25 Oct

Feed Africa: Adesina to set up fund for young farmers

“I am proud as the Governor of Iowa State to proclaim Dr. Akinwumi Adesina as the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate.” With these words, the Governor of the State of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, officially named President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, as the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate, on behalf of the World Food Prize Foundation, setting off an atmosphere of festive celebration at the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines.

Accompanied by Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, and John Mahama, former President of Ghana, Adesina took elegant steps to the podium to receive the award – the world’s highest recognition for food and agriculture, with his wife Grace and his two children, Rotimi and Segun, and a large and distinguished crowd cheering him on. Representatives of the Nigerian Government, Purdue University, his alma mater, friends, associates and Bank staff were among the well-wishers who came in out in large numbers to celebrate the African agriculture icon, known as “Africa’s Norman Borlaug.”

In line with his avowed commitment to a new deal for youth empowerment, Adesina pledged devote the US $250,000 prize money to a fund in support of young African farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs, or “agripreneurs.”

“And so, even though I don’t have the cash in my hand, I hereby commit my $250,000 as a cash prize for the World Food Prize award to set up a fund fully dedicated to providing financing for the youth of Africa in agriculture to feed Africa,” Adesina said.

“We will arise and feed Africa. The day is coming very soon when all its children will be well-fed, when millions of small-holder farmers will be able to send their kids to school,” Adesina said.

“Then you will hear a new song across Africa: ‘Thank God our lives are better at last.’”

The President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, paid tribute to Adesina, “whose breakthrough achievements have impacted millions of farmers and those living in rural poverty in Nigeria and throughout Africa…”

Read more: Adesina to set up fund for young farmers, agripreneurs with US $250,000 World Food Prize money

 

13 Sep

Seizing Africa’s rapidly-growing food market that could be worth $1tn by 2030

Businesses are waking up to the opportunities presented by a rapidly-growing food market in Africa, that may be worth more than US$1tn each year by 2030 as imports are substituted with high-value locally-produced food. This is the main conclusion from the latest Africa Agriculture Status Report.

According to the report, agriculture will be Africa’s quiet revolution, with a focus on SMEs and smallholder farmers creating the high-productivity jobs and sustainable economic growth that failed to materialise from mineral deposits and increased urbanisation. Despite 37% of the population now living in urban centres, most jobs have been created in lower paid, less productive services rather than in industry, with this service sector accounting for more than half of the continent’s GDP. Smart investments in the food system can change this picture dramatically if planned correctly.

Commenting on this year’s report findings, Dr Agnes Kalibata, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which commissioned the study, said: “Africa has the latent natural resources, skills, human and land capacity to tip the balance of payments and move from importer to exporter by eating food made in Africa. This report shows us that agriculture involving an inclusive transformation that goes beyond the farm to agribusinesses will be Africa’s surest and fastest path to that new level of prosperity.”

To succeed, Africa’s agricultural revolution needs to be very different to those seen in the rest of world. It requires an inclusive approach that links millions of small farms to agribusinesses, creating extended food supply chains and employment opportunities for millions, including those that will transition from farming. This is in contrast to the model often seen elsewhere in the world of moving to large-scale commercial farming and food processing, which employs relatively few people and requires high levels of capital.

Read more: How We Made It In Africa

 

 

01 Sep

Nigerian Investor Sets Up $135 Million Commodities Exchange

A Nigerian startup is developing a new agricultural commodities exchange in Africa’s most populous country to take advantage of the government’s efforts to boost farming output to reduce reliance on oil.

The exchange, Integrated Produce City Ltd., will be located near the southern city of Benin, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) east of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, a site accessible to nearby growers of cocoa, palm oil, rubber and cassava, Chief Executive Officer Pat Utomi said in an interview.

“The concept of a wholesale-produce market is to enable the farmer to fully dispose of his produce, instead of today where he loses 80 percent of his output” that rots before it can reach the market, Utomi said on Aug. 18 in the capital, Abuja.

Nigeria is boosting investment in agriculture to increase exports and cut food imports that cost it $3.2 billion in 2015, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The economy of Africa’s biggest oil producer has been hit hard by lower output and prices of crude, which accounts for more than 90 percent of foreign income and two thirds of government revenue.

Integrated Produce City will have storage facilities, including refrigerated warehouses, and host processing plants on its 100-hectare (247-acre) site in Edo state’s Ugbokun village when it starts operating by the end of 2018, Utomi said. “It will be an export hub for produce,” where exporters will have access to large quantities stored in one place rather than sending agents to individual farmers to collect small amounts, he said.

