21 May

African fintech and agribusiness companies attract interest from investors

African private equity and venture capital deal-making in April were dominated by investments in technology companies, particularly fintech and business-to-business platforms, together with encouraging activity in the agribusiness & food sector. This according to data provided by Africa Private Equity News, an industry information service.

Fintech investments were mostly in mobile-enabled banking and financial services companies. These include: French development-finance institution Proparco’s US$3m backing of JUMO, which helps customers to access loans and savings products in East and West Africa; and a $70m round, led by US-based Trinity Ventures, into credit provider Branch International. Digital payments network MFS Africa also raised $4.5m in funding, led by LUN Partners Group, thereby becoming one of the first fintech players on the continent to receive funding from a China-based venture capital firm.

Business-to-business solutions remains an attractive theme, with TLcom Capital announcing two investments in the space – a $5m injection in Nigeria-based mobile marketing company Terragon, and a $3.5m series-A round for Kenyan consumer-feedback platform mSurvey, which plans to use the capital to scale and expand into more countries. Asoko Insight, a provider of data on African companies, attracted $3.6m in additional funding from its early shareholders and some new ones, while South Africa-based Giraffe – which enables businesses to recruit high volumes of medium-skilled staff – closed a second round of investment, supported by FirstRand’s Vumela Fund, with participation from Omidyar Network, the Brozin family’s Forever Young Capital and Catapult Trust.

The continent’s rapidly-growing food market could be worth more than $1tn annually by 2030 as imports are substituted with high-value locally-produced food, according to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. With 60% of the world’s unused arable land, Africa’s potential in the broader agribusiness sector is also enormous.

The sector continues to attract interest from private equity firms such as DOB Equity, which last month backed Rwanda-based grain trader Sarura Commodities. Furthermore, Agri-Vie and Norfund announced a $7m co-investment in Marginpar Flower Group Holdings, which has floriculture interests in Kenya and Ethiopia. In addition, South African-based The Beverage Company, in which Ethos Private Equity and Nedbank Private Equity owns a stake, signed an agreement to acquire 100% of SoftBev, the sole licensed bottler for Pepsi and its related brands in South Africa, from Bowler Metcalf and the original founders.

Read the full story at How We Made It in Africa

02 May

African fintech and agribusiness companies attract interest from investors

African private equity and venture capital deal-making in April were dominated by investments in technology companies, particularly fintech and business-to-business platforms, together with encouraging activity in the agribusiness & food sector.

Fintech investments were mostly in mobile-enabled banking and financial services companies. These include: French development-finance institution Proparco’s US$3m backing of JUMO, which helps customers to access loans and savings products in East and West Africa; and a $70m round, led by US-based Trinity Ventures, into credit provider Branch International. Digital payments network MFS Africa also raised $4.5m in funding, led by LUN Partners Group, thereby becoming one of the first fintech players on the continent to receive funding from a China-based venture capital firm.

Business-to-business solutions remains an attractive theme, with TLcom Capital announcing two investments in the space – a $5m injection in Nigeria-based mobile marketing company Terragon, and a $3.5m series-A round for Kenyan consumer-feedback platform mSurvey, which plans to use the capital to scale and expand into more countries. Asoko Insight, a provider of data on African companies, attracted $3.6m in additional funding from its early shareholders and some new ones, while South Africa-based Giraffe – which enables businesses to recruit high volumes of medium-skilled staff – closed a second round of investment, supported by FirstRand’s Vumela Fund, with participation from Omidyar Network, the Brozin family’s Forever Young Capital and Catapult Trust.

The continent’s rapidly-growing food market could be worth more than $1tn annually by 2030 as imports are substituted with high-value locally-produced food, according to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. With 60% of the world’s unused arable land, Africa’s potential in the broader agribusiness sector is also enormous.

The sector continues to attract interest from private equity firms such as DOB Equity, which last month backed Rwanda-based grain trader Sarura Commodities. Furthermore, Agri-Vie and Norfund announced a $7m co-investment in Marginpar Flower Group Holdings, which has floriculture interests in Kenya and Ethiopia. In addition, South African-based The Beverage Company, in which Ethos Private Equity and Nedbank Private Equity owns a stake, signed an agreement to acquire 100% of SoftBev, the sole licensed bottler for Pepsi and its related brands in South Africa, from Bowler Metcalf and the original founders.

Read more here: How We Made It in Africa

 

09 Jan

Zuma to Face Ouster Bid at South African ANC Meeting

South African President Jacob Zuma will face a fresh bid to force him from office when the ruling African National Congress’s top leadership meets this week for the first time since he relinquished control of the party to his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

A proposal to order Zuma to step down before his term ends in 2019 will be discussed at a Wednesday meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee in the southern city of East London, according to three members of the panel who spoke on condition of anonymity. Zuma’s scandal-tainted tenure has eroded support for the ANC.

