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REPORT OF LAST WEEK (from 14/10/13 to 18/10/13)

by Dario Galluccio

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

Nigeria: MainOne signs $100m refinancing deal with 4 Nigerian Banks

To further expand its services in providing wholesale broadband and bandwidth telecommunications services, Nigeria’s indigenous fibre optic cable company, MainOne Cable Company Limited has signed a $100 million re-financing facility agreement with four Nigerian banks – Skye Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank Limited, First Bank of Nigeria Limited and First City Monument Bank Plc.

Chairman of MainOne Cable, Fola Adeola, said the facility was needed to expand the operations of the company and to further make business easy for their clients. He explained that the fund would help make interconnectivity easier and internet access faster and more efficient for the company’s clients.

MainOne has been expanding its services in Nigeria- its main market and other part of the West African region including Accra and Lome.

Ghana: France ready to establish more businesses

The French Ambassador to Ghana, Frederic Clavier has expressed his country’s readiness to establish more businesses in the country under the French Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking during a tour of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem mine at Tarkwa in the Western Region, he said Ghana has proven to be one of the perfect investment destinations in the sub-region. Ambassador Clavier said given the long standing relations between the two countries, France was ready to partner with institutions in Ghana to foster its socio-economic development.

He said some of the areas of social and economic cooperation in Ghana include education, science and technology. He said the time had come for institutions of higher learning in the extractive sector in the country to produce more expertise with technical know-how to enable those with the needed competencies to grab opportunities in the sector.

Ghana: To impresses investors in Chicago

Potential and existing investors in Ghana were impressed by the representation made by the Ghana delegation to the 9th Biennial U.S. – Africa Business Summit organised by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in Chicago.

The two-hour “Doing Business in Ghana” forum, led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was organised by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and gave attendees the opportunity to learn about business opportunities, governmental policies and private success stories from high-level government officials and representatives from Ghana.

The U.S. – Africa Business Summit is organised biennially to satisfy various needs of host African countries, potential investors and business partners. These needs include:

– Obtaining information on the latest trade and investment opportunities in Africa’s most promising sectors including agri-business, energy, health, infrastructure, capacity building, security, ICT and finance;

– Networking with as many as 1,500 key African and U.S. private sector and government representatives;

– Learning from a wide array of industry-specific and country-focused informational sessions;

– Exploring new business opportunities by identifying specific growth areas and projects;

– Discovering the latest financing options open to them; – Meeting potential business partners;

– Interacting with exhibitors representing companies on the cutting edge of investment in Africa, and

– Closing new business deals.

Mozambique: Spanish companies seek opportunities

Representatives of 35 Spanish companies have arrived in Maputo in search of business opportunities. In particular, the companies are interested in energy, water treatment, airports, roads and rail.

On 8 October, the delegation participated in a meeting with Mozambican businesses seeking partnerships. The event was organised by the Spanish Embassy in Maputo. A source in the Embassy told the daily newspaper “Noticias” that the delegation seeks to boost the Spanish presence in Mozambique, with world leading companies sending representatives on the trip.

The source stated that the world’s top three companies in the management of transport infrastructure projects are Spanish. In addition, the Spanish rail sector is present in five continents, with Spain’s high-speed rail network the second largest in the world. The country is also a world leader in logistics, oil refining, finance, security, biotechnology, the environment, water treatment, aerospace, naval technology, information and communications, sanitation and electronic governance.

According to the Spanish Embassy, major projects planned for electrification, tourism and agro-business make Mozambique an economy of huge interest. The Spanish government is to support its companies through a credit line of 75 million euros (102 million US dollars).

Ghana: To boost economic cooperation with Indonesia

Mr Lasro Simbolon, the Director for African Affairs of Indonesia, led a delegation of investors to pay a courtesy call on officials of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss cooperation between the two countries. Mr Lasro Simbolon said the two countries could collaborate to enhance bilateral relations. “Indonesia sees the potential in areas of economic growth in Africa, and we are committed to see that transition is carried out with Ghana,” he said. Mr Simbolon noted that the two countries had rich potentials to explore business opportunities to sustain economic cooperation. He said the Ghana’needed economic growth in areas of infrastructure, agriculture, technological development and capacity building and invited members of the Chamber to one of Indonesia’s biggest Expo being held between October 16th and October 20.