The company has put up 20 percent of the required $135 million and is in talks with lenders and investors from South Africa, China and Australia for additional capital, Utomi said, declining to name them. Integrated Produce City signed an agreement with KPMG LLP’s Nigerian unit on Monday to help it raise more capital, Vitus Akudinobi, a spokesman for the new exchange, said.

Cocoa, palm produce, cashew nuts and rubber are among the products to be traded on the exchange. Others are fresh fruit and vegetables, grains and tubers such as cassava and yams. Local manufacturing companies will be able to buy agricultural goods at the exchange, he said.

Read the full story: Bloomberg Markets

29 Aug

Is the African mining sector becoming uninvestable?

mining sector

At the recent Africa Forum hosted by Hogan Lovells, in London, a number of common, positive themes came through: Africa is a continent of endless possibilities and opportunities; Africa has significant natural and human resources which can be unlocked for the benefit of all Africans; and the investability of many African countries has improved, for various reasons, including mature banking, finance and legal institutions, investment-friendly policies and regulatory frameworks, and national development plans which demonstrate governmental support for sustainable infrastructure and development.

Why then, within the context of a mostly positive view of investment in Africa, is the question posed whether the African mining and natural resources sector, is becoming uninvestable?

Firstly, positive views of investment in Africa don’t always extend to the mining and naturals resources sector. While it is often acknowledged by stakeholders that the mining and natural resources of a country can contribute meaningfully to growth, development and transformation, there is a growing questioning of the impact of mining on aspects such as the environment, host communities, social structures, tourism, and industries such as agriculture, versus the benefits that often flow from mining and beneficiation operations. As the voices of concern increase and develop, the benefits that flow from mining and beneficiation operations are likely to be questioned, even further.

Secondly, the recent mining policy and regulatory changes in Tanzania and South Africa have brought into sharp focus the fragility of investment decisions relating to so-called frontier markets, such as Tanzania, and emerging markets, such as South Africa.

With a decrease in the number of investable frontier markets (equity and bond markets which are typically smaller than emerging markets and where there is less liquidity) and investment instability in emerging markets, such as South Africa, the recent events in these two countries are more concerning.

Tanzanian president, John Magufuli, signed into law the Natural Wealth and Resources Bill 2017, and the Natural Wealth and Resources Contracts Bill 2017, on 3 July, 2017. These laws, which were fast-tracked though the Tanzanian parliament, in a matter of weeks, have far-reaching consequences for foreign companies with investments in Tanzania, one of the continent’s largest gold producers.

There has been extensive investment in Tanzania’s gold mining industry, with a large percentage of the investment, focused on prospecting operations, which are of course critical in the creation of a pipeline that can be converted into mines, in the future. Many of these investors are listed in Australia, and the Australian Stock Exchange took the drastic step of suspending trading of various junior mining companies, following the announcement of the enactment of the laws, by President Magufuli. The uncertainties flowing from the new laws are likely to impact on these junior mining companies, who are focused on exploration, quite dramatically and it will make capital raising exercises extremely difficult, if not impossible. Where ownership of mining assets in a company are put at risk, this is likely to scare off would-be investors, and make existing investors exercise extreme caution.

Key changes brought about by the new legislation in Tanzania include the following:

  • The Tanzanian government is given the right to re-negotiate or dissolve current mining contracts with multi-national companies
  • The state will be required to own at least 16% of mining projects
  • Export royalties have been increased
  • The Tanzanian government can reject a mining company’s valuation where the government believes that the transfer price is too low, and the Tanzanian government is entitled to purchase the consignment of the minerals, at the price declared by the mining company
  • The right to international arbitration is removed
  • The Tanzanian government is also pushing for compulsory listing of mining companies on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, with the complexities that this will bring, particularly because of the potentially small pool of investors who can take up the public offerings.

While multi-national mining companies with investments in Tanzania continue to engage with the Tanzanian government, some of the multi-national companies have declared disputes with the Tanzanian government and are referring these disputes to arbitration. None of this is good for the Tanzanian mining sector.

On 15 June, 2017, the South African minister of minerals, Mosebenzi Zwane published the “Reviewed Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Charter for the South African Mining and Minerals Industry, 2016″, (“Mining Charter 3“).

