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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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Angolan Government Launches New Website

The Government of Angola recently announced the launch of their new website, located at  www.angola-portal.ao. The site is designed to educate visitors about Angola. The website includes helpful links to government institutions, various Angolan laws, and regulations. This comprehensive site is easy to navigate and full of valuable information. To learn more, please visit the website at  www.angola-portal.ao

IBM Launch South African SME toolkit

Global computer giant IBM, local company Business Partners, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Department of Trade and Industry have come together to offer South African entrepreneurs and small enterprises a free web-based toolkit to help them start, finance and grow their businesses. The South Africa Business Toolkit contains the latest information and communication technologies to help small and medium enterprises in emerging markets learn and implement sustainable business management practices, according to IBM. The aim, IBM said, was to increase the reach of South African small business into the global economy by improving the productivity, efficiency and capacity of the estimated 600 000 active small businesses in South Africa, as well as by improving their access to capital and new markets. The South Africa toolkit was developed by IBM and the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and is available both as online and offline modules.

Angolan Government Approves Civil Aviation Law

The Government of Angola has approved a new civil aviation law, which regulates the sector’s activities in national and international air space under Angolan jurisdiction. The law, approved by the Council of Ministers, aims to incorporate standards and practices recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Operational support procedures are being corrected to be more in line with the demands of the European Union Safety Committee.

K-Rep in Plans to Go Public

K-Rep Bank is lining itself up for sale to the public within the next two years as it seeks to go regional, the management says. The planned initial public offering (IPO) will make K-Rep the second micro-finance bank to list at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE), after Equity Bank. But in a departure from that route, K-Rep managing director Kimanthi Mutua, said his Board is evaluating the option of using the capital market to source funds to fuel local and regional branch network expansion. With a strengthened balance sheet, the bank says it will move to make its presence felt in the region, concentrating on its traditional low-income earning market.

Pay-TV to Open Up in South Africa

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has awarded new broadcasting licenses to Telkom Media, e-SAT, On Digital Media and Walking on Water, ending Multichoice Africa's 12-year monopoly over the South African pay-TV market. Icasa said in a statement that it hoped increased competition would boost job creation, promote the involvement of previously disadvantaged people in the sector, ensure a wider range of content and increase access to affordable subscription television services. Eighteen companies originally applied for licenses when the process began in August 2006.

World Bank Approves US$12 Million Additional Financing for Agricultural Research in Uganda

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a $12 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to provide additional financing to the Second Agricultural Research and Training Project in Uganda. The objectives of the Second Agricultural Research and Training Project (ARTP II) are to generate new knowledge, strategies and technologies in support of the Government of Uganda's Plan for the Modernization of Agriculture (PMA); design and implement improved procedures and capacities for scaling-up the application of new technologies; and capacity building of the reformed National Agricultural Research System (NARS). The ARTP-II has progressed well over the last seven years with Public Agricultural Research Institutes (PARIs) continuing to conduct high quality research, as well as to maintain a steady flow of relevant research outputs, many of which are being adopted by Ugandan farmers. The additional credit will enable the World Bank to meet its long-term commitment to the institutional development and strengthening of the Uganda National Agricultural Research System. The ARTP-II is part of the Bank’s long-term assistance program to agricultural research in Uganda, which supports technology development and dissemination, consistent with the Government of Uganda’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) and the Plan for the Modernization of Agriculture (PMA).

Nampak to Build Beverage-Can Making Plant in Angola

Nampak plans to build a beverage-can manufacturing plant in Viana, near the capital of Luanda. The plant will be complete by the middle of 2009, and will have a capacity of 700 million cans per year. Nampak currently supplies approximately two-thirds of Angola's beverage-can market, estimated at 600 million units per year. Customers operating in Angola include SABMiller Plc, the world's third-largest brewer, which also holds the Coca-Cola license for the country.

