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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.

Library of Articles

Endiama to Produce Over 10 Million Carats in 2008

This year, Angola's state-owned diamond company, Endiama, will surpass output of 10 million carats in 2008. Production from January-May is already at 3.35 million carats, evaluated at US$ 525 million. From this total, 2.98 million carats are informal mined diamonds from exploration in Catoca, Lucapa, estimated at US$ 411 million; and 79,000 carats are artisanal diamonds, estimated at US$ 114 million.

Microsoft to Build Innovation Centres in Africa

Software giant Microsoft has announced that it is to build four innovation centres in Africa - including two in South Africa - over the next two years. According to the company, the centres will act as economic "spark plugs" for local innovators and the local software industry. Once functional, the centres will provide an estimated 6 000 businesspeople per year with the technology they need to start up their businesses or further their careers. The new centres will provide a huge boost for skills development in the local technology industry by providing world-class facilities and support programs in innovation, intellectual capital, technology and business skills for start-ups, software developers, IT professionals, government and universities. Microsoft will ramp up operations in South Africa, especially through the Students to Business (S2B) programme that helps local companies find and hire technology students, while also providing the necessary qualification to qualified candidates. According to the company, the aim of its S2B programme in the country is to ensure that its South African workforce evolves to reflect the country's diversity, while also providing students with the key competencies they need to excel in their future jobs in the industry.

Standard Bank Opens Branch in Luanda

South Africa's Standard Bank plans to open a branch in Angola by the end of this year. The South African bank has had a representational office in Luanda for the last two years and the new subsidiary will have initial capital of US$ 25 million, which may later be increased to USD 50 million. The Standard Bank, which is headquartered in South Africa, is present in 16 African countries, of which 11 are members of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

Great Green Wall across the Sahara desert

The Sahelo-Saharan states have launched the Great Green Wall project within the framework of NEPAD, which involves planting a five-kilometre-wide strip of trees over a distance of 7,000 km from Dakar to Djibouti, across the desert, to prevent further desertification. The wall will stretch from the Gulf of Aden on the east coast of Africa right across the Sahelo-Saharan states to Senegal on the west coast. "With the regeneration of biodiversity, we plan to give our planet a new 'green lung' and contribute thus to the fight against climatic changes," said a representative of the Government of Senegal. The tree varieties have already been selected, in accordance with the climatic zones and each country is responsible for the Green Wall within its own borders. There are plans to build water capture basins alongside the Green Wall. The Senegal government believes that Africa "with its unexploited huge land resources -- can at the same time be a bread basket and a reservoir for biofuel." Plants like Jartropha which can be used for biofuel grow wild in Senegal. Source: The Guardian

Angola is Norway's Top Economic Partner in Africa

Angola is Norway's most important economic partner in Africa, with annual exports of US$ 300,000, and total investments reaching USD 6 billion (mainly in the oil industry). Norway's Statoil Hydro has become an important partner to Angola, accounting for 11% of Angolan oil output, with investments of US$5 billion. Both countries maintain relations in hydroelectric exploration, fishing, humanitarian assistance, and de-mining.

Free Trade Area Launched by SADC

Eleven of the 14 member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have officially launched a free trade area (FTA). Launched during the 28th SADC Summit in Johannesburg, the agreement ushers in a new era of economic integration and industrialisation for the sub-region. With the goal of eliminating tariffs and trade barriers among member countries, the FTA agreement is part of the SADC's ongoing efforts to deepen long-term regional integration in order to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty for the millions of people living on the continent. From August 2008, producers and consumers will pay no import tariffs on an estimated 85% of all trade on goods between 11 countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi will join the FTA later. It is expected to create a regional market worth about $360-billion, benefiting a total population of 170-million people. The SADC FTA programme also includes establishing a Customs Union by 2010, a Common Market by 2015, a monetary Union by 2016 and a single currency by 2018.