The response was immediate, dramatic, and far reaching. It is estimated that mining stocks lost approximately R50bn (US$3.8bn) in value, following the announcement, with the rand losing ground, and the Chamber of Mines, the body that represents the majority of the mining companies, launching legal proceedings against Minister Zwane. The grounds of challenge go to the heart of the minister’s powers and functions under the mining legislation and the Constitutionality of Mining Charter 3.

While Minister Zwane has labelled the legal challenge as being anti-transformation, the Chamber of Mines and other bodies representing mining interests have consistently expressed the position that the industry is committed to transformation, that the industry has demonstrated its commitment through the implementation of appropriate programmes of transformation – including in respect of the host communities through the social and labour plans, which are a requirement under the mining laws, but that the targets in the Mining Charter must be achievable, sustainable, and the timeframe should take into account the reality that the mining industry finds itself in, with the spectre of further job losses in the near future (while figures vary, the suggestion is that in excess of 80,000 direct jobs have been lost, in the industry, over the last three to five years. Various South African mining companies have recently announced proposals for further job losses, which may exceed 20,000 direct jobs).

Mining Charter 3 made significant amendments to the transformation requirements under the previous versions of the mining charter. Key changes include the following:

  • Holders of new prospecting rights must have a minimum of 50% plus one black person shareholding
  • A holder of a new mining right must have a minimum of 30% black person shareholding (up from the previous 26%)
  • The 30% black person shareholding in new mining rights must be distributed amongst three beneficiaries, namely a minimum of 8% for employee share ownership plans, a minimum of 8% for mine communities to be held in a community trust, and a minimum of 14% to Black Economic Empowerment entrepreneurs
  • For employee share ownership plans, a minimum of 8% for mine communities to be held in a community trust, and a minimum of 14% to Black Economic Empowerment entrepreneurs
  • A holder of a new mining right must pay a minimum of 1% of its annual turnover in any given financial year to the black person shareholders prior to, and over and above, any distributions to the shareholders of the holder
  • While there is limited recognition of the “once empowered, always empowered” principle, unless the historical Black Economic Empowerment transaction achieved 26% black shareholding or more, the historical transaction is not recognised
  • Where a historical Black Economic Empowerment transaction is recognised, the holder is required to top up the black person shareholding from the existing level to a minimum of 30% black person shareholding within 12 months;
  • Even where a holder of a mining right maintained a minimum of 26% black person shareholding as at 15 June, 2017, the holder is required to top up its black person shareholding to a minimum of 30% within 12 months from the date of publication of Mining Charter 3;
  • Minimum requirements are specified in relation to procurement, supplier and enterprise development. A holder is required to spend a minimum of 70% of total mining goods procurement spend on South African manufacturedgoods, with the 70%, being broken down into specified requirements. A minimum of 80% of total spend on services must be sources from South African-based companies, with the 80%, being broken down, into specified requirements;
  • A foreign supplier (a foreign controlled and registered company, supplying the South African mining and minerals industry with mining goods and services, which does not have at least a Level 4 DTI Code BEE Status, and 25% plus one vote black ownership) must contribute a minimum of 1% of its annual turnover generated from local mining companies towards the Mining Transformation and Development Agency;
  • Employment equity targets are increased, and there are specified requirements from board level, to core and critical skills.

There were glimmers of hope when, following negotiations between the Chamber of Mines and Minister Zwane, Minister Zwane agreed to suspend Mining Charter 3 pending the outcome of the legal challenge initiated by the Chamber of Mines. However, the following week, Minister Zwane published his intention to issue a notice placing a moratorium on all applications for new prospecting and mining rights, renewals of prospecting and mining rights, and ministerial consents in terms of Section 11 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, No. 28 of 2002 (“MPRDA”) (in summary where a right or an interest in a right is to be transferred or there is a change of control, ministerial consent is required).

The minister indicated his intention to issue the moratorium notice under Section 49 of the MPRDA which vests the minister with the authority to issue a notice prohibiting prospecting or mining in respect of certain geographical areas or certain minerals for a particular period, having regard to the national interest, the strategic nature of the mineral in question and the need to promote the sustainable development of the nation’s mineral resources.

The widely expressed view was that the minister had exceeded his powers under Section 49 of the MPRDA by intending to issue a blanket notice. Litigation was again initiated, and at the time of publishing this article, there is uncertainty regarding the status of the moratorium notice.

