Betting on Sports in Africa – Why Mobile Entrepreneurs Will Make a Killing


It may come as a surprise to learn that mobile sports betting is growing in leaps and bounds in certain parts of Africa.

It is nothing short of amazing to behold the impact that technology has had on Africa as a whole, particularly with regards to the internet and mobile phones/tablets. Right now, for instance, Africa’s mobile users account for 12% of all the standalone subscribers in the world and 6% of total revenues globally and growing.

In fact, according to the GSM Association, by 2020 approximately 80% of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to have access to smartphones and/or devices, which equates to roughly 730 million standalone subscribers. This is a particularly exciting prospect for entrepreneurs, companies, investors, and marketers involved in mobile-centric businesses and enterprises.

Combined, the internet and mobile devices have given Africans greater access than ever before to each other and the rest of the world, as well as a wide variety of services, businesses, and industries right at their fingertips, including cutting-edge mobile sports betting sites.

It may come as a surprise to learn that mobile sports betting is growing in leaps and bounds in certain parts of Africa, where access to computers and the internet has traditionally been extremely limited, and in many cases, still is.

It is in these nations that smart mobile technology has ‘leapfrogged’ traditional desktop computers and internet connectivity, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of virtual or mobile sports betting.

Virtual sports betting is a thriving and constantly growing industry in nations like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and a few others. It’s a sure-fire way to print money for canny ‘mobile entrepreneurs’ who have recognized the industry’s enormous and ongoing potential.

Here are a few examples by country:
Nigeria

NairaBET Filled the Mobile Betting Niche in Nigeria

One such entrepreneur is Nigeria’s own Akin Alabi, a locally renowned author, motivational speaker, politician, teacher philanthropist and self-invented mobile betting guru.

According to the legend, Alabi was first exposed to land as well as online sports betting on a trip to the UK. Seeing how popular it was in Europe, upon his return to Nigeria he launched successful business writing and selling e-books on how to bet online.

When some of his e-book readers asked him how they could transfer their funds to foreign sportsbooks, Alabi realized that as there were no Nigerian owned or run online sportsbooks that processed payments and bets exclusively in Naira, here was a niche waiting to be filled.

In 2011 Alabi launched NairaBET, Nigeria’s first licensed online sports betting site, and since then neither he nor the site has looked back, with thousands of registered betting and gambling fans and a multitude of lines and odds from Nigeria and the rest of the world.

For instance, over and above hundreds of domestic and global soccer markets catered to soccer-mad Nigerians, NairaBET offers markets on a wide range of other sports like rugby (Union + League), Table Tennis, Baseball, Cricket, Golf, Aussie Rules Football and Futsal.

In terms of access to online sports betting sites in Nigeria, without exception each of the county’s major mobile/cellular operators – MTN, Etisalat, Glo Mobile, and Airtel – allow their subscribers to access any online and mobile bookmakers.

NairaBET Retail operations are regulated by the Lagos State Lotteries Board. It is also a member of the Association of Nigerian Bookmakers.

To say that Akin Alabi is making a killing on sports betting in Nigeria is an understatement, and he is not alone.

Bet9ja Followed in NairaBET’s Virtual Footsteps

After witnessing the success of NairaBET, fellow Nigerian entrepreneur Kunle Soname also jumped into the online sports betting space by launching his online sportsbook, Bet9ja, in 2013.

Like Alabi before him, Soname took into account the massive number of Nigerian sports betting fans with smart devices, along with the huge financial potential of Nigeria’s mobile sports betting market. As such, he has made sure Bet9ja offers the biggest selection of lines with the most competitive odds, all available in Nigerian Naira.

For instance, Bet9ja offers odds on a diverse range of sports such as soccer, baseball, motorsports, volleyball, ante-post soccer, Aussie rules football, futsal, water polo, table tennis, basketball, horse racing, cricket, MMA, cycling, snooker, rugby, golf, and even pesapallo.

Bet9ja is accessible by anyone 18 or older in Nigeria who has a smartphone or tablet and a fast and reliable internet connection via 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE or Wi-Fi.

It accepts deposits via several safe and secure payment methods including Paycom Online Transfer, Skye Mobile Deposit, Webpay with Naira Debit Card, Instant Bank Deposit, GTBank (mobile + mobile transfer), ATM and Quickteller Online.

You’ll find many other examples of highly successful African online betting entrepreneurs in South Africa and Kenya that cater first and foremost to their home markets, and others. The point is that mobile technology coupled with fast, reliable and always-on connectivity has taken sports betting to an entirely new level.

Kenya

Kenyan Betting Fans Can Use M-Pesa Mobile Payments

In Kenya, many betting fans were prevented from betting online on account of not having ‘traditional’ online payment methods such as credit cards.

However, thanks to the growth of mobile-money platform M-Pesa which is available on the Vodafone mobile network, now more Kenyan betting fans than ever before can safely and quickly fund their mobile accounts from the privacy and convenience of their devices.

Owned by Safaricom Ltd, M-Pesa transacts over 5 billion Kenyan shillings (US$50 million) every day, a large percentage of which is processed on Kenyan mobile sports betting sites. According to Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore in a May 2016 interview, M-Pesa’s application to sports betting has “overtaken every other sector.”

According to World Bank data, in mid-2016 the number of transactions processed by M-Pesa totaled almost a third of Kenya’s gross domestic product of $61 billion. From its launch in 2007 until this period, M-Pesa’s user base grew from 2 million to over 21 million.

The service, offered by Safaricom Ltd. in East Africa’s biggest economy, is now transacting about 5 billion shillings ($50 million) day, Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore, 57, said in an interview May 7 in the capital, Nairobi.

South Africa

National Gambling Act Spawns Sportingbet

Although most forms of online and mobile gambling are illegal in South Africa (casinos and poker), lotteries and sports betting are the two exceptions. As such, the country has seen several licensed and regulated sportsbooks launch in the last few years.

These online sportsbooks welcome punters from across South Africa (that are over the legal gambling age of 18) and process any payments, bets, and cashouts in South African Rand. All South African sports betting sites are overseen and monitored by the National Gambling Board (NGB) under the mandate of the National Gambling Act of 2004.

Since online sportsbooks entered the South African gambling landscape, online betting figures have skyrocketed. For instance, since 2013, Gross Gambling Revenues (GGR) of ZAR online and mobile sportsbooks have increased by over 20% year on year, as per South African GGR trend betting stats published by the National Gambling Board.

One of South Africa’s most popular sports betting sites is Sportingbet, a UK owned betting that launched a purely South African-facing site in 2009. Today this popular online and mobile sportsbooks boasts over 700,000 members and offers over 3,000 betting lines and odds daily on a multitude of domestic and international sporting events.

Like most online and mobile sportsbooks operating in Africa, Sportingbet offers in-play or live betting, where punters can place additional bets on games, matches, and events while they are still being played. It also lets its members watch live-streamed events on-site.

The most popular sports, of course, comprise South Africa’s favorite sports including rugby, soccer, horse racing, cricket, golf, and tennis. Plus, punters can make quick and easy deposits using Neteller, EcoPayz, Visa, Bank Transfers, MasterCard or Instant EFT.

Licensed by the Western Cape Gambling & Racing Board, Sportingbet is fully regulated and monitored to ensure its odds and processes are 100% fair and within industry standards.