Technical Support Empowering Women farmers in Nigeria

In Nigeria, where cultural attitudes and traditional beliefs often circumscribe women's roles and hinder access to training and education, a women's project is changing lives. The initiative supported by the Japan Women-in-Development Fund, established in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is helping women farmers improve their livelihoods. The project is implemented by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and several Nigerian NGOs. Women in the Onna Local Government Area in the Niger Delta are receiving technical support through the project to improve cassava production and processing. Cassava tuber roots look similar to a sweet potato and are rich in carbohydrates. The leaves provide about the same amount of protein as an egg. Cassava is processed into high-quality starch, flour and animal feed, and is also used to make products such as paper and gum. The crop is often grown by poor women farmers in Africa, and frequently on marginal land. Women farmers and their families are benefitting from higher crop yields and higher earnings from the sale of cassava products. The project also offers training in economic decision-making and technical and entrepreneurship skills. The network of partners involved, from the local to the international level, are helping women in Nigeria gain a brighter future.

Angola's LNG Project Expected to Produce Over 5 Million Tons per Year

The Angola LNG (liquid natural gas) Project, located in Soyo, will be complete in 2012, and is expected to produce 5.2 million tons of gas per year. The company is forecasting 125 million cubic meters of gas being consumed by the domestic market and the remainder being exported to the Atlantic basin, particularly the United States. During the first phase of construction, the project may employ a total of 7,000 people, 60 percent of whom will be Angolan workers. Preparing and dredging of the land was finished in May and by the end of 2008 construction of the factory will begin. In the operating phase, approximately 450 jobs will be created and recruitment is already underway for maintenance, operations, instrumentation, human resources, accounting and IT staff.

South Africa Cuts Bandwidth Prices for BPO investors

State telecommunications company Telkom has announced its willingness to significantly drop the costs of bandwidth for the business process outsourcing and offshoring (BPO&O) industry in South Africa. BPO involves relocating business processes that a company usually performs in-house to a third-party service provider, such as a customer care or call centre, to carry out on behalf of the company. Outsourcing becomes offshoring when the third-party service provider is located overseas. The BPO&O industry is expected to have a global value of around US$50-billion in 2008 and to grow by 50% per annum over the next three to four years, creating an additional 3-million direct jobs worldwide. While the government had shown commitment to making South Africa's BPO industry more attractive, the cost and ease of doing business in the country remained a concern.

Nosso Super to Have 10,000 Shops in Angola by 2010

The Nosso Super supermarket chain will invest over USD 17 million to build 164 shops in all municipalities of the country, bringing the total number of stores to 10,000 by 2010. The company has already begun routing the project through provincial governments, so that construction may begin. Their goal is to expand marketing of Nosso Super products by building more stores, ranging in size from 50 to 500 square meters of floor space.

South Africa's Tourism Seta to train 28,000 workers

Workers in the tourism industry are to get the opportunity to hone their skills at accredited service providers through the newly launched Adult Basic Education and Training (Abet)-Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Education and Training Authority (Theta) Tourism Programme. The programme aims to contribute to the improvement of skills and to bring skills to the unemployed, or those wanting to be employed, in their sector. At least 28,000 tourism industry employees are to benefit from the programme, which is part of plans to boost the country's skills base in various sectors while trying to bridge the serious challenge of unemployment, particularly among the black youth and women. The tourism industry is seen as South Africa's biggest contributor to the economy as it contributes an estimated 8.1 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounts for about 940,000 direct and indirect jobs. Further, the industry's contribution to the national economy grew by 22 billion resulting in an overall contribution of 8.1 percent to the GDP of South Africa last year. Moreover, it is also estimated that the future potential of tourism's contribution to job creation and the country's GDP will be as follows by year 2015 will stand at a total of 712,000 and additional indirect jobs in the same year of 2015 will be 870,000 jobs.