The NEC’s 86 voting members are divided into two loose factions — one that backed Ramaphosa, 65, to take over as party leader at the ANC’s national conference last month and another that’s allied to Zuma and favored his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him.

Ramaphosa won the contest with just 52 percent of the vote, giving him a tenuous hold over the party, and it remains unclear where exactly the balance of power lies within the panel, which usually takes decisions by consensus.

“Given Cyril Ramaphosa’s emphasis on renewing the ANC, doing things afresh, it makes all the sense that the matter should be a priority agenda issue,” Mcebisi Ndletyana, a political science professor at the University of Johannesburg, said by phone.

“If it is raised and the motion is defeated, then that is a serious worry. It would be indicative that he does not have everyone behind him. It would make him a very weak president.”

Graft Charges

The ANC’s former head of intelligence, Zuma, 75, took office in May 2009 just weeks after prosecutors dropped graft charges against him. He’s spent years fighting a bid by opposition parties to have those charges reinstated and fending off allegations that he allowed members of the Gupta family to influence cabinet appointments and the award of state contracts.

To read the full article, click here.

09 Jan

Why Africa’s Top Oil Producer Is Low on Gasoline

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer and a member of OPEC, has suffered fuel shortages over the past few weeks. They complicated transport and hurt economic activity and, in the words of President Muhammadu Buhari, ensured that for many Nigerians the Christmas holidays were “anything but merry and happy.”

His administration says it’s working overtime to end the queues that have formed at gasoline stations throughout much of the country. Nigeria is about the only major African economy to experience frequent fuel scarcities.

1. What’s the reason for the shortages?

Part of the problem is that, despite pumping 1.8 million barrels a day of crude, Nigeria has to import almost all its fuel because of the decrepit state of its refineries. But in that, it isn’t alone: Most countries in Africa lack refineries. A bigger problem is that Nigeria caps gasoline prices, often at levels below retailers’ costs.

The cap today is set at 145 naira, or $0.40, a liter, which would translate to $1.52 per gallon. That makes the west African nation one of the 10 cheapest places in the world to buy gasoline and compares to a global average of $1.12 and a U.S. average of $0.73 per liter, according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com.

Cheap Fuel

Nigeria is among the world’s 10 cheapest places to buy gasoline

2. Does that mean fuel retailers can’t make money?

They could when the current cap was set, in May 2016. Back then, Brent crude traded at less than $50 a barrel. It’s since risen about 40 percent, to $68, which has made it more expensive for retailers to buy refined fuel.

Neither does it help that Nigeria bases the cap on its official exchange rate of 305 naira per dollar, which few retailers can access, given that the market rate is almost 20 percent weaker at 360.

Many have stopped importing, leaving that job almost entirely in the hands of the state oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., a task it is struggling with and was never designed to do on such a scale.

To read the full article, click here.

19 Dec

African Roses Hitch Ride to U.S. as Ethiopian Growers Go Global

Ethiopia’s burgeoning flower-growing industry is setting its sights on the U.S. in a bid to break the dominance of Latin American producers in supplying roses and other blooms to the world’s largest economy.

State-owned Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise is evaluating freighter flights through Miami — the main entry point for U.S. flower imports — Los Angeles or New York, regional manager Girum Abebe said in an interview. The company currently transports stems there only in the bellies of passenger jets.

Ethiopia has become a major force in global floriculture in the past two decades, exploiting a tropical high-altitude climate that provides year-round natural light combined with hot days and cold nights perfect for bringing plants into bloom. The conditions mirror those found in the Andes, where growers in Ecuador and Colombia currently dominate flower exports to the U.S.

“Ten or 15 years ago Ethiopia was not exporting a single rose, but now we have earned our position in the world market,” Girum said. “North America has been the major importer of horticulture products from other parts of the world, so we want to have part of that.”

Ethiopian flower exports are currently focused on Europe, and have made the country Africa’s second-biggest producer after Kenya and fourth-equal worldwide, according to Rabobank research based on 2015 figures. About 80 percent of Ethiopian production is flown to the Netherlands, the center of the global flower trade, and re-exported from there.

‘Bigger Blooms’

“Most people don’t know it but the flower market is very much a global one,” Amsterdam-based Rabobank floriculture analyst Cindy van Rijswick said. “Ethiopia is doing so well because its labor costs are a bit cheaper than Kenya and if anything its climate is even better, producing bigger blooms.”

