December 2018 / South Africa

November 22 2018

Orange and MTN launch pan-African mobile money interoperability to scale up mobile financial services across Africa

Two of Africa’s largest mobile operators and mobile money providers, Orange Group and MTN Group, today announced a joint venture, Mowali (mobile wallet interoperability), to enable interoperable payments across the continent. Mowali makes it possible to send money between mobile money accounts issued by any mobile money provider, in real time and at low cost. Mowali will immediately benefit from the reach of MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money, bringing together over 100 million mobile money accounts and mobile money operations in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 markets. Mowali is ready to enable interoperability between digital financial service providers beyond MTN and Orange operations and markets, to support the existing 338 million mobile money accounts in Africa. Mowali is a digital payment infrastructure that connects financial service providers and customers in one inclusive network. It functions as an industry utility, open to any mobile money provider in Africa, including banks, money transfer operators and other financial service providers. The objective of Mowali is to increase the usage of mobile money by consumers and merchants.  Mowali enables money to circulate freely between mobile money accounts from any operators in all countries. From the customer's point of view, this means "I can pay or receive money anywhere from my mobile account regardless of my operator”. The system will unlock further innovation in the digital financial space within the continent. For Stéphane Richard, Chairman & CEO of Orange, "by providing full interoperability between platforms, Mowali will provide an important step forward that will allow mobile money to become a universal means of payment in Africa. Increasing financial inclusion through the use of digital technology is an essential element in furthering the economic development of Africa, particularly for more isolated communities. This solution embodies Orange's ambition to be a leading player in the digital transformation of the continent. By joining forces with another of Africa’s market leaders, MTN, we aim to accelerate the pace of this transformation in a way that will change the lives of our customers by providing them with simpler, safer and more advantageous services. “ “One of MTN’s goals is to accelerate the penetration of mobile financial service in Africa, Mowali is one such vehicle that will help us achieve that objective. Furthermore, co-operation and partnerships that help us accelerate the pace of development and overcome some of the scale, scope and complexity of challenges that society faces are key. This partnership with Orange is therefore an important step in helping us play a meaningful role in supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals related to eliminating extreme poverty and enhancing socio-economic development in the markets we operate in and beyond. Thus giving our customers access to a bright, digital future.” said Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN. The GSMA supports the Mowali initiative as interoperability at this scale is a key accelerator for both financial inclusion and Mobile Money usability across Africa. “Today, there are over 690 million mobile money accounts around the world. Mobile money services have become an essential, life-changing tool across Africa, providing access to safe and secure financial services but also to energy, health, education and employment opportunities. The creation of Mowali will help to further transform mobile financial services throughout the African region. It demonstrates the mobile industry’s continued leadership and commitment to driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment through industry collaboration. The GSMA is proud to support its development,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “Interoperability of digital payments has been the toughest hurdle for the financial services industry to overcome, in support of financial inclusion. With Mowali, Orange and MTN deliver a solution that will enable them, and other companies, to scale digital financial services across Africa, faster, to everyone—including the poor,” said Kosta Peric, deputy director of Financial Services for the Poor, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “This is a signal that a new wave of innovation, which can help alleviate poverty and drive economic opportunity, is coming. We’re pleased to see an implementation of Mojaloop1 —an open source payment platform available to operators across the sector—help achieve that.”
November 23 2018

South Africa to invest $1 billion in South Sudan’s oil sector

JUBA (Reuters) - South Africa will invest $1 billion in South Sudan’s oil sector, including in the construction of a refinery, the South African minister for energy and his South Sudanese counterpart for petroleum said on Friday. South Sudan’s oil industry is dominated by Asian firms including China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Malaysia’s Petronas and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC Videsh). The two ministers signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which will also involve South Africa taking part in the exploration of several oil blocks, they said. “When this refinery is complete, it will have the capacity of producing 60,000 barrels of oil per day,” Jeff Radebe, the South African minister said without giving further details. A source close to the South Sudanese government however told Reuters that “there is no commitment to build a refinery” beyond the MoU calling for collaboration between the two countries to study the possibility of building it. “What we have signed this morning is the cooperation between our two national oil companies, Nilepet and South Africa Energy Fund then from there the funding will come from Central Energy Fund (CEF) of South Africa,” Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the South Sudanese minister said. The CEF is a holding company whose main asset is South Africa’s national oil and gas agency, PetroSA. Officials from the fund and the South African energy ministry were not immediately available for further comment. Gatkuoth said the deal also offered avenues for cooperation in the construction of a pipeline to serve fields located in the south of the country. South Sudan exports its crude through a pipeline that goes to a port in neighbouring Sudan to the north. “It is instrumental to have a new pipeline,” Gatkuoth said, without giving details on the timeline or potential cost. South Sudan is producing 135,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 130,000 bpd in August, Gatkuoth said this week. The government wants to push production back up to 350,000 bpd, the level achieved in 2011 when the country secured independence from Sudan and before it slid into civil conflict. A peace deal, between President Salva Kiir and rebels led by his former deputy Riek Machar, was signed in September.
December 5 2018

