August 2020 / Focus Africa

August 24 2020

Nigeria is set to launch the Segilola Gold Project in Osun state in 2021

NIGERIA / MINING - Nigeria is set to launch the Segilola Gold Project in Osun state in 2021, according to the recent statement of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite. According to the Minister, the project is expected to create about direct 400 direct jobs and 1000 indirect jobs along the gold value chain. The project is expected to open up an industry centered around gold production, from equipment leasing and repairs, logistic and transport. Gold requires a specialized means of transport, security, insurance, aggregators among others. Nigeria has largely untapped deposits of 44 minerals including gold, iron ore, coal, tin and zinc, in more than 500 locations, but mining makes up just 0.3% of the economy.
August 24 2020

MTN announced it would pull out of the Middle East to concentrate on Africa

AFRICA / TELECOM - Africa's largest mobile operator, South African telecoms giant MTN, announced it would pull out of the Middle East to concentrate on Africa, and scrap its interim dividend under a blueprint to navigate the coronavirus pandemic. In the January to June period, MTN's subscriber base rose by 10.6 million to 251.5 million compared to end-2019. Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) rose 10.9 percent to R41.8-billion.
August 24 2020

VeggieVictory announced last week that it has raised its first round of angel investment

NIGERIA / START UPS - VeggieVictory announced last week that it has raised its first round of angel investment. The investment sum was not disclosed. VeggieVictory is one of the first Nigeria’s plant-based meat company. Starting out of their restaurant located in Lagos, the company created a variety of soy-based meat alternatives to incorporate into Nigerian cuisine dishes, as well as vegan hot dogs, burger patties, and shawarma. Additionally, they released VegMeat, which is a shelf-stable, plant-based alternative that mimics chunks of beef and does not need to be refrigerated. Elsewhere in Africa, Infinite Foods is becoming a well-known name for alt-protein. VeggieVictory plans on offering additional plant-based meat products in the future and announced that vegan beef jerky will be one of them. Their products are currently available in 12 states within Nigeria, and they plan on expanding to neighboring West African countries.
August 24 2020

Ghana-based healthtech startup, mPharma has been listed among CB Insights’ 150 most Promising Digital Health Startups 2020 rankings

GHANA / HEALTH TECH - Ghana-based healthtech startup, mPharma has been listed among CB Insights’ 150 most Promising Digital Health Startups 2020 rankings. The startup is the only African healthtech named in the ranking which showcases the top private digital health companies transforming the future of healthcare in the world. mPharma was recognized for its achievements in the rankings for the Pharma Supply Chain category. The startup was among the 150 companies selected out of about 8,000 startups across the globe. mPharma is a data and cost management platform connecting Africans to affordable quality prescription drugs. The company was founded in 2013 by Gregory Rockson (CEO), Daniel Shoukimas (CPO) and James Finucane (CTO). Since its launch, mPharma’s focus has been to make pharmaceuticals accessible and affordable. It also helps pharmaceutical companies to keep stock of their inventories. Over the years the company has grown steadily and now operates in four countries including Nigeria while supporting over 250 pharmacies. The company has raised a total of about $40 million in funding placing it around 108 on the 2020 cohort list.
August 24 2020

The government of Ghana has cut the sod for the construction of a new Water Supply system in Yendi

GHANA / WATER MANAGEMENT - The government of the Republic of Ghana under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has cut the sod for the construction of a new Water Supply system in Yendi, a town and the capital of Yendi Municipal district in the Northern Region of the West African country. The project is being financed by the India Exim Bank under a $30m loan facility. The latter entered into the financial agreement with the government of the Republic of Ghana recently after approximately 24 months of negotiations. The aim of the project is to provide the people of the Yendi Municipality and surrondings with 5,000 cubic meters of water per day, at least for the next 20 years.
August 24 2020

Dangote Cement will this month do test runs for the $90 million gas-fired power plant in Mtwara, southern Tanzania

TANZANIA / INVESTMENTS - Dangote Cement will this month do test runs for the $90 million gas-fired power plant in Mtwara, southern Tanzania, after months of delays occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. The plant is expected to stop the use of imported coal besides ending diesel imports tax disputes with the government. Plant commissioning will start this month and is expected to go fully online in November. The company reported a decline in cement production for the first six months of this year and said it sold 526,000 tonnes of cement in the period, four per cent lower than the same period last year. Dangote is banking on the power plant to enhance the efficiency of its three million-metric tonne per annum capacity.
August 25 2020

Post Covid-19: Rebuilding Africa and strengthening its resilience against future economic shocks

Source: African Business

After demonstrating its resilience during the Ebola outbreak and the global financial crisis, Africa is once again facing a severe test of its strength and agility because of the coronavirus pandemic. The good news is that the continent has entered this crisis in reasonably good shape following decades of progression in health, education and economic outcomes.