On a positive note, stakeholders across the spectrum, including the largest, recognised trade unions in the mining industry, have spoken out against the actions of Minister Zwane, and there have been widespread calls for his resignation or sacking.

But this of course does not remedy the turmoil which the South African mining sector finds itself in, and large scale job losses loom.

While the South African and Tanzanian mining sectors are in turmoil, this does not mean that Africa is uninvestable.

Africa has a significant and, often, thriving mining and minerals industry, providing millions of jobs and opportunities. It is also a source of significant foreign direct investment, and the mining sector remains a substantial contributor to the GDP of many African countries with the benefits that this brings to the growth of those economies.

It is likely that demand for certain precious metals will continue to grow, and that the demand for the so-called “battery metals” will grow exponentially. All of this creates opportunities for investors, provided that the investors have a proper understanding of the various risks that are faced in these investment opportunities.

The investability of Africa is likely to depend, significantly, on balancing the growing need for mineral resources while at the same time, addressing concerns that multi-national companies extract value without returning benefits for the host countries, and ensuring that the vast socio-economic benefits that can flow from mining operations, materialise.

Warren Beech is global head for mining at Hogan Lovells in Johannesburg. Jessica Black Livingston is a deputy for mining at Hogan Lovells in Denver.

 

from How We Made It In Africa

29 Aug

Kwale titanium miner rebounds to Sh1.71bn full-year profit

titanium

Base Resources has rebounded to full-year profit of Sh1.71 billion (AU$21 million) for the period ended June 30 from $20.9 million (Sh1.70 billion) loss a year earlier, the Kwale-based miner announced on Monday.

The Australia-owned large-scale mining firm attributed the performance to increased sales volumes, rise in commodity prices and cost management measures.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 81 per cent to AU$109.7 million (Sh8.94 billion) from A$60.6 million (Sh4.94 billion) the year before.

The firm said sales revenue from the Kwale mine exports rose 28 per cent to AU$215 million (Sh17.53 billion) from AU$169 million (Sh13.78 billion) in June 2016, hitting a new record since it made first shipments in February 2014.

Ilmenite volumes rose by a marginal 4.4 per cent to 501,676 tonnes, rutile increased to 91,991 tonnes from 85,536 tonnes, while shipments of zircon climbed to 34,566 tonnes from 33,062 tonnes last year.

The company said it also sold 9,501 tonnes of low grade zircon, volumes which it did not ship last year. The minerals were sold at an average price of AU$338 per tonne (Sh27,560), a 19.86 per cent jump, it says.

In Summary

  • Base Resources attributed the performance to increased sales volumes, rise in commodity prices and cost management measures

source from Nation

29 Aug

Nigerian Investor Sets Up $135 Million Commodities Exchange

commodities exchange

A Nigerian startup is developing a new agricultural commodities exchange in Africa’s most populous country to take advantage of the government’s efforts to boost farming output to reduce reliance on oil.

The exchange, Integrated Produce City Ltd., will be located near the southern city of Benin, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) east of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, a site accessible to nearby growers of cocoa, palm oil, rubber and cassava, Chief Executive Officer Pat Utomi said in an interview.

“The concept of a wholesale-produce market is to enable the farmer to fully dispose of his produce, instead of today where he loses 80 percent of his output” that rots before it can reach the market, Utomi said on Aug. 18 in the capital, Abuja.

Nigeria is boosting investment in agriculture to increase exports and cut food imports that cost it $3.2 billion in 2015, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The economy of Africa’s biggest oil producer has been hit hard by lower output and prices of crude, which accounts for more than 90 percent of foreign income and two thirds of government revenue.

Export Hub

Integrated Produce City will have storage facilities, including refrigerated warehouses, and host processing plants on its 100-hectare (247-acre) site in Edo state’s Ugbokun village when it starts operating by the end of 2018, Utomi said. “It will be an export hub for produce,” where exporters will have access to large quantities stored in one place rather than sending agents to individual farmers to collect small amounts, he said.

The company has put up 20 percent of the required $135 million and is in talks with lenders and investors from South Africa, China and Australia for additional capital, Utomi said, declining to name them. Integrated Produce City signed an agreement with KPMG LLP’s Nigerian unit on Monday to help it raise more capital, Vitus Akudinobi, a spokesman for the new exchange, said.

Cocoa, palm produce, cashew nuts and rubber are among the products to be traded on the exchange. Others are fresh fruit and vegetables, grains and tubers such as cassava and yams. Local manufacturing companies will be able to buy agricultural goods at the exchange, he said.

