11 Oct

Eterna Plc Gets Exclusive Rights For Distributing Castrol Oil in Nigeria

Eterna Plc. has officially launched Castrol Oil into the market of Nigeria. This follows the company’s 2015 distribution agreement with Castrol. It is also worthy to note that Eterna was granted the license to blend and distribute Castrol Automobile and Industrial lubricants at its Sagamu, Ogun state facility.

Some of the Castrol products launched into the market include Castrol Edge- fully synthetic oil with fluid strength technology. Castrol Magnatec- semi-synthetic oil instant protection from the start and Castrol GTX Essential-trusted protection for your engine.

“I am proud to announce that the latest addition to the Castrol GTX family “Castrol GTX Essential” was produced for the first time in the world at our plant in Sagamu this August. This is a clear demonstration of the confidence reposed in our manufacturing capabilities by Castrol,” said Mahmud Tukur, Managing Director of Eterna PLC.

Eterna and Castrol’s journey

According to Mahmud Tukur, the journey began as far back as 1991 through the vision of the company’s founder, Otunba Tunji Lawal Solarin, when Eterna started importing and distributing Castrol Lubricants in Nigeria. A robust marketing structure was set up and with increased market sales, Eterna began to manufacture lubricants locally through a third-party facility on an interim basis.

The aim was always for the company to own its blending facility and this dream became a reality when Eterna secured a US $940,000 loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 1995 to construct what was to eventually become one of the best and most modern lubricant manufacturing plants in Africa. Castrol designed the plant and provided the required technical support during construction ensuring that the plant met global standards.

Twenty years later, Eterna’s 15,000MT capacity state-of-the-art lubricant manufacturing plant, which is fully owned by its subsidiary, Eterna Industries Limited, is one of the only three Castrol accredited blending plants in Africa. The plant is located in Sagamu, Ogun state on a sprawling 5 hectares of Prime Industrial Real Estate.



06 Oct

Work on the framing of minerals classification system in Africa begins

A pioneering initiative leading towards a framework for mineral resource classification in Africa had has started with deliberations from African geological experts and classification specialists.

Organized by the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), the workshop looks into adapting the United Nations Frameworks Classification for Fossil Energy and Mineral Reserves and Resources (UNFC 2009) system based on the tenets of the Africa Mining Vision (AMV).

The new initiative called the African Mineral Resource Classification (AMREC) is envisioned to enhance regional cooperation in sustainable development by providing a classification framework for management of mineral resources on land, continental shelf and seabed within the region.

The UNFC recognizes that establishing a complete picture of the current and future supply base of fossil energy and minerals is necessary for effective resources management.

It also sees development is dependent on careful management of the world’s non‐renewable extractive resources and UNFC‐2009 has an important role to play in this process. On the other hand, the AMV is a mining approach that looks into using mineral resources as catalysts for sustainable development.

In his opening speech, Hamed Ibrahim Mira, Chairman of the Nuclear Materials Authority of Egypt, said, “The framework will help governments manage their natural resources with a sustainable long-term view. In this regard, it is clear that UNFC system could be used to achieve the objectives of the African Mining Vision.”

Harikishnan Tulsidas of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, said, “The availability of these non‐renewable resources over the longer term is of crucial importance to both consumers and producers, particularly as a large and growing population is coming out of poverty.” Guided by the technical specifications of UNFC and the development-driven AMV, the AMREC will serve as a tool to drive Africa’s socio-economic progress. Harikrishnan added that it will be a platform for holistic resource development.

Attended by geological experts from African member states, classification specialists, and participants from the extractive sector; the comments and information gathering from experts will help guide the production of the framework.

The AMREC project will have further discussions on the framing of the requirements towards the production of the final document.

[Via] Work on the framing of minerals classification system in Africa begins

05 Oct

Comic Relief and Fairtrade back ethical gold mining in east Africa

Comic Relief and Fairtrade have joined forces with the Dutch government to back a $15m (£11m) scheme to support ethical gold mining in east Africa after a successful pilot project in Uganda.

About a fifth of the world’s gold produced every year comes from small-scale mines where millions of people work in hazardous conditions without access to modern technology. They resort to extracting and crushing ore by hand before using water and then highly toxic mercury or cyanide to separate the gold. The ad hoc process is not only harmful for the individuals involved, some of whom are children, but pollutes their local environment. It is also highly inefficient, on average extracting only 40% of the available gold.