Internet Solutions to open Africa’s largest pre-fabricated data centre in South Africa

Internet Solutions (IS) gave IT News Africa a preview of what IS believes will be regarded as one of the most sustainable and energy-efficient pre-fabricated data centres in Africa. Located in Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa the Parklands Data Centre is a R500 million investment by IS, which owns and operates a network of 17 data centres across South Africa, spanning 12,000 square metres, and is due to officially begin operating in January 2019. Close to completion, the 1,600 square metre facility will provide 572 racks and 2.2 megawatts of IT power. The facility is intelligently built for flexibility, optimal automation and minimal resource consumption. Matthew Ashe, Executive Head: Data Centres at IS described the new data centre as a world-class facility, providing a high efficiency, highly resilient and exceptionally secure environment. Apart from boasting an ideal location for low latency application requirements within the economic hub of Africa, and carrier neutrality, resource and energy efficiency has taken centre stage in its design. As the move to cloud-based solutions becomes more prevalent, the demand for carrier-agnostic, secure data centres on the African continent has increased. “People and businesses are producing and consuming vast quantities of data and the security of that information has never been more important. The Parklands Data Centre allows data to be collected, stored and processed locally from a purpose-built modern facility that will help run our services faster and more efficiently. Further to this, with the growing demand for applications to be processed closer to the “edge”, having DC facilities which are as close to the edge of where processing is required to take place, is tremendously advantageous. This is an increasing requirement for a growing number of applications in IOT and Fintech,” said Ashe. “Reducing energy and resource consumption in South Africa is a national imperative. South Africa’s already struggling infrastructure and slowing progress on alternative energy sources means that the responsibility for ensuring energy efficiencies in data centres rests with data centre providers. With evolving technology, creating sustainable energy solutions is a much more realistic goal than ever before and we’re pleased to have deployed a number of these technologies across our DC’s to achieve such efficiencies.” Data centres are power-hungry installations that require always-on supplies of energy – as much as 2% of the world’s energy. Experts predict the amount of energy consumed by the world’s data centres – the repositories for billions of gigabytes of information – will treble in the next decade, putting an enormous strain on energy supplies and dealing a hefty blow to global warming. The Parklands Data Centre has implemented an infrastructure-on-demand model when it comes to increasing energy efficiencies; including dynamic power and cooling systems. This agile approach means infrastructure is switched on and ramped-up depending on what is required at any point in time – a significant move away from the conventional method of running infrastructure at full tilt, even with minimal occupancy. “IS remains committed to reducing energy consumption across our data centres, and we won’t stop looking at new ways to advance. The benefits are threefold – we keep our costs down, we dramatically reduce our impact on our environment, and ultimately, pass the savings on to our customers,” concludes Ashe.
December 11 2018

