15 Jan

H&M Condemns Racism After ‘Monkey’ Ad Sparks Protests in Africa

Hennes & Mauritz AB went into damage-control mode over the weekend after a controversial advertisement sparked protests in South Africa.

The Swedish clothes retailer closed its South African shops after some outlets were trashed in an anti-racism protest against an online ad by H&M, featuring a black child modeling a hoodie with the text “coolest monkey in the jungle.”

“H&M is aware of the recent events inside several of our South African stores,” the company said in a statement on its website. “What matters most to us is the safety of our employees and customers” and “we have temporarily closed our stores in South Africa.”

Read More: H&M Caught in Controversy Over Black Child in ‘Monkey’ Hoodie Ad

 H&M was last week forced to apologize for the image after it caused a social-media storm and prompted Canadian artist The Weeknd to end his collaboration with the Stockholm-based company. H&M, which said it agreed with those who were upset by the image, pulled the garment in question from its stores. Over the weekend, the company took further steps to reject all forms of racial slander.
“We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable,” H&M said. “We stress that our wonderful store staff had nothing to do with our poorly judged product and image.”
To read the full article, click here. 
12 Jan

Trump Calls Haiti, African Nations ‘Shithole’ Countries

President Donald Trump questioned senators in an Oval Office meeting Thursday on why the U.S. accepts immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations rather than places like Norway, according to three people briefed on the conversation.

The White House didn’t dispute the quotations. Asked about the account, White House spokesman Raj Shah said “certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people.”

Trump made the comments in a meeting with lawmakers who suggested restoring protections for people from those countries as part of a broader bipartisan agreement on immigration issues, the three people said. The Washington Post first reported Trump’s remarks.

Shah went on to list the White House’s demands for an agreement that would protect undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children and stressed that the president favors merit-based immigration.

The president made the comments on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti, killing as many as 300,000 people. On Thursday, Haitian President Jovenel Moise demanded a meeting with the top American diplomat in the country, Charge d’Affaires Robin Diallo, according to State Department officials. Moise was expected to lodge a formal protest. Michele Sison has been confirmed as the new U.S. ambassador, but has not yet arrived.

The officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a diplomatic matter, are concerned that the episode may provoke protests in Haiti because commemorations have been planned to mark the anniversary.

In the U.S., strong criticism followed initial reports of the Oval Office episode, with most though not all of it coming from Democrats.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who wasn’t in the meeting, in a tweet called the president’s remarks, “Breathtakingly offensive. Worse, it’s ignorant of American ideals.”

To read the full article, click here.

27 Dec

Africa: Prince Harry Appointed African Parks President

Popular member of the United Kingdom royal family, Prince Henry of Wales also known as Prince Harry, has been appointed as new President of African Parks, the organization that manages Akagera National Park among other facilities on the continent.

The news that was announced on Wednesday, indicate that in this position, Prince Harry will be working with African Parks in various capacities to advance wildlife conservation across Africa and around the globe. The announcement was made during this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme, which Prince Harry guest-edited.

African Parks is a conservation NGO, founded in 2000, that manages national parks and protected areas on behalf of governments and in collaboration with local communities across Africa. With 13 parks under management, they have the largest area under conservation for any one NGO on the African continent.
African Parks are the managers of Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, the only savanna park with the central Africa’s largest protected wetland. According to a statement Kensington Palace, on leaving the Army in 2015, Prince Harry has taken a deep personal interest in frontline conservation projects that work to protect Africa’s natural heritage and support both wildlife and local communities.
The statement says that Harry spent three months working on number of such projects in Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa and Botswana. “Prince Harry will be working with African Parks in various capacities to further our mission in managing national parks on behalf of governments, and to advance wildlife conservation across Africa and around the globe,” a statement from African Parks reads in part.
To read the full article, click here. 
06 Dec

Angola Gem Firm Distances Itself From Former President’s Family

An Angolan state-owned diamond company is pulling out of an investment in a Swiss firm controlled by the husband of the billionaire daughter of the former president, as the country’s new leader untangles it from the business interests of his predecessor’s family.