Mr Seth Adjei Baah, President of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the two countries should in line with national development plans enhance economic cooperation for the welfare of their people. “As you decide to invest in Ghana, be assured that your money is safe, our hands are opened and I believe we can do more by collaborating with each other,” he added.

Ghana: Cedi stable to US Dollar

However, the local currency had depreciated by 14.5 percent against the American currency on the forex market so far this year. Analysts say the Bank of Ghana’s efforts to support the Ghana Cedi and other liquidity management efforts are finally having a positive impact despite robust import demand; they are predicting a further stable currency if the Central Bank continues its liquidity management operations despite pressure from large fiscal and current account deficits.

Meanwhile, on the currency market today, the Ghana Cedi remained relatively stable to the US Dollar. It however rose to the other major foreign currencies on the interbank market.

Africa: Private energy sector key to continent’s commercial future

Co-Founder of the $500 million Africa50 infrastructure fund, Mr Kola Aluko says the continued influence and growth of independent companies in the energy sector in Africa is vital, if the continent is to fulfil its true potential as a commercial power. Speaking to an international audience of business leaders during a discussion on the prospects and Challenges for Africa’s Energy sector at the US-Africa Business Summit in Chicago, Aluko made the statement as a panel member, just two weeks after the Made In Africa Foundation he co-founded with British designer, Ozwald Boateng, launched the ‘Africa50’ fund in association with the African Development Bank, at the NASDAQ in New York.

According to Aluko: “In the past, 97% of Nigeria’s production was dominated by the International Oil Companies who’s understandable focus on what was best for shareholders, didn’t always reflect what was best for the country. But the government is aware of the importance to change that and the introduction of tax benefits to independent operators is a major incentive to work for the wider benefit and generate a trickle down effect which then benefits the population.”

Africa shows interest in Zimbabwe

Fellow African countries are continuing to show keen interest in bringing their investments into Zimbabwe, an investment expert has said. Traditionally, Asian and European countries have been known to invest in Zimbabwe. Imara Zimbabwe executive director Mr Tino Kambasha told that large African capital firms are now showing a lot of interest in the country. He added that the fact is that one cannot ignore Zimbabwe and its large consumer base anymore as many equity fund managers are eager to explore opportunities for strong capital growth and high equity yields.

A Kenyan private equity firm, Fanisi Capital, announced recently that it will launch its second fund of US$100 million to be invested in new markets across Southern Africa before the end of next year, a company official said. Botswana Stock Exchange-listed retail group Choppies Enterprises last week announced the acquisition of 49 percent of an unnamed Zimbabwean supermarket chain comprising 10 stores.

Ghana: Government optimistic meeting revenue targets

Government is optimistic of meeting revenue targets with new tax hikes despite present difficulties with collection of the taxies. Government is basing its optimism on business activities that picked up in the last quarter of this year.

In August this year, government introduced three new taxes to address revenue shortfalls. These include the National Stabilization Levy and Customs and Excise Bill – however the third bill, Special Import Bill, is yet to be laid before Parliament.

The state has so far been able to collect GH¢ 25 million from the GH¢ 371 million revenue target. There are fears the country might not realize the revenue target because of a slowdown in business activities, as well as smuggling activities at the ports; but Deputy Minister of Finance, Kweku Ricketts-Hagan said the Ministry has instituted measures to ensure the GH¢ 371 million target is realised.

“Taxes may be the main revenue stream but there are other revenue streams as huge as taxes that also come – so it becomes a case of prioritinsing your expenditure”, he said.

Meanwhile, banks, mining firms, telcos and other financial institutions would by the end of this month be giving away 5% of their profits as Stabilization Levy.

