Dana Sanchez, 2:07 pm
Analysts are watching to see if Retail Africa is a potential prelude to a full Steinhoff-Shoprite takeover. Steinhoff has been expanding outside South Africa. If the two firms merge completely, the resulting retail empire will have more than 9,000 stores globally compared to Walmart’s 11,500. Steinhoff sells lower-end furniture, apparel and home goods. A Shoprite merger will add groceries. “Retail Africa, locally bred, will have the required size and scale to compete with any other international retailer,” the companies said in a joint statement.
Dana Sanchez, 7:00 am
Take a dip in Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls. When the river flows low, you can sit on the Zambian side just a few feet from the edge of the world’s largest waterfall. A rock barrier emerges, usually from September to December, and visitors can lounge in a rock pool. Carefully. A few people have slipped over the barrier and plunged down the cascading falls to the bottom. It takes a rocky walk and swim in the Zambezi to reach the pool. Fearless ones leap into the pool and get pushed to the edge by the force of the river. The rock lip brings them to a halt. There are guides in attendance to make sure you don’t go over the edge.
Betting On Poorer Africans, Soros-Backed Leapfrog Raising $800M For Investments, Eyes Kenyan InsurersBy Dana Sanchez, 9:50 am
LeapFrog Investments is betting on poorer Africans, or “emerging consumers” because they outnumber the continent’s middle class about four to one. Kenya’s new regulations will create buyout opportunities. Nigeria’s huge population and Ghana’s more sophisticated consumers make those markets attractive too. “We’re looking at payment companies because it’s becoming a popular tool that just offers much cheaper ways of doing business” across the continent, a LeapFrog partner said.
Dana Sanchez, 5:26 pm
Tanzania’s Hadza are some of the world’s last hunter gatherers, and they’re using technology to help protect the shrinking woodland they’ve depended on for 40,000 years. Carbon trading — a market-based method of regulating greenhouse gas emissions — is helping save their forest. The tools of their survival include marking the spot with GPS where trees have been illegally cut down. The Hadza monetized carbon savings by selling carbon offsets to local and international companies that want to to reduce their carbon footprint.
Dana Sanchez, 10:53 am
They made headlines around the world when peaceful protests against government land use changes turned violent. Now Oromo voices are being heard thanks to an entity more often associated with tourism than governance — UNESCO. The traditional Oromo governance system, Gada, has been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Gada could be a basis for modern democracy, researchers say. Gada has some features that differ from western democracies. One is the distribution of power. Another is a testing period for elected leaders.
Dana Sanchez, 2:47 pm
Trump is tribal. His campaign to make America great became a motto for a return to an America dominated by white Christian men. This appeal to ethnic rather than civic nationalism has a long history in Africa’s failed democratic experiments. Trump doesn’t accept criticism, whether in the media or from human rights groups. Repression of both has a long history in Africa. Trump’s example should alarm those in Africa who advocate for greater government transparency and accountability.
Dana Sanchez, 9:32 am
Sibanye Gold, South Africa’s largest gold producer, is buying Stillwater Mining Company in Montana — the only N. American producer of platinum and palladium. The purchase will make Sibanye the world’s third-largest platinum producer. Sibanye counts among its largest shareholders SA’s government pension fund. Stillwater shares surged Friday on the news. The sale makes sense because of the strengthening U.S. dollar, which has hurt Stillwater in export markets. “With Mr. Trump becoming president … he’s probably more friendly toward mining and sees the necessity of it,” the Sibanye CEO said.
Dana Sanchez, 6:12 pm
One of President Jacob Zuma’s most vocal critic, Mathews Phosa got rich in post-apartheid South Africa. He says he did so on his own deals, not through the country’s black economic empowerment policies. Zuma has diminished and devalued the ANC, Phosa said. “There is a way out for the ANC. We must be guided by honesty and integrity.” Some South Africans have asked Phosa to run for office. He says his energy is in his businesses, but he’ll be there for South Africa if called. Phosa won the African version of the Nobel prize this year and dedicated it to Mandela.
Dana Sanchez, 11:04 am
One of South Africa’s largest banks bought a majority stake in the team that built the country’s largest mobile payments product. Africa has the highest mobile money adoption rate in the world, but it’s hardly universal, catching on more in some countries and less in others. While banks and mobile payments startups would like to see large-scale adoption of mobile money, the reality is cash is likely to remain king in Africa — internet penetration and trust in the financial system are low on the continent.
Dana Sanchez, 2:42 pm
Five candidates for the top African Union job will face off Friday in a first-ever televised debate. African citizens will get to ask the candidates questions via social media about their vision for the continent. The A.U. hopes the debate will popularize it. Does the A.U. need to be popularized? Some consider A.U. support of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court as dangerous for Africa. The public won’t actually be voting for the next A.U. chairperson, but as the institution evolves, maybe one day that will happen.