As of early 2020, macroeconomic fundamentals in Africa were improving, with investments, rather than consumption, accounting for more than half of the region’s growth. Inflation was falling and the continent was making impressive strides towards accomplishing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Africa must build on the momentum and strive to prevent the coronavirus pandemic from reversing the gains of the past 20 years.

Admittedly, that’s easier said than done: despite their best efforts, many countries still struggle with fragile health systems, high debt levels, weak external balances, as well as high rates of poverty and unemployment. The African Development Bank now projects that Africa will fall into a recession in 2020 with economic growth contracting by at least 1.7%. In a worst-case-scenario, this figure could turn out as high as 3.4%.

Cumulative losses in gross domestic product (GDP) across the continent could range between $173.1bn and $236.7bn in 2020 and 2021. The coronavirus pandemic threatens to increase the debt burden of African countries from 60% to 70% of GDP, heightening the likelihood of a sovereign debt crisis. The additional financing required to cushion the consequences of the crisis could be in excess of $150bn.

In a part of the world where 85% of the population earn their living in the informal sector, unemployment as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic could push an additional 28 to 49m people into extreme poverty. Moreover, if we fail to take adequate action, the impact of the crisis on food insecurity and malnutrition may be even worse than anticipated.

What can be done to support African economies?

To counter the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, Africa needs robust policy responses from every country on the continent, paired with strong support from Africa’s development partners. In the short term, African countries should prioritise healthcare spending for the provision of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) and materials, acceleration of local production of medical supplies including PPE and vaccine and drug discovery.

Targeted cash transfers and subsidies for vulnerable households as well as subsidies and tax relief for businesses should be high on the agenda. Central banks must inject liquidity into the economy, turning to unconventional policy tools such as quantitative easing if necessary. In the longer term, countries should seize the imperative of building resilience to future crises. As good times return and economies get back on track, it should become a priority to build domestic and external buffers against any potential exogenous shocks.

More money should be earmarked for scientific, economic and social research. Countries should pursue global and continental partnerships to prepare for eventualities. Private sector growth and revamping education and labour markets for the future of work are also key.

The role of development partners

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, multilateral development institutions took immediate action to help Africa’s poorest countries navigate the crisis and help them on the road to recovery. The African Development Bank is playing its part through its $10bn Covid-19 Rapid Response Facility (CRF). The CRF offers immediate relief to African countries to address the crisis by providing additional resources for public health interventions, social protection programs and liquidity and budget support to affected sectors of their economies.

Civil society and think tanks have a useful role to play by helping to build trust, solidarity and uptake of Covid-19 prevention and containment measures. They can also help to ensure that Covid-19 interventions are carried out equitably and that governments are held accountable for their policies and actions.

The African Development Bank stands ready to work with other multilateral financial institutions and wealthier nations to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on African countries. For example, we welcome partnerships to establish dedicated donor-financed Covid-19 trust funds. We also urge G20 nations to consider debt forgiveness for low-income countries.

Reasons to remain optimistic

The continent’s youthful and innovative population, its growing middle class, its value addition to the abundant natural resources and its ever-improving governance systems give us plenty of reason to be confident that Africa will overcome the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year marks the first time the continent has entered a recession in more than half a century. Over the past two decades, Africa has boasted some of the highest growth rates in the world, setting the region up as the next investment frontier in a post-Covid-19 world.

The level of cooperation in Africa has been encouraging. But beyond the crisis, we need to continue working together to help rebuild our economies and prepare them for the future. Africa will emerge from this episode stronger and more resilient than ever before.

