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News Africa - A Progressive Outlook

  • Kulani Mtileni on creating sustainable jobs for domestic workers

    BY NAZLEY OMAR In June 2016, Kulani Mtileni founded Polokwane Cleaning Ladies with the aim of helping domestic workers find permanent employment and improving their financial situation Mtileni always knew he was destined for entrepreneurship. He started out by selling sweets to his classmates while he was in high school. In 2011, he qualified as a registered dietician and opened his own practice, Kulani Dietetic Practice, in Polokwane. After noticing the increasing levels of unemployment and poverty in his community, he was inspired to do more. At the age of 27, he launched Polokwane Cleaning Ladies. “I was exposed to many young women who were struggling to find work and unable to make ends meet,” he explains. “My concern for them motivated me to do something that could help improve their situation.” Read More
  • Case study: How this Singapore tech company built a thriving business in Africa

    by Otavio Veras Singapore is the home of CrimsonLogic, an information and communication technologies (ICT) company founded in 1988. Within only six years of its creation, it was already taking its first steps on the African continent. In 1994, CrimsonLogic opened an office in Mauritius, the first move of what has become a series of successful stories in the e-government and ICT sectors in Africa. The company has conducted projects in nine sub-Saharan African countries, including Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Ghana and Mauritius, and currently has set up offices in Rwanda and Botswana to better take care of local projects. Read More
  • Investing in port infrastructure in Angola

    by Staff Writer  Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, the  founder and chairman of the Advisory Board for Quantum Global Group, talks about the Port de Caio project (POC), how it will benefit the surrounding community and Angola as a whole, and his involvement in it as a majority shareholder. How long has the POC project been going on for? The port has been under development for close to 10 years during which time the port concept was both expanded and altered to reflect current market realities. Initially, a group of promoters that included myself and other local Angolans were established to take on the crucial role of port promoter during the critical early development phases.  As the port concept developed, the state became involved in important discussions on legal and financing matters. Read More
  • The journey so far: Tunde Kehinde, co-founder, Lidya / Jumia

    by Jaco Maritz  Tunde Kehinde is co-founder of Nigerian SME-financing company Lidya. He was also a co-founder of e-commerce platform Jumia Nigeria. 1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner. During the first few years of your business, it seems you are going from one disaster to another every week. It could be a large customer – who represents the bulk of your revenue – that decides not to renew, or a rock star employee that leaves, or that investor you were counting on does not invest. I have learnt that life goes on. You need to spend as much time as you can thinking and reading deeply about your business so that you have clarity and can plan in advance. Then you execute as thoughtfully and as fast as you can to deliver on your customer promise. When the mistakes happen, don’t dwell in sorrow – understand what went wrong and don’t make them again. The key is to keep moving forward. Read More
  • Mozambique is Rising. Now It Is Time to Soar

    By Filipe Jacinto Nyusi Maputo — Twenty years ago, in 1997, President Joaquim Chissano arrived in Washington DC to attend the Corporate Council on Africa's First Biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit. He came as the leader of a nation still feeling the social and economic effects of a protracted and devastating conflict. Last month, I arrived in Washington to speak at the eleventh summit, as president of a different country. The Mozambique I lead today is a rapidly developing democracy that has gained a prominent place in Africa and the world. It is an African success story. Read More
  • Zim to Become Regional Power Hub

    By Tawanda Mangoma Zimbabwe is set to become a regional hub for power distribution by 2021 following plans to start construction of a 1 000-kilometre power line next year in partnership with stakeholders from Mozambique and South Africa, an official has said. Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) systems development manager Engineer Ikhupuleng Dube said the establishment of the power line would result in the construction of a mega power station in Triangle, that would distribute power to the region. Addressing stakeholders, who included villagers, businesspeople and politicians at a consultative meeting in Mwenezi on Wednesday last week, Eng Dube said the power line would originate in Mozambique, pass through southern Zimbabwe and ends in South Africa's northern Limpopo Province. Read More
  • Ghana Completes Radio Telescope Conversion For Square Kilometre Array