African youth optimistic about the future of the continent


Young post-colonial Africans are optimistic about the future of the continent, seeing themselves more as entrepreneurs than civil servants.

They demand stability and democracy, access to financial resources to launch their businesses, access to digital technology, and are not obsessed with colonial barriers.

48% of the respondents prefer stable governments to democracy.

75% believe that they can positively change their communities through their work.

79% think that Wi-Fi access should be a basic human right

67% say that “fake news” has an impact on their ability to stay informed.

Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are going to be the people to have the most impact over the next five years.

The politics behind Mike Sonko’s pending impeachment


Nairobi’s Governor Mike Sonko leaves the court room after a hearing, after he was arrested on corruption-related charges, at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, Kenya December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The handing over of power from Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to the government may not be what it seems.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, facing an imminent impeachment process, handed over several critical functions of the capital city to President Kenyatta’s government.

In a statement on Tuesday, Kenyatta’s spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo said the government would take over health, transport, and two other functions from the Sonko government.

In the deal, which starts in mid-March and will last for two years, Kenyatta’s minister for devolution, Eugene Wamalwa, will co-manage the city with Governor Sonko.
The government will also make annual reports to both the national and county legislatures.

“The move comes as a breakthrough in the running of country services that had ground to a halt,” Dena-Mararo wrote.

While it might appear as if Governor Sonko has surrendered crucial executive and political power, it is in fact a brilliant manoeuvre on his part.

Sonko, who took over in August 2017 with a promise to improve service delivery, has had a hard time managing the capital.

Some of the problems have been of his own making.

A city politician who has risen fast in the last decade and a half, switching posts from Senator to Governor in the last two elections, Sonko’s reign has been a daily soap opera.

He has not had a deputy since the resignation of Polycarp Igathe, who quit due to differences with his boss.
He has also been in the news after details of his criminal record became public, with a 2005 death certificate with his name on it doing the rounds around the same time.
Sonko is also facing charges of corruption and abuse of office, after his arrest last December.
Sonko also faces a hostile legislature, which plans to begin impeachment hearings in days, and has constantly reshuffled his cabinet.

But the main reason he wants Kenyatta’s government to be in direct control of critical functions has to do with deep-rooted cartels.

“The cartel in this city is too big,” Governor Sonko said last year, addressing a crowd but speaking to President Kenyatta, who was standing atop a vehicle behind him. “I need your help to dismantle it.”
“If its revenue, take it to the National Government. If it’s planning, take it to the National Government,” he offered. The video of the speech has been Governor Sonko’s only public comment since signing the transfer documents.

Sonko’s decision is more than just about executive power, the timing has more to do with political survival.

Sonko’s immediate problem is the looming impeachment, which became even more likely after the removal of his neighbour, former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, from the county legislature and the National Senate.

By handing over critical functions, which are home to various interests in and outside the legislature due to try him for impeachment, he has also outmanoeuvred them.

“What Sonko has done is to hand us over to the wild dogs. He saw that he will be impeached and to save him the embarrassment, he decided to give up some of the county functions,” Nairobi Minority leader David Mberia was quoted as saying by local media.

By Wednesday morning, some of Sonko’s changes were already being removed.

Succession drama
While the deal will take effect in 21 days, it a done deal in Kenya’s current political climate. And with the Kenyatta Administration running the most important city, it would boost Kenyatta’s ratings as he winds up his last term.

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report suggested granting Nairobi a special status, so its management is not based on an elective process.
By taking over the critical functions, which will also include their revenues and expenditures, Kenyatta also has a new item on his balance sheets. But it could also be a poisoned chalice, given the results of similar moves by his predecessors.
It also works at the political level for Kenyatta.

Governor Sonko, probably Nairobi’s most important politician, had gravitated towards Deputy President William Ruto in the ongoing succession politics.

Having a politician of his public effect back in his camp will grant Kenyatta a much-needed ally in his short-term goals, which are to mend the economy and halt Ruto’s likely succession.

But this could backfire on both: Sonko might survive impeachment and regain some control of the capital city, and this deal covers the remaining two years of his reign.
President Kenyatta’s move might also be seen as another assault on the devolved system of government, which has included underfunding the 47 counties and not paying their share in time.
Historic problem
Managing the capital, which is home to 4.4m people today, has always been a challenge.

All of Kenya’s presidents since independence have tried to have a direct executive hold on the capital, due to its role as the country’s economic, social, and political nerve centre.

One of the first post-independence’s government’s crisis was the mayor’s attempt to acquire a better car than the president. But there were also many serious issues, both inherited and emergent.

President Jomo Kenyatta maneuvered in his daughter, the current President’s step-sister, to run the city in the ‘70s.
In the early ‘80s, the second President Daniel Arap Moi dismissed the capital’s elected officials and appointed a commission to run the city instead. The commission, which was changed a number of times over the next decade, failed in its task too.
It was a commission managing Nairobi in 1989 when the government planned to build a 60-storey multipurpose skyscraper in Uhuru Park, the capital’s biggest public recreational space.
The third President, Mwai Kibaki, tried another route, creating a cabinet position to handle infrastructure for Nairobi and the metropolis.

How Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali Were a Headache to White People


Malcolm X was one of the forefront black activists and his friendship with Muhammad Ali gave the white man terrible headaches.

The United States of America has never been a land of the free for a black man. The existence of the black in America is treated as an unwanted thing, and from all angles of life, the black man still finds himself in shackles.

But in contemporary society, a lot has significantly changed for the blacks, even though total freedom remains a pipe dream. In the 1950s and 60s, at the height of racial segregation in America, there emerged a militant approach to fighting white oppression.

Malcolm X had grown to resent Christianity for it was an embodiment of white oppression; it was a religion used to disguise the callousness of the Caucasians. Religion had been employed by the white man to pacify black people so that they would not question the deplorable conditions in which their existence was thrust in. The life of Malcolm X had metamorphosed to that of vehemently and spiritedly fighting the vile racial segregation policies that prevailed at the time. The black man, through these policies, was effectively barred from having any access to social mobility and many had been accustomed to resigning to their miserable fate. But this was something that Malcolm X did not tolerate, and he gave the white man problems time and again.

A man who had renounced his name because of its direct link to the slave trade, Malcolm X had turned to Islam to free his mind and thus take on the white establishment head-on. He joined the black separatist movement, the Nation of Islam when he was still in prison and that was an important turning point in the fight for black rights. He was militant in his approach, believing that for there to be order there needed to be a separation of the blacks and whites. For him, white people had proved to be extremely obstinate as regards co-existence with other races and there was no other way to assert one’s existence in such a terrible world but to fight back. Christianity had implanted the notion that one had to turn the other cheek when slapped, but for Malcolm X the black man had to fight back. He was completely revolutionary in how he tackled the white establishment, saying that the mind of the black man had been taught wrongly and had been induced to accept squalid conditions as a way of life, which was wrong.

His influence had grown so strong that a young Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali in denouncing the white establishment, had been drawn to the Islam way of fighting white oppression. Malcolm X was the one who recruited Muhammad Ali into the Nation of Islam and the two had developed a friendship that was a solid threat to the interests of the white community in America. At the time the two had developed a friendship, Malcolm X was growing disillusioned with Elijah Muhammad, the prophet leader of the Nation of Islam. Elijah Muhammad had lost the true Islamic values, Malcolm X asserted, and he did not want Malcolm X to fully implement his revolutionary thinking in fighting white oppression. He did not want Malcolm to talk publicly about politics and civil rights. Malcolm X had become a beacon of intellectual superiority and Elijah resented this.