Microfinance set to Become Sought-after Asset

A report by news and research group MicroCapital predicts that microfinance will become a sought-after asset class for equity and debt advisers. “Microfinance: An Emerging Asset Class for Equity and Debt Investors” predicts high growth for the model in Asia, Africa and South America. But microfinance remains underleveraged and beset by high expense ratios. The report calls for an international best practice regime. It names Kenya’s fastest growing bank, Equity Bank, as the third best microfinance institution worldwide in terms of returns, borrowers, portfolio size and growth.

South Korea Finances Angolan Government Telecom Network

South Korea will finance the construction of a government telecommunications network in Angola, estimated at US$ 35 million. The Angolan government is working to modernize the country, by use of loans and direct investment. South Korea’s Ambassador noted that their government will continue to support development projects in Angola. In Angola, South Korea is represented by the Daewoo, Samsung and Hyundai groups.

First Canadian Coffee Company Signs Trademarking and Licensing Agreement with Ethiopia

Planet Bean, a Canadian pioneer fair trade coffee roaster has joined the growing network of licensed distributors of Ethiopia's trademarked coffees. Planet Bean is a company that buys and roasts only 100% certified fair trade coffees and has been purchasing Ethiopian coffees from the OROMIA Coffee Farmers Union since 2002. The Ethiopian fine coffees are some of the company's top sellers and it plans to increase its current quantity of these trademarked coffees. An extensive mobilization and public awareness outreach program is underway across the many coffee growing regions of Ethiopia to heighten interest and participation in the Ethiopian Trademarking and Licensing Initiative. The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) is spearheading the Ethiopian Trademarking and Licensing Initiative. The Initiative has financial support from the UK's Department for International Development, and advice and training from Washington DC based NGO Light Years IP, but no funding directly from coffee companies.

Investments in Oil Sector to Reach US$ 66 Billion by 2011

Investments in the research, exploration and development of the Angolan oil sector are expected to reach USD 66 billion by 2011. Of the investment, USD 51.6 billion will be used for the development of projects, highlighting investments in deep waters. In the 1990’s, investment in the oil sector reached USD 15.5 billion for the beginning of production in deep waters. Angola’s current oil production is now estimated at 1.7 million barrels per day, with a goal to reach 2 million barrels per day in 2008.

Mauritius Polled as the ‘Best-run’ African State

Mauritius is the best run country in sub-Saharan Africa while Rwanda has made the greatest improvements in good governance in recent years, a new study says. The inaugural report of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance was recently published by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the non-profit organisation created by the African telecommunications tycoon. The index ranks 48 countries on five factors: safety and security; rule of law, transparency and corruption; participation and human rights; sustainable economic opportunity; and human development. Mauritius was found to have the best overall record and was followed by the Seychelles, Botswana, Cape Verde and South Africa. In individual categories Gabon was deemed the safest and most secure country, Botswana the most transparent, while the Seychelles was found to have the most sustainable economy and best record on human development. The study, compiled by governance experts at Harvard University, analysed the countries’ performances periodically between 2000 and 2005.

Kenya Awards Internet Cable Deal

Kenya has awarded an $82m undersea internet cable project to the French-American company Alcatel-Lucent. The fibre-optic cable will be the region's first submarine telecoms link to the rest of the world and should cut costs and provide high-speed access. The contract for The East African Marine Systems (Teams) will be signed by the end of the month, a Kenyan information ministry spokesman said. The cable will run from Mombasa port to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

Bamburi to Invest US$100m in Uganda

Bamburi Cement Kenya is to invest Sh6.7 billion (US$100m) in the expansion of its subsidiary, Hima Cement in Western Uganda. The expansion is aimed at doubling production capacity of the plant. When completed, the new cement production line is expected to be as big as that of the mother plant in Mombasa and will be among the largest in Africa. The company currently produces about 350,000 tonnes of cement per annum. The project comes on the heels of a recurrent cement shortage that has seen prices soar by over 25 per cent. Industry players have attributed the shortage to the massive construction going on in the country and the rising demand from the neighbouring countries such as Southern Sudan, DR Congo and Rwanda, among others. There has been a tight capacity utilisation of cement in East Africa since 2004 to last year with the region utilising over 80 per cent of the produce. Hima acquired by Bamburi in 1999 has significantly improved Bamburi’s market presence in Uganda. Officials at Bamburi said on Wednesday the expansion plan is a response to the growing demand on the local and regional markets.

