Business: Latest News
Tom Jackson, 11:52 am AFKI Original
In most of the developed world, reliable internet costs less than 1% of average monthly income. In Africa, it’s 18%. Governments are vital to drive down internet prices in Africa, stakeholders say. When connectivity costs drop to 2% of monthly income, reaserch shows the internet becomes accessible to all. Just five of 27 African countries surveyed have achieved the 2% affordability target. Free internet access is the simplest way to tackle economic inequality, a stakeholder said. “It allows people to find and apply for jobs, start online businesses, and generally engage with the economy around them.”
Reuters, 9:48 am
The pool of potential buyers is shrinking that Barclays’ can sell shares to in its African business. Some institutional investors, including pension funds, do not allow them to hold an asset that’s sliding on credit ratings. Barclays is struggling to find one strategic buyer that will satisfy South African regulators and is looking to sell its remaining 50% stake in chunks. More than 80% of its revenue is in South Africa. “Banks are paying the price for political uncertainty that we’ve seen in the country over the past two weeks,” a fund manager said.
Global Risk Insights, 4:15 pm
Investors continue buying Nigerian bonds despite economic recession for the first time in 25 years, and urgent calls for reform. In March, high-profile investors competed on the London Stock Exchange for Nigerian debt, a 15-year $1B eurobond issued while President Buhari was being treated in London for an undisclosed illness. S&P affirmed a stable economic outlook. If Buhari leaves office abruptly, the administration’s gains in the fight against Boko Haram could be reversed, an analyst said. The president’s mystery illness is generating uncertainty.
Peter Pedroncelli, 1:19 pm AFKI Original
Following the turmoil of the last few weeks in South African politics, and an unpopular cabinet reshuffle imposed by president Jacob Zuma, the country has a new finance minister, with Malusi Gigaba now in charge of treasury. Popular previous minister Pravin Gordhan was axed from the role, and Gigaba is expected to fill the void left by the hard-working MP who Zuma saw as a threat. We take a look at 12 things you might not know about South Africa’s new finance minister, Malusi Gigaba.
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.”
Dana Sanchez, 9:34 am
There are just 37 black-owned wine brands in South Africa, the world’s seventh-largest wine producing country. The industry employs 290,000 people at 550-plus wineries. Empowerment and transformation has been slow to increase black ownership and leadership. Ntsiki Biyela, South Africa’s first black female winemaker, is a role model and symbol of change. She recently launched her own brand, Aslina wines, named after her grandmother in a rural KwaZulu-Natal village of 1,000 people. The wines are set for export to the U.S. later this year.
Staff, 6:40 pm
South African President Jacob Zuma has emptied his cabinet of his critics. Now that he has collaborators in all key cabinet spots, we know the country’s path if he stays in power. South Africa will move ahead with a deal for a large number of Russian nuclear plants. Property rights for farmers and mines will be further diminished so that Zuma allies can participate in once-thriving South African industries now in decline because of a lack of business confidence. Foreign investors will look elsewhere, and South Africans will move their money out.
Reuters, 12:25 pm
Fitch said Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle will likely result in new economic policy. Downgrades to junk — first by S&P on Monday and today by Fitch — could see South Africa fall off some global bond indexes. This may force international funds that are prohibited from holding sub-investment grade securities to sell. There is still is a huge wealth gap between blacks and whites, Zuma said in his SONA address. Zuma’s presidency has been riddled with corruption accusations and money-related scandals. He has called for radical economic transformation.
Dana Sanchez, 10:10 pm
Luanda is still the world’s second most expensive city for expats after Hong Kong, but rent for office space fell almost 50 percent in the past two years. Demand has virtually ground to a halt in the region’s top oil-producing country. Rent has has also fallen for office space and luxury homes in Nairobi, where there’s an oversupply. Kenya became a hotspot for oil and gas exploration in 2012. With the price of crude down more than 50 percent since mid-2014, Nigeria, the region’s second-largest oil producer, is in recession. One bright spot: industrial space rent is rising in Kenya.
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