Ali had been strongly inclined to Malcolm’s teachings, he was now an ardent follower of the Nation of Islam, armed with unbridled revolutionary enthusiasm. So profound was this development that Muhammad Ali flatly refused to be conscripted into the U.S Army to go fight in the Vietnam War. His brazen actions resulted in stripped off of his heavyweight title and his passport and was banned from fighting in the U.S.

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform,” Ali said, “and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?… I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. We’ve been in jail for four hundred years.”

“It is in the light of my consciousness as a Muslim minister and my convictions that I take my stand in rejecting the call to be inducted. I do so with the full realization of its implications. I have searched my conscience.” Ali also said, “no Vietcong ever called me nigger.” That alone was powerful and it rattled the system. His conviction was later overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971, but the message that Ali had sent to the world was loud and clear.

When Malcolm was assassinated in 1965 while delivering a speech because of his friction with the Nation of Islam, his friendship with Muhammad Ali had deteriorated. Ali did not agree with Malcolm’s decision of being disobedient to Elijah Muhammad. “Brother Malcolm, you shouldn’t have crossed the honorable Elijah Muhammad,” Ali had remarked this to Malcolm.

Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith, the authors of the book “Blood Brothers,” said, “The relationship between Cassius Clay and Malcolm X signaled a new direction in American culture, one shaped by the forces of sports and entertainment, race and politics. Under Malcolm’s tutelage, [Ali] embraced the world stage, emerging as an international symbol of black pride and black independence. Without Malcolm, Muhammad Ali would have never become the ‘king of the world.” The book details their friendship, how it shaped the world at the time and its subsequent breakdown.

Malcolm’s ex-communication from the Nation provided the ground for his friendship with Ali to break down. He fought for Ali’s loyalty, attempting to use him as a bargaining chip with Elijah Muhammad. Ali was no longer amenable to Malcolm’s moves at the time. He referred to Malcolm as “a jailbird, a hoodlum … that chief hypocrite,” and he declared that “Mr. [Elijah] Muhammad will destroy him through Allah.”

Ali later expressed this as one of the biggest regrets in his life. Years after Malcolm had been assassinated, he began to view him “a visionary, ahead of us all.” In 2004, Ali wrote, “Malcolm was the first to discover the truth, that color doesn’t make a man a devil.

It is the heart, soul, and mind that define a person.”

“Malcolm X was a great thinker and an even greater friend,” wrote Ali. “I might never have become a Muslim if it hadn’t been for Malcolm. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would never have turned my back on him.”

Although their friendship had died, their conduct and ideas inspired millions of black people all over the world. Ali was loved in Africa for his famous fight in 1974 in the Democratic Republic of Congo dubbed “Rumble in the Jungle” when he defeated George Foreman. Ali supported the fight for freedom in African countries and he visited Ghana, Nigeria, DRC, Kenya, and Egypt. Together with Malcolm X, they presented a tough time for the oppressors.

African countries aren’t borrowing too much: they’re paying too much for debt


Ethiopia’s economic growth hovered between 8%-11% for over 10 years but its sovereign credit rating has not been upgraded Shutterstock

There is renewed concern about the sustainability of rising debt levels in many African countries.

Much of this debt is being incurred through foreign currency denominated Eurobonds issued on international financial markets. The total value of Eurobonds issued between 2018 and 2019 was more than the value of all bonds sold between 2003 to 2016.

African governments are issuing and listing their Eurobonds on established international debt markets – usually London and Irish Stock Exchanges. African governments would venture offshore a lot less if domestic bond markets were active and liquid. But besides South Africa, African bond markets are largely underdeveloped with inactive and illiquid secondary markets. This makes it difficult to attract international investor participation locally.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes that African countries are on a Eurobond issuing spree and half of them are near or at distressed levels. It argues that African governments are piling on debt without evaluating the exchange rate risks and the real costs of repaying the debts.

But, in my view, the debt alarm being set off by international debt management organisations is exaggerated. The problem is not that African countries are borrowing too much, but rather they are paying too much interest. There are a number of reasons for this, including badly informed ratings by rating agencies, as well as the behaviour of issuers.

There are solutions. But these require African governments to stand up and take action.

Doing the calculations
There are two key elements that are taken into account in assessing a country’s debt burden. One is the level of debt based on the ratio of debt to gross domestic product (GDP). The other is the cost of servicing the debt – interest payments.

Debt levels on the continent, for example, are on average way below the 100% debt-to-GDP ratio mark. But the impression created is that they are much higher. This exaggerated perception of African debt levels has resulted in countries paying higher interest rates on debt. The premiums are much higher than those paid by other countries. In my view these are not justified by the risk profile of African countries.

Save for four countries –- Cape Verde, Djibouti, Congo and Mozambique –- all the other African countries have debt-to-GDP ratio averaging 60%. A debt-to-GDP ratio of 60% is the IMF’s and African Monetary Co-operation Program’s threshold for prudent debt levels.

The scale of debt issuances in Africa amounts to only 1% of the continent’s total GDP annually – whose average annual growth rate is 4%. In simple terms, this means the value of income generation is higher than the rate of government debt accumulation. These ratios gives a snapshot of the a country’s fiscal sustainability.

On the contrary, the amount of interest expenditure has been disproportionate to the debt-to-GDP ratio. Studies show that in developed economies, an increase of 1% in debt-to-GDP ratio is associated with an increase of between 0.02% and 0.03% in interest rates.

African governments are paying interest of 5% to 16% on 10-year government bonds, compared to near zero to negative rates in Europe and America. On average, the interest repayment is the highest expenditure portion and remains the fastest growth expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa’s fiscal budgets.

The rising interest rates on Africa’s debt should be of major concern. African countries are shortchanging themselves by accepting high yield curves in their Eurobond Initial Public Offerings. This unjustifiably cements the perception that they are high-risk issuers.

The drivers
The high interest rates are driven by several key factors. First, the mismatch between the short-term duration of the debt that African governments have taken on by issuing Eurobonds compared to the long-term nature of the infrastructure projects they propose to fund with the money raised through Eurobonds. The excessive need to attract investors is forcing African governments to borrow short-term to finance long-term projects.

Second, fungibility of Eurobonds proceeds – flexibility to be utilised for purposes other than the ones they were raise for – exposes the funds to the downside vulnerabilities of misappropriation and nonproductive expenditures.

Third, poor credit ratings as the majority of countries are in junk status. Credit ratings are pivotal in determination of both interest rates and the demand for bonds.

The weaknesses of rating agencies’ risk assessments have widely been criticised. According to sovereign credit methodologies of the big three rating agencies, economic growth is a decisive factor in past sovereign credit events. There is a strong positive correlation between economic strength and credit worthiness. But in Africa high economic growth has not translated into better sovereign ratings.

Despite consistent positive economic growth averaging 3.6% among 32 rated African states, data show that the number of downgrades and negative outlooks are almost double that of upgrades and positive outlooks. This implies that African countries are now worse off than they previously were. This overlooks the continent’s significant progress in governance, economic growth and human development over the past years.

Take Ethiopia. It has a current economic growth of 8.5% and has been hovering between 8%-11% for over 10 years. But it has not had a single upgrade activity from any of the three international rating agencies.