Sodiam will divest a stake in Geneva-based jewelry maker De Grisogono for “reasons of public interest and legality,” it said in a statement after a board meeting on Dec. 1, without giving details of how the transaction would be completed.

The company is controlled by Sindika Dokolo, the husband of Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, according to Ana Gomes, a Portuguese member of the European Parliament who has done research on the business interests of Africa’s richest woman.

The move comes as President Joao Lourenco seeks to distance the oil-rich country from the influence of Dos Santos and his family. He’s fired Isabel from her position as chairman of state-owned oil company Sonangol, and last week announced plans to auction a new telecoms license to compete with Unitel SA, which she controls. Lourenco, known as J-Lo in Angola, replaced dos Santos, who has nevertheless remained head of the ruling MPLA party.

Tribune de Geneve reported earlier Tuesday about Sodiam’s exit from De Grisogono. The company lost money on the investment, it said. A call to the offices of De Grisogono wasn’t answered.

Sodiam is a former unit of Endiama, another state-owned diamond company in Africa’s biggest producer of the precious gems.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-05/angola-gem-firm-distances-itself-from-former-presidents-family 

22 Nov

South Africa Awaits $7 Billion Ratings Double Jeopardy

South Africa will confront the threat of a $7 billion debt selloff this week as it awaits two concurrent judgments on its credit status.

Opinion among economists is divided as to how stark a danger that is. Fifty-six percent of respondents in a Bloomberg survey said S&P Global Ratings will reduce its assessment on rand-denominated debt to the highest non-investment grade on Friday. Moody’s Investors Service, which is scheduled to make a decision, will likely leave it unchanged, according to three-quarters of those asked.

Should both companies cut, rand debt would fall out of gauges including Citigroup Inc.’s World Government Bond Index, sparking outflows of 80 billion to 100 billion rand, Citigroup economist Gina Schoeman said. This would raise borrowing costs for the nation that’s selling more debt to plug a widening budget gap.

Conflict in the ruling party in the run-up to its leadership election next month has hamstrung efforts to bolster the Africa’s most-industrialized economy, which had its second recession in less than a decade earlier this year. Business confidence is near the lowest in more than three decades amid allegations of corruption against state companies’ managers and politicians including President Jacob Zuma.

“Given the fraught political context in which South Africa finds itself, alongside the negative repercussions of downgrades in triggering ejection from key bond indices, we believe that the rating agencies will not rush to cement decisions to downgrade this month,” said Phoenix Kalen, director for emerging-markets strategy at Societe Generale SA in London.

The sustainability of the nation’s debt will be at risk unless government presents a credible fiscal-consolidation plan in 2018, Moody’s said after the mid-term budget last month.

While the outcome of the ruling African National Congress’s elective conference next month will be of interest to ratings companies, it’s the February budget that they’ll be watching for clues on the country’s debt direction, said Annabel Bishop, the chief economist at Investec Bank Ltd.

Read more: South Africa Awaits $7 Billion Ratings Double Jeopardy

 

09 Nov

Aviation as a catalyst for growth in Africa

While Africa has one of the biggest populations in the world, its aviation industry is still small, representing only 2% of the global market. Despite all the major challenges ahead, this is an industry that has very big potential for future growth in Africa.

One of the reasons why African countries seem unable to attract a large amount of foreign investments, is that there is no direct airline connection to reach them. As a result, business travel and costs of doing business become prohibitive. Foreign investors are less likely to travel to distant and not easily accessible places, even if there are great opportunities. As a result, aviation in Africa should be considered a priority sector by the respective African governments so that it can boost the economic development of their countries.

Aviation as a pillar for economic growth 

Being the biggest pan-African airline, Ethiopian Airlines has greatly contributed in making the Addis Ababa Bole Airport an aviation hub and a gateway to Africa. Similarly, for Kenya Airways, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi is a springboard to access not only the east African region, but also the central and western part of Africa. As for South African Airways, from its Johannesburg base at OR Tambo International Airport, it covers most of the southern African region. Except for South Africa, where its economic growth stagnated in 2016 and eventually fell into recession in the first quarter of 2017, Ethiopia and Kenya grew at a very fast rate of 7.5% and 5.8% in 2016
respectively. In the north, Casablanca, Algiers and Tunis are the major gateways for Europe to access both the Maghreb region and the western African region.