Angola LNG to Produce 5 Million Metric Tons of Gas per Year

The Angola LNG Project expects to produce 5 million metric tons of gas per year, beginning in 2012. They will also offer better environmental protection and use of the product for commercial and industrial purposes. The government’s priority is to gradually reduce the burning of gas produced during oil exploration. This burn-off should be eliminated by 2010, when the product will be channeled for use by industry and households. The Minister of Petroleum stated that the sector faces huge challenges and must adopt more strategies as Africa’s oil and gas sector develops. To reach this goal, African oil producers must capitalize on the experience of national companies and become autonomous operators, leading groups of contractors and taking part in the entire oil production chain.

Sub-Saharan Africa Growing Faster than Global Economy, UNDP

According to the head of the United Nations Development Programme, for the first time in years countries in sub-Saharan Africa are actually growing faster than the global economy. Noting conflict and lack of capacity are two of the main challenges faced by the continent in achieving economic progress and development, UNDP Administrator Kemal stated that average GDP growth in 2000-2003 was 3.7 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, and 5.6 per cent in 2004-2006, which is perhaps the most rapid growth overall seen in sub-Saharan Africa for decades. Although the final numbers for this year are not yet ready, growth in the region will probably be around 6%– more than 1% higher than the global average. He also noted that over the last six years, oil-exporting countries have grown at about one and a half percentage points faster than oil-importing countries. This means that some of the oil-importing countries are growing quite fast, despite the heavy burden placed on them by high oil prices. Mr. Dervis cited conflict prevention and resolution as the “number one priority” in ensuring successful development in Africa.

HP Supports Microenterprise in Africa

The Angola LNG Project expects to produce 5 million metric tons of gas per year, beginning in 2012. They will also offer better environmental protection and use of the product for commercial and industrial purposes. The government’s priority is to gradually reduce the burning of gas produced during oil exploration. This burn-off should be eliminated by 2010, when the product will be channeled for use by industry and households. The Minister of Petroleum stated that the sector faces huge challenges and must adopt more strategies as Africa’s oil and gas sector develops. To reach this goal, African oil producers must capitalize on the experience of national companies and become autonomous operators, leading groups of contractors and taking part in the entire oil production chain.

Firm to Invest Approximately USD 121.4 Million in Hydros

Escom of Portugal announced that it will invest nearly US$ 121.4 million to build, repair and manage a hydroelectric network of three dams in Angola. The Hidroluapasso project in the province of Lunda Norte involves the initial construction of a hydroelectric dam at Samuela and a distribution grid for local industries and towns. The twin-generator hydro has a projected generating capacity of 12.8 megawatts. The project also involves a connection to the national grid of Angola’s ENE state power utility at the Lucapa substation, as well as building of a new substation at Luo. Escom is part of the Espirito Santo group’s sub-holding, Espirito Santo Resources, which controls investment of the company in non-financial areas. The Portuguese group is currently one of the largest private investors in Angola and also operates in the Congo Republic. It also supplies services in South Africa and Mozambique.

IBSA to increase trade to US$15 billion

India, Brazil and South Africa have committed to increasing trade amongst themselves to US$ 15 billion by 2010. In addition, the leaders of the three countries have urged business and industry players to be more ambitious and to exceed that target. This emerged from the second India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Heads of State Summit where President Thabo Mbeki, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazil's President Lula da Silva led high-ranking delegations to the Summit to discuss a wide range of issues. In addition the three countries signed new agreements on cultural cooperation, cooperation in health and medicine, and Memoranda of Understanding on social issues, higher education, tax administration and wind resources. IBSA has set up a fund to assist other developing countries, particularly the poorest, such as Guinea-Bissau.

