa to pursue a variety of partnerships, since every partner deploys unique competences. For the CFTA to be successful, the US must restrain its inclination to make Africa a theatre of great power conflict with China. Both China and the US are indispensable partners in pursuit of the CFTA’s goals. American or Chinese Africa policies that are contingent on Africans choosing one partner over the other will consistently yield sub-optimal outcomes for all parties. Prosper Africa must be the American response to Africa’s ambitious CFTA, and its aims should reflect that. Rather than mimicking the very limited framework of Power Africa, the US should design Prosper Africa to match the ambition demonstrated in the creation, in less than two years, of the largest single market in the world. Africa will look for a statement of American belief in the promise of Africa – an investment in Africa for its inherent value, not as a prize to be won in a competition with China.


4Tough Economic Decisions for Central Banks Across Africa

Central Banks Across Africa

Central banks in sub-Saharan Africa’s key economies will take direction from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell when they make calls on interest rates in the next 10 days. Since the Monetary Policy Committees last met, South Africa’s statistics agency said that economy contracted the most in a decade in the first quarter, Nigeria passed measures to compel banks to boost lending and a drought in Kenya pushed up inflation. A stronger currency and moderating inflation in an economy that may have fallen into a second recession in consecutive years gave the South African Reserve Bank scope to lower its key interest rate by 25 basis points for the first time in more than a year. Inflation in Ghana slowed to a five-month low in June and has now been inside the central bank’s target band for over a year. Nigeria’s central bank has made it clear that it’s keen to boost lending to help an economy that’s still struggling to recover from a 2016 contraction, but with sticky inflation and the need to attract foreign inflows to support the naira, the central bank has started to resort to other measures than interest cuts to boost credit growth. Kenya’s MPC will meet as a drought that’s threatening the food security of almost 2 million people and higher fuel costs drives up prices. Angola’s central bank has reduced the increments by which it cut interest rates since it entered an International Monetary Fund financial program. 


5How African Firms Can Benefit from Dubai’s Free Zones 

Dubai’s Free Zones

Free zones in Dubai were set up to encourage foreign trade and investment in the city. The zones are eco-systems for businesses and offer well equipped districts with specialised amenities, facilities and infrastructure for any business to hit the ground running. A business looking to operate in the free zone gains access to a value chain of services and benefits, the most attractive being 100 percent ownership of your business, zero tax on profits and zero percent on personal income tax. The Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) hosts 27 out of the 30 major banks in the world, these include South Africa’s Standard Bank and Nigeria’s Zenith Bank. DIFC’s Chief Business Development Officer, Salmaan Jaffery says Dubai has a diversification story to tell, and believes that Africa will contribute greatly to that tale. The centre is looking at expanding its offerings in the services space and looks at companies like MTN, Africa’s largest mobile operator, and M-Pesa, the mobile phone money transfer and microfinancing service, to build on that vision.


6Kenya Won’t Block Huawei From Rolling Out the 5G Network

Huawei Kenya

The Kenyan government is partnering with Huawei to build a smart city in Konza Technopolis as part of the government’s efforts to make the country a technology hub. The Minister of Communications and Technology says Kenya’s policies are not driven by the United States and as such the country would assert its sovereignty and take what works and innovate with it. “I think for us; we are not going to be tied to what other people are saying. We are going to ensure we have value for money for our citizens and we will continue to ensure we have security. This is even as we can innovate and ensure we have the security and all that we need,” Mucheru said. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile internet connectivity and promises an increase in speeds of up to 20 times. It is generally about the better utilisation of radio spectrum and allowing several more devices to access the mobile internet at the same time.


7Millions of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa Don’t have a Bank Account

Sub-Saharan Africa

World leaders are to pledge to shape the technological revolution sweeping through Africa by acting to lift the threat of 400 million predominantly rural women being excluded from digital financial services. G7 finance ministers meeting in France aims to endorse a paper from the Gates Foundation saying there is a serious risk that digital technology and mobile banking will bypass millions of women in Africa, leaving them disempowered for a generation. The initiative, requiring $255m in initial funding and regulatory action across Africa,is designed to prevent “the inequalities of the past being insinuated into the future” as cultural and market barriers lead to women being excluded from mobile banking, e-commerce and smartphone technology. A mobile money revolution in sub-Saharan Africa is under way in which the number of people with an account doubled to 21% in 2017. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa women are 13% less likely to own a mobile phone and 41% less likely to use mobile internet than men.


8Counting the Cost of Cameroon’s Crisis

Cameroon's Crisis

Cameroon’s second largest employer, the Cameroon Development Corporation, says it has been paralyzed by the separatist conflict in the country’s English-speaking regions.  The agricultural giant has not been able to pay its staff for a year because of falling production and revenue. The village of Meanja used to be a banana production center in Cameroon’s English-speaking southwest. Two years ago, 2,000 people lived here, and many worked for the Cameroon Development Corporation’s banana production unit. The Cameroon Development Corporation is the central African country’s second largest employer and runs banana, palm oil, and rubber plantations. But the three-year conflict between Anglophone rebels and government troops has forced the CDC to close farms and factories across the western English-speaking regions. CDC general manager Franklin Ngoni Njie says more than half of his 20,000 workers – fearing attacks – refuse to work, while the remainder work only part-time. The rebels consider state-run companies such as the CDC and institutions such as schools legitimate targets.  Last month, the Cameroon Employers Association said rebel fighters had transformed many CDC plantations into training grounds. 


9The Casualties of Kenya’s Clampdown on Sports Betting

Kenya's Clampdown

Kenya has ordered the deportation of 17 foreign directors of betting firms operating in Kenya, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, almost a week after ordering telecoms firm Safaricom to stop processing payments for sports betting firms. Online sports betting companies such as SportPesa have grown rapidly in the East African nation in recent years, riding a wave of enthusiasm for sports, with the government putting their combined revenue at $2 billion last year, up from the previous year. However, that has raised government concern about the social impact of betting. In May, the country introduced new gambling regulations, including banning advertising outdoors and on social media. The gaming companies rely largely on Safaricom’s popular M-Pesa financial digital mobile platform to take bets, communicate with users and process payments. Each betting firm is assigned a unique number, known as a pay-bill, which is used to process payments from users who place bets on their mobile phones and to pay off those who win.


10Egypt Invests in New Avenues

New Avenues Egypt

Egyptian mobile game development startup Cryptyd has secured funding from Cairo Angels as it prepares to launch two more games in the next few months. Established in 2016, Alexandria-based mobile gaming platform Cryptyd has developed five games to date, and has now raised a second, pre-Series A funding round, with new investors affiliated with Cairo Angels and Alexandria Angels.  The startup will use to funding to further expand its product development and target more markets. Funds will be used to enhance marketing and overall operations to grow throughout the MENA region. “This investment will reinforce our position in the MENA mobile gaming landscape, and will accelerate our ability to improve our product and overall user experience. This investment will assist in the launch of our latest games,” said Ahmed Alaa, chief executive officer (CEO) of Cryptyd.