Nigeria: Total to fund contractors under $7.5Bn initiative

Total E&P Nigeria Limited and Total Upstream Nigeria Limited, in partnership with 8 banks have launched a $7.5 billion Nigerian Contractors’ Initiative (NCI) to create a sustainable funding channel for the energy giants’ local contractors.

Based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is in line with the Nigerian local content policy, the contractors, which include vendors and suppliers, will sufficiently receive capital which also will be domiciled with the partnering banks. Total MD/CEO Mr. Guy Maurice, said over the weekend the MoU provides for sustainable funding relationship between the banks and Total’s indigenous contractors.

Mr. Jibril Aku, the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, one of the partnering banks, explained the finance programme would help sustain the contractors and help them play a more active role in the oil and gas sector.

The partnering lenders for the NCI include Ecobank Nigeria, Zenith Bank, Diamond Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Standard Chartered Bank, Access Bank and Fidelity Bank.

Ethiopia: To launch Eurobond

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn says his country is planning to launch a Eurobond once it secures its credit rating, but it will not open its telecoms and banking sectors to foreigners as revenue drawn from both sectors helps fund development of infrastructure.

Foreign appetite for African bonds has been strong as investors scramble for high yields. However, Prime Minister Desalegn’s declaration may disappoint foreign investors who had hoped for a paradigm shift from the state-led policies of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died last August.

The Prime Minister told journalists that he would stick to a policy that has kept the telecoms monopoly in state hands and the banking sector – dominated by three state institutions – off limits to foreigners, as income or financing from those entities is being used to develop the country’s infrastructure. Dasalegn also said that the East African nation is willing to harness the international debt market by issuing an external bond to relieve the country’s foreign currency shortage.

According to him, Ethiopia will also launch other bonds alongside Eurobond.

Although Prime Minister Desalegn did not give an exact date on when the country will get a credit rating, he hinted that it is at a critical stage alongside the issuance of the bond. A credit rating allows countries to access funds outside their country. The possession of a good credit rating attracts Foreign Direct Investment because it gives investors information about the economic stability of the country they are investing in.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Abraham Tekeste said the Ethiopian economy grew by 9.7% in the past fiscal year. Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth largest economy, expects FDI of about $2 billion a year through 2015.

Zambia: More investors target mining sector

Several Chinese investors have expressed interest in investing in Zambia’s mining sector through the United Nations (UN) South-South Cooperation initiative, Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Emmanuel Chenda has said.

Mr Chenda said in an interview that on the sidelines of the recently held UN General Assembly in the United States of America (USA), he met with several potential investors, among them Chinese, who expressed interest in setting up mineral exploration ventures in Zambia.

Meanwhile, Mr Chenda said the benefits of Government’s intervention to remove the subsidy on fossil fuels has started paying off as a number of other renewable forms of energy are being identified. The minister reiterated that maintaining the subsidy on fuel could have negatively affected the country’s capacity to generate energy from other sources.

Nigeria: Federal Government woos Brazilians to invest in power

To ensure rapid development of electricity distribution, the Federal Government has appealed to the Brazilian Government to invest in Nigeria’s power sector with a view to revamping the ailing sector. The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo who said this while receiving a Brazilian delegation led by Vice-Minister of Development, Industry and International Trade, Mr. Ricardo Shaefer, said the government needs assistance from around the world to revamp the ailing power sector.

The minister also requested for synergy and co-operation of the Brazilians in Nigeria’s quest to ensure all her nationals are connected to electricity. He said that “Brazil has done well in many aspects of electricity especially in big hydro, biomass, solar, wind and coal. Nigeria intends to learn from the experience of Brazil, as the country has already leap frog in the attainment of development goals.”

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Amb. Godknows Igali, said that opportunities in the power sector is in mega dimension. He added that the nation’s target of moving from over 4,000 mega watts to 40,000MW in the next seven years would require double efforts from Nigeria’s friends abroad.