Senegal, one of Africa’s most stable countries, experiencing three peaceful political transitions since its independence in 1960, has maintained an economic growth averaging 6% over the past 10 years. It still remains in junk status rating.

Some of what drives higher interest rates also rests with Africa governments. For example, a lack of sufficient information about the specific ‘use of proceeds’ in prospectuses during Eurobond Initial Public Offerings is magnifying the risk of fiscal indiscipline. It means that funds have no conditionalities or any lines of accountability.

It is also the case that governments use the money they raise on loss-making projects and nonproductive fiscal expenditure. Two examples illustrate the point: the failing Kuraz mega sugar project in Ethiopia was funded from the 2014 Eurobond as was the Kenyan Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) which is failing to stimulate any new economic activity.

Solutions
African countries can act to address the rising interest burden, and to avert falling into a debt trap through the following mechanisms:

Governments should use the money raised to fund profitable projects and use the profits from these projects to repay interest owed.
Governments must take control of the bond issuance process during the bond structuring stage. They must exercise their choice of accepting or rejecting investors’ bids. It is imperative for African countries to structure bonds with favourable yields and tenure. This process should not be entirely renounced to syndicates of lead-managers, originators and investment banks. The oversubscription of recent Eurobond issues – Eurobond issuances have been oversubscribed by three times on average – simply shows that demand is outweighing supply. Countries should manage lead issuance advisors to negotiate for the lowest interests possible to be saved from unnecessary costs.
Governments should bargain for competitive interest rates and accept only favourable bids.
Governments should borrow for productive expenditure and manage proceeds from international bonds more prudently with integrity and transparency.
African countries should establish a continental position, adopt international standards and guidelines to establish lines of accountability in rating agencies. This will create a platform to enforce adherence to scientific rating methodology, rating appeals, regulating rating agencies and sufficient involvement of rated countries in the rating process.

Does the Kenya-US free trade deal signal Nigeria’s fall from grace?


Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is seen at the opening of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Nigeria has not managed to convince international investors – including those in the US – that it should be first in line for a post-AGOA deal.

The government of Kenya and the United States of America plan to sign a free trade agreement (FTA), continuing the duty-free access Kenya has to the US market.

It’s a first in sub-Saharan Africa, and patriots in Nigeria were surprised that the East African nation with a GDP of $100bn was chosen over the West African nation with a GDP of $450bn.

While some see the FTA with Kenya as a way for Washington to counter Chinese influence in East Africa, others say Nigeria was excluded because it is not exactly a good trade partner.

Why it matters


After enjoying recognition as the giant of Africa and the biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria may have reached the end of its run.

There have been a string of foreign policy losses:

*France taking over the conversation about the West African eco, ignoring the agreements of ECOWAS heads in Abuja,
*The delaying signing the AfCFTA agreement, instead of spearheading the agreement,
*Losses against the so-called Islamic State,
*Strained relations with its neighbours especially in Ecowas – such as Benin


Recently, Nigeria landed on Donald Trump’s infamous Travel Ban 2.0, a testament to the declining fortunes of the once most important African country.

Background


Following the impending expiration of the African Growth and Opportunity Act in 2025, which allows many African countries to export goods to the USA without quotas or tariffs, African nations need to negotiate new deals with the USA. After a successful 15-year agreement period, the Act was renewed for another ten years in 2015.

It does not seem like the act will be renewed.

Nigeria seemed like the prime candidate for a free trade agreement with the United States based on the agreements of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. However, the current policies of the country seem not to indicate it’s not good enough as a trade partner for many of its partners.

Adedayo Bakare, an economist and investment researcher at Afrinvest stated the bulk of the trade policies the federal government and Central bank are taking are textbook protectionist and will long term discourage investors from coming to the country.

“Nigeria’s import substitution policy and shutting the land borders are sending negative signals to investors and countries saying Nigeria is not open to trade,” said Bakare.

Doing business in Nigeria is a challenging task and as other countries are presenting themselves as better investment destinations, Nigeria’s global appeal as a big market continues to dwindle.

“The foreign policy and diplomacy wins of the Obasanjo administration have gone down the drain. The reactionary stance this current government takes to everything makes it difficult for trade inside and outside the country,” trader Emeka Onyekachi told The Africa Report.

For Onyekachi, losing access to the ECOWAS market where he usually trades, will mean there would be no reason for any country to respect or want to do business with Nigeria.

Perhaps the greatest indicator that Nigeria is not excited about trade deals and trading with neighbours was its delay in signing the AfCFTA. The AfCFTA has still not been ratified by the Nigerian parliament.

But all is not lost. According to Bakare, the country is still prime for several investments.

Despite the banning of commercial motorcycles that jeopardises investments worth over $100 million (93 million euro) in Lagos, there are still several avenues for investment in the country.

“Oil has and will always be lucrative for Nigeria, but perhaps the tech sector is one of Nigeria’s hidden gems. Fintech, in particular, has proven to be a good market for the country with innovation and investment finding homes in Nigeria,” said Bakara.

The lack of regulation in the renewable energy space, also mean there is enough room for that market to grow.

Fintech in Africa has attracted investment worth over $679 million (629 million euro) in 2019 with the bulk of it coming to Nigeria. Getting the country on to the internet is a big venture that is certain to bring in investments in 2020.

Chinese Fish Found With 427 Times Recommended Amount of Lead


The consignment of Chinese fish is transported by ship for over 8,000 kilometres, a journey that takes days. Once it lands at the port of Mombasa, it is trucked for another 1,000 kilometres before it lands in depots in Kisumu.

Despite the long distance, the fish from China arrives at a retail price of Sh230 a kilo. This is less than half of the Sh500 that local fishmongers ask for.

It is easy to know why Kenya made a quick about-turn on the ban on Chinese fish. Aside from protests by the Chinese embassy, which termed the temporary ban a “trade war”, Kenya cannot compete with the Asian nation on price and scale. The deficit is also widening with the depletion of fish from Lake Victoria. Concerns on the safety of fish imported from China were first raised in early 2019.

At the time, most of the Chinese fish in Kenya was repackaged together with stocks from Lake Victoria after landing in Nairobi to fool consumers that it had all been sourced locally.

NO DANGER

A Nation investigation then revealed that the fish had traces of mercury, lead, arsenic and copper. When we shared our findings with the Kenya National Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the agency whose job it is to set safety standards denied that the fish imports posed any danger to human health.

“All imports to Kenya are required to be tested in the country of origin and if they meet the specifications in the standards they are issued with a certificate of conformity. Upon arrival in Kenya, the imports are subjected to destination inspection,” Kebs said at the time. A year later, the Nation went back and sampled even bigger numbers of the fish, this time from Kisumu, and the results were shocking.

As part of the ‘Rotting from the Deep’ investigative series, we bought a 10-kilogramme box of Tilapia fish freshly shipped from China. The fish, after its arrival in Kenya, is repackaged in white boxes emblazoned with “fresh and delicious” and “gutted head on and quick-frozen” on the sides.

They have a two-year shelf life. We picked the 300-400g size, which is preferred by most people running small-sized restaurants.

LAB TEST

The other sizes available are packed in boxes weighing 100-200g, 200-300g, 400-600g, 600-800g with the largest being 800 grams and above. We took the box to the lab at the University of Nairobi for testing. The results revealed that cheap is indeed expensive. The fish samples had seven dangerous pesticides among them phosalone, which was detected at 0.07 parts per million (ppm). This is seven times more than the maximum allowable limit (MAL) of 0.01 ppm.