Dubai-based firm Al Nakhil to invest in Zanzibar tourism

Property developer Al Nakhil is looming at seizing investment opportunities available in Zanzibar, as both countries look to cement their bonds. Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein has assured the Emirati investors of support, peace and security on investments in the tourism sector, the country’s arguably economic mainstay. The Head of State met with the company’s construction company chairman Sheikh Ali Rashid Ahmed Lootah at the State House to hold business talks. Dr Shein noted, “Zanzibar has many investment opportunities in the tourism industry which are yet to be exploited, so investors are welcomed to utilise the opportunities available.” He affirmed the government’s stance in building the sector as it plays a crucial role in contributing to economic welfare. The tourism industry contributes more than 80 per cent of Zanzibar’s foreign exchange earnings and 27 per cent of the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), proving to be a pivotal pillar in the nation. Zanzibar has a tourism target of attracting 500,000 tourists in 2020 with the larger percentage coming from the Far East countries. Indonesia, Philippines, China and India are the target market with the massive potential to promote the country’s sector. Tapping into these markets will increase tourism earnings which stood at $350 million in 2017. Al Nakhil company is one of the largest construction firms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) established in 2001. The company has undertaken master developments projects including Palm Jumeirah, The World, Deira Islands, Jumeirah Islands, Jumeirah Village, Jumeirah Park, Jumeirah Heights, The Gardens, Discovery Gardens, Al Furjan, Warsan Village, Dragon City, International City, Jebel Ali Gardens and Nad Al Sheba. The business’ impact in Zanzibar is significant and equally important to attract tourists and investors. Improved infrastructure is a business bait as it minimises operation cost, open the business to untapped markets and facilitate trade. The efficient flow of goods and people boosts smooth operation of businesses and leads to a better return on investments. Sheikh Ali Rashid Lootah applauded Zanzibar for its efforts in creating a conducive business environment similar to its mainland, Tanzania. The strategies to boost tourism sector have attracted Dubai investors to eye business opportunities in the industry. He added that his company is eager to work with the government to achieve the tourism goals. Zanzibar Islands competes with other Indian Ocean islands such as Seychelles, Reunion, and Mauritius. Zanzibar has at least 6,200 tourist hotel beds in 6 classes of accommodation. Nakheel announced a net profit of $1.05 billion for the first nine months of 2018, down from $1.08 billion in the same period last year, the Arabian Business recorded. Previously, the construction developer unveiled the UAE’s first floating swimming pool, 50 metres offshore in the waters of the Palm Jumeirah in the Arabian Gulf. Middle East Investment continue to increase in Tanzania and across East Africa, as the region is reckoned to be a preferred investment hub in Africa.
December 11 2018

Rwanda’s Akagera Motors in deal with Mercedes Benz

Akagera Business Group (ABG) has landed a partnership deal with renowned vehicle manufacturer Mercedes Benz, as the German investors continue to flex their muscles in the Rwandan market. The local car industry in Rwanda is gaining pace and has interested in various foreign companies to invest in the industry. Akagera Motors which is also the exclusive distributor for Toyota (Japan), HINO (Japan), Mahindra & Mahindra (India) and Ashok Leyland (India), Fuso(Japan), Nissan (Japan), and Foton (China), will become the exclusive Mercedes Benz sales and service dealer in Rwanda. The partnership will enable the car dealer located in Kigali to deliver among the latest model of the global automobile marque. The launch of the deal commemorated over the weekend saw Mercedes Benz unveil the new Mercedes-Benz Actros, fitted with the latest technology to conquer the African terrain. Among the changes made for the commercial heavy duty truck include fuel efficiency, reliability and robustness. Commenting on the Mercedes – Akagera partnership during the event that premiered as well passenger vehicle models, the Managing Director of AKAGERA BUSINESS GROUP (ABG), Vinay Gorajia noted that, “ABG is committed to becoming your trusted business partner in transport and logistics needs. Not only from the aspect of selling your products but the long-term relationship of servicing the products for you so that all the cost of ownership is as low as possible, which will translate into a very good financial position for your company.” “Asset management is one of the key factors that many companies struggle with because of the cost of ownership from maintenance and fuel consumption point of view. This is a key element we are going to be focusing on in 2019 with the most recent upgrades and how we can assist you.” In November last year, Akagera Motors unveiled new heavy duty FUSO models including Fuso Canter, Fuso FI 1217, Fuso FJ 1823 R and Fuso FJ 2528 C and FJ 2528 R. There is an increasing demand for heavy commercial vehicles in the Rwandan market that has opened investment opportunities for foreign firms to establish business ties with the local industry to tap into the potential available. Commenting on the introduction of the new Actros and new partnership, Torsten Bauerheim, Head of Sales and Customer Service at Mercedes-Benz Trucks said, “All together we deliver you the best to the cost of ownership. You prove every day that business and our trucks are successful together. All this would not be possible without great cooperation with AKAGERA MOTORS our valued distributor for Rwanda. We are proud of our relationship with ABG as a strong network is the basis of our business. We move to enter into a new dimension.” German investors continue to establish their presence in Rwanda with the ease of doing business in the country luring companies. Volkswagen, another German automaker established an assembling plant in Rwanda, rolling out its first ‘Made-in-Rwanda’ Polo car in July this year. The investor stiffens competitions with both Japanese and Chinese vehicle manufacturers which have found favour with many buyers due to their affordable prices and availability for spare parts.
December 12 2018