Four New Hotels under Construction in Luanda

Four new hotels are currently being built in the Angolan capital of Luanda, valued at USD 300 million. The hotels are being built to increase services and provide additional accommodation for the African Nations Cup (CAN) to be held in 2010. Of the new hotels being built, one will be a five-star hotel, Hotel Sana, located in Ingombotas with 238 rooms. The remaining three hotels being built will be three-star hotels: Sismotel (located in central Luanda with 240 rooms), The Skina Vip Inn (located in the municipality of Ingombotas with 236 rooms), and Hotel Luanda (located next to Chicala beach with 130 rooms).

Ethiopia and South Africa to Co-operate on PhD programme

Ethiopia's Ministry of Education and the University of South Africa (UNISA) have signed an agreement that will enable the latter to launch PhD programmes through videoconferencing. With the agreement, UNISA will be able to offer PhD courses in technology sciences, business and economics, among others fields. The programme aims to train over 4 000 Ethiopians over a five year period. Training of the first batch of students will commence as of this coming academic year. The ministry said it envisages training or getting trained 10 000 and 2 000 teachers in Masters and in PhD respectively at higher learning institutes locally or through distance education. UNISA is a distance education university, with headquarters in Pretoria. There are approximately 200 000 enrolled students.

Microsoft takes the Honours in South Africa's BEST Employers 2008/09 survey

Microsoft is the country's BEST Employer™ for 2008/09 according to the now well-established HR best practice benchmark BEST Employers™ South Africa, run by CRF South Africa. The announcement was made by CRF in Johannesburg and is the outcome of an international HR Benchmark™ research process which underpins the BEST Employers™. The top 10 BEST Employers™ this year are: Microsoft, ABSA, Shell, Pfizer Laboratories, Ernst & Young, Siemens Limited, South African Breweries, Cisco Systems, Unilever and Werksmans Inc.

South African and Dutch Police Service to Collaborate on Curbing Crime

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Netherlands police service have forged a partnership to create a platform to share ideas, skills and training. An agreement between the two police services will see the two countries beefing-up crime prevention operations in the two countries. The focus of the partnership will be to establish mutual cooperation to improve policing in both countries by exchanging knowledge, skills and experience in relation to law enforcement, investigation of crime, crime prevention, public order and public safety. The agreement will work in a twining relation with three police regions in Netherlands and three regional police stations in South Africa. South Africa is a member of Interpol, which assists in curbing global crime by sharing information between governments.

Nepad Food Project to Improve Malawi women's Livelihoods

A project to empower women, to reduce poverty and improve food and livelihood security is now under way in the Blantyre and Thyolo districts of Malawi with help from the NEPAD-Spanish Fund for the Empowerment of Women. The project is being driven by the Orphan Widows Aids Campaign Organisation (OWACO), an NGO which points out that women have little access to employment opportunities and that food and livelihood insecurity is a major contributor to Malawi's public health problems. As part of the launch strategy, orientation meetings have been conducted by OWACO with the District Executive Committee and the Area Development Committee which include government departments and other organisations at district level.

FIFA World Cup Conferences to promote Business in South Africa

An estimated 2.7 million spectators are expected to watch the FIFA World Cup's 64 matches in South Africa in June 2010 with a television audience of up to 2.8 billion for the final. In 2001 FIFA made a historic decision to stage the 2010 World Cup on the African continent and since then the emphasis has been on making it an African event, one that will help spread confidence and prosperity across the entire continent. The African Business Showcase is a business-led, public-private development partnership involving NEPAD and the 2010 FIFA World Cup Unit of the South African Government's Department of Sport and Recreation with the aim of showcasing Africa as a business and investment destination. The expected events are a 4 day exhibition in 2009 and a 5 day exhibition in 2010. The week-long conference and exhibition at the Gallagher Estates during the first week of the 2010 FIFA World Cup will include a pavilion in which every African country can showcase African culture and Africa as a trade and investment opportunity.

