October 2019 / South Africa

October 2 2019

Ethiopian carries 12.5m passengers

Addis Ababa, October 2, 2019 (FBC) – The Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian) has said it carried more than 12.5 million passengers last Ethiopian fiscal year which ended July 7. Despite facing its biggest challenges in years, the airlines remains profitable, said Tewolde Gebremariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian. All 157 people were killed when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff last March from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The number of passengers who uses Ethiopian continues to increase, said the CEO in an exclusive interview with FBC. Reuters reported that Ethiopian’s operating revenue jumped nearly 30% in the year to July 31. Operating revenue jumped by 28.6% year on year to 114.6 billion birr ($3.9 billion), it said. However, a sharp increase in jet fuel price at the global market slightly affected the profitability of the airlines, Tewolde told FBC. The CEO said more works will be undertaken in this Ethiopian fiscal year to increase the global comparativeness of the airlines. He said five new airports will be built in different parts of the country, namely Debre Markos, Metu, Borena, Yabello and Mizan Aman. He said the airlines will invest more than 5 billion birr this fiscal year alone, including for expansion projects. According to the CEO, the company will also buy more than 20 modern aircrafts in the future. Ethiopian commands the lion’s share of the Pan-African passenger and cargo network operating the youngest and most modern fleet to more than 120 international passenger and cargo destinations across five continents.
October 2 2019

African mast operator Helios Towers launches up to $1.8 billion London IPO – source

African mobile networks operator Helios Towers Ltd priced its initial public offering at 115-145 pence per share on Wednesday, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters, implying a total valuation of $1.42 billion to $1.79 billion. The company, which operates phone masts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania, last year shelved plans for its IPO amid concerns about political risks in DRC and Tanzania. Helios is planning a free float of at least 25% of the company, with a listing on the London Stock Exchange, and will use the proceeds for expanding its services, including possibly into new countries, it has said. “It’s a really good business in a strong sector, telecoms in Africa is the sort of growth story that appeals in this low-growth environment (globally),” said a source familiar with the transaction. The decision to press ahead with the deal comes despite turbulent market conditions in Britain amid the long-running chaos surrounding the negotiations to exit the European Union, and the poor recent performance of other African IPOs in London. Airtel Africa (AAF.L) saw its shares drop 15% to 67 pence per share on its market debut after completing a 595 million pound ($730 million) IPO in late June. Since then shares have fallen further, and were as low as 50 pence on Tuesday. Vivo Energy (VVO.L) shares are down 1% since its May 2018 debut.
October 3 2019

Nigeria, Norway collaborate on power sector expansion

The Federal Government is partnering the Government of Norway to work out measures that will help in the expansion of Nigeria’s power sector. With Norway’s 99 per cent total electricity supply coming from hydropower generation plants, both governments, during a meeting in Abuja on Monday, focused more on how Norwegian investors would help develop Nigeria’s hydropower sources.
It was also learnt that Norway, which currently has about 77 companies in Nigeria, plans to increase its investments by bringing in more investors to Nigeria, particularly in the power sector. These were made public at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Power when the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Jens-Petter Kjemprud, and his team paid a courtesy call on the Minister of State for Power, Goddy Agba. Agba told journalists that the team from Norway shared invaluable experiences with the ministry, adding that this would help progress Nigeria’s power sector. He said, “They are here to share experiences from what they have gained and what knowledge they’ve got, since we are growing our power system and this will help us to progress further. Norway is a great country with so much potential power-wise that can be beneficial to Nigeria.” On whether investors from Norway would invest in Nigeria’s power sector, the minister replied, “We looked at that and he mentioned a few of them and how efficient some of their companies are in Nigeria. “We will look at them and see which are to be useful to us and certainly if we find them very useful, we shall encourage them to participate in our development process in power.” Also speaking on whether Norway would bring investors to Nigeria, Kjemprud said, “Very much. Currently, we have 70 Norwegian companies active in Nigeria but not that heavily engaged in the power sector. “But as the minister rightly said, we have a long history of generating electricity. In fact, we do 99 per cent from hydropower. And we believe that we have some comparative advantage and a number of companies who would like to work with Nigeria in developing and strengthening the power sector.”
The ambassador said his country had great expertise in hydropower generation, adding that industries in Nigeria would benefit from this when both countries work to develop Nigeria’s power sector. He said, “Norway is a highly industrial nation and we built our industries on the fact that we first developed our hydropower sector to supply the Norwegian industry with cheap, efficient and stable power. “We have discussed. Nigeria has a huge market and huge possibilities of expanding its industries but it needs to be competitive and that’s where hydropower comes in as one alternative.”
The meeting had the Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Usman Mohammed, the Permanent Secretary, FMP, Louis Edozien, and other senior government officials from both countries in attendance.
October 17 2019

Net foreign transactions on EGX hit $1.3 billion (Egypt)

Net transactions of non-Egyptians in securities reached almost LE 21 billion up from not more than LE 3 billion on the stock exchange, which confirms the success of Egypt’s reform plan, according to Chairman of the Egyptian Stock Exchange (EGX) Mohamed Farid. Farid added Wednesday that the economic reform witnessed in Egypt is one of the boldest reform plans that dealt with the causes of the budget deficit, issuing the new investment law and improving the economic environment as well as the management of state assets. This came during the session “Investing in financial instruments”, held within the activities of the second day of “Egypt Can” conference. Farid said that the State has carried out rapid remedies to ease the burden on some social classes, enabling them to face the repercussions of the reform process, stressing that it was necessary to search for sources of funding for the success of these programs. He pointed out that the stock market has witnessed diversification in various fields, which also confirms the confidence of the foreign investor in the Egyptian investment climate and market. Farid noted that the process of encoding the investor also contributed to the revival of the stock market, pointing out that the stock exchange is one of the State's most important tools to revitalize investments in Egypt and allow different classes to trade and make profits. Farid explained that most small projects are not registered in the stock market because of its legal status and the owners'desire to stay without development, noting that the volatility in the stock market is not negative, but represents investment opportunities and gains for participants
October 18 2019