Ministers approve $2bn submarine cable to connect Africa – and call for speedy implementation.

Ministers responsible for information and communication technologies (ICTs) from Eastern and Southern African countries meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa on October 15 endorsed a $2bn submarine cable project to connect Africa, and called for its speedy implementation. This was announced at a press conference after the meeting. The 50,000 km cable with a capacity of 3.84 Terrabits/sec is designed to provide telecommunications connectivity to Africa and connect the continent to the Americas, India, and Europe. It is expected that completion of this project will greatly contribute to reduction of telecommunications costs that have been a hindrance to doing business in Africa. To enable all African countries enjoy the benefits of UHURUNET and UMOJANET, the Ministers directed the NEPAD e-Africa Commission to work with the African Union Commission to develop the modalities to enable any African country to access the Kigali Protocol. It is expected that the cable will be completed before the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

US$ 55 Million Invested in Technological Equipment in Angola

In 2006, Angola Estee invested USD 55 million in the purchase of advanced technology, for use in offshore Angola, and will invest an additional USD 40 million in 2007 to establish a shipyard. The company is currently accepting applications and selecting candidates for training at European and American universities specialized in petroleum. The company intends to invest heavily in training Angolan professionals in oil research and exploration.

South Africa Nepad Country Review Report

The Country Review Report for South Africa has been published and will be available online at  www.nepad.org/aprm. Hard copies of the report may be requested from the APRM Secretariat from 1 November 2007.

UBA Wins Emerging Global Bank Award

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Nigeria's largest bank, has won the Emerging Global Bank Award, beating strong contenders, JP Morgan Chase and Standard Bank in the process at a ceremony organized by African Business and Business in Africa Events. As the landscape of the African banking sector transforms rapidly towards increasing globalization, UBA has made history by winning the first ever award in this category. The Emerging Global Bank award, the organisers say, is bestowed on the international bank which has most positively influenced the African continent. UBA won the award in recognition of the bank's global expansion plans beyond Nigeria to other parts of Africa. The bank, which in addition to Ghana has obtained regional banking licenses in East and Central Africa, is determined to make true its vision of being a role model for African businesses.

Ghanaian Banks Minimum Capital Requirement to hit $50 million

Mergers and Acquisitions in the banking sector in Ghana is set to be heightened with the Bank of Ghana indicating that it is proposing a review of minimum capital requirements of banks and non-bank financial institutions. A statement by the Central Bank says minimum paid up capital of banks is to increase from GH¢7.0 million to between GH¢50-60 million (equivalent of around $50m); and that of deposit taking non bank financial institutions (NBFIs) and finance houses would increase from GH¢1.0 million (and GH¢1.5 million) to between GH¢5-8 million. The phenomenon could cause smaller banks to either go out of business or merge with big banks to survive in the industry. The mechanism, set to take place by the middle of next year, requires Banks and deposit taking non-bank financial institutions to submit capitalization plans by the end of June 2008. Submission of capitalization plans would guarantee continued access to the settlement and primary dealership systems. After December 2008, participation in the settlement system will be restricted to institutions that have met the capital requirements.

South Africa to Introduce Cheaper Broadband

South Africa’s National Assembly has passed the Infraco Broadband Bill, which creates a new company out of telecommunication infrastructure previously owned by Transnet and Eskom, allowing the South African Government to leverage communications infrastructure for economic growth. The information communication technology (ICT) sector is an important contributor to the growth and development of South Africa's economy, but high broadband costs and limited internet access have hampered the country's participation in the global economy. According to Alec Erwin, South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister, a 2005 government study found that South Africa lagged behind its international counterparts in information and telecommunications service penetration, as well at the rate at which new technologies were adopted. Broadband Infraco is an intervention that aims to address the cost of broadband by making infrastructure in the national backbone and international connectivity available at cost.