Charles Leyeka Lufumpa is Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management at the African Development Bank Group

September 2 2020

Ethiopia Showcases First Locally Assembled Electric Car

Electric cars are increasing in popularity thanks to companies like Tesla and legacy car manufacturers are starting to take them seriously. This has led them to come up with new electric cars, and most importantly ramp up production across the world. Well, our neighbour is now a beneficiary to the electric car revolution. Ethiopia today announced that they will be locally assembling electric cars from the major car manufacturer, Hyundai. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali received the first electric car fully assembled locally by a Hyundai dealership, Marathon Motors. The Prime Minster noted that such investments “support the country’s climate resilience and greening ambitions.” The car in question looks like the Hyundai IONIQ which debuted in its home country of South Korea in 2016. The 2016-2018 versions had a 28Kwh battery pack while the 2020 version has a bigger 38.3kwh battery back which they say can give you upto 200km and 274km of range respectively. The batteries can be apparently charged upto 80% in 33 minutes on a 50kW station or in 24 minutes at a 100kW fast charging station. However if you charge it at home in the 220-240volt means like in your house, 100% of range can be added with an overnight charge. It has a single electric motor that generates 120 horsepower with 295Nm of torque for the 2016-2019 versions or 134hp and the same amount of torque with the 2020 version, which is a similar power figure you get from 1.5 to 2.0 liter gasoline cars. Marathon Motors was reported to have invested half a billion birr (Kshs 1.5 billion) on the assembly plant. The assembly plant has the capacity to assemble 10,000 cars per year. One of the shareholders of Marathon Motor Engineering is the famous Ethiopian long distance athlete, Haile Gebreselassie who was present at the handover ceremony today.
September 2 2020

Kenyan government receives bids from private institutions for five State-owned sugar firms

KENYA – The government of Kenya approved the leasing of five state owned sugar factories last month July, in a bid to increase value addition, farmers’ incomes and improve competitiveness and service delivery in the sugar Sector. The factories will be leased through long term leases of at least 20 years under Right of Use (ROU) on a firm commitment that the lessee will re-develop and operate factory to meet the governments objectives. The idea behind leasing is that government will invite investors with experience in the global sugar industry with a focus on sugar as the main product and co –production of ethanol, co-generation of power and value add products such as industrial sugar, pharma sugar and sugar cubes. The five factories slated for leasing are Chemelil sugar, Miwani Sugar Company which is under receivership, Muhoroni sugar also under receivership, Nzoia sugar company and South Nyanza sugar company. According to reports by Business Daily, the agriculture ministry has received bids from 29 companies including two firms linked to the billionaire Rai family i.e. West Kenya Sugar Company and Sukari Industries. Other bidders are China CAMC Engineering Company Limited, Shenzhen Start Instruments, Mheta Group, Kiboss Sugar, Butali Sugar Mills, Mini Bakeries and Kuguru Food Complex. “The next stage that will follow will be evaluation of the bids after which those ones that will qualify will be asked to present their proposal from which we shall pick the winners,” Benjamin Tito, chairperson of the tendering committee. The government is banking on capital injection by private investors to revive the country’s sugar industry, long crippled by poor funding, ageing machinery and an overall high cost of production. “We want to attract and finally secure only those investors we think serious and worthy enough to partner the government in the revival of the sugar industry in Kenya,” Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said. Other reforms put in place by the government to revive the sector include, banning the importation of brown sugar into the Country since July and suspending sugar import permits and pre-shipment approvals until further notice. This move aims to curb influx of the cheap sweetener in the domestic market, which has negatively impacted the local sector. The government also approved debt write off of State-owned mills and Out-grower institutions as at 31st December last year.    
September 2 2020