Chocolate Factories

“Among the factories we’re trying to attract are chocolate makers,” he said. “The entire cocoa value chain will be represented.”

The exchange aims to provide services to six states in southern Nigeria, Utomi said.

A likely rival is Abuja-based Afex Commodities Exchange Ltd., which started providing warehousing and trading services in four of Nigeria’s 36 states in 2013. Integrated Produce City plans to offer daily auctions as well as an industrial park for manufacturers.

Nigeria is Africa’s fourth-largest cocoa producer and the seventh worldwide with a 2015-2016 output of 190,000 metric tons, according to the International Cocoa Organization.

In addition to cocoa, other major exported products during the last quarter of 2016 were sesame seed, frozen shrimps, soy beans, cashew nuts and crude palm kernel, figures from the statistics agency showed.

(A previous version of this story was corrected to remove reference to the first commodities exchange in lead.)

 

via Bloomberg

24 Aug

Africa: Agriculture a Culprit in Global Warming, Says U.S. Research

Global Warming

New York — Agriculture has contributed nearly as much to climate change as deforestation by intensifying global warming, according to U.S. research that has quantified the amount of carbon taken from the soil by farming.

Some 133 billion tons of carbon have been removed from the top two meters of the earth’s soil over the last two centuries by agriculture at a rate that is increasing, said the study in PNAS, a journal published by the National Academy of Sciences.

Global warming is largely due to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from such activities as burning fossil fuels and cutting down trees that otherwise would absorb greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

But this research showed the significance of agriculture as a contributing factor as well, said Jonathan Sanderman, a soil scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts and one of the authors of the research.

While soil absorbs carbon in organic matter from plants and trees as they decompose, agriculture has helped deplete that carbon accumulation in the ground, he said.

Widespread harvesting removes carbon from the soil as do tilling methods that can accelerate erosion and decomposition.

“It’s alarming how much carbon has been lost from the soil,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Small changes to the amount of carbon in the soil can have really big consequences for how much carbon is accumulating in the atmosphere.”

Sanderman said the research marked the first time the amount of carbon pulled out of the soil has been spatially quantified.

The 133 billion tons of carbon lost from soil compares to about 140 billion tons lost due to deforestation, he said, mostly since the mid-1800s and the Industrial Revolution.

But the findings show potential for the earth’s soil to mitigate global warming by absorbing more carbon through such practices as better land stewardship, more extensive ground cover to minimize erosion, better diversity of crop rotation and no-till farming, he said.

The world’s nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases generated by burning fossil fuels that are blamed by scientists for warming the planet.

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark Paris accord in May, saying it would undermine the U.S. economy and weaken national sovereignty.

Supporters of the accord, including some leading U.S. business figures, said Trump’s move was a blow to international efforts to tackle global warming that would isolate the United States.

Source from allAfrica

22 Aug

Nigeria: State Positioned for International Oil, Gas Dominance Despite Challenges

international oil

By embracing a digital revolution in its oil and gas facilities, Nigeria could propel itself from the shadows of persistent underperformance to become a global energy powerhouse. This will be a catalyst for industrialisation and growth in many other economic sectors too.

Digitalisation in the energy sector involves the better use of data to manage and control multiple operations. It drives efficiencies in energy management and automation systems. Importantly, workers in a digital industrial environment enjoy a massive increase in skills and productivity.

Digital development is not confined to new oil and gas facilities. Existing oil and gas infrastructure, from pipeline to refinery, can easily be upgraded to digital automation. This means that Nigeria’s ageing oil refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna can be optimised with digitalisation.

These facilities were built as early as 1978 but could be made far more efficient and productive, thereby significantly reducing Nigeria’s dependency on imported petroleum products. The benefits of this investment would be measured in billions of dollars.

Effective integration of digital technologies could reduce capital expenditure in the oil and gas sector by up to 20 per cent, cut upstream operating costs by up to five per cent and downstream costs by up to 2.5 per cent.

Nigeria’s best approach will be a combination of local skills and knowledge, and the expertise and experience of a proven international partner able to deliver digital technologies and automation, together with traditional instrumentation and controls, across the entire energy value chain. This further supports backward integration of skills and technical competence in Nigeria’s limited skilled workforce.

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report suggests that by end-2019 Nigeria could assume the status of the largest producer of refined petroleum products in Africa. The projection sees Nigerian exports exceed 300,000 bpd by 2019 – up 350 per cent from 2016 production of 65,000 bpd.