Other pesticides detected in the fish from China include tolyfluanid (0.022 ppm), flutonail (0.022ppm), deltamethrin (0.026ppm), acrinathrin (0.005ppm), pretilachlor (0.005) and tebufenpyrad at 0.001ppm.



These classes of pesticides can cause cancer, mouth ulceration, dysphagia and abdominal pain, among other diseases, if ingested. However, this is not all that Kenyans should worry about.

HIGH LEVEL

Lead in fish from China was found at 42.7 ppm. This is 427 times the FAO/WHO recommended level of 0.1ppm.

“The Chinese fish obtained in Kisumu town had lead (Pb) at levels far above the CODEX recommended residue levels of 0.1ppm,” a report prepared by the scientists from the University of Nairobi said.

The same fish samples had relatively high levels of zinc (Zn) though below the CODEX MAL of 30ppm. Excess Zinc causes stomach flu or what is known as gastroenteritis. This is a common condition that causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

Other heavy metals detected were iron, copper and manganese, but these were found to be at safe levels. Lead causes decreased mental ability, damages the nervous system and impedes physical development in children. In adults, it causes high blood pressure, kidney damage and reduced fertility.

Lead is a dangerous poison and it can cause cancer if ingested in excess. Lead poisoning can also cause anaemia, general body weakness, kidney and brain damage. It can also cause immediate death in excessive quantities. However, lead is feared as a poison because it can damage almost every body organ from the heart, bones, kidneys, teeth, intestines as well as the reproductive, nervous and immune systems.

Prof James Mbaria, the lead researcher in the project, said the fish was not fit for human consumption given its contamination levels. This means agencies involved in testing of the fish samples such as Kebs must have failed to carry out effective tests before allowing such fish to be sold in the market.

The alternative is uglier. It means that importers presented clean fish for testing to get the import certificates and then lowered their standards along the way. Either way, someone is sleeping on the job.

Kenya’s appetite for Chinese products has been growing by double digits in the past decade.

COMPETITIVE PRICES

From mobile phones to toothpicks, radios, television sets, tyres and a wide range of household items, Kenyan traders continue to find value from the Asian nation due to its competitive prices and easier route to market.

Over the past five years, total imports from China have grown by 50 per cent to hit Sh370 billion at the end of 2018, up from Sh248 billion in 2014. Fish is now one of the most important food imports from the Asian nation. This has seen China move from a country that only sold manufactured goods to Kenya to being a part of the daily menu in many homes across the country as demand for the product stands at three times the local supply.

Available data shows fish imports crossed the Sh2 billion mark in 2017, and this figure has been doubling every year.

Initially, fish from China was restricted to Gikomba market, where it was redistributed to restaurants in Nairobi and its environs. But the shortage in other parts of the country, especially Kisumu due to depleted stocks, saw the fish end up in western Kenya too.

SOME RESISTANCE

At first, there was some resistance and traders were hesitant to reveal to their customers where the fish come from.

Vendors of locally sourced fish would also fight these imports.

Today, fish from china can easily be found in a number of towns including Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisii, Bungoma, Kakamega and Kitale. There is no hiding anymore.

Apparently, it is better to have some fish than have none at all.

It is even freely sold at beachfront hotels in Kisumu and as far as Marenga at Port Victoria in Busia County.

BUY BOXES

To be able to distribute to the western Kenya towns, fish import companies have set up shop in Kisumu from where middlemen buy boxes of frozen fish and are able to send them in the form of parcels to almost every town in the region.

Last year’s budget policy statement put Kenya’s total local fish production at 180,000 tonnes a year, against a demand of about 500,000 tonnes. The situation is not helped by the decline in quantities of fish from Lake Victoria.

Over the past five years, fish quantities harvested from Lake Victoria have declined by 23 per cent from 128,708 tonnes in 2014 to 98,150 tonnes by the end of 2018, according to data from the economic survey.

This has seen the value of local fresh-water fish drop from Sh20.9 billion to 19.4 billion over the period.

This means that fish from China is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Read the original article on Nation.

Locust outbreak reaches South Sudan: officials


South Sudan has the become the latest country to be hit by the worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years.

Around 2,000 locusts were spotted inside the country, Agriculture Minister Onyoti Adigo told reporters. Authorities will try to control the outbreak, he added.

“The report came that these are matured. As you know locusts are like human beings, they send their reconnaissance ahead of time to make sure that whether there is food or not and if the area is good for breeding.”

The locusts have been seen in Eastern Equatoria state near the borders with Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. All have been affected by the outbreak that has been influenced by the changing climate in the region.

The situation in those three countries “remains extremely alarming,” the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in its latest Locust Watch update Monday. Locusts also have reached Sudan, Eritrea, Tanzania and more recently Uganda.

The soil in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria has a sandy nature that allows the locusts to lay eggs easily, said Meshack Malo, country representative with the FAO.

“These are deep yellow which means that they will be here mostly looking at areas in which they will lay eggs.”

At this stage “if we are not able to deal with them … it will be a problem,” he said, adding that FAO was training locals and acquiring sprayers and chemicals to try and combat the locusts. It is the first locust invasion in 70 years in the country.

Worsening South Sudan’s situation
South Sudan is even less prepared than other countries in the region for a locust outbreak, and its people are arguably more vulnerable. More than 5 million people are severely food insecure, the U.N. humanitarian office says in its latest assessment, and some 860,000 children are malnourished.

Five years of civil war shattered South Sudan’s economy, and lingering insecurity since a 2018 peace deal continues to endanger humanitarians trying to distribute aid. Another local aid worker was shot and killed last week, the U.N. said Tuesday.

The locusts have traveled across the region in swarms the size of major cities. Experts say their only effective control is aerial spraying with pesticides, but U.N. and local authorities have said more aircraft and pesticides are required. A handful of planes have been active in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The U.N. has said $76 million is needed immediately. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Ethiopia said the U.S. would donate another $8 million to the effort. That follows an earlier $800,000.

The number of overall locusts could grow up to 500 times by June, when drier weather begins, experts have said. Until then, the fear is that more rains in the coming weeks will bring fresh vegetation to feed a new generation of the voracious insects.

South Sudanese ministers called for a collective regional response to the outbreak that threatens to devastate crops and pasturage.

Kenya: Envoy to South Sudan Dies of Heart Attack


Nairobi — Kenya’s envoy to South Sudan, Amb Chris Karumba Mburu, is dead.

The diplomat died in Juba Sunday night, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Monday.

Mburu, who once served as a Director at the National Intelligence Service, is said to have suffered a heart attack leading to his death.

He was named Kenya’s diplomat to South Sudan in 2018 and vetted by the National Assembly’s Defence and Foreign Relations Committee alongside Oginga Ogego (Saudi Arabia), Johnson Kimani Ondieki (Turkey) and Benjamin Langat (Namibia).

Read the original article on Capital FM.

Second Wave of Locust Invasion to Hit in Two Months


A swarm of locusts spotted at Riandira village in Kirinyaga County in Kenya on January 13, 2020.

East African countries should brace themselves for a second round of invasion by the desert locusts in the next one to two months, Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture has warned.

The swarms of locusts, which have spread to seven East African countries, have been laying eggs along their migratory paths expected to hatch between March and April.