    By Peter Pedroncelli In an important milestone for the Square Kilometre Array project, Ghana has successfully converted a redundant telecommunications antenna into a functioning radio telescope. The 32m converted telecommunications antenna at the Ghana Intelsat Satellite Earth Station at Kutunse is now operational as a very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) radio telescope, forming part of plans for the Square Kilometre Array, according to ITWeb. This development is part of preparations for the second phase of the project, which will see the continued construction of the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, the largest of its kind on the planet, across the African continent. Read More
  • Interview: Using technology to boost the incomes of West African farmers

    by Justin Probyn Farmerline is a Ghanaian software company that provides small-scale farmers with information such as farming tips, market prices and weather reports. Through its mobile messaging platform, Farmerline breaks down literacy and language-related barriers by offering the content in both SMS and voice format in the farmer’s local language. According to Alloysius Attah, CEO and co-founder, the company also gives farmers access to financial services and helps them find with buyers for their crops. Read More
  • A checklist for African mid-stage companies looking to stand out to investors

    by Kate Douglas Johnni Kjelsgaard has spent over 15 years advising and mentoring entrepreneurs in East Africa. He is the founder of GrowthAfrica, an organisation that helps mid-stage companies overcome growth barriers and source investment.    Here are his general tips on how mid-size organisations can improve their chances of attracting investment. 1. Be relatable According Kjelsgaard, it is often easier for foreign entrepreneurs operating in African markets to access funding than it is for local business owners. This is not necessarily because they have better ideas or business acumen but rather because they are more relatable to the end investor. He noted that the source of much investment comes from overseas. To better their chances of getting investment, entrepreneurs need to know who they are pitching to, as well as the objectives of the investors. This understanding can help them better align their business (and themselves) with the fund’s core purpose. Read More
  • SA startup taking local and international museums by storm

    By STAFFORD THOMAS Michael Wolf had reason to be proud when a museum in Miami, Florida, opened its doors to the public in May. Three of the flagship hi-tech exhibits in the US$305m Phillip & Patricia Frost Museum of Science were designed and created by Wolf’s firm, Formula D interactive, in its Cape Town home base. “Working for a museum that had a big vision was an opportunity for our team to truly push the boundaries of what our technology could do to provide a fun and memorable learning experience,” says Wolf. “I am critical of our work and amazed with what we have achieved.” An important theme at the museum is the Miami region’s natural environment. It is something Formula D played a key role in bringing to life through virtual reality. Read More
  • Kenyan entrepreneur providing a digital alternative to textbooks

    by Justin Probyn Kytabu – which comes from ‘kitabu’, the Swahili word for ‘book’ – is an innovative textbook content-leasing app for students. Learners can rent textbooks or specific curriculum material on their phone or tablet, and pay for it with mobile money. There is also a service for schools. “We have got a pretty cool D2C model where a customer can rent a page a day, a book a day, a chapter a day – or for an hour, a week or months. Whatever it is that works for you, based on how much money you have in your pockets,” remarked Kenyan tech entrepreneur Tonee Ndungu, the founder of Kytabu. Ndungu, along with two other entrepreneurs, was recently awarded the King Baudouin African Development Prize. Read More
  • Who are the country’s most pessimistic CEOs?