In this scenario, Nigeria becomes an international trading hub similar to Australia, Russia, Europe, and the U.S. Gulf Coast, while the entire West Africa region becomes energy self-sufficient by 2019, thus eliminating the need to source refined oil products from the U.S. and Europe.

Despite dwindling crude oil sales to the West, West African demand for Nigeria’s crude oil is set to rise dramatically. The region annually consumes 22 billion litres of petrol, and Nigeria’s domestic market accounts for 17 billion of those litres, yet the country still imports around 80 per cent of this energy.

With 37.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, Nigeria could easily meet this demand locally through modernisation and continued exploration. The country’s refining capabilities are currently underperforming and notoriously inefficient, due to lack of maintenance and underinvestment in technology.

Nigeria also struggles with ongoing vandalism of its oil and gas infrastructure. Pipeline insecurity has a devastating effect on oil production, with a staggering financial impact. Technology is a significant part of the solution to this challenge, as it enables real-time monitoring of infrastructure and quicker incident responses.

Port Harcourt refinery, for example, has capacity for 150,000 bpd of oil production but has been running at just 10 per cent capacity for the past three years. This is mainly due to its reliance on 1980s technology now regarded as obsolete in the global oil and gas sector.

The consequence is lack of preventative and reactive maintenance, inaccurate forecasts and allocations, and soaring energy costs. To boost productivity and returns, Nigeria’s energy operators should rapidly adopt and integrate digital technology that improves efficiencies and up skills staff.

Instead of being a threat to the workforce, digital technology redefines the role of the worker, and it has the potential to bridge the blue and white-collar worker, to create what is termed the ‘grey-collar’ worker. Humans and machines are therefore not competing for jobs, but working together to create a new type of talent, which is a vital component to sustained sector growth and maturity.

In the near future, Nigeria’s oil and gas operations will have real-time access to data at the click of a button, from any location on earth. This essentially connects a team of global experts collaborating in real-time to drive improvements in exploration and extraction, health & safety, pipeline security, distribution, refining and transportation of the finished products.

And with a potential $300billion added to the African economy by 2026 through the adoption of digitalisation, Africa’s largest economy will receive a significant portion of that figure to advance its burgeoning oil and gas market.

This in turn addresses the triple threat of unemployment, inequality and poverty – paving the way for a society where business success leads to socio-economic advancement, such as new business development and job creation, and essential new infrastructure projects that include schools, hospitals, transportation networks and housing.

To make this a reality, the Federal Government of Nigeria should include a robust digitalisation policy and supporting legislation in connection to its Economic and Recovery Growth Plan 2017-2020 (ERGP), which sets out the medium-term structural reforms to restore economic growth, invest in people and build a globally competitive economy.

One of its key priorities is to ensure power and petroleum product efficiency, which can only be achieved through a digital transition in the oil and gas sector.

Oil and gas operators in Nigeria should be early adopters of technology, their employees should be proactively trained in the application of the new technology, and the industry should be supported by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) with proven global experience across the entire upstream, mid-stream and downstream value chain.

Tifase is the Chief Executive Officer, Siemens Nigeria, and a key player in the country’s push for investment and growth in the oil and gas sector

Source from allAfrica

16 Aug

Africa: ‘Recovery Lending’ Helps Disaster-Stricken Farmers Get Back On Track

microfinance

Accessing credit has long been a major hurdle for small-scale farmers in Africa, who produce some 70 percent of the continent’s food. Not only does this mean yields fall far below their full potential, but the ability of farmers to manage the increasingly frequent and severe weather shocks brought about by climate change is also greatly reduced.

However, help could be at hand. A new method of aid microfinancing, known as recovery lending, aims to give such farmers a much-needed short-term boost, especially in times of crisis.

Vision Fund International (VFI) is a project of the international NGO World Vision. It sourced a two-million-euro returnable grant from the UK’s Department for International Development to be loaned to 14,000 families in Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia after disasters so they can rebuild their lives and start generating income again.

Farmers need loans at the beginning of agricultural seasons to buy seeds, fertilisers, and other vital inputs. But as smallholders often lack title deeds or other forms of collateral, traditional banks don’t view them as viable debtors, while the rules imposed by other kinds of lenders – the return of the principal sum in full, for example – don’t always suit the seasonal economics of farming.