As for the Middle East countries, Cairo is the major gateway to access the major African cities in the northern, eastern and western regions. All these aviation hubs in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt have contributed to the high growth rate of passenger traffic, increasing by 94%, 95%, 75% and 108% respectively from 2005 until 2015, according to data from the World Bank. Aviation is the critical link that not only connects Africa to the world, but also builds bridges among the various African countries. It is only when there are better airline connections, enabling the movement of goods and people, that business activities can flourish. With lower business travel costs, countries can then better attract foreign investors and create better business opportunities.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the top-five African countries that had the biggest stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2016, are South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco and Angola, with US$136.8bn, $102.3bn, $94.2bn, $54.8bn and $49.5bn respectively. Of the five countries, only South Africa, Egypt and Morocco have a major national carrier.

Read more: Aviation as a catalyst for growth in Africa

08 Nov

Belt and Road Initiative – African countries offer major investment opportunities

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is stepping up a gear, with new BRI-related projects estimated to be worth US$350bn over the next five years. This is according to a new report by Baker McKenzie and Silk Road Associates – Belt & Road: Opportunities & Risks.

According to the report, various African countries along the BRI have the potential to provide major opportunities for investment. These countries particularly include Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Egypt.

The report explains how BRI (also known as One Belt One Road (OBOR)) is primarily divided between the overland ‘Belt’, the classically defined Silk Road that stretches from China to Europe, and the new, maritime Silk Road. The maritime Road is a densely populated consumer and industrial opportunity. Like the landlocked Belt, it also connects China and Europe, but differs in that the Road passes through Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and East Africa, a region that is home to 42% of the world’s population and 25% of its GDP, excluding China.

The report states that multinationals from all countries can expect to find significant opportunities in the maritime Road regions over the coming decades, irrespective of the success of BRI.

Kieran Whyte, head of the energy, mining and infrastructure practice at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, says that for investors in Africa, “A big attraction of the Belt and Road Initiative for both governments and project sponsors is that it assists the speed of project implementation. Project stakeholders advise that the whole process is a lot quicker than other options”.

The report outlines East Africa’s integral role in the BRI, owing to Djibouti’s ports, Ethiopia’s manufacturing, and the region’s existing plans to connect rail, road and energy networks. It also details how key opportunities in Africa with regards to BRI will be transactions related to major projects in the power and infrastructure sector and related financing. China’s construction of power plants and transmission lines in East Africa is expected to be a game changer for local industry.

Read more: Belt and Road Initiative – African countries offer major investment opportunities

 

20 Oct

Africa Telecommunications: Orange Telco Launches In Sierra Leone

French telecommunications giant, Orange on Wednesday, 18th of October 2017 announced the official launch of its brand in Sierra Leone. This comes over a year after it acquired Airtel Sierra Leone.

“We are pleased to bring the Orange brand to Sierra Leone, bolstering our already strong presence in West Africa. The launch of the Orange brand confirms our confidence in the country’s on-going economic recovery and our commitment to bring all the benefits of new digital services to Sierra Leoneans in the framework of a fair, transparent and clear partnership that will enable it to be established over time,” said Bruno Mettling, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Group and Chairman & CEO of Orange MEA (Middle East and Africa).

Following the rebranding, Orange Sierra Leone will rank with one of the world’s most powerful brands and stands to benefit from being part of a large international group. As part of Orange, it will gain access to the group’s expertise, technical know-how and an extensive product and service portfolio. With its considerable presence on the African continent, which is a strategic focus for the Group, the telco offers strong growth potential for its Sierra Leonean operation.