US interest rate rise to deepen debt crisis in developing world
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Fairtrade is working with specialist mining consultancy the Dragonfly Initiative in trying to raise up to $4m in investment by 2020 from specialist environmental and social investors, government bodies and big business to help small-scale artisanal mines. Half of the funds will be loans to support investment in better technology and the other half grants to support building the organisational change necessary.

“We are trying to generate a proof of concept which has the possibility to bring economic benefits to thousands of families. We also hope over time to increase supply of Fairtrade gold,” said David Finlay of Fairtrade. At present only about 400kg of the ethical precious metal is produced ever year.

“Miners want to improve standards but it is a real struggle. They want access to finance to acquire equipment and reduce reliance on mercury and enhance the recovery of gold. There will be both an economic and environmental benefit,” Finlay said.

Using a centrifuge device, which costs about $5,000, increased the extraction rate for gold to 70% in the Uganda trial. But introducing the machinery is only part of the answer alongside supporting miners to work in a more organised and safe way.


Read more: Comic Relief and Fairtrade back ethical gold mining in east Africa

04 Oct

Tanzania: overcoming financing challenges to launch cashew business

Tanzania. Within two years of starting his business, Fahad Awadh had been named one of 30 entrepreneurs to watch in Africa by Forbes magazine, and also received a US$500,000 grant from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund.

Awadh is the founder of YYTZ Agro-Processing, a cashew production company that focuses on exporting high-quality nuts from Tanzania, while working closely with local farmers to ensure they are sufficiently included in the value chain.

In 2014, Awadh began looking for a business venture he could invest in – something that entailed value addition in Tanzania.

“I was looking for something with export demand and I came across cashew by looking at what Tanzania produces a lot of, that is exported and valuable,” says Awadh, whose first major entrepreneurial venture was a clothing business he founded with friends while studying at York University in Canada.

“I didn’t know much about cashew so I dug deep and found that while Tanzania is one of the largest cashew producing countries in the world, about 90% of its cashews are exported in its raw form to India and Vietnam where they are processed and re-exported to developed markets. That really stood out for me.”

To understand the ins and outs of the industry, Awadh left Canada for Tanzania to conduct research on cashew production.

“I visited cashew farmers and regulatory authorities because I needed to understand the domestic market supply and the global trade of cashew,” he says.

Awadh also travelled to Vietnam, one of the largest cashew exporters in the world. Here he visited manufacturers of processing equipment and the factory of a reputable cashew producer. These visits exposed him to global best practices, which he later implemented in his own business.

Cashew farmer training in Tanzania
“Understanding the global market and what consumers want helped me make informed decisions about how I am going to process these cashews,” says Awadh. “I knew that if I was going to process in Tanzania, it needs to be mechanised, automated and efficient.

Read more: Tanzania: Entrepreneur overcomes financing challenges to launch cashew business



28 Sep

Africa: sustainable forest ecosystems will help boost its economies

Africa: humanity has long appreciated forests for the energy, food and medicine they provide, and as a source of wood products for construction and other purposes. But the role of forests in supporting agriculture, preserving biodiversity, protecting water supplies, creating jobs, increasing domestic GDP and moderating the impact of climate change are less well-understood.

It is an industry often crucial to the well-being of people in large parts of Africa. Angola, for example, has a total forest area of 60 million hectares, representing 20% of its total land area including a rich variety of flora and fauna. This is combined with relatively stable governance as well as various measures the government has implemented to improve Angola’s forest ecosystem such as creating ties between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Industry, and the Ministry of Water and Energy. The country’s exotic plantation area is small (0.2% of forest area) but with significant potential for the economy.

Located in the Planalto region of Angola, Quantum Global Group, through its US$250m Timber Fund, has acquired 18 land concessions leased from the government of Angola. The objective is to manage and rehabilitate the old Angolan Government eucalyptus pulpwood plantations, with an aim to build an integrated forest industry in the provinces of Huambo, Benguela, Huila and Bie to develop the country’s forest ecosystem.

Natural resources have a large role to play in Africa, specifically the timber industry due to its enormous potential. Through the Timber Fund, we have opted to plant carefully selected eucalyptus species, given its many uses and reputation as one of the best options for curbing deforestation of natural woodland in Africa.
Eucalyptus is not only sustainable but also plays a driving role in the supply of raw materials for the manufacturing industry, whilst presenting tremendous benefits for local communities. The sale of wood will be used for both national and regional exports, including residential and other basic needs.

