How can Africa create supportive environments for important innovations?

by Developed Africa 24. January 2017 10:55

Boosting transformational technology

  • Internet prices in sub-Saharan Africa vary wildly. Geography affects prices – landlocked countries pay more than coastal countries. Much of Africa gets its internet via undersea cables, so coastal countries have easier access. New initiatives to provide internet via low-orbit satellites and high-altitude balloons offer the hope of more accessible, cheaper internet for all, though still have a long way to go when it comes to cost and reach.
  • Tech hubs are popping up in Africa in different forms. These hubs enable Africans to gain skills and network through brainstorming sessions, workshops, and business- and technology-related trainings, among others. South Africa, Kenya and Ghana boast the greatest number of tech hubs.
  • For further progress and increased uptake of transformative innovations in 2017 what is required is further improvement in the regulatory environment.
  • Rules and guidelines should encourage prudent behaviour by both the financial institutions and market participants. Regulators should manage the orderly entry and exit of financial institutions in the market, minimising the potential for major disruptions in the financial system.
  • Digital finance has the potential to provide access to financial services for 1.6 billion people - more than half of whom are women - in emerging and developing economies. 

 

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How can Africa grow and stabilise its job market?

by Developed Africa 22. January 2017 12:47

Increasing employment opportunities

  • Sub-Saharan Africa faces a rise in the share of its working-age population (WAP). Population data indicates that the WAP in the sub-Saharan African region will increase by 70 percent from 466 million in 2013 to 793 million in 2030 (Lam and Leibbrandt, 2013).
  • Farming is the dominant occupation of most young Africans. The agriculture that will allow young farmers to prosper will have to draw on quality modern agricultural science – at present it does not.
  • Lack of access to finance for youth and particularly women entrepreneurs further limits growth and expansion opportunities.
  • A broader vision of high-quality education (one that fosters the full breadth of skills needed in a changing world) should be a priority in 2017.
  • Broadening access to education will ensure a steady supply of skilled workers into the labour market to support the transition to higher value added sectors.
  • it is important to diversify economic activity away from the current high concentration in traditional low value added agriculture, as it is in many African economies, to more productive activities such as agri-processing, manufacturing, and high-value added services.
  • For those young self-employed workers in the informal sector, there should be institutional mechanisms that ensure adequate access to credit, in light of the fact that these individuals are likely to be wealth and asset constrained.
  • Event to watch: African Union Assembly Meeting – January 24-31, 2017

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Some More Myths About Africa

by Developed Africa 29. November 2016 18:08

Euler Hermes debunks five more myths about Africa

Myth 6: No-one is going to finance African growth

Once the oil aftershock has worn off, Africa will resume growing at an average +3% a year. Some countries still post record growth rates higher than +5%, despite the hard shock. In addition, the financing and rebalancing of growth, including investments to be made, will be the key to a sustainable takeoff. The mix of funding will be crucial. In addition to external resources, particularly from foreign direct investment (FDI), some countries are already able to finance at least part of their growth with budgetary resources. This is the case in South Africa, Egypt and Senegal where they account for 25% and 30% of GDP in 2016. Household confidence and investor confidence will be indispensable to collect savings.

Nevertheless, the way ahead will be thorny: (i) budgetary revenues make up only 14.5% on average of the African GDP, compared with 30% in developed countries; (ii) FDI is only 2% of GDP, compared with 2.4% in developed countries.

Myth 7: African consumers are not bankable

Consumption growth in Africa is well under way. In 2016, Africa reports the highest consumption growth rates, led by Cote d'Ivoire (+6%), Uganda (+7%) and Nigeria (+5%), compared with +1.4% in OECD countries or +2% in Pacific Asia. Consumption development in Africa is driven by the continent's exploding urbanization: by 2045, African towns will be flooded with 24 million people, compared with only nine million in China and 11 million in India.

But African consumption development should follow a different path from that of developed countries. The wealth effect and internet access add to the volume growth of African consumption.

Consumers in Africa are going to skip some steps and force business sectors to reconsider their approach. This is especially striking in distribution, financial services or transports: for example, 70% of Moroccans have internet access (55% in China), and 14% of Kenyans use contactless payment cards (60% of French are still and always using bank checks).Euler Hermes has worked out a proprietary consumption potential indicator combining these three determinants. The verdict is final: Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa are the leading pack, followed by Ghana, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Sudan and DRC.