South African Banking Sector Helps Children to Save

The Banking Association of South Africa and the South African Savings Institute have piloted a Teach Children to Save initiative in an effort to encourage youngsters increase their financial awareness and to start saving earlier in their lives. The Teach Children to Save Day has been sponsored in the USA by the American Bankers Association Education Foundation (ABAEF) since 1997, and the highly successful programme is now being piloted in South Africa, Mexico and Turkey. The South African version of the campaign, which is supported by the national education department, has lessons that are aimed at students in Grades four to seven. The initiative aims to promote financial literacy, foster a culture of saving, promote volunteerism, create awareness about the value of money and the importance of savings and assist students to appreciate that being able to chose empowers them. While modelled on the original US initiative, the local programme has been customised for South Africa, and the pilot was deliberately timed to coincide with South Africa's Savings Month, July. Volunteer bankers and financial sector professionals will deliver one-hour lessons on why saving is important, how to design a budget, recognising needs and wants, and how interest makes money grow.

Angolan Private Investment Sector Experiences Exponential Growth

The Angolan economy absorbed US$ 24.6 billion in public and private investments in 2007, which represents a near tripling of the previous year's figure of US$ 8.6 billion. Of this amount, the government invested USD 7.4 billion, compared with US$ 5.8 billion the previous year, while the private sector invested US$ 17.2 billion, compared with US$ 1.2 billion in 2006. The evolution of the private sector reflects restored investor confidence in the Angolan market, with investment risks dropping sharply. As a result of this boom, there are now 5.4 million jobs in the country, with the agricultural sector providing 4.815 million of these. Fishing accounts for 159,000 jobs; industry for 37,200; and the social sector (education, health, and community services) accounting for 66,000. With 27,000 jobs, oil and mining provide the least amount of jobs: the oil industry employs 14,000 and mining, 13,000. Between 2004 and 2007, the Angolan economy enjoyed accumulated real growth of 92.4%. In other words, in just four years, GDP nearly doubled, with an annual real average of about 17.8%.

Third International Congress on Islamic Feminism

The Third International Congress on Islamic Feminism has been announced by Junta Islàmica Catalana (Catalonian Islamic Board). The conference will be focused on the problems of Muslim women in the Global era. Many Muslim women today are facing a double oppression: economic (neo-liberalism) and political (religious fundamentalism). The Congress will consider the responses given by Islamic feminists to this situation, and their contribution towards the construction of a new civil society worldwide, based on a culture of human rights and Qur'anic values such as democracy, social justice, freedom of conscience and gender equality.  http://www.feminismeislamic.org/eng/

Angola's Per Capita GDP More than Doubles in Five Years

According to the Ministry of Finance, Angola's per capita GDP rose from USD 1,500 in 2002 to US$ 3,500 in 2007. Between 2004 and 2007, the Angolan economy enjoyed real growth of 92.4%. In only four years, the economy nearly doubled its GDP, with an average annual real growth of around 17.8%. In 2007 alone, the Angolan economy absorbed US$ 24.6 billion in public and private investments, a rise of roughly three times over the previous year, when the market received USD 8.6 billion. Of this total, the government invested US$ 7.4 billion, compared with US$ 5.8 billion the previous year, while the private sector invested US$ 17.2 billion, up from the 2006 figure of US$ 1.2 billion. As a result, total jobs reached 5.4 million, with agriculture accounting for 4.815 million of these.

Sudan Open Archive Now Online

An expanded version of the Sudan Open Archive (SOA) is now online. The new version - SOA 2.0 - features an improved user interface and open access to a thousand books and documents on all aspects of Sudan. The Archive makes a wide range of material available - and searchable - in digital form for the first time. It also incorporates an internet guide with links to several hundred Sudan-related websites. SOA 2.0 includes dictionaries, material on human rights and environmental issues and a collection of reports on local peace meetings in north and south Sudan.  http://www.sudanarchive.net/

Spanish Textile Company Plans to Build Factories in Angola

The Losam Textile Company, one of Spain's largest textile companies, plans to build one or two plants in Angola that would begin operation next year. Between September and October of 2008, top company officials have been meeting with members of Angola's Chamber of Commerce and Industry to study the possibility of immediate installation of the plants.