Read more: Developing sustainable forest ecosystems in Africa will help boost its economies

27 Sep

The challenges facing West Africa’s chocolate industry

West Africa, the world’s leading cocoa industry, is grappling with the aftermath of a disastrous 2016/17 cocoa season. Over the last year, international cocoa prices have collapsed by one third to ₤1,529 (US$2,077) by end-August 2017.

The drastic drop in prices reflects softening chocolate demand and a historically large cocoa crop from West Africa. The region is on track to produce an estimated crop of 3.44 million metric tonnes (MT), up 20% from the 2015/16 season. The impact of the cocoa price slump has been devastating. Cocoa farmers’ incomes were slashed, leading to panic in cocoa growing communities; government budgets were gutted with billions of dollars in losses from cocoa export earnings; and, child labour resurged on cocoa farms.

The price crash revealed, yet again, the inherent weakness of the region’s cocoa sector. Despite controlling over three fourths of the world’s supply, West Africa is a price taker, making it vulnerable to the volatility of commodity markets. Moreover, the region’s cocoa producers capture a tiny share of value in the cocoa value chain, estimated at 3% to 6%. Processors of semi-finished products (cocoa liquor, butter and powder) hardly fare better, capturing only 8% of the value. The lion’s share of value, 80%, is unlocked at the chocolate manufacturing and retail levels. In an effort to climb the cocoa value chain, and reduce exposure to volatile cocoa prices, the region’s cocoa producers – led by Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which together hold over two thirds of global supply – have focused their discourse on producing chocolate and confectionery for export.

However, West Africa, as the world’s dominant cocoa producer, is not ipso facto well-positioned to produce and export chocolate. While local chocolate producers have attracted attention in the press, they are unable to absorb even a tiny share of the region’s behemoth cocoa crop, owing to their niche production levels in the face of weak demand. Given that West Africa faces significant barriers to entry in making chocolate, the region should instead refocus its energies on further expansion in cocoa processing capacity.

Read more: The challenges facing West Africa’s chocolate industry

22 Sep

Mining issues in Africa: Private sector stakeholders share their views

The Africa Mining Day, organised by the Singapore Mining Club, gathered six high profile figures to talk about mining exploration and production in Africa on 12 September 2017. The talk, mediated by Geoff McNamara, partner at natural resource-focused investment firm Medea Capital and director of the Singapore Mining Club, was split into two segments: producers and explorers. The attendees included professionals and investors interested in learning more about Africa’s natural resource potential.

Nic Limb, non-executive chairman at Mineral Deposits Limited (MDL), whose company explores and produces titanium, zircon and gold in Australia and in Senegal, commented on one of the problems mining companies face in Africa: “The legislation that underpins all your mining and O&G activities is often quite old.” MDL operates the Sabodala gold project and the Grande Côte Mineral Sands operation (GCO), both in Senegal, West Africa.

According to Limb, “Getting logistics right is very important. If you have to start talking about building a port, you are in trouble.” That is why GCO is a fully integrated, mine-to-ship, large-scale mineral sands operation. It primarily produces high-quality zircon and ilmenite (iron titanium oxide). “We produce around 7% of the global feedstock of titanium,” Limb said.

John Welborn, MD and CEO of Resolute Mining Limited, spoke about his gold business in Africa. “I’m very passionate about Africa. I like the fact that when people ask me what I do, I say I’m a gold miner. But it’s much more complicated than that; it’s about really complex assets.” Resolute has been operating in Africa for the past 21 years, having started in 1996, in Ghana, and expanded to a gold mining project in Tanzania in late 1990s. “We operated that asset successfully for 15 years. Now we are out of that jurisdiction because it became rather problematic.” In Africa, the company now focuses on Mali (Syama Gold Mine).

Read more: Mining issues in Africa: Private sector stakeholders share their views

22 Sep

Agriculture: Private equity investors can help Africa to feed itself

The agriculture sector employs more people in Africa than any other industry and it also accounts for almost half of the continent’s GDP.

Yet inefficiencies in the sector have held back production in the sub-Saharan African region, hindering the sector’s growth and stymieing the industry’s ability to achieve cross-border trade and long-term food security.

This represents a fairly significant socioeconomic challenge, but it also provides private equity investors with an opportunity to support one of the continent’s biggest industries while contributing to job and wealth creation.

For investors, returns from the farming industry can be enhanced through investment and implementation of modern farming techniques.

In turn, successful agribusiness investments stimulate growth through the access to new markets and the development of a vertically integrated supply chain in the form of food processing, packaging and assembly, transportation, distribution and retailing.