“Hoppers have between three to six weeks before they fly. We have a plan in place and we have mobilised resources running up to June this year,” Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Peter Munya told The EastAfrican.

Addressing donors and representatives of affected countries in New York last week, United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director-General Qu Dongyu said the locusts had spread to the northern edges of Uganda and Tanzania, and called for greater and faster action to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the region.



Rwanda’s Meteorology department has projected that the desert locusts could land in the Eastern Province within two weeks, and the government has appointed a task force from the Ministry of Agriculture and Disaster Management to deal with the looming invasion.

According to FAO, the locust invasion has affected Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Mr Munya said the Kenyan government has already procured 600 additional sprayers to commence training at Gilgil’s National Youth Service on February 13, to reinforce teams already on the ground. They will be deployed on February 16.

They will “spray the locusts at the nymph stage before they fly, once the eggs hatch. We are also increasing the aerial spraying and surveillance to 20 planes,” said Mr Munya.

There are fears that a second round of invasion will hit Kenya’s food growing regions such as the North Rift.

In Uganda, the government has set aside $4.5 million as a contingency fund to fight the locusts, and Tanzania, which has detected swarms in its northern border areas close to Mount Kilimanjaro, has hired three planes to spray them.

Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture has allocated $2.3 million towards aerial and ground control operations, and the FAO has appealed for $76 million in emergency aid to tackle the locust threat regionally.

Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture last month requested contingency funds of $1.35 million for aircraft fuel, pesticides and other supplies.

Analysts at Africa-focused advisory firm StratLink said the invasion represents an unprecedented threat.

“We assess that the immediate risks to food security and agricultural output remain limited, since most commercial farmers have already harvested their crops. However, if the swarms invade key food growing regions, we fear that this could affect the new planting season.”

Read the original article on East African.

African Union: behind-the-scenes battle for leadership of the AfCFTA


Although security issues are set to dominate talks in Addis Ababa, ministerial delegations on Friday focused on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and disagreed over who would become the organisation’s future secretary general.

“We’ve decided that the AfCFTA Secretariat will be located in Accra, but now we need to find a leader,” said a minister of foreign affairs standing a few metres away from the entrance of the Nelson Mandela Hall of the African Union Conference Centre.

In other words, the African Union (AU) has yet to fill the post and is perhaps far from finding the ideal candidate.

Gathered in a closed-door Executive Council meeting, the African ministerial delegations have not, for the time being, agreed on who will serve as the organisation’s future secretary general in charge of coordinating the implementation of the agreement.

According to our information, there were plenty of applications to choose from. Some 120 people applied for the post before the pool was narrowed down to six candidates. After a new round of talks, the pool was reduced to three candidates: one person from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a second from Nigeria and a third from South Africa. An applicant from Cameroon was eliminated, although the country managed to get one of its nationals a seat on the future Peace and Security Council.

South African hegemony?

At this point, the process has stalled and tension has risen a notch. Several delegations felt it was in bad taste that two of the three remaining candidates – namely the Congolese and the Nigerian – were put forward by countries that have yet to ratify the AfCFTA treaty. “It’s definitely odd, but that’s part of the game: any African can apply for the post,” an AU agency head commented.

If non-ratification is considered a disadvantage, then the South African applicant appears to have an edge over the other two.

  • “All Nigeria had to do was ratify the treaty,” a minister said. “The message Nigeria has sent complicates things for them. They closed their borders with Benin and Niger and now they want to be the champions of free trade. . .” said another diplomat doubtfully.

Except that not everything points to Pretoria as the favourite. Some member countries fear that South Africa will become too influential on the continent. The country’s Cyril Ramaphosa is already occupying the AU’s rotating chair in 2020 and it recently integrated the AU’s troika on the Western Sahara question.

A meeting between Ramaphosa, Tshisekedi and Buhari?

Talks are expected to continue in the coming days, this time between heads of state. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi are due to meet in Addis Ababa no later than Sunday for the opening of the Heads of State and Government Summit.

According to our information, the secretary general’s name could be announced after these high-level meetings, barring a last-minute surprise. “There’s still time,” said a Central African diplomat who knows the ins and outs of the AU headquarters. The secretary general of the free trade area must be ready to take up the post “by March,” according to the AU.

An AU extraordinary summit slated to also cover security issues will be organised in May in Johannesburg, South Africa, to get the free trade area permanently up and running.

According to the AU’s timeline, tariffs must be liberalised no later than 1 July 2020 to mark the beginning of free trade on that same date.

African Heads of State met in Kigali, Rwanda to launch the Continental Free Trade Area in 2018 © STR / AFP

Source: Africa Report

Understanding Africa: Our Beautiful Continent in Five Maps


For many, Africa holds a special place in our hearts. It is the birthplace of our species; an epic landscape stuffed with biodiversity and humankind’s oldest traditional practices. It is impossible not to hold romantic notions about Africa, from the knowable — the Pride of a Lion – to the mysterious unknowable. The epic, ancient walled city of Great Zimbabwe, for example, is a place where myth blends with reality.

But what are the forces that have shaped the Continent as we know it in the twenty-first century? With five maps, provided by Tusk Photo, we’ve set out to answer exactly that.

Geographical Africa

It seems almost a contradiction that Africa still mostly consists of developing nations, seeing as humans in Africa effectively had a head start of thousands of years. The earliest signs of civilization are all in modern day Pakistan (the Indus Valley) and Iraq (Mesopotamia), and then it was the Europeans who made the scientific breakthroughs that gave them the technological edge. But how?

The answer, simply put, is geography. Africa may be stuffed with natural resources and wealth, like oil and diamonds, but they are hard to get to. Apart from the Nile, most of its rivers don’t add up. Or they have waterfalls and rapids that prohibit trade on its rivers.

Africa has no cereal crops, making farming difficult. Africa also has no large native mammals that could be domesticated to work the land. In short, Africa’s geography makes trade and farming very hard for its people.

Environmental Africa

Africa is very difficult – if not almost impossible – to travel across on foot. Africa’s beautiful and rich landscapes can be very challenging, and its sheer size discouraged exploring too far. When the Arabs invaded Africa from the Middle East, it took them generations to cross the Sahara desert. The Sahara is bigger than the entire United States of America. When the Arabs finally crossed it they entered the ‘Sahal’ a rocky desert with very little rainfall that was just as difficult – the Arabs never settled beyond the Sahal in significant numbers.

The Europeans made inroads into Africa from the bottom-up. South Africa, being so far south, has a cool and pleasant climate much like Europe’s. But as the Europeans moved further into the heart of the continent, they crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. At this point the climate changed. All of the livestock they brought with them quickly died, and crops would not grow in the heat. Disease spread by malaria and the tsetse fly quickly put an end to any significant European expansion – and they kept mostly to the south.

European colonisation

The nineteenth century was the European century. In previous decades the Portuguese had circumnavigated Africa, opening up new trade routes to India – another very rich continent like Africa. South Africa was initially a stopping-off point for the Europeans, but they liked it so much they established large colonies. In the end the Europeans realized just how much wealth lay in the continent and carved up the continent amongst each other. The British Empire dreamt of a single trade network that stretched all the way from Cape Town (South Africa) to Cairo (Egypt): something that became possible thanks to technological railway innovation.