Zambia’s Zazu launches pan-African correspondent fintech network

Zambian fintech startup Zazu has launched Union54, a correspondent network of fintech platforms that seeks to facilitate real-time payments across Africa and offers each member equity.   Launched in October 2015, Zazu originally allowed farmers with extra produce to connect with new markets, but pivoted into the digital banking space in 2017. Its mobile wallet allows customers – even those without a bank account – to send, receive, pay and save money digitally. The startup, which raised US$1.4 million in funding late last year, has now announced the launch of Union54, a member-owned association of fintechs across Africa. Zazu has built a digital banking app connected to a debit card, with the startup’s contribution to Union54 being the product. Members will operate the product and issue Union54 debit cards in their markets. Perseus Mlambo, chief executive officer (CEO) of Zazu, described the initiative as a union of fintechs across Africa all operating the same product, and each owning equity in the union. “If successful, the move promises to effect a properly pan-African challenger bank capable of real-time cross-border payments,” he said. “We have been directly approaching members for a while now, and we now have just under 10 under serious consideration – contracting will be happening later in the year.” Founding members are given equity in Union54, meaning they are incentivised to stay for the long run. Slated to launch with a multi-currency debit card, Union54’s app will allow customers to create joint accounts, including saving groups, and perform real-time cross-border payments, along with other features to be expected from a financial services app. “With Version 2 of the product, our goal is to leverage that scale by looking at turning cardholders into merchants and opening up our product suite to any business in Africa to integrate into our vast payment APIs,” Mlambo said.   BY  ON 
September 2 2020

Kenya reveals Sh540bn nuclear power plant in Tana River

Kenya is set to build a $5 billion (Sh540 billion) nuclear power plant on a site in Tana River County over the next seven years with funding from private investors.
The Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) in a regulatory filing with the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) revealed that the plant with an initial capacity of 1,000 megawatt (Mw) plant would be constructed through a concessionaire.
The government looks to expand the plant’s capacity fourfold by 2035 under a build, operate and transfer (BOT) model.
The KNEB plan will be subjected to public scrutiny before the environmental watchdog can approve it and pave the way for the project to continue.
Kenya views nuclear power both as a long-term solution to high fuel costs — incurred during times of drought when diesel generators are used — and an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the power generating sector. The KNEB said private funding for the nuclear plant would ease the burden on Kenya’s strained public coffers. The estimated cost of the nuclear plant is nearly half the government’s annual tax collections.
“The financing aspect of the Nuclear Power Plant is among the plans underway with a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) being the most preferred financing agreement with the concessionaire that shall come on board,” the agency says in plans submitted to the environmental watchdog.
The agency said Tana River is the most preferred location since it is not prone to earthquakes. Other sites under consideration were in the Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana basins.
The proposed sites are endowed with large water masses, which are crucial in cooling nuke reactors.
The project would involve the building of a ‘third-generation’ plant with pressurised water reactors. Nuclear reactors require reliable sources of water for steam condensation, service water, emergency core cooling system and other functions.
South Africa is the only country in Africa with a nuclear power plant near Cape Town.
Kenya’s energy mix currently consists of geothermal (45 per cent), hydropower (28 per cent), wind (13 per cent) and expensive diesel-run generators (11 per cent) according to the Economic Survey.
Experts say that hydropower, despite being the cheapest, is weather-dependent, making it unreliable during drought, hence the need for alternative base loads like nuclear that runs for long and uninterrupted.
The nuclear plant would be Kenya’s biggest and most expensive project since the Chinese-built standard gauge railway. The KNEB has running memoranda of understanding with China, Russia, South Korea and Slovakia for capacity building for the nuclear plant.
  The nuclear agency wants the State to fend off risks of graft associated with similar mega projects when it is implemented.
Any compromise on implementation standards for the nuclear power plant would also be a hazard, adds the agency.
“Kenya is at a risk due to the expected investment of Sh500 billion ($5 billion) into the Nuclear Power Plant if the current issues of run-away corruption are not curtailed, which may lead to massive public economic loss due to possible implementation delays and overruns as experienced in other mega projects in the country,” says the agency.
“The vice has the potential of exposing the country to national safety and security risks.”
As well as a nuclear plant, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration has talked of building solar and wind energy facilities in the coming three years to increase power generation from 2,712 megawatts.
Additional cheaper electricity for industrialists is meant to boost economic growth.
September 2 2020

Ghana’s economy to witness US$10bn boost with revamping of Integrated Aluminum Industry