Charity Mati, VFI Kenya’s business development and integration manager, explained that the lender tries to tailor its repayment terms to borrowers’ needs, unlike other microfinance institutions that charge interest every month, leaving the entirety of the loaned sum due on maturity.

“Most of our clients are farmers,” Mati told IRIN. “While recovering from the El Niño rains, they were met with a second shock: the drought. We sat down with them and developed workable repayment plans, listened to their voices, and arrived at a solution,” she told IRIN.

A case study

In 2015, Alice Muthee, a smallholder farmer in Motonyi, a village nestled in Kenya’s Narok County, took out a $200 loan from a microfinance organisation and leased an acre of land with the aim of turning a good profit from growing tomatoes.

“With five mouths to feed, in addition to the pressure of educating my children, life had seemed overwhelming,” recalled Muthee. “I had had to sell livestock to meet the rising demand for finances in my family.”

Muthee believed her tomatoes would bear fruit and she would be able to repay the loan within three months.

But tomatoes are a notoriously fickle crop and certainly no match for the El Niño rains that wreaked havoc in late 2015, not only in parts of Kenya, but also in Somalia, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

“From the cost of leasing the land, labour, purchase of seedlings, and fertiliser, I ran a deficit,” Muthee told IRIN. “My several attempts to have extra money for buying pesticides failed. When the 2015 rains persisted, I watched helplessly as my tomatoes disappeared.”

Facing the daunting prospect of having to sell more livestock in order to repay her loan – the terms of which required full settlement of the principal sum in a single payment at the end of the agreed period – Muthee heard about a new kind of finance geared specifically for small-holder farmers, small businesses, and communities recovering from disaster shocks.

‘Hand up’, not ‘hand out’

Recovery lending, described as a “hand up” rather than “hand out” approach, was pioneered by VFI in the aftermath of 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, with the disbursement of almost 5,000 loans with an average value of $430 designed to help people restart their lost small businesses.

According to Philip Ochola, CEO of Vision Fund Kenya, in the wake of major disasters, many microfinance institutions grow reluctant to continue extending loans because potential customers lack collateral and are seen has having little ability to make repayments.

“Credit is required most during post-disaster to help rebuild communities,” said Ochola. “Governments’ help to affected communities during disasters usually come in form of relief, which is not sustainable.

ADVERTISING

“Preparing the communities for loans, helping them establish business and embrace agri-business is the sustainable assistance you can give to a vulnerable community.”

VFI distributes loans on the basis not of lenders’ available collateral but on an assessment of their likely ability to repay. It then provides business training to its customers.

Muthee took out a $300 recovery loan from VFI, which she invested in growing vegetables and starting a business selling second-hand clothes. She has since been able to settle her previous loan and pay her children’s school fees.

Aid, with conditions

In all, VFI has loaned out some $1.2 million in Kenya.

“DFID gave us the money not as a grant to dish out in the field, but a returnable one to be used wisely, lend it wisely, recover it, and pay back. Aid with conditions is good,” said Ochola.

“Aid is aid and human beings are human beings. If I know that appearing as poor as possible will make me continue receiving charity from you, I will always want to appear that way. But if it comes with conditions, it will help me get on my feet, stabilise, and work.”

Among the other beneficiaries is 38-year-old Chiwai Ole Taka, a father of six who lost seven cows and 10 sheep during a severe drought. He used his $300 loan to buy weak sheep and goats, which, thanks to the training that came with the loan, he fattened up and sold for a profit.

“It is not the first time that I have lost livestock to drought. It has happened before. This drought threatened to drive our community to extreme poverty,” said Chiwai, adding that he was now much better placed to meet his family’s basic needs.

Recovery lending was the result of joint research by Stewart McCulloch, global insurance director of VFI, and Professor Jerry Skees of GlobalAgRisk. The thinking behind the initiative was published in a report titled: A New Model for Disaster Preparation and Response for Microfinance Institutions.

“Recovery loans are not suitable for the highly indebted or those without viable cash-generating livelihood options; but rather for the economically active poor, including (but not limited to) those not normally targeted for humanitarian aid,” the report says. “The support to this group should have a disproportionate effect on the community’s economic recovery.”

While Alice Muthee could be a poster child for the success of recovery lending, others like Ole Peres have found themselves unable to keep up with VFI’s terms amid multuple climate shocks.

Peres, whose maize was destroyed by rains, had trouble making the $55 monthly repayments on a $300 loan.