University of Stellenbosch Business School is Named South Africa's Top Business School

The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) has been named the No 1 business school in South Africa by the Professional Management Review. The USB achieved the highest overall score of 4.11 out of a possible 5 points in the annual national survey of MBA accredited schools. The results of the survey were based on responses from a nationwide random sample of 485 line managers and human resources directors/managers who are all decision-makers from listed and large companies, government departments and parastatals in South Africa that employ MBA and MBL graduates. A pre-defined list of accredited business schools were rated across 16 attributes which include academic knowledge, leadership skills/abilities, strategic management and sustainable leadership practices. According to PMR.africa the purpose of the awards is to celebrate excellence. This is the fourth time over the past 10 years that the USB has been rated as the top business school in South Africa through the PMR annual survey.

Ancient Manuscripts from Mali Allowed to Travel for Exhibition

South Africa is currently playing host to 40 ancient manuscripts from the city of Timbuktu in Mali, as part of the NEPAD mandate between the two countries to preserve and promote the legacies of Africa. This is the first time that any of the collection of 3 000 manuscripts housed at the Ahmed Baba institute in Timbuktu have left Mali. Collected over hundreds of years, they contain literature on various issues from religion, astronomy and mathematics. The joint project to preserve the ancient manuscripts started in 2001 when President Thabo Mbeki visited Mali. The South African Government is currently building a state-of-the-art library for the manuscripts in Mali. The manuscripts will tour museums in the major cities of South Africa before they return to Mali in December.

Bascol Invests in Angolan Real Estate Projects

Portuguese company Bascol, in partnership with Angolan investors, plans to invest US$ 213 million in real estate projects in Angola by 2011. The biggest project is a condominium unit covering a total of 46,000 square meters, at an investment of USD 184 million. Each apartment within the project is estimated to cost between USD 250,000 to USD 1.07 million. Construction began in September, and will be finished within two years. In the Golf neighborhood, located between Talatona and Nova Vida in Luanda, a housing and retail development estimated at US$ 60 million has been designed. The project will offer complementary facilities including a gym and nursery. Construction will begin in 2009, and will be finished within two years. The third project, requiring an investment of US$ 9 million, is a retail park made up of nine warehouses. The project will be located in the Camama area and is scheduled to begin operation at the end of the year. An additional US$ 16 million is expected to be invested in an open air shopping center in the Nova Vida area, which will include residential buildings.

Africa's Telecoms Private Equity on Growth Path

East Africa's investment and venture capital markets are set for a revolution with the establishment of the Africa Technology Media and Telecoms (ATMT) Fund. The package is a US$100 million fund aimed at the fast-growing information and communications technology (ICT) sector in the region and is managed by Nairobi-based East Africa Capital Partners. ATMT is aimed at African companies in the ICT sector, which has become one of the most exciting business sectors on the continent. The rate of growth in telecoms, internet connectivity and other forms of ICT companies has been nothing short of astounding, and indicates a pent-up demand for the benefits of communication. One of ATMT's primary investments has been in the Wananchi Group, one of Kenya's leading internet and entertainment companies. The $40 million investment that has been made will enable the Group move to the front of the extremely competitive market. The fund has established the small and medium enterprise (SME) Ventures, which is aimed at early-growth companies. SME Ventures aims at funding 'Kenya's Bill Gates and Tanzania's Steve Jobs' young, ambitious entrepreneurs who are gutsy enough to start billion-dollar companies on the continent. SME Ventures will provide between $ 50,000 and $500,000 to such start-ups, aiming at assuring between five and seven years of growth, before the fund's exit point. ATMT is partly funded by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a US-government agency that aims to foster economic development in emerging markets.