South Africa: French firms urged to collaborate

French and South African companies have been encouraged to work together on the industrialisation of South Africa and the African continent. Speaking at a business forum on the sidelines of the state visit by French President Francois Hollande on Monday, 14th October, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said that although France was among the country’s top five partners in the European Union (EU), a lot more still needed to be done.

France is among South Africa’s top 10 trading partners. The two countries have significant and sizeable trade and investment relations.

Davies said that what needed to be improved were partnerships between the two countries on industrialisation. He said the African continent was recognised as one of the growing frontiers in the world and that the African region needed to integrate.

South Africa is engaged in a massive infrastructure programme, with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) having also set up infrastructure programmes, and these should form the basis for industrialisation, Davies said.

Zimbabwe: Nation to have new diamond miner

The Government has granted a licence to Global Diamond Trekkers to explore for the gems in the Middle Sabi area of Manicaland province, about 100 km south east of the Chiadzwa fields. According to a statement issued by the company, it was given permission to investigate the potential for mining diamonds in the Middle Sabi area. The alluvial diamond concession lies in the Middle Sabi valley, about 167 km south of Mutare in Manicaland province.

Global Diamond Trekkers said it had since engaged a consultancy firm to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project. The company will in the short term conduct an exploration exercise to determine the extent of the resources. Thereafter it would seek compliance with industry regulator the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.

Zimbabwe is a notable diamond producer with huge reserves of the mineral especially in the Marange area. The five joint-venture mines in Marange produced a combined eight million carats of the gems last year and generated at least US$684 million in exports.

Industry experts say Zimbabwe has the potential to account for at least 25 percent of global production by the end of the decade.

Nigeria: To take ICT investment drive to Silicon Valley

The Ministry of Communication Technology is holding a Silicon Valley Investment Forum in San Francisco, United States of America (USA), to showcase the untapped potential of the Nigerian ICT sector – its success stories and investment opportunities to the global community.

The three-day forum will showcase the development of Nigeria’s technology sector including policy, economic development and individual success stories of start-ups in the country.

The aim of the forum is to further highlight the potential of the Nigerian ICT sector and increase exposure of ideation and innovation in Nigeria. The forum will showcase Nigeria’s Innovation drive and success stories of start-ups like Jumia, Co Creation Hub, Venia Business Hub, Wakanow.com, Interswitch, Paga etc. Also, a new report on Nigeria’s ICT sector by the Oxford Business Group will be circulated at the forum.

The Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, will speak on the potential of the Nigerian ICT sector and initiatives of the Ministry to accelerate the growth of the sector.

Ethiopia: Growth is impressive – African Development Bank

Ethiopia’s strong, decade-long economic growth made it possible for the country to be on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals says the African Development Bank (AfDB).

In its latest publication “AfDB and Ethiopia – Partnering for Inclusive Growth” the Bank point to huge investment in infrastructure and commercialization of agriculture as major causes for the average 11% annual growth over the past nine years, making Ethiopia the biggest economy in East Africa.

The Bank lauded the government’s development policy that lead to broad based growth and a considerable reduction in poverty, noting pro-poor policies accounted for 69% of expenditure in the 2011-12 budget year alone.

Prudent monetary policies brought inflation down to 7.7% in 2013 from a high of 40% in mid-2011. The Bank underlines its commitment to continue partnership with Ethiopia, aligning its country strategy with the Growth and Transformation Plan.

It notes “the government of Ethiopia’s key development objective is to achieve inclusive, accelerated and sustained economic growth and to eradicate poverty” and expresses the Bank’s strong conviction of the prospects of Ethiopia’s development.

The Bank’s country strategy principles included alignment with the Growth and transformation Plan, prioritizing infrastructure, regional integration, governance and private sector development and supporting the East African Integration strategy. The Bank has therefore supported the Ethio-Djibouti Electric Power Interconnection Project, the Ethio-Kenya Electric Highway project, the Mombasa-Nairobi-Addis Ababa Road Corridor and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program.