European flower sales have been flat in recent years, encouraging growers to look at opportunities for penetrating trans-Atlantic markets, she said.

To read the full article, click here. 

13 Dec

ANC Will Lose Power With Wrong Leaders, Makhura Says

The premier of South Africa’s richest province warned the ruling African National Congress will lose its majority and extend an economic slump if it elects the wrong leaders this weekend.

“If it doesn’t give South Africa the leadership that will win public confidence, not only is the ANC going to lose 2019 elections, but the country will be in a much longer protracted economic disaster, with deep pain for ordinary people,” David Makhura, the 49-year-old premier of Gauteng, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg offices on Tuesday. “We have got to get a team of leaders who understand that South Africans are fed up with corruption and also fed up with an economy that is not performing.”

While Makhura didn’t directly name his preferred candidate, the overwhelming majority of ANC branches in Gauteng, which includes the capital, Pretoria, and the nation’s financial hub, Johannesburg, back Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, for party leader. Makhura said he has confidence in the province’s choice for leaders.

More than 5,000 ANC delegates, including Makhura, will converge in Johannesburg from Dec. 16 to elect a successor for President Jacob Zuma as leader of the ANC and to be its presidential candidate for the 2019 elections. The party faces a critical moment to regain public and business confidence and pull Africa’s most-industrialized economy back from a downturn that has seen unemployment surge to 28 percent and poverty increase, Makhura said.

Branch Support

The majority of Gauteng delegates are pinning their hopes on Ramaphosa to restore confidence in an economy that was downgraded to junk this year amid political and policy uncertainty under Zuma. Former African Union Commission Chairwoman and Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68, is his main rival.

While Ramaphosa has spoken of the need to stamp out corruption and boost the economy through “inclusive growth,” Dlamini-Zuma is supported by senior party officials who propose policies that include expropriating land without compensation and increasing the share of mines that need to be owned by black South Africans. Ramaphosa is preferred by most investors.

To read the full article, click here.

08 Dec

Ramaphosa Says S. Africa’s ANC in Challenge to Unite Party

Cyril Ramaphosa, one of two leading candidates contesting for the presidency of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, said its leaders must unite the party after this month’s elective conference.

 “Our movement is divided and there are factions,” Ramaphosa, the country’s deputy president, said in a Thursday late-night program on Johannesburg-based 702 Talk Radio. “The challenge that we face, particularly going into this conference, is how we are going to unite the ANC and how we will emerge out of this conference united.”
The winner from the Dec. 16-20 conference to pick a successor to President Jacob Zuma as the party’s head will be its presidential candidate in the 2019 elections that are set to be the toughest since Nelson Mandela led the party to power at the end of apartheid in 1994. The election has caused deep rifts within the 105-year-old ANC, weighed on the rand and nation’s bonds and unnerved investors seeking political and policy clarity.
Ramaphosa’s strongest rival for the position is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former chairwoman of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife. Ramaphosa didn’t give an explicit answer during Thursday’s broadcast when asked whether he would, if defeated in the leadership contest, accept the position of Dlamini-Zuma’s deputy.
“If for instance, I am not successful to become president, I will have to reflect on whether I should be deployed elsewhere or deployed in the same position,” he said. “So, it is going to be a matter in which I am going to want to reflect.”
Ramaphosa said the South African economy could grow at a faster pace and that the government had been diverted by self-interest and state capture, a local term for the undue influence over the state by private interests. The ANC should never allow its policy to be up for sale and he wouldn’t “sell his soul for any interest,” Ramaphosa said.
To read the full article, click here.
07 Dec

Investors Are Looking at Zimbabwe’s Budget: Post-Mugabe World

When Patrick Chinamasa marks the start of his second stint as Zimbabwe’s finance minister by presenting the budget on Thursday, investors will be looking for policy changes in addition to fiscal plans in the post-Robert Mugabe era.

While the government needs to rein in runaway spending, end cash shortages and recapitalize banks, signals that it plans to revise or repeal contentious policies such as forcing companies to transfer 51 percent stakes to black Zimbabweans could be a game-changer. It could lure back investors and smooth engagement with lenders like the International Monetary Fundand the World Bank.

Chinamasa, a lawyer, was reappointed last week by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, less than two months after former leader Mugabe moved him to another portfolio. Mugabe resigned two weeks ago after an army-led coup ended his 37-year rule. During his tenure, agricultural output collapsed due to forced repossessions of commercially productive, mainly white-owned farmland, Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in 2009 due to hyperinflation and the economy has halved in size since 2000.