Dangote Cement Lifts Nigerian Stock Market by 0.34%

Gains recorded by Dangote Cement and some other blue-chip equities pushed the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to the green territory on Tuesday. The local stock market closed yesterday’s trading session 0.34 percent higher, leaving the year-to-date return at -19.68 percent. The growth posted by the market was mainly influenced by the 103.99 points garnered by the All-Share Index (ASI) to close at 30,718.72 points, and the N44 billion raked by the market capitalisation to finish at N11.221 trillion. Business Post reports that there was an improvement in the volume and value of transactions during the trading day as the volume of shares exchanged by investors increased by 30.86 percent from 164.6 million to 215.4 million, while the value appreciated by 103.96 percent from N1.7 billion to N3.4 billion.
These trades were dominated by the Financial Services sector with 189.7 million shares exchanged for N2.2 billion, with the Oil and Gas sector following with a turnover of 8.4 million equities worth N149 million. Zenith Bank was the busiest stock at the local bourse yesterday, recording a total turnover of 58.3 million units of its stock sold for N1.4 billion. It was followed by Sterling Bank, which sold 35.1 million units worth N63.2 million, and FBN Holdings, which transacted 25.6 million units valued at N191.9 million. Diamond Bank traded 17.1 million equities for N16.8 million, while Fidelity Bank exchanged 11.2 million equities worth N21.3 million. On the price movement chart, Dangote Cement topped the gainers’ table with a gain of N1.30k to settle at N185.50k per share. Flour Mills rose by N1 to finish at N21 per share, while Forte Oil appreciated by 85 kobo to close at N20 per share. UAC of Nigeria increased by 60 kobo to end at N9.90k per share, while Cadbury Nigeria improved by 50 kobo to quote at N9.95k per share. On the flip side, CCNN emerged as the worst performing stock on Tuesday after losing 50 kobo of its share price to close at N16 per share. GTBank went down by 35 kobo to settle at N34.40k per share, while C&I Leasing declined by 19 kobo to finish at N1.75k per share. NAHCO suffered a 10 kobo loss at yesterday’s trading session to end at N3.35k per share, while NEM Insurance also depreciated by 10 kobo to close at N2.25k per share.  
December 18 2018

€10 million fund to support horticultural, coffee value chains to be launched today

The European Union has launched a call for proposals to be funded through a €10 million fund to unlock the potential of Rwanda’s horticultural and coffee value chains to ensure the supply of safe products to local, regional and international markets. According to a statement by the European Union Delegation, the initiative will be launched today by the Director General of the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) Bill Kayonga, and the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Rwanda, Amb. Nicola Bellomo in Karenge Sector of Rwamagana district. The overall amount made available under this call for proposals is €7.68 million of which €4.68 million is for horticultural high-value chains, SME- and agribusiness development while €3 million is for enhancing coffee value chain development. This could boost government efforts to increase coffee production and exports which is expected to grow to 24,500 tonnes of coffee in 2018, from the 23,000 tonnes of last year. Coffee is grown on 37,000 hectares by 355,000 small-scale farmers and it makes up 48 per cent of Rwanda’s agricultural exports according to figures Another €2.3 million is being invested in building the laboratory capacities of the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) for compliance with regional and international markets standards. “The support is in the context of the EU’s overall support to Rwanda’s agriculture sector through a financing agreement of 204 million Euros,” the EU statement noted. This, the statement says, is in accordance with the newly adopted strategy for the transformation of Agriculture (PSTA 4) whereby European Union supports to intensify the production of agriculture and increase employment opportunities in  Rwanda rural areas in particular for youth and women. It will help increase the quality and quantity of production and ultimately increase value addition per hectares with a specific attention to poverty reduction and increase of incomes for smallholder farmers. The call is also putting a lot of attention on the questions of traceability, standards, certification, in order to comply with regional and international market requirements. As a complementary measure, the programme is co-financed by the EU-EAC Markup Programme that will bring complementarity through regional approaches to facilitate trade and improve access to international markets.
December 19 2018

US commits $220 million for energy sector in EAC

The energy sector in EAC is an exciting investment opportunity for American companies