Ghana is expected to witness a $10 billion boost in her economy with government's plan of exploiting bauxite and aluminum reserves into the Integrated Aluminum Industry. To achieve that objective, the Management of the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation (GIADEC), in partnership with the Volta Aluminum Company Limited (VALCO) has deployed a Recovery Plan of retrofitting the VALCO refinery plant to produce at its full capacity of 300,000 tonnes of aluminum per annum. It is also expected to establish three new bauxite mines, and at least two refineries in addition to the existing smelter. The successful implementation of the Recovery Plan is expected to generate 35,000 direct and indirect jobs as well as create a vibrant downstream sector. Mr Kweku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who announced this at the swearing-in of the reconstituted Governing Board of VALCO in Accra, said the aluminum industry was a strategic sector contributing significantly to the manufacturing sector of many key economies globally. In view of that, the Minister said, VALCO aimed at leveraging on the country's existing bauxite reserves and allied aluminum assets to drive the full commercial exploitation through refining bauxite into Alumina and smelting it into Aluminum as well as encouraging the development of further downstream industries towards accelerating industrial transformation. Mr Asomah-Cheremeh explained that establishing an Integrated Aluminum industry was an opportune and continuous effort by the government to strengthening the capacity of the Aluminum Industry supply chain. This, he said, could be achieved through partnerships with strategic investors both locally and internationally. Pursuant to accelerating the country's industrial development, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh noted that GIADEC was established through an Act of Parliament in 2018, to leverage on the existing bauxite reserves to drive commercial exploitation and production of aluminum to enhance national economic growth. Dr Henry Benyah, the Board Chairman of VALCO, in his acceptance remarks, was thankful to the President for the honour and pledged to work closely with all the stakeholders to achieve the vision and mission of VALCO towards accelerating industrial transformation. He announced plans to clear VALCO's legacy debts and make it commercially viable for growth. Mr Michael Ansah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GIADEC and member of the VALCO Board, told the media that with the reconstitution of the Board, GIADEC would work closely with all the relevant stakeholders in securing a strategic investor, to source requisite funding for rejuvenating VALCO's operations. He said VALCO would be listed on the London Stock Exchange to attract the necessary investors, and subsequent financial inflows to revamp its operations.
September 2 2020

Ethiopia is set to launch its second satellite into space, again with China’s help

Ethiopia is finishing plans to launch its second satellite into orbit next month, just eight months after the launch of its ETRSS-1 Satellite last December.

The country’s space ambitions, backed by China’s funds and its satellite launch sites, has seen Ethiopian engineers design the satellites in an initiative co-funded by both countries. The ET-SMART-RSS earth observation nano satellite is expected to take off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site, in Wenchang, Hainan province.

“We will benefit from this satellite’s data collecting abilities for up to a year,” says Dr. Yeshurun Alemayu, of Ethiopia’s Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) via the institution’s website.

Ethiopia’s ETRSS-1 satellite, which is manned by a team of engineers at the Entoto Observatory and Research Center on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, analyzes weather patterns to extract data and enhance the country’s preparedness in the case of drought. The country’s collaboration on space projects with China was signed into agreement in 2016, by Ethiopia’s then minister of Science and Technology, the current prime minister Abiy Ahmed.

Due to the heavy capital investment required, space programs were once considered beyond the reach of most developing countries. But the willingness of China, Japan, and Russia to collaborate with budding space programs, as well as the emergence of smaller, cheaper satellites, has more African states contemplating satellite launches. Ethiopia’s ETRSS-1 satellite launch sent the continent’s 41st satellite into orbit. Months earlier, Sudan’s successful debut launch made headlines, as had Rwanda’s in February of 2019. Egypt leads Africa with nine successful satellite launches since 1998, four of them coming last year.

In 2017, the African Union introduced an African space policy, which calls for the development of a continental outer-space program and the adoption of a framework to use satellite communication for economic progress. And even as criticisms abound over the anomalous use of resources in the face of more immediate day-to-day concerns related to poverty, health, and education, the demand for satellite capacity is expected to double in the next five years in sub-Saharan Africa as climate change concerns grow and governments try to get ahead of the challenge.

The ESSTI’s director general Dr. Solomon Belay indicated last week in an interview with the state run, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation that Ethiopia is aiming to reach 10 satellites launched by the end of the decade. “We have learned a lot and gained enriching experience from the launch of our first satellite,” Dr. Solomon said. “This second satellite will cover ground and collect data in areas we are yet to reach.”

The country’s second remote sensing satellite will weigh 8.9 kilograms and be of improved resolution for its handlers on the ground at its Ethiopian command center. Costs amounting to $1.5 million are being covered by the ESSTI’s partner on the project, the Beijing Smart Satellite Space Technology.

By Zecharias Zelalem