“I obtained a second loan of $450 where I bought 10 sheep for fattening, but the drought killed five of them. With a monthly loan repayment of $40 for a 12-month period, I sold the remaining animals I had bought and ventured into maize buying and selling at a profit, but have been faced with shortage,” he said.

Peres is now in even greater debt and seeking a reduced interest rate on his loans.

The UN’s World Food Programme has flagged estimates that hunger and malnutrition could increase by up to 20 percent by 2050 if bold efforts to improve people’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate shocks aren’t undertaken.

Recovery lending is not a panacea for all the problems African farmers face, but it is helping.

Author Note

Part of a special project that explores the impact of climate change on the food security and livelihoods of small-scale farmers in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe

 

Source from IRIN

14 Aug

Africa’s Working-Age Population to Grow By 450 Million in 20 Years

working-age population

The working-age population in Africa is projected to grow by about 70 per cent or 450 million over a period of 20 years, spanning 2015 to 2035, said the Africa Competitiveness Report 2017. To date, Africa, which has Nigeria as one of the most populated, is inhabited by 1.246 billion people. The population had grown by about 550 million, nearly doubled to 1.2 billion over 30 years, from 1985 to 2015, and now to the current level.

The recently released ACR 2017, which was prepared by the Africa Development Bank, World Economic Forum and World Bank, noted that, going by the current trends, only about 100 million of the 450 million increased population would be able to find stable employment opportunities by 2035.

According to the report, “Countries that are able to enact policies conducive to job creation are likely to reap significant benefits from this rapid population growth. Those that fail to implement such policies are likely to suffer demographic vulnerabilities resulting from large numbers of unemployed and/or underemployed youth. New research is providing governments in the region with insights into how they can address the coming rise in the working-age populations.”

In its analysis, the ACR noted: “From 2004 to 2014, employment grew by only 1.7 percent in total–an average of less than 0.2 percent a year. This level of job creation has been barely sufficient to absorb the approximately 100 million additional African workers aged 20-59 who entered the job market in this period, which meant that the formal unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged amid continuing high rates of informal and vulnerable employment.

“Over the next decade, both GDP and the working-age population are expected to increase by about 3 percent per year. If it was possible to increase employment by only 1 per cent in the past decade, when GDP growth was higher, it could be harder to add jobs over the next few years when economic performance is expected to be softer. Looking ahead, the main question for Africa will be how to improve its competitiveness while absorbing a continuously expanding labor force in a scenario of lower growth.”

The report posited that, it was imperative for African countries to find ways to expand aggregate demand for labor and improve supply-side factors at the same time. “Beyond the traditional prescriptions–such as stable macroeconomic policy, a supportive investment climate, and improving the quality of human and physical capital–countries can facilitate more rapid and better job creation as well as accelerate the development of their manufacturing sector by implementing policies suited to their specific circumstances.”

It added: “Since almost all new jobs in Africa today are in agriculture and microenterprises, improving the business environment in these sectors is a high priority. Fragile countries can create jobs as well as promote growth and stability through targeted support to vulnerable regions and/or populations. Open trade policies and developing value chain links to extractive sectors are crucial for encouraging diversification and job creation in resource-rich countries. Finally, policies that foster regional trade and integration can be a major source of new jobs as well as improve firm-level productivity and economic competitiveness.”

Pointing out that this edition of the Africa Competitiveness Report came at a time of reduced enthusiasm about African growth prospects, the ACR expressed regret that, “The robust expansion experienced by the region over the past two decades may not continue over the next few years, reducing expectations about the continent’s employment outlook.”

“Since the publication of the last Africa Competitiveness Report in 2015, the region’s growth prospects have been affected by multiple external shocks: for example, oil exporters such as Nigeria have begun to be affected by lower oil prices over the past few years, and other mineral exporters, such as South Africa, have been hit by the slowdown of emerging economies, especially China,” the report pointed out.

Stating that, “Growth is expected to pick up in 2018 but will most likely remain below 4 per cent over the next few years,” the ACR 2017 recalled that, from 2004 to 2014, the region as a whole averaged a growth above 5 per cent a year, but it is now about 2.2 percent.

“Over that same period, growth of GDP per capita, however–the main indicator of economic development–was well above 5 per cent only between 2004 and 2007. Relatively few jobs have been added to African economies over almost 20 years of strong output expansion, mainly because of an overreliance on the primary sector (mineral extraction and agricultural products), little diversification, and low productivity,” it added.

from allAfrica