The United States of America is slowly regaining its position in Africa with more foreign direct investments in the region as it commits to pump $220 million to improve the energy sector in the East African Community (EAC). East Africa remains the most preferred investment region in the African continent with the vast array of business opportunities and conducive business climate presented by the governments. In spite of the growing interest of foreign companies to venture in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors highlighted as priority areas of investment by East African governments to catapult their economic development goals, the US sees it as vital to invest in the energy sector, which is showing promising and exciting potential for better benefits in the future. Commenting on the US aid, EAC Secretary General Dr Libérat Mfumukeko said, “The US support to the region is a crucial one especially when the EAC is undertaking some major projects in realising the integration agenda.” His comments reiterated the words of EAC Deputy Secretary General, (Productive and Social Sectors), Mr Christophe Bazivamo who in 2017 informing the second executive board meeting of the East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EACREEE) in Kampala, Uganda stated that as the EAC integration was business oriented, energy was key to promoting trade in the region. “Low energy access rates, expensive electricity and poor cooking solutions have been hampering the region’s development,” Mr Bazivamo was quoted. The US is a force to be reckoned with as it is a strong partner of supporting various projects in the regional bloc, according to Mr Mfumeko. The EAC – US Investment Partnership relations has mutually benefitted both parties to elevate their businesses, find new markets for their businesses and open up new avenues for trade. Chinese investments in EAC have shaken the dominance of American investors, but the region is tipped to be a ‘battleground’ for the US-China rivalry in 2019. According to a publication by The Exchange, US businesses continue to expand their reach by investing in various sectors including health, agriculture, oil and gas as well as other forms of energy. Speaking in Washington President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said: “Under our new approach, every decision we make, every policy we pursue, and every dollar of aid we spend will further U.S. priorities in the (Africa) region.” Given the importance of energy in fulfilling EAC’s vision, the region will hold its 9th East African Petroleum Conference & Exhibition 2019. Under the theme “East African Region: The Destination of Choice for Oil and Gas Investment Opportunities to Enhance Socioeconomic Transformation,” the Community will discuss the legal and policy framework and the overall business environment prevailing in the region. Last month, EAC launched an energy security policy framework, developed in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa in an attempt to reduce electricity cost and ensure reliable supply.
December 19 2018

UK gives £100m of funding for renewable energy projects in Africa

The UK has pledged £100m extra funding to renewable energy projects in Africa giving hundreds of thousands access to electricity, the government has announced.
This triples the funds for the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) and will support up to 40 more renewable projects over the next five years in Sub-Saharan Africa, the government said in a statement. The funding could also unlock an extra £156m of private finance into renewable energymarkets in Africa, the statement suggested. Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said: “At home we’re world leaders in cutting emissions while growing our economy and abroad we’re showing our international leadership by giving countries a helping hand to shift to greener, cleaner economies. “This £100m will help communities harness the power of their natural resources to provide hundreds of thousands of people with electricity for the first time. “Building these clean, reliable sources of energy will also create thousands of quality jobs in these growing green economies.” The new funding is in addition to £48m previously committed to the REPP. It will support projects that include solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal technologies, and is expected to create 8,000 jobs during development and operation. The commitment is part of the UK’s promise to invest £5.8bn in international climate finance by 2020.
December 20 2018

Thailand’s PTTEP to expand gas investment in Africa

BANGKOK -- Thai oil driller PTT Exploration & Production said Tuesday it will disburse $1.84 billion in capital expenditures next year, partly to finance new developments in Africa. The amount marks a 4% increase from this year's capital spending, with $1.16 billion going to existing gas fields at home and in Myanmar, and $490 million to fresh projects in Mozambique, Algeria and Vietnam. In Mozambique, PTTEP holds a partial interest in the Rovuma Offshore Area 1 natural gas field, which is expected to offset dwindling gas deposits in the Gulf of Thailand. Exploration in Algeria has also hit upon confirmed gas and petroleum deposits, and the project is moving toward commercial production. The subsidiary of state-owned energy conglomerate PTT also plans $9.31 billion in total capital spending for the five years through 2023, a 4% upgrade from the five-year plan through 2022 announced in February. This is the first time in three years that a plan for a five year period has surpassed $9 billion. PTTEP had kept investments below that threshold due to the oil slump that began in the latter half of 2014. The company is adopting a "more active strategy" that will "maximize the value of existing [exploration and production] assets by applying new technology to enhance operational efficiency," CEO Phongsthorn Thavisin said in a statement. The Thai government last week awarded PTTEP the right operate the Erawan gas field in the Gulf of Thailand, starting in 2022. The company won out over a competing bid from a consortium formed by Chevron of the U.S. and Japan's Mitsui Oil Exploration. This addition to PTTEP's portfolio will likely require additional capital expenditures over five years.