FDIs to Africa From Oil Companies Hit $36 billion

World Investment Report 2006 has said that the flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Africa from transnational corporations (TNCs), extractive industries and development, increased to $35.5 billion in 2006 alone, from $29.6 billion in the preceding year. The figure doubled that of the FDI flow in 2004, which stood at $18 billion. The WIR 2007, which was launched yesterday by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), attributed the upward trend to "increased interest in natural resources, improved prospects for corporate profits and a more favourable business climate." The report also pointed out that the value of cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M and A) sales reached a record of $18 billion, half of which represented purchases by TNCs from developing Asia. According to the report, greenfield projects and investment in expansion, which are new projects and investments, also grew significantly. However, despite these increases, the WIR put together by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated that Africa's share in global FDI fell to 2.7 per cent in the year under review, compared to 3.1 per cent in 2005.This, it noted, was much lower than that of other developing regions.

Revenue from Diamond Sales Estimated at US$ 1.2 Billion

Angola had net sales of approximately USD 1.209 billion on 9.447 million carats of kimberlites (is a type of rock best known for containing diamonds). Of this total, approximately 8.27 million carats represented the industrial production, while 1.18 million came from artisanal production. This figure represents a 32.22% climb from 2005, when production levels were estimated at approximately 7 million carats.

EIB Issues Eurobond in Ghana Cedi

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has launched its first international bond issue denominated in GH¢. The issue for an amount of GH¢20,000,000 (15m euros approximately) and carries an annual coupon of 10.75%. A press statement described the bond as synthetic, with settlements and payments in euros, as determined by the Calculation Agent based on the EUR/GH¢ exchange rate. With an issued price of 100%, the bond is expected to mature from 26th October 2009 and the transaction was lead managed by Barclays Capital & Barclays Bank of Ghana. The bond, the statement said, follows recent initiatives by EIB in African currencies in the international capital markets in Botswana pula, Egyptian pounds and Namibian dollars. This transaction is a continuation of EIB's aim to explore funding possibilities in relevant local currencies, notably with a view to supporting development of local currency markets but also marking a step towards potential future lending in local currency.

EU Funds Rebuilding of Angolan Highway

The European Union is funding the rehabilitation of the Humbe-Cahama highway in Cunene, valued at USD 35.4 million. The rebuilding of the main road will consist of an 87 kilometer stretch that will link Humbe and Cahama. The project will begin in the first quarter of 2008 and is expected to last three years. To ensure the project’s success and improve traffic between Lubango and Santa Clara, the Angolan government is rehabilitating highways between Lubango and Cahama, Humbe and Ondjiva and the bridge over the Cunene River. Rehabilitation of the highway will allow more regional integration and interconnection, improving transport along Angola’s main highway to South Africa, as well as promoting self-sustainable economic growth.

Brazil’s Odebrecht Invests in Angolan Ethanol Production

Brazilian Group Odebrecht will partner with Angolan oil companies Sonangol and Damer to invest US$ 200 million in sugar cane ethanol and electricity production in Angola. The project will be carried out in Malanje, next to the Capanda hydroelectric dam, in an area of 30,000 hectares. Within the area, 20,000 hectares have been allocated for the planting of sugar cane and the remaining 10,000 hectares will be used for crop rotation and the construction of a factory. The industrial unit will have the capacity to mill two million tons of raw materials, producing 160,000 tons of sugar, 50,000 cubic meters of ethanol and 140 megawatts of electricity per year. The project will create 2,000 direct jobs and will be located in Malanje province, on the edge of the Capanda hydroelectric reservoir. The jointly-owned Angolan company, named Biocom (Companhia de Energia de Angola, Lda.), will be owned 40% by Damer, 40% by Odebrecht and 20% by Sonangol.