A half-hearted attempt at solving expropriation, taming inflation and curbing the country’s massive import bills would be a continuation of Mugabe’s “insular budgetary policies,” said Charles Laurie, head of country risk at Bath, England-based Verisk Maplecroft. There will be “intense scrutiny” of Chinamasa’s plans by investors who expect “business-friendly budgetary policy,” though the focus would mostly be on the empowerment law.

“Repealing or gutting the law will be an essential step in signaling to foreign businesses that Zimbabwe is serious about fostering a viable business environment,” Laurie said. “It’s nearly impossible to imagine a revival of Western investor appetite should this politically motivated law remain on the books.”

Leading Efforts

Chinamasa has led efforts to revive the struggling economy and tap fresh credit. While Zimbabwe has paid $110 million of arrears to the IMF, it’s still saddled with $1.7 billion arrears to the World Bank and African Development Bank and external debt exceeds 70 percent of gross domestic product.

To read the full article, click here. 

07 Dec

It’s Only Been Two Months, But Angola Leader’s a Bond-Market Hit

He’s only led Angola for a couple of months, but bond investors already like what they’ve seen from Joao Lourenco.

Angola’s $1.5 billion of bonds due in 2025 have returned 8 percent since Lourenco was sworn in as president on Sept. 26, replacing Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who had ruled the OPEC member and former Portuguese colony since 1979. That’s a better performance than any other country in the Bloomberg Barclays Emerging Markets USD Sovereign Bond Index, which includes debt from more than 70 nations.

It’s not just down to oil prices rising about 5 percent in the period — the bonds of other major producers such as Mexico, Russia and Saudi Arabia have barely budged. Overall, Eurobonds issued by emerging-market governments returned an average of 0.3 percent.

Lourenco, 63, has moved fast to assert his authority in Angola, which relies on crude for about 90 percent of exports and ranks among the 15 most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International. He has replaced the heads of the central bank, state oil company Sonangol and diamond firm Endiama, and started opening up the telecommunications sector to more competition.

The central bank, under new Governor Jose Massano, raised the main interest rate by 200 basis points to 18 percent last week as it looked to combat inflation of almost 30 percent. It may be a precursor to a weakening of the kwanza, according to Standard Bank Group Ltd., which says the currency is overvalued.

“While one could point to market ebullience due to elevated oil prices as a factor underpinning these bonds, the market might be getting more constructive on the policy outlook,” Dmitry Shishkin, the head of quantitative strategy at Standard Bank in London, said in a Nov. 28 note. The government has “hit some of the right notes, pointing to a desire to improve debt sustainability, cut some expenses, issue another Eurobond and continue with the reform of Sonangol.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-06/it-s-only-2-months-but-angolan-leader-a-hit-with-bond-investors

04 Dec

Kenyans hit out at State over ‘arrest’ of David Ndii in Kwale

Kenyans have taken to social media to react to news of the alleged arrest of National Super Alliance (Nasa) strategist David Ndii.

Dr Ndii, a global economist and popular Saturday Nation columnist, was allegedly arrested at Leopard Beach Hotel in Diani, where he was with his wife, on Sunday evening.

DENIALS

Police have denied Nasa claims that they are holding him at the Diani Police Station.

Dr Ndii is an ardent user of social media, particularly Twitter, with a legion of over 200,000 followers.

Known for his witty and sometimes humorous tweets, the economist has been one of the government’s harshest critics. That he was a likely target of the Jubilee government’s crackdown on dissent, was an open secret.

And as Nasa leaders on the ground followed up and demanded the reason for his alleged arrest, Kenyans took to social media to express their shock and disappointment.

Dr Ndii received an avalanche of support particularly from Kenyans on Twitter (KoT). Using the hashtag #FreeNdii, KoT called for the immediate release of the self-proclaimed ‘public intellectual’.

Even those who do not entirely agree with Dr Ndii condemned the government’s move to arrest the opposition leader. Activists, prominent lawyers, bloggers and average social media users sent out tweets in Dr Ndii’s, with the majority praising him for his apparent “courage” and “patriotism.”

For this reason, “David Ndii” immediately topped Twitter’s trending topics in Kenya, with over 20,000 tweets sent about the topic as at Monday morning.

One of the most popular tweet was posted by activist Boniface Mwangi who said; “David Ndii is a patriot. A patriot is a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.”

MAATHAI

Lawyer Donald B. Kipkorir, in an equally popular tweet, said; “For many years, Prof Wangari Maathai kept being harassed; the World celebrated & gave her Nobel Prize; the highest global award … Kenya celebrated her only after she died … Now we are arresting Prof David Ndii, a highly respected global Economist … Kenya harasses its BEST!”

To read the full article, click here.