World Bank Provides US$ 30 Million for Angolan Farming Projects

The World Bank has invested USD 30 million in a family agriculture project geared towards market production. The project's primary goal is to boost farming production and improve access to markets through efficient services in the provinces of Bie, Huambo and Malanje. The project will benefit over 120,000 households involved in subsistence farming.

Kofi Annan Appointed President of World Organization against Torture

Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, has been appointed the new President of the Foundation supporting the World Organization against Torture (OMCT). Kofi Annan has always demonstrated a strong commitment to human rights and has stated his total opposition to torture. By accepting the role, he expressed his wish to be actively involved in initiatives defending human rights. Since its creation in 1986, OMCT has been engaged in fighting against torture, summary executions and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, through actions geared to prevention, information, denunciation and rehabilitation. To give a voice to victims, OMCT works with the SOS-Torture network, the largest international coalition of non-governmental organizations active in the protection of human rights, with 282 affiliated members in 92 countries. Thanks to this unique network, OMCT maintains permanent contact with the field and is immediately informed of any human rights violations. It then makes public the facts and denounces the perpetrators via its urgent interventions, disseminated to a large audience worldwide. Mr. Annan has emphasized that he wishes his role to be an active one. In particular, he will engage in raising the profile of OMCT and in fundraising to increase the Foundation's capital with a view to enhancing OMCT's capacity to protect and promote human rights around the world.

Blue Financial Investments wins $15million from ECP

Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) has invested $15 million investment in Blue Financial Services Ltd., a non-deposit taking micro lender serving 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The investment was made through convertible bonds and common shares. Blue Financial is listed on the Alternative Exchange Index of the JSE Securities Exchange. The company has over $140 million in assets and 190 branches throughout South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Cameroon and Lesotho. Source: Private Equity African News

Africa is Still Dependent on Satellite Internet Access

Africa still relies heavily on expensive satellite connections to gain access to the Internet, according to a report by the South Africa-based telecommunications analysts BMI-TechKnowledge, who work in 40 African countries. Over 80 per cent of African Internet use is routed through satellite connections, says the report, while efforts are underway to switch to using high-bandwidth fibre optic cables, with at least ten being built. Engineering News reported BMI-TechKnowledge as saying that companies will spend more than US$6 billion on cable projects in the next two years. Fast internet connections are essential for growth in business and other applications on the continent, but have so far either been expensive or rarely available. Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania are the countries driving the demand for connectivity, according to Brian Nielsen, director of BMI-TechKnowledge. Landlocked nations are most affected while the private Seacom marine fibre optic cable, running from Madagascar and South Africa up to Egypt before branching to India and France will be ready by mid 2009. The US$2 billion Uhurunet broadband network project proposed by the New Partnership for Africa's Development has not started, while other high-speed cable projects underway include The East African Marine System (TEAMS) from Kenya to the United Arab Emirates, due to start next year, and the Flag cable through the Horn of Africa.

Canada to Build 300 Multimedia Centres in Cameroon

Cameroon's Information and Communication Technology will in a few years see a significant transformation, following the signing of two new agreements between the Cameroonian government and Canada. The first agreement is expected to usher in a new set of multimedia centres, 300 of them, in the rural areas. According to the terms of the agreement, the centres will be constructed on or before 2015. The multimedia centres are tool for the development of rural areas. They are expected to facilitate communication, render it cheaper and easier for the rural masses. The private centres that Canada will construct will provide jobs for over 900 rural people, mostly women. A second agreement will enable the South Korean government to bring in a new security device for carrying electronic business more efficiently and at low cost. The Public Key Infrastructure will therefore be installed and this will necessitate three things: a certification authority, a registration authority and a technical architecture made up of server, computers etc. The certificate to be delivered by the certification authority will be used in signing documents digitally to authenticate documents sent by e-mail. Source: Cameroon Tribune

Rwandan Government Reaps $9 Million from Stock Market

Barely a year after its establishment, the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) has brought in revenue amounting to 5billion Francs ($9million), the Capital Markets Advisory Council announced on Wednesday. The RSE was launched on January 31 and has so far listed two 10 billion Franc ($18.6 million) government bonds and one 5 billion Franc corporate bond floated by the private Banque Commerciale du Rwanda. Though at present, it has no companies listed yet, the market has attracted business from regional players. At least four Kenyan stockbrokers have acquired licences that grant them membership to the region's youngest stock market.