    A poll of CEOs found average confidence swung to a pessimistic 38.7% in the second quarter from a slightly optimistic 51.4% in the first quarter. The quarterly Merchantec CEO confidence index found the majority of bosses surveyed were pessimistic about growth prospects in 2017 due to political instability, SA’s credit downgrades by all three major ratings agencies, ineffective empowerment policies along with tax increases. The survey echoed a Rand Merchant Bank sponsored business confidence index released on June 14 done by Stellenbosch University’s Bureau of Economic Research, which found business confidence in the second quarter collapsed 11 points to 29, the lowest since 2009. Read More
  • Building a fashion empire with Afrocentric bow ties

    by Oluwabusayomi Sotunde When Matthew “Tayo” Rugamba ventured into the fashion business in 2011, he began by selling his bow ties out of a backpack. At the time he was still living and studying in the US, but whenever he came back home to Rwanda for the holidays, he would work on making bow ties, and peddling them informally. Rugamba is the founder and creative director of House of Tayo, a Kigali-based fashion label known mostly for its attention-getting bow ties, neck ties, pocket scarves and snoods which are made from African “kitenge” fabrics. Rugamba uses House of Tayo as a creative vehicle to dispel myths and showcase the “actual” African culture, lifestyle and heritage that many around the world do not see. Read More
  • Kevin Hedderwick tests his entrepreneurial mettle again at Brian Joffe's Long4Life

    It is the week of the Second Career Coming: Grant Pattison, former Massmart CEO, taking on the toughest job in South African retail at Edcon and Famous Brands lifer Kevin Hedderwick teaming up with Brian Joffe at Long4Life as chief operating officer. Not keen to spend the rest of his days waiting for the occasional board pack, Hedderwick is back in the business of entrepreneurs. Read More
  • Lesotho: Pioneering Electronic Visa Program Aimed to Increase Tourism and Investment

    Lesotho is the only independent nation in the world with its entire land mass above 1,000 meters (3,281 feet). Now the country, with a population of 2.1 million and a surface area the size of Belgium, has another distinction – a top-tier electronic visa program, joining only 13 other countries on the continent, according to the African Development Bank's Visa Openness Index. Launched on May 5 – making Lesotho the ninth nation , the platform was created by the Lesotho government in partnership with a U.S.-based, privately owned IT company, Computer Frontiers, with offices and tech staff in Ghana, Uganda and several other African capitals. During last month's U.S. Africa Business Summit in Washington, DC, where Lesotho e-visa was on display, AllAfrica's Noluthando Crockett-Ntonga discussed the platform with T'sepiso Mosasane , Lesotho's acting director of Immigration in the Ministry of Home Affairs, and Computer Frontiers President Barbara Keating. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. Read More
  • Profile: Uber’s Alon Lits

    By ADELE SHEVEL Though Alon Lits runs the industry-changing technology company Uber in sub-Saharan Africa, he is far from being the clichéd techie who spent years grappling with code before his big breakthrough came. Lits (32) was an investment banker before he took the helm of Uber just as it started in this country in August 2013. As a trained actuary, he understands the value of using data to make business decisions. When Uber started in Johannesburg, Lits’s team worked from a guesthouse in Sandton, where "driver partners", as the company calls them, would come in for information sessions and meet potential partners. Now they work from offices in Parktown North. Read More
  • Eritrea: Asmara Inscribed Unesco World Heritage

    At the 41 Session of the World Heritage Committee that took place on 7 July in Karkow, Poland, in which the President of Poland, Mr. Andrzej Duda and Irene Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, Ministers and high level officials as well as more than 1000 governmental and non-governmental representatives took part Asmara was inscribed UNESCO World heritage. In a speech she delivered during the event representing the Eritrean Government, Ambassador Hanna Simon, Eritrean Ambassador to France and Permanent Representative to UNESCO, stated that the inscription of Asmara city onto the UNESCO World Heritage List is a symbol of pride and achievement for the Eritrean people and shoulders the responsibility to maintain its status. Read More
  • Fundraising Opportunities In Africa: Nigeria, South Africa And Oil Still Raise Questions

    By Kurt Davis Jr.  As the second half of 2017 comes into focus, entrepreneurs and private equity managers alike want the narrative in investor circles to change regarding sub-Saharan Africa and fundraising opportunities. Investor sentiments remain that sub-Saharan Africa is still rebounding from the economic challenges of 2015 and 2016. Many players in the region are asking investors to avoid oversimplifying the regional prospects to the fate of its two largest economies Nigeria and South Africa and commodity prices. Changing perspectives requires reframing past performance and creating targets of interests for Western investors. Read More
  • Nigeria Experiences Major Mobile Subscriptions Growth