Most importantly, well-targeted investments, alongside close collaboration between governments, donors, entrepreneurs, the international community and investors can make a significant and lasting contribution to Africa’s 2050 goal of being able to feed itself, as referenced in the African Development Bank’s Feeding Africa action plan.

Businesses that succeed after investments in their production and processing capabilities go on to create jobs and stimulate the wider supply chain.

Most importantly, they help to reduce Africa’s crippling reliance on food imports.

A March 2017 article by the Rockefeller Foundation says that one third of the world’s food, “never makes it from the farm to the table” and in developing countries, about 40% of produce is lost immediately or soon after harvest because of poor farming techniques and technologies. Inadequate storage facilities, poor processing, weak transport networks and poorly structured markets all work against Africa’s ability to feed itself, and most fruits and vegetables never make it to market for these reasons.

These facts are even more tragic in the context of the famine in South Sudan. The UN has also warned of a high likelihood of famine in Somalia and Nigeria.

Read more: Private equity investors can help Africa to feed itself

21 Sep

Sustainability: Financing green energy infrastructure in Africa

Africa urgently needs a massive roll-out of modern energy services to meet the basic human needs of its rapidly growing population and to power industrialisation and urbanisation. At the same time, the world needs Africa to leapfrog to a low-carbon energy regime to help avoid catastrophic global climate change.

This structural transformation in the energy sector will require innovative financing mechanisms to unlock Africa’s vast renewable energy (RE) potential and boost inclusive and sustainable development. Below are some examples and financing strategies.

Renewable energy success stories

Africa has several examples of countries that have successfully rolled out utility-scale renewable energy projects, and useful lessons can be drawn from these recent experiences.

Cabo Verde’s four wind farms, with a combined capacity of 26 megawatts (MW), provide a quarter (25%) of the island nation’s electricity. They were constructed by a public-private partnership company called Cabeólica S.A., with the Africa Finance Corporation and the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund) among the majority shareholders. The African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank provided US$85m in debt funding.

Ethiopia commissioned the continent’s largest hydropower plant in 2015. The 1,870 MW Gilgel Gibe Dam III reportedly cost $1.8bn, and was financed by the government through debt raised on international markets. The Rift Valley nation has a string of other hydro projects in the pipeline, including the 5,000 MW Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, which is being partly funded by an innovative scheme involving ‘diaspora’ funds.

Kenya is Africa’s leader in developing geothermal power. The Olkaria IV geothermal plant was added in 2014 with a capacity of 140 MW, and the capacity of Olkaria III was expanded by 29 MW in 2016. The plants were financed through the state-owned company Kengen, supported by the Kenyan Treasury, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. Kenya has also made its mark with Africa’s largest wind farm, located at Lake Turkana. The 310-MW facility, completed in March 2017, cost about $700m and was funded by private investors.

Read more: Financing green energy infrastructure in Africa

20 Sep

Nigerian entrepreneur offers solution to age-old farming problem

For over a decade now, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu has been producing radio shows for smallholder farmers in the rural southern region of Nigeria. These agricultural programmes are broadcasted on the Smallholders Farmers Rural Radio – a community station he established in 2003, when he was just 21 years old.

As a vegetable farmer himself, Ikegwuonu has first-hand experience of the huge post-harvest losses incurred because of a lack of cold storage. In Nigeria, it is estimated about 60% of smallholder farmers’ fruits and vegetables spoil due to inadequate storage and agro-processing facilities.

Ikegwuonu is addressing this challenge with ColdHubs – a solar-powered walk-in cold-room solution aimed at farmers, retailers, and wholesalers. The cold rooms are installed at major food production and consumption centres, such as markets and farms.

The idea for the venture came from a radio interview he did with a cabbage seller.

“I was going to interview a young man who came with a J5 truck full of cabbage. However, a few hours to the close of market, I couldn’t find him except for his truck of cabbage,” Ikegwuonu recalls.

When Ikegwuonu went looking for him the next day, he saw that the seller had just three baskets of cabbage left.

“I asked him why he left a J5 truck full of cabbage unattended to and he told me the cost of taking it home doesn’t make any sense. It is better it waste there or let the driver of the J5 find someone who will buy it to cover the cost. And I was thinking, in the south-east of Nigeria, that is a lot of money!”

Ikegwuonu questioned the young man on what could be done to make his business better. The cabbage seller told him, “If there is a way to preserve foodstuff in the market, he would have kept it there, sell a little bit of cabbage as much as he can sell in a day and pay for storage until he finishes his sales.”


Read more: Nigerian entrepreneur offers solution to age-old farming problem