South Africa’s Population Rises to almost 49 Million

South Africa’s population is estimated to have grown by eight million over the past 10 years according to Statistics South Africa. The organisation’s 2007 Community Survey showed an increase of 8.2% in the country’s population, which currently stands at 48.5 million. According to Statistician-general Pali Lehohla, between 2001 and 2007 the Western Cape showed the highest rate of population growth of 16.1%, while Gauteng was close behind, with a 13.9% increase in population between 2001 and 2007. The percentage of the population aged 20 years and older with no formal schooling has also declined from 17.9% in 2001 to 10.3% in 2007. In addition, almost 28% of the population aged 20 years and older has completed at least secondary education. By the beginning of this year 88.6% of South Africa's population had access to piped water, with all provinces showing an increase. 7.3% of South African households have internet access while demand for landline telephones has decreased owing to increased cell phone usage, with growth from 32.3% in 2001 to 72.9% in 2007.

EIB – US$21.46 Million Agreement with TV Cabo

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and TV Cabo Angola will sign a USD 21.46 million agreement. The partnership is between Portugal’s Visabeira and Angola Telecom. The EIB is in Angola to attend meetings with representatives of Banco Fomento, Millenium Angola, Banco Totta de Angola, World Bank, Angola Telecom, and ANIP.

Angola Telecommunications to Receive US$35 Million

Angola will receive a US$ 35 million credit line from South Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund to finance the Governmental Telecommunications Network. Directed to Angola’s National Center for Science & Technology, the money will help reduce the digital gap between Angola and other countries.

China buys into Standard Bank

China's largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), has purchased a 20% stake in Standard Bank, South Africa's largest bank by assets and earnings, for US$5.5-billion, representing the largest foreign direct investment in the country to date. The majority state-owned ICBC will pay cash for the stake, estimated at R36.7-billion, which now surpasses the R33-billion that British-based Barclays Bank paid for just over 50% of Absa Bank in 2005. The deal is also the largest investment by a Chinese bank outside China. Through the partnership, the two banks intend to benefit through the creation of new revenue streams, access to the new partners' expertise and sharing distinctive local market knowledge and expertise. The Standard Bank group is the continent's largest lender, with over R1-trillion in assets (approximately $156-billion) and a market capitalisation of R145-billion ($21-billion). ICBC is currently the world's largest bank in terms of market capitalisation, worth some $319-billion, and has been on the lookout for overseas expansion opportunities after it raised $21.9-billion following a public listing on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges in 2006. The two partners plan to launch of a $1-billion global resource fund that will focus on selected opportunities in Africa and China, specifically in the junior mining and energy sectors.

South Africa is Tackling Poverty

South Africans across all income groups currently earn on average about 22% more in real terms per person than in 1999, while the number of people living in poverty has also fallen, according to South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel while delivering his 2007 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. Economic growth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), has increased from an average of 3.3% between 1999 and 2004 to around 5% a year since then. Employment has risen by about 2.7% a year since 2001, which the National Treasury says is faster than at any point in the previous two decades. By March this year, the estimated unemployment rate was 25.5%, a decrease from 28% in 2004. The number of South Africans living in poverty - based on a poverty line of about R3 000 per person per year in 2000 prices - has dropped steadily from 52.1% in 1999 to 47% in 2004 and to 43.2% by March this year. Since 1995, more than two million homes have been built and more than three million homes have been electrified, while more than 16 million people have been provided with first-time access to clean water.

9.1 Billion Euros for Euro-Africa-ICT Partnership

The European Union has set aside a total sum of 9.1 billion Euros for funding of information and Communication Technology (ICT)-based research on the continent through the EuroAfrica-ICT Strategic Partnership. The partnership, which is part of the Seventh EU Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7) is a project that would last till 2010 and is driven by activities of the European Commission, Directorate General of Information Society and Media and is aimed at exploring the potential for a deeper and broader Science and Technology (S&T) cooperation on ICT between EU and the sub-Saharan Africa region.