Africa’s religious legacy

Africa’s religious identity largely reflects that of past conquerors. The Arabs brought the Muslim faith with them to the North; the Europeans spread Christianity up through sub-Saharan Africa. The rocky and inhospitable Sahal acted as a giant natural barrier for both conquerors. Hence it is not uncommon to refer to Africa as two distinct regions: ‘North Africa’ and ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’.

Both Islam and Christianity are Abrahamic religions and are known as ‘proselytizing’ faiths: meaning their followers are commanded to spread the religion to non-believers. This is the reason hundreds of millions of Africans today practice either Islam or Christianity (although many of them have blended traditional customs into them).

Both the Sahal and stricter attitudes to sex in Muslim countries have halted the spread of HIV/AIDS, which disproportionately affects Africans below the Sahal.

A lot of Africans today are descended from the Bantu people. The Bantu were successful conquerors of Africa, despite themselves being Africa. They displaced, defeated, and intermarried, absorbing many other tribes into their gene pool. Whereas, surprisingly, the Madagascan people are largely of Southeast Asian descent – meaning their ancestors must have hitched a ride over the Indian Ocean for a new life many thousands of years ago.

The true size of Africa

This map is more of an eye-opener of Africa more than anything. It shows how much bigger the occupied territories in Africa were than the lands of the Europeans. Despite being bigger, in the nineteenth century, rapid population growth meant there were four Europeans to every African.

Africa is much bigger than it appears on standard maps of the world. This is due to the struggle of representing the 3D spherical Earth on a 2D map. In reality, Africa is vast. Truly vast. Most of the world’s great powers fit comfortably within her borders.

City Focus: Nairobi


Clean energy and investment industries in Nairobi and Europe take part in the biggest wind farm project in Africa.

Having been founded by colonial authorities in 1899 as a railway settlement, Nairobi is a fast-growing city and currently has a population of 4,556,381 (2019).

This young city is situated 300 miles from North West Mombasa (Kenya’s major port on the Indian Ocean) and covers a total of 696km2 of land that has been transformed, from the uninhabitable swampland it was prior to 1899, into a modern hub of Kenya’s rail freight, commerce and manufacturing industries.

Having developed at a considerable rate, Nairobi continues to make strides in the renewable energy sector. In July 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled the Lake Turkana Wind Power project — Africa’s largest facility of its kind, with offices based in Nairobi. The farm consists of 365 wind turbines with a capacity of 850KW and is situated within a valley that serves as an effective wind tunnel for the site that covers 40,000 acres.

The project will also include the upgrade of an existing road, approximately 204km long, to the wind farm site, as well as access road networks. Meanwhile, The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (Ketraco) is constructing a double circuit 400kv, transmission line covering 428km, in order to deliver electricity from Lake Turkana Wind Power or any other future plants to Nairobi and the rest of Kenya.

The Lake Turkana Wind Power project aims to boost Kenya’s electricity supply, move away from depending on fossil fuels and provide “reliable, low cost energy to Kenya’s national grid” in the hope of achieving Kenya’s goal of 100% green energy by 2020. According to CNBC, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, is “pleased to note that Kenya is without doubt on course to be a global leader in renewable energy.”

To ensure that professional behaviour and activities reflect their philosophy, the project upholds core values that include being “collaborative”, “accessible” and “respectful”, as well as “always working to a high standard of excellence in a manner that is safe.”  

Alongside the aim to boost Kenya’s electricity supply, the farm has been keen to ensure that the surrounding community benefits from the project, which has caused Lake Turkana Wind Power to establish “The Winds of Change” foundation to help enhance the livelihoods of the communities surrounding the project area. Key focuses for the foundation include enhancing employability via educational and vocational support, enhancing access to health services by supporting health education and facilities, and providing water.

The Lake Turkana Wind Power project has been funded by an assortment of African and European companies such as; KP&P Africa B.V, Aldwych International, Investment Fund for Developing Countries, Vestas Eastern Africa Limited, Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd, KLP Norfund Investments AS and Sandpiper Ltd.

KP&P Africa B.V – Netherlands

Established in 2006, the objective of this Dutch company is to invest in renewable energy projects in Africa. KP&P Africa B.V is one of two companies involved with the co-development of Lake Turkana Wind Power.

Aldwych International – Nairobi

Aldwych International (formed in 2004) develop, own and oversee the generation, transmission and distribution of power in Africa. Aldwych International is the second company involved with the co-development of Lake Turkana Wind Power.

Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) – Nairobi

IFU are commercial investors that offer advice and risk capital to companies doing business in developing countries. The Norwegian company invests in 143 countries, has 203 active projects to date and has 1083 completed projects, all of which have contributed to economic and social development. To date, IFU has invested approximately $3.5mn in the Lake Turkana Wind Power project.

Vestas Eastern Africa Limited – South Africa

Vestas is a global company that was established in 1898. The firm works to delivery sustainable energy solutions by designing, manufacturing, installing and servicing wind turbines across the world.

Currently, Vestas has “101GW of wind turbines in 80 countries”, one of which being Africa, North of Nairobi. For the Lake Turkana Wind Power project Vestas transported “parts for 365 wind turbines across 1,200km of road in a country that has never undertaken an energy project of this magnitude.”

Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd (Finnfund) – Finland

Finnfund is a development financing company that strives to build a sustainable world by investing in responsible and profitable businesses in developing countries. The company was formed in 1980 with Finnfund generating 6,065 GWh of clean energy for developing countries.

KLP Norfund Investments AS – West Africa

Established in 1998, Norfund has five regional offices, one of which is located in Nairobi. Norfund aims to invest in countries where it can achieve the greatest possible impact through the development of sustainable businesses. Norfund has currently invested around $1.4mn into the Lake Turkana Wind Power project.

Vision For Africa


I have journeyed through Africa, meeting with hundreds of employees, customers and partners. My key takeaway from my travels was that there is tremendous optimism and talented people who are ready to help Africa grow and thrive. My vision is to help improve access to quality education for all; drive economic growth; create jobs and improve the ease of doing business for entrepreneurs using future technologies. There is a lot that needs to happen for Africa to realise this vision. Companies are going to need to partner with the various governments to help drive the change and prepare our citizens for this technologically advanced era. 

My vision for the African continent and its people is focused on these pillars: 

Improving access to quality education

Having access to a quality education has helped me to get to where I am today, so I am very passionate about education. In Africa, 43% of the population is currently aged below 15, the highest percentage in the world. By 2035 the number of sub-Saharan Africans reaching working age of 15-64 will exceed the rest of the world combined, adding 12 million to the labour force every year (World Bank: Human Capital Project, 2018). It’s an eye-opening statistic, particularly when you learn that 97.54 million children of school going age are in fact not in school. More concerning is that four million sub-Saharan girls will never attend school compared to two million boys. Given that Africa is the region with the highest rate of return on education — each year of schooling raises learning by 11 % for males and 14% for females — those are definitely statistics we need to change. 

Vision For Africa

For underserved and marginalized groups, people with disabilities, refugees, and those not in school, technology can be a great equalizer, helping to bridge the digital divide and connect people and communities to greater learning opportunities. The problem is that a lack of basic technological infrastructure puts developing countries at risk of experiencing new technological, economic and social divides. If public-private partnerships can be created to address this issue, then technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to improve the standard of education across Africa. Our vision is to empower teachers, improve learning outcomes and help to equip learners across the continent with the business and technology skills they need to succeed. Already, AI assistants are helping teachers with more administrative tasks enabling them to free up time to focus on helping individual learners who need more guidance. AI is assisting learners to improve their weak points by identifying stronger and weaker skillsets when they complete online exercises. The AI backbone learns to push more questions that will help to improve the learner’s weaker knowledge areas thereby improving their overall knowledge base and results come test time.