Construction of largest market in East Africa to begin in December

Construction of a regional market, which according to Mr. Karim Karamagi, the chief executive officer at Rural United Business Association Network (RUSBA) Ltd, will be the “largest market in the East Africa”, is set to commence in December at Kyotera district in the central region of Uganda. The market, whose establishment is subsidized by South African based Degitech Energy Company Ltd at an undisclosed amount, will be erected on a 200 acres piece of land along the Kyotera- Mutukula Road.
Features of the proposed facility
Upon completion, the facility will have, but not limited to the following spaces: stores, wholesale shops, Restaurants, Cottage industries, Granaries, Fruit stalls/lockers, Open space for small retailers, Halls for seminars, Cold rooms, Exhibition grounds, Day Care Centre, Craft stalls/lockers, Shops, Information Centre, Butchery stalls, Animal market space, Furniture and timber, Agro Chemicals Garage, spare shops, Hotels, Halls for training and meetings, Recreational space, Forex Bureaus, Vehicle parking yard, Hardware shops, Health Units, Office space, Vet shops, Pharmacies, Car bonds, and  Playgrounds.
Aim of the project
Mr. Karamagi said that the market is aimed at bringing together manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and consumers from all over the East African region, including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan and Western Part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The market will also create employment opportunities and encourage entrepreneurial growth in the republic of Uganda, and in so doing we will spur value addition and also promote export of value-added products to regional markets like the East African Community (EAC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa),” he said. On the other hand, Mr. Fred Kalyesubula, the Kyotera District Chief Administrative Officer said that the market is one of the government initiatives to encourage the private sector to engage in gainful trade and investments.
October 22 2019

Ethiopia to issue two telecoms licences by April, behind initial schedule

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia plans to award two telecoms licences to multinational mobile companies by April 2020, the new communications regulator said on Tuesday, an apparent delay in the timeline officials had previously set. Balcha Reba, director general of the Ethiopian Communications Authority, gave the date at a press conference. In June, Reuters reported that Ethiopia would issue the licences by the end of the year, quoting Ethiopian officials and telecoms executives with direct knowledge of the process. The issuing of licences will end a state monopoly and open up one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets in the country of around 100 million.   Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a push to liberalise the country’s economy last year. The communications regulator, formed after parliament passed a law covering the liberalisation of the sector, will hold a meeting on Nov. 12 in the Ethiopian capital to answer questions of interested companies, Balcha said. Vodafone, South African operator MTN, France’s Orange and Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates are likely to be among the leading contenders vying for entry into the Ethiopian market.
October 22 2019

Ivory Coast tourism attracts $5bn from Arab investors

ABIDJAN: Ivory Coast announced Tuesday that Arab investors had pledged $5 billion to support its program to attract foreign tourists to the West African nation. The tourism ministry said “a round table of investors in Dubai” on Sunday and Monday expressed interest In Ivory Coast and in total, the minister for tourism and leisure, Siandou Fofana, “enlisted from them pledges worth just over $5 billion” (4.49 billion euros). Ivory Coast’s charm offensive in the United Arab Emirates included a delegation with recently retired star footballer Didier Drogba and A’Salfo, lead singer with the pop group Magic System, who gave two concerts. The initiative, dubbed “Sublime Cote d’Ivoire” (Magnificent Ivory Coast), was launched in May. “Our goal is to become the fifth biggest destination for tourism in Africa by 2025,” Fofana said in the ministry’s statement. If objectives are reached, tourism would account for 12 percent of GDP compared with 5.5 percent today, and jobs in the tourism sector would grow from 270,000, as of 2016, to 365,000. The economy today is hugely dependent on rural earnings, especially cacao and coffee. The plan is to attract tourists to the remote west of the country, a region of unspoiled mountains and beaches.
October 23 2019

UK’s Gemcorp, Russia’s Sberbank, VEB team up for Africa trade finance

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s largest lender Sberbank (SBER.MM) has teamed up with London-based investment firm Gemcorp Capital and two state entities to create a mechanism to support trade finance between Russia and African countries, Sberbank said. Their agreement, signed on the sidelines of Africa-Russia forum in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Wednesday, is worth $5 billion, state-controlled Sberbank said in a statement. It “signifies Russian and African parties’ need for joint financial solutions,” the bank added. Speaking to dozens of African heads of state at a two-day summit earlier on Wednesday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin called for trade with African countries to double over the next 4-5 years and said Moscow had written off African debts to the tune of over $20 billion. It was not immediately clear what projects could become part of the agreement - which includes state development bank VEB and the Russian export center, a state institute supporting non-commodities exports. Gemcorp did not respond to request for comment from Reuters. Gemcorp was formed in 2014 by Atanas Bostandjiev, a former executive at VTB Capital, the investment arm of Russia’s second largest lender VTB (VTBR.MM). In 2018, Gemcorp said it had extended a $250 million loan to Zimbabwe to help the country import essential goods like fuel and medicine. In 2019, Gemcorp’s commodities trading arm agreed to supply 500,000 tonnes of wheat to Ethiopia. The agreement will help boost Russian exports in general by providing financial assistance for the supply of Russian goods to African countries including Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, Sberbank said. The plan is to offer financial support and counsel to projects of Russian exporters in sectors like agricultural products, fertilisers and medical products, it added.