Since it joined the African Development Bank Group in 1964, Ethiopia has benefitted from loans and grants to the tune of US$3.75 billion, making it the sixth largest beneficiary in the continent.

South Sudan: Korean millionaires to invest

South Sudan will soon witness a number of investors from Korea coming willingly to invest in diverse natural resources in the country. The government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has already embarked on serious discussions on how these millionaires will be handled when they arrive in the country.

The head of Korean mission in Uganda, Park Jong Dae confirmed that the millionaires will arrive as soon as the necessary arrangements are completed. He said South Sudan has a promising investment potential and the Korean millionaires are interested to invest there.

He also said he will be leaving shortly for Juba to see how the Korean peace keepers can introduce new programs to improve its developmental service to South Sudan. The envoy disclosed all this after a meeting with the minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, while in Kampala.

Kenya: Standard Bank, ICBC raise $108m debt facility heavy fuel plant

Standard Bank Group and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have concluded a $108 million debt financing package with Triumph Kenya to construct a 83MW heavy fuel oil plant in the east African nation. As mandated co-lead arrangers, CfC Stanbic Bank, a member of Standard Bank Group, provided $28 million of debt funding while ICBC supplied $80 million. The ICBC finance portion will be for the plant, currently being built 25km from Nairobi.

Kenya Power also signed a 20-year agreement with Triumph to purchase power from the plant, which will be a crucial supplier to the utility during times of drought when the country’s hydroelectric generating capacity becomes constrained.

The World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) will provide $102.5 million in breach of contract insurance should Kenya Power fail to honour its 20-year power purchase agreement with Triumph. MIGA’s insurance will also cover the Government of Kenya’s obligations under the Government of Kenya Letter of Support.

Kenya has historically relied on hydropower for most of its electricity needs and has a current installed generating capacity of 1,672 MW, compared with peak power demand of 1,330 MW. The nation’s economy has expanded at an average rate of 4-5 percent over the last 3 years.

Nigeria: Fitch rates economy stable

Fitch Ratings, an international independent rating agency, rated Nigeria’s economic outlook as stable. The agency also affirmed the country’s long-term foreign and local currency IDRs and senior unsecured bond ratings at ‘BB-‘ and ‘BB’ respectively, while the short-term foreign currency IDR was rated ‘B’ and Country Ceiling at ‘BB-‘. This vote of confidence on the prospects of the Nigerian economy is coming a few days after another respected international rating agency, Standard & Poor’s also affirmed a strong and positive rating for the management of the economy.

According to the agency, the affirmation reflects the following key rating drivers, a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.4 per cent in the first half of 2013, noting that though lower than the level in 2012, the country showed resilience in the face of exogenous shocks.

The agency noted the non-oil economy had slowed but still grew by 7.9 per cent in 2012 and 7.6 per cent in the first half of 2013. The agency expressed optimism that non-oil growth should pick up in the second half of 2013, as normal weather had resumed and the authorities had responded to the security problems. Reforms to the electricity and agriculture sectors could start to boost potential growth.

Other key drivers of the rating, as highlighted by the agency, included inflation rate, which had remained in single digits all year – the lowest in five years and the longest stretch of single digit inflation since 2008. Also, policy rates were unchanged and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had the twin aims of achieving single-digit inflation and maintaining exchange rate stability. Fitch also adjudged public finances as remaining comfortable and estimated a general government deficit of around 1.8 per cent of GDP this year and next.

Ghana: Fitch downgrades … From B+ to B

Fitch has downgraded Ghana from a B to a B, largely because of the government’s difficulty in managing the rising wage bill and of the increased debt to GDP ratio pose short-term challenges to the economy. Ghana was put on a B (negative) outlook in February this year and has since been under continuous assessment by Fitch, which had expressed concern over several factors affecting the short-term health of Ghana’s economy.

While experts recognise Ghana’s bright prospects in the medium term, it is believed that the government will struggle with controlling the fiscal situation over the next 18 months.