Utilising technology for entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but new technologies are making daily life for entrepreneurs easier, and are presenting new and exciting opportunities. It is more important than ever to produce school-leavers and graduates who have greater STEM skills, and the capability to understand how to navigate and operate successfully in the new world of work. 

Across Africa, entrepreneurs are embracing technology to answer some of the continents most pressing needs, such as access to life-saving medical care; improving financial inclusion – particularly in rural areas and improving standards of education.

Many women who become entrepreneurs out of economic necessity do not intend or have the skills to build large and successful companies. Their decision to start a business instead of seeking wage work is influenced by important constraints such as differences in skills, capital, networks, time and family formation, occupational opportunities, and safety. In order to uplift young female entrepreneurs, we need to ensure that they have access to a good STEM-based education and the tools necessary to capture opportunities. 

I am proud to be part of an organisation that is actively working towards uplifting women across the continent. The agreement that HP Inc and UN Women signed in 2019 during the UN General Assembly, will help to advance education, entrepreneurship and digital learning for women and girls in five priority countries: Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Morocco. HP firmly believes we have a role to play, and have already entered into a number of partnerships with organisations such as Girl Rising, whose aim is to ensure that girls around the world are educated and empowered so they can reach their full potential.

In South Africa, we collaborated with institutions such as the Ekurhuleni West TVET College in Katlehong, and its Centre of Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator, and opened an HP LIFE Centre — a more formal, technology-enabled hub to facilitate learning, collaboration and entrepreneurship in a physical, face-to-face setting. We also expanded into Africa with HP LIFE opening in Nigeria, where more than 5,000 new users joined the program in 2018. I would like to see us partnering with more African schools who would receive HP Learning Studios, to support thousands of students across the Continent.

Technology as a vehicle for economic growth

The World Bank believes that Africa is pivotal to the future of global development and plans to invest $25bn in Africa’s digital transformation over the next decade. Many studies show that the adoption of new technologies can result in greater productivity, greater competitiveness and profitability, which in turn facilitates the creation of more, and better jobs. The result of a stronger agricultural, business, tourism and manufacturing sector is a reduction in poverty, and economic growth, not just for the individual country, but the continent as a whole. 

Tech hubs are springing up across the continent, in countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, and Tunisia among others. In fact, the latest collaborative effort by Briter Bridges and the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator programme, identifies 618 active tech hubs across the continent, an increase of 40 percent from the year before. 

Still the continent’s general lack of infrastructure, capabilities, skills and awareness prove to be barriers to digitalization and growth. Public-private partnerships can help to boost digital literacy from school-going age to those already in the workforce. ICT skills can be integrated into business management training, and school curriculums, so that adoption of automation and other technologies are seen as less of a threat and less of a challenge. 

New technologies have the potential to enable farmers to increase yields, select new crops, conserve natural resources, and better understand and adapt to climate change. By ensuring that new technologies are more easily accessible for start-ups and entrepreneurs, mentoring them, more farmers will be able to play an increasing role in boosting the local and national economies.  

Giving back

The digital era is constantly requiring new skillsets and opening new roles that hadn’t been thought of ten, or twenty years ago. By preparing youth and upskilling the existing workforce, we can increase the positive impact that technology can have on the continent.

I am hugely proud to work for a company that shares the same values as me, and I am convinced, more than ever, that HP can make a difference in peoples’ lives across the continent. I am committed to giving back to Africa by sharing what I have learnt from my experiences, and I know I can leverage on existing great initiatives and people, many of whom I met over the past eight months.

Djibouti Reaffirms Its Ambition To Sit As A Non-permanent Member Of The United Nations Security Council


While the 33rd African Union Summit is held in Addis Ababa, the Republic of Djibouti reaffirms its ambition, already announced at the end of 2016, to sit as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2021 -2022 period. Five of the ten non-permanent members of the Security Council will be elected at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly to be held in June 2020 in New York. Africa is required by statute to be entrusted with one of these five seats and, according to the tradition of regional rotation adopted by the African Union, it is East Africa’s turn to apply.

In this context, Djibouti is formally challenging the process carried out within the African Union which led to Kenya’s competing nomination. This process took place in violation of the rules and traditions of the organization. Djibouti points out that the texts provide that, in the event of multiple candidacies or lack of consensus, states are chosen according to two principles: that of last rotation and that of frequency. In both cases, Djibouti’s candidacy should have prevailed. Djibouti served on the Security Council for the last time in 1993-1994 and Kenya in 1997-1998. In addition, Djibouti has served only one term in its entire history (1993-1994) while Kenya has served two terms (1977-1978 and 1997-1998).

Djibouti
African Union’s headquarters in Addis-Abeba

Djibouti reaffirms its unconditional support for African unity, but also firmly reiterates that the rules democratically adopted between the States of the African Union must apply to all. These rules and traditions essentially guarantee the stability and transparency of the African nomination processes within the United Nations.

Djibouti’s candidacy is fundamentally African and free. Because of its history, Djibouti recognizes both the virtues and the requirements of independence. Because of its history, Djibouti offers an opening towards a plurality of leading economic and strategic partners for the continent, from China to the United States, Europe, and the countries bordering the Red Sea. Due to its unique location at the crossroads of major commercial, political, and diplomatic currents, the Republic of Djibouti holds its neutrality as a cardinal value. It has learned how to reconcile interests that sometimes diverge. Finally, it represents a unique platform in terms of dialogue, mediation, and peaceful conflict resolution.

Djibouti has repeatedly demonstrated its determination and its ability to coordinate strategic efforts for the pacification of the Horn of Africa. The country is actively engaged in the fight against terrorism and in securing maritime trade in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. Djibouti has also been resolutely involved in the fight against piracy and the protection of refugees by hosting a number of support structures on its soil. In addition to participating in numerous peacekeeping missions under the UN flag, since the early 1990s the country has been engaged in the process of dialogue and peace in Somalia with the deployment of troops through AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia).

This ambition and this experience are not new; Djibouti already had them in 1993 during its last term in the United Nations Security Council. Now, 25 years later, they have only been strengthened. As a result, on February 6 in Addis Ababa, Djibouti will chair for a month the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, a permanent decision-making body of the African Union for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Among the topics to be discussed on this occasion are the crises in Libya and South Sudan, the future of AMISOM, the planned elections in Somalia, and the security situation in the Red Sea.

Linguistically, Africa cannot be reduced to supposed areas of influence and aligned with “official” languages. Of course we are French-speaking, but also Arabic-speaking and English-speaking by nature of our economy being open to the world. As the African Continental Free Trade Area is being implemented, African leaders must integrate a new pan-African paradigm, far from the postcolonial heritage, for the benefit and respect of the different cultures that make up the continent.

This candidacy also embodies the need to take into account the contributions of “Small States” to decisions that determine the future of the planet, in particular with regard to the issue of climate change. The area and size of the economy cannot be the only factors in being elected to the Security Council.

The Republic of Djibouti regards its candidacy as legitimate and that of a united Africa. Consequently, it intends to defend and promote it until the vote before the United Nations General Assembly in June 2020.