Myth 8: It's hard to work with African companies

Given the payment terms granted by foreign suppliers to African companies, it is indisputable that stronger confidence would free considerable resources for growth. Out of EUR 800bn of goods imported every year by Africa, approx. 60% are paid cash. If transactions were settled at 30 days, this would free EUR 40bn of working capital requirements, equal to the GDP of Tanzania, or to 1.6% of the GDP of Africa.

This situation engenders a sort of vicious cycle for African companies. Their cash flow suffers from the multiplication of cash payments, and this makes them more exposed to possible economic risks. As for domestic trade, this calculation in a country like Nigeria generates EUR 10bn of additional cash flows: a foot on the ladder for growth-seeking SMEs.

Myth 9: Agriculture is a thing of the past

Agriculture is the driver of econom ic growth in Africa: it remains the first contributor to employment and lifts millions of people out of poverty every year. Nevertheless, what is needed is a true green revolution to accelerate the catalyst role of the farming sector, by focusing productivity, market access and technologic contents.

In terms of growth by value of agricultural exports from 2005 to 2015, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast (+30%), Kenya and Rwanda (+20%) have specialised in high-value cash crops. Other countries, such as Zambia, Senegal and Morocco, have managed to use mechanisation and technology to increase agricultural productivity.

Myth 10: It's hard to find entrepreneurs and talents in Africa 

Education levels are increasing in Africa. In particular, access to university education in Cameroon has grown from 4.6% in 2000 to 13% in 2013. However, even in South Africa, the most proficient student, the percentage of youth entering university is only 20% by age group. Furthermore, official statistics on entrepreneurship are disappointing: in South Africa, just to make an example, only two companies are set up every 1 000 inhabitants.

These low figures mask the rampant informal entrepreneurship that is set to remain the basis for human capital development in the short term. Therefore, attention should be focused just on this entrepreneurial environment, apart from access to education. In Nigeria and Uganda for example, the towns of Lagos and Kampala have only recently reformed their registry system, a big problem for all those wishing to start business.

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Developed Africa has joined forces with Riviere Noir

by David Foxman 16. November 2016 16:20

Since setting out to promote African business opportunities we think we’ve learnt quite a lot about the dos and don’ts of investing in African projects – mostly don’ts, unfortunately! One of the dos, however, is the real need for proactivity. It would be nice to think that you can set out your stall of opportunities and that investors and businesses will beat a path to your door, but it doesn’t often happen that way. Absent an obvious arbitrage, political risk and credit risk mean that in most cases projects need a lot of extra selling to US and European prospects. That additional selling isn’t simply promotion per se; it also means structuring, explaining and financing business opportunities optimally.

That’s why Alex Glover of financial consultants Riviere Noir (rivierenoir.com) and I have decided to combine our resources to jointly offer consultancy services that will genuinely help viable African projects get started, and help companies and investors from outside Africa identify and tease out the advantages of opportunities in Africa. Between us we have the insight, hands-on skills, flexibility, experience and – crucially – contacts to do this.

Contact info@developedafrica.com for more information. 

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Lack of Information Halting Investment in Africa

by Developed Africa 9. July 2013 09:00

Developed Africa is designed to allow clear, concise information about commercial Opportunities in Africa. A new survey by FTI Consulting suggests that such a service is absolutely vital:

...on the eve of President Obama’s visit to Africa to bolster U.S. - African trade and political ties, eight of every ten, or 80 percent of institutional investors surveyed in the United States are largely unaware of investment opportunities on the continent."

As Obama's visit to Africa has now ended, some commentators have recognised the lack of attention paid to the continent by investors and may seek to heed Obama's call to "come on down" to Africa. As highlighted by FTI Consulting, their research suggests that communication might be the defining issue for investment in Africa,

Africa has the potential to be a destination of choice for U.S. institutional investors given its abundant natural resources, eco-tourism potential and favourable demographics. Many African countries already are capitalising on their various assets and have been identified as high-growth geographies by institutional investors. However, it is critical to sustained economic growth that key African messages are continually heard, expanded and understood so investors are aware of the investment opportunities in during a time of great global trade competition. Our research showed there still is work to be done in this regard.”

While there are some good examples of African business reporting in the mainstream press, services like Developed Africa are an exciting, interactive way of combating the issue of communicating business opportunities from African based commercial entities.

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