Staff, 3:59 pm
Wind and solar power in Africa are short-term solutions that cannot fix serious, immediate problems. African cities need abundant, reliable electricity, and they need it now. Wind and solar do not equal real economic development or really improved living standards. African governments need to stand up to Europeans, global banks and environmentalists who oppose big power plants in Africa. Our leaders need to remember that Europe and the U.S. did not have a World Bank or other outside help when they modernized and industrialized. They did it themselves.
Staff, 2:42 pm
Huarong Zhang is chairman of Huajian Group, whose Chinese factories make shoes for Ivanka Trump, Nine West, Michael Kors and other Western brands. This week, Zhang brokered a $ 1.5 billion deal with the Nigerian government to build a shoe factory Nigeria. Huajian already has a shoe factory in Ethiopia manufacturing more than 2,000 pairs of shoes a day that are exported to the U.S. and European markets. Huajian produces 12 million pairs of shoes a year, mostly high-end brands for European and U.S. markets. They typically sell for at least $100 a pair in the U.S.
Staff, 2:57 pm
At a time when aid is under political pressure, a bold approach is needed to maximize the efficiency of donor resources. While governments in Africa are spending more on public infrastructure themselves, outside finance is still required, especially for regional projects — rarely a priority for national governments. Aid from Africa’s traditionally generous foreign donors is set to shrink. There may be a solution. The “Big Bond” is a strategy for leveraging foreign aid funds in international capital markets to generate financing for massive infrastructure investment.
Staff, 8:36 pm
Pension funds are good news for infrastructure projects in Africa. Development banks and private equity funds are targeting pension funds in Africa as sources of investment capital. Four African countries hold 90 percent of Africa’s pension fund assets. Despite challenges, African pension funds are likely to make a substantial impact on infrastructure investment in the next few years. One promising trend is the rise of regional funds targeting pensions. They’re making a new source of African capital available to address the region’s infrastructure deficit.
Staff, 1:00 am
By moving manufacturing to Ethiopia, Chinese textile companies are moving closer to their raw material base, the cotton-producing countries. This is part of their value chain repositioning, a strategy most Chinese companies are adopting. They’re are also using Africa as a gateway to emerging markets on and off the continent. Products made in Ethiopia can be exported duty- and quota free to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The same benefits apply to the E.U. Ethiopia also offers cheap electricity at US$0.04 cents per kilowatt hour. It’s now the second-largest electricity producer in sub-Sahara due to its hydropower dams.
Staff, 12:01 am
The fall in African private equity investment in 2016 could be a short-term blip. Among the losers was US-based Carlyle, one of the world’s winningest investment firms. Carlyle invested $147m in Nigeria’s Diamond Bank in 2014. The bank’s market cap fell by 90% over the subsequent two years. Bob Geldof’s PE firm 8 Miles just invested in Blue Skies, a British fruit firm that operates in Africa. Utilities including telecoms were the most popular target for private equity investment in 2016. West Africa was the most active region.
Opinion: Getting Africa’s Energy Transformation Right Will Involve Policies, Investments That Boost DiversityBy Staff, 1:00 am
Africa has an opportunity to pioneer the next investment frontier. Rather than treating new climate-related risks as hurdles to overcome, African policymakers should view them as opportunities for investment and innovation. To accelerate a market shift on the scale that Africa needs will require increased financing from export credit agencies, development banks, commercial financial institutions, and other cross-border sources.
Staff, 11:08 am
Data from the big 12 retailers in South Africa show that they are putting their money into store refurbishments and IT instead of African expansion. Compare this to five years ago. The picture was very different. There was talk of aggressive store rollouts. Some South African companies have expanded into Europe and the U.K. to diversify earnings, but when the rand strengthened, those companies lost out. The customer focus is grounded in technology for the Big 12. IT is playing a critical role in investing in customers — building online capability, enhancing efficiency across supply chains and distribution, and reward programs to enhance client insights.
Staff, 4:02 pm
When their Kickstarter campaign failed, a brother-sister team switched gears and ran a successful social media campaign selling Africa-inspired swimsuits online. Their swimwear prints include the Apremo-Canon pattern, a Kente design symbolic of resisting foreign domination — something Ghanaians fought beginning in the 15th century against English colonizers. The Ashanti Swimwear platform helps women in the diaspora and Africa dominate in the online e-commerce space so they can be location-independent, said British-Ghanaian Yasmeen Opare, co-founder of Ashanti Swimwear.
Staff, 12:32 pm
There’s a huge unmet demand for small business financing in sub-Saharan Africa. Africa-based bitcoin startup BitPesa and Germany-based Bitbond have partnered to help change that. Bitbond’s role includes checking the creditworthiness of applicants and determining an interest rate. About 10% of Bitbond’s users are from sub-Sahara. The partnership means a small business owner can receive a loan from investors from all over the world within 20 minutes, a stakeholder said — “an unprecedented level of innovation and convenience in the entire online lending space.”