Extensive investment in networks to drive unrivalled customer experience

With a population of about seven million people, Sierra Leone has significant potential for growth in mobile services. Following the acquisition of the company, the telco has committed itself to improving the quality and availability of its services by venturing into untapped and underserved geographical areas, offering to the people of Sierra Leone the innovation that the telco is delivering elsewhere.

Earlier this year, the telco disclosed a modernization and expansion plan to enhance the reliability, coverage and quality of its network, and voice and data services. Since the acquisition, about US $33 million has been invested for that purpose and as of mid-October, the majority of investments have already been realised with 30 new radio sites on air and over half of the entire mobile network upgraded.

Read more: ORANGE TELCO LAUNCHES IN SIERRA LEONE

18 Oct

Andela: Africa’s Engineering Talent With Global Technology Companies

Andela, the company that builds high-performing engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers, announced on Tuesday that the company has secured $40M in Series C funding. The investment was led by pan-African venture firm CRE Venture Capital with participation from DBL Partners, Amplo, Salesforce Ventures, and Africa-focused TLcom Capital. Existing investors, including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, and Spark Capital, also participated. The round, which marks one of the largest investments ever led by an African venture firm into an Africa-based company, brings Andela’s total venture funding to just over $80M.

Andela was launched in 2014 to combat the global technical talent shortage by investing in Africa’s most talented software developers. With an estimated 1.3M software jobs unfilled in 2016 in the U.S. alone, it’s clear that the growth of today’s major technology ecosystems is inhibited by a severe lack of talent. To solve this, Andela invests in high potential pools of brainpower across the African continent to help more than 100 partner companies build distributed engineering teams. These partners range from industry leaders like Viacom and Mastercard Labs to high-growth technology companies such as Gusto and GitHub.

With offices in Lagos, Nigeria; Nairobi, Kenya; and Kampala, Uganda; Andela has hired 500 developers to date — the top 0.7% of more than 70,000 applicants from across the continent. Selected developers spend six months in a rigorous on boarding program before being matched with one of Andela’s partner companies as full-time engineering team members. Beyond recruiting elite development talent, Andela is catalyzing the growth of tech ecosystems across the continent by open-sourcing its content and partnering with organizations including Google and Pluralsight to provide resources and mentorship to developers.

“Over the past three years, we’ve helped prove to the world that brilliance is evenly distributed. It’s now time to prove that our model of investing in extraordinary people isn’t just viable, but revolutionary,” says Jeremy Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO of Andela.

Read more: Andela Raises $40M To Connect Africa’s Engineering Talent With Global Technology Companies

11 Oct

Capitalising on the continent’s mobile marketing opportunity

Justpalm is a South Africa-based mobile and web marketing agency, with regional offices in Nairobi, Kinshasa and soon Abuja. The business works with clients to integrate a mobile aspect into their marketing strategy.

The company has also released products like ChiChi Sponsored Call, which allows brands to sponsor customers’ phone calls in return for 15-seconds advertising time prior to the call connecting. Another solution is mBongo Recharge, a mobile marketing platform that offers consumers mobile money and airtime as a reward for their engagement.

“Africa is the fastest-growing continent in terms of mobile-phone penetration. The majority of the African population is made up of young people discovering the world for the first time through their mobile handsets. So, there’s a remarkable opportunity for a mobile marketing agency like ours to help brands better utilise mobile phone technologies to connect and engage with African consumers and convert them to customers,” remarked Patrick Palmi, the founder of Justpalm.

Palmi answered How we made it in Africa’s questions.

1. How did you finance your start-up?

My father and elder brother lent me an initial sum of US$20,000 when I started back in 2009. But that first business failed due to lack of experience. Four years later, I self-funded a brand new start for the business with personal savings, and have since grown the business into a $1.5m asset with a presence and blue-chip customers across Africa.

2. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?

Building a stronger local presence across more countries in Africa. We believe there’s a huge demand from big brands for our type of services, and African consumers are ready to start engaging brands on their mobile devices. So, we must just unlock this huge potential with a strong local presence in the top-10 African markets for a start.

Read more: Start-up snapshot: Capitalising on the continent’s mobile marketing opportunity

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