PetroSA Plans R39bn oil Refinery

National oil company PetroSA is to construct a R39-billion crude oil refinery in Coega near Port Elizabeth, the company announced on Wednesday. Dubbed Project Mthombo, the proposed crude oil refinery is expected to produce about 200 000 barrels of fuel a day and will come on stream in 2014/2015. It was estimated the project would generate about 1000 direct jobs during operations and 5000 to 15 000 during construction. The project would further redefine South Africa's energy landscape. The demand for automotive fuels in Southern Africa already exceeded the local production capacity and South Africa was becoming increasingly dependent on importing refined automotive products. Coega was chosen as the site for the proposed new refinery after a thorough and independent screening of five potential locations around South Africa.

South Africa Launches Oil and Gas Operations Hub

German manufacturing company MAN Ferrostaal has launched South Africa's first fabrication yard for oil and gas platforms at Saldanha Bay near Cape Town, positioning the country to take advantage of booming energy operations along Africa's west coast. According to the company, the investment is worth approximately €30-million (approximately R284-million) and forms part of a R1.7-billion investment pledged by the company into the South African oil and gas operations. This commitment is part of an offset deal brokered between the South African government and the company, which has built three new U-206 submarines for the SA Navy. Over 900 people from the Western Cape Region were involved in the nine-month construction period, with nearly all material used in the construction of the yard coming from South Africa. Until now, offshore oil and gas platforms used in west Africa have been manufactured solely in Europe, the Middle East, the US and south-east Asia, and capacity constraints meant lead times of up to seven years. The new production site at Saldanha Bay will reduce lead times and towing times for platforms to a fraction of the time currently required. MAN Ferrostaal believes that the sharp increase in oil prices will lead to increased demand for production platforms, and is currently in talks to construct a second site for the repair and maintenance of oil platforms in Cape Town. Both projects are of great social importance for South Africa, in addition to their economic significance, as they will lead to the creation of approximately 12 000 new jobs.

Tata Consultancy expands in South Africa

Global information technology (IT) services provider and outsourcing company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has in partnership with an empowerment partner launched a local subsidiary, TCS South Africa, to strengthen and expand its operations in the country. TCS is part of the US$29-billion Tata Group, which already has extensive operations in South Africa through subsidiaries like Tata Motors, Tata Steel and VSNL, which is the largest single shareholder in South Africa's second landline operator, Neotel. The company said the new model would help the company make a greater contribution to the South African economy by investing in the skills of its IT professionals by providing world-class training, and also bringing global best practices to help increase the competitiveness of South African businesses. Opening a subsidiary is also in line with TCS's global strategy to have a direct presence in the countries in which it operates. TCS already does business in South Africa, with the government as well as with leading companies in the banking and financial services, manufacturing, energy, telecommunications and retail sectors.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters joins Ethiopia's new Distributors' Network

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters have signed a Trademark and Licensing Distribution Agreement with Ethiopia, warmly acknowledging Ethiopia's ownership of the coffee brands Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Harar and expressing its willingness to promote these coffees to American consumers. Ethiopia's decision to make the licenses royalty-free emphasizes its focus on joint activities to promote and enhance the market awareness and the value of these brands, and to enlist the support of licensees like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in directly raising the income of small farmers by sourcing coffee at above-market prices through the Ethiopian Distributors’ Network. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' signing brings the number of US, Canadian and European companies now in the new network of licensed distributors to 28. Ethiopia aims to sign up 50 companies by May 2008, with more than 25,000 outlets across the USA.

South Africa Offers Boost for Small Businesses

South Africa is to direct as much as 85% of government spending on selected goods and services to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and ensure that they are paid out within 30 days, according to the South African government. Although the government already procures many products and services from SMMEs worth millions of rands, this is the first time that a specific target has been set. The spending will be directed at 10 products and services, while the 30-day payment rule for paying small enterprises will be implemented with immediate effect. Government-funded small enterprise support agencies would also provide dedicated financial and non-financial procurement-based support for the selected products and services, which were identified following research by the Department of Trade and Industry. In addition, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) is to set up a call centre to handle complaints from small business owners about late payment for goods supplied and services rendered.

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