    By Peter Pedroncelli Africa has experienced major growth of new mobile subscriptions during the first quarter of 2017, with nine million Africans signing up for new services during that time. Out of 107 million new mobile subscriptions that were added globally, nine million were from Africa with three million of those from Nigeria alone, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility report. In terms of the total mobile subscriptions globally, Africa now has 985 million, more than the total amount of subscriptions in Western Europe (520 million) and the Middle East (415 million) combined. This makes Africa the fourth fastest growing market worldwide, with only India, China and the Asia-Pacific region boasting more mobile subscribers. Read More
  • Wealth of Wisdom: Step 4 – creating healthy financial habits

    BY ADMIN Now that you’ve figured out what your financial status is, set your goals and looked at ways to achieve them, we’ll discuss how to continue managing your finances to make sure that you achieve your dreams. We asked Priya Naicker, Advice Manager at Old Mutual Personal Finance, to offer some guidelines on how to stick to your financial plan. These are her top tips. Read More
  • Notes from the field: Takeaways from a business trip to Botswana

    by Cavan Osborne Our Africa funds have, for many years, had exposure to Botswana. With very little third-party data and information available, much of our analysis and research is done by visiting the country and speaking to local people. The information that is available is the listed company reports and high-level macroeconomic reports. The gap between these two sets of information is fascinating and highlights why investing based only on the macroeconomic outlook could lead to painful investment results. The author of an economic report was getting excited about the 2016 GDP growth number being revised up to 4.3%, after originally being forecast at 2.7%. However, the management of companies we can invest in, reminded us that they are not experiencing much of this “4.3%” growth, with the operating environment being far softer. Read More
  • Pockets of promise: Seven African countries to watch

    by Staff Writer  The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in April hosted a webinar – titled ‘Sub-Saharan Africa: At a turning point?’ – that analysed the region’s opportunities and challenges. Sub-Saharan Africa’s aggregate economic growth fell to around 1% in 2016 – the slowest pace in over a decade. This slump, according to the EIU, is due to three factors: the collapse of commodity prices, tighter international financing conditions, and unfavourable weather across parts of the continent last year. Read More
  • Bra Hugh Masekela scores his third honorary doctorate

    BY THANDI SKADE Wits University has bestowed veteran musician Dr Hugh Masekela with an honorary Doctor of Music degree, his third in as many years. Masekela was awarded the degree at a ceremony held on Tuesday at the university’s Great Hall, the same stage where he performed with the orchestra at the opening concert for the iconic jazz opera Hong Kong. Earlier this year, Masekela received an honorary doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and he was awarded another from Rhodes University in 2015. Having been inspired by the film Young Man With a Horn, Masekela began playing the trumpet as a teenager. Read More
  • Africa's ability to adapt is driving huge global innovations

    MyBucks last week launched our Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (FWB), pleasingly fully subscribed and indeed at a particularly intriguing moment in European and no doubt world history.  Germany, long the financial steward of the European Union, faces a challenge in assisting in the transition process for Great Britain’s departure from the EU, while holding the tiller from any socioeconomic squall that may rear from ‘Brexit’. Yet while confidence behind European ‘interconnectedness’ may at times such as these damper and no doubt only briefly, globalisation in practice has never been more effervescent. And while we may have become the first African-focused financial technology company to list on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange to exemplify this, it is African ‘fintech’, now reaching Germany and the world, which truly symbolizes globalisation at its core; for the dynamic, malleable and importantly, sustainable development boons driven by FinTech in Africa will be connecting our citizenries, creating jobs, empowering the next generation to achieve a confidence and independence they have never experienced before and will be ushering in a new era of opportunity on the continent and throughout a shifting marketplace in the world to come.  Read More
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