South African Digital Broadcasting One Step Closer

The government has approved the Broadcasting Digital Migration policy for South Africa's conversion of television broadcasting signals from analogue to digital, while also approving the local manufacture of set-top conversion boxes. The migration has been made necessary due to developments in telecommunications technologies, which enable a more efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum, as well as ensure better quality of pictures and sound. Once migration begins, television users will have to purchase locally manufactured set-top boxes which convert the digital signal for use on currently available analogue TV sets. The decision to promote local manufacture of the set-top boxes in high volumes will provide a boost for the local electronics manufacturing sector and help create additional jobs. The government has also agreed to help approximately five million of the poorest television owning households, by providing up to 70% of the cost of set-top boxes. Funding for this subsidy could possibly be sourced from the Universal Service and Access Fund. The government agreed that South Africa's digital signal would be switched on on 1 November 2008, and its analogue signal switched off on 1 November 2011. This allows for both the digital and the analogue signal to be broadcast concurrently for a "dual-illumination" period of three years. According to the Department of Communications, it is on track to start broadcasting a digital signal on 1 November 2008, and will provide digital broadcasting and mobile TV by 2010.

Gateway Communications Joins Sponsors for AfricaCom Awards

Gateway Communications, the leading provider of pan-African voice and data connectivity services, has joined sponsors to recognize the best in the African telecoms in the Africa Awards. Africa is the world's fastest growing telecommunications market and Gateway Communications has been responsible for pioneering the delivery of high quality and cost effective voice, data and managed network solutions across the continent, investing $300 million in African communications since 2005. AfricaCom attracts more than 3,000 people to its conference and exhibition, taking place in Cape Town on November 18-19, 2008. The inaugural AfricaCom Awards celebrates the outstanding achievements of the African communications market during the last twelve months. Gateway Communications owns and manages a state-of-the-art network connecting over 40 African countries with offices in 13 and network control centres in Lagos, Accra, Maputo, Johannesburg and Brussels and providing services to over 1,200 corporations and more than 80 African mobile and fixed operators.

Africa Private Equity Fundraising jumps 112%, as Emerging Markets Funds Growth Beats Europe and US

Private equity fundraising targeting investments in Africa, grew 112% in the first quarter of this year to $1.2 billion, as investors continue to view the region with growing interest. The figure is part of the emerging market private equity funds raised in the first half of this year, totalling $35 billion, which is a 68% growth over the same period last year. But private equity funds in the developed world experienced comparably slower growth. European fundraising grew a meager 16% to $61 billion, while US-focused private equity fund-raising reportedly dropped 3% to $133 billion in the same period, according to the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association. According to the EMPEA, economic conditions in the US and Europe appear to be having less impact on fundraising for private equity in emerging markets compared to mature private equity markets and what began as incipient interest in emerging markets private equity has developed into an acceptance of the asset class as part of mainstream allocation strategy. A total of 104 funds were raised for emerging markets in the first half of this year, with the average fund size growing 72%, to $339 million as compared to $197 million in the first half of 2007.Almost half of the funds raised focused on growth and expansion capital, which were up from 38% of the total raised in the first half of 2007. EMPEA expects 2008 emerging markets private equity fundraising to beat 2007 totals. Source: Private Equity African News