The outlook for post-2015 looks much better,” a sources,close to the rating agency, said, citing Ghana’s removal of subsidies on petroleum products as helping the fiscal situation, but continued subsidies on utilities, especially power, posed challenges for fiscal stability and growth going forward.

South Africa: Eskom wins R1.3 billion French solar loan

France is to lend €100-million (R1.3-billion) to South African state company Eskom to help finance a 100 megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power plant near Upington in the Northern Cape. Eskom and the French Development Agency (AFD) agreed, during French President Francois Hollande’s state visit to South Africa, to facilitate the signing of the loan.

Eskom chief executive Brian Dames said in a statement that the Upington CSP project, one of Eskom’s first commercial-scale renewable energy projects outside of its existing hydro portfolio, “puts us on a path towards reducing our carbon footprint and investing in a sustainable energy future”. The Upington CSP project is expected to deliver an annual energy production of 525 GWh and will be sufficient to power 200 000 homes.

Liberia: ‘Most Improved’ nation

Liberia leads the table of biggest governance improvers in Africa since 2000, and has seen largest improvements in Safety & Rule of Law.

The 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) revealed that Liberia is the ‘most improved country’ on the continent in terms of overall governance since 2000. The top five most improved countries in the 2013 IIAG are all post-conflict countries: Liberia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Burundi.

The 2013 IIAG provides full details of Liberia’s performance across four categories of governance: Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development. Since 2000, Liberia has shown its biggest improvement in the category of Safety & Rule of Law, which measures judicial functions, accountability, transparency and corruption, property rights, personal safety and national security, among others.

Liberia’s performance in the 2013 IIAG stands as follow: Ranks 29th (out of 52) overall; scores 50.3 (out of 100), lower than the African; average (51.6); has improved by +24.8 since 2000; ranks 10th (out of 16) in the West African region; scores lower than the regional average for West Africa (52.5) and ranks highest in the category Participation & Human Rights (19th out of 52).

According to report, West Africa ranks 3rd out of five regions at the overall governance level. This has been the case every year since 2000, except in 2011 when it ranked 2nd.

South Africa: Old Mutual set to invest $101m in Africa

Old Mutual Investment Group SA (Omigsa) said it is set to raise R10 billion ($101 million) to invest in private equity, infrastructure and agriculture funds throughout Africa. Diane Radley, the CEO at Omigsa, said domestic pension funds will be used as sources for the investment money that will generate long-term yields.

According to Radley, by 2050 at least one in three youngsters in the globe will be living in the African continent; this, she said, will turn Africa into one of the greatest and thrilling consumer markets going forward.

Omigsa, the South Africa-based unit of Old Mutual, is Africa’s biggest insurance company listed on London and Johannesburg stock exchanges.

Nigeria: Brittania-U offers $1.2 Billion for Chevron Oil blocs

Brittania-U Nigeria Limited, a Lagos-based marginal oil field operator, has reportedly offered Chevron a $1.2 billion for 3 of its listed oil blocs, throwing lower bidders into panic. Chevron has been seeking to liquidate its 40 percent stake in blocs OMLs 52, 53, 55, 83 and 85, listing them for sale to local operators. The indigenous oil firm has been rivalled by fellow operators Seplat/Amni Production, Niger Delta Petroleum/SAPETRO and Sahara/Septa – all Nigerian companies – seeking to acquire the reserves-rich fields. The blocs are said to hold oil reserves in excess of 250 million barrels of oil and over 3.5 billion cubic feet of gas, valued at $400 million.

Though no official declaration has been made, Brittania-U’s latest bid – believed to be $1 billion higher than other bids – looks set to put an end to the 3-month bidding process. Brittania-U is bidding to buy OMLs 52, 53 and 55, estimated to contain proven oil and gas reserves of 555 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBOE), a Business Day report revealed.

The oil and gas company’s astonishing offer has been supported by an equity financing partner, an arrangement Eddy Wikina, former external relation affairs manager, Shell Nigeria Exploration Petroleum Company (SNEPCO), feels was easy initiated due to the company’s excellent credit rating.