ECP invests $30 million to Develop Salt reserves in Djibouti

Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), an international private equity firm focused on investing across the African continent, has announced a U.S. $30 million initial investment in Salt Investment S.A. (SI). The company is a new Djibouti-based salt production and export company that will harvest, wash and export salt extracted from Lake Assal, the largest undeveloped salt reserve in the world. The investment was made through a Mauritius special purpose vehicle, which will hold a controlling stake in the company. The investment will finance SI's operations, specifically purchasing production equipment, and constructing or renovating facilities, storage units, a shipping platform and housing sites. The salt production will be predominantly used for deicing, chemical applications and industrial feedstock. According to ECP, the salt industry is attractive because growth in the Middle East and Asia is resulting in a shift toward high-quality production that is required for chemical manufacturing, while the economic conditions in Djibouti are also favorable, with high GDP growth, low inflation is low and a government supportive of economic growth and job creation. Lake Assal has ideal conditions for salt production including high evaporation rates, high temperatures, and pure brine feed from the Red Sea. The result is that many of the key elements for salt production occur naturally in the environment. ECP estimates that SI could produce and export about four million tons of salt a year by 2012, which would place the company among the five largest salt producers in the world. The initial SI investment was made through ECP's U.S. $523 million ECP Africa Fund II and provided an opportunity for the fund to further diversify its portfolio in terms of industry and geography. Africa Fund II was established in December 2005 to capitalize on the numerous investment opportunities throughout Africa in sectors such as telecom, natural resources, financial services, agribusiness, transportation, and power and water. Source: Emerging Capital Partners

Archbishop Tutu to be Patron for Dispute Settlement Centre

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has been appointed as the patron of the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement (ACDS) at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). Described by the University as “the ideal person” to be the Patron of the ACDS at the USB, Tutu is known for his activism for human rights and campaigns to fight Aids, poverty and racism. Tutu has contrasted his experience in a recent United Nations peace mission which he headed to the war-torn Middle East region with the work that the Africa Centre of Dispute Settlement has started to do. Well known for chairing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he is currently the chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders which contributes its wisdom, leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world's toughest problems. The Centre is unique in that it is the first time that such an initiative focusing on dispute settlement as an alternative means to expensive litigation will be researched at a South African business school. The ACDS at the USB is an African hub for dispute settlement theory and practice. It addresses the increasing need to settle disputes of all forms at an early stage, using alternative forms of dispute resolution (such as dialogue and mediation). The Centre, which houses a panel of specialist mediators across a spectrum of disciplines, focuses on research, programme development, teaching and training, as well as consultation regarding dispute system design.

US$ 23 Million African Development Bank Grant for Development of West African Monetary Zone

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) on Monday, in Tunis, signed a grant agreement of 14 million Units of Account (UA*), equivalent to US$ 23 million, to finance the West African Monetary Zone Payment System Development project, which aims at creating a single currency in the sub-region by standardizing the payment systems in The Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The project is an important regional financial infrastructural requirement for implementing the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) by upgrading the payment systems in the three countries to the same level as those in Ghana and Nigeria, with a view to facilitating the harmonization of the payment systems in five of the six member countries of WAMZ. The main component of the project is the development of Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), a large value funds transfer system whereby financial intermediaries can settle inter-bank transfers continuously and in real time for their own account as well as the accounts of their customers in the three countries. The implementation of RTGS is expected to enhance the establishment of a West African Central Bank (WACB), which will, in turn, implement a regional RTGS system that will link the national RTGSs in its member countries in a "system of systems". The estimated cost of the project is UA 17.56 million. The ADF grant accounts for 79.7% of the total cost. The central banks of the three countries will, together contribute UA 1.62 million or 9.2% of the project cost in local currency, while the estimated contribution of the commercial banks in the three countries is UA 1.9 million or 11.1%. The commercial banks' contribution represents the investments that they will require to make in their respective offices in order for the new payment systems to operate effectively. WAMZ was created in 2000 by The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Nigeria and Sierra Leone, with the primary objective of promoting economic integration and trade in the zone. The goal was to create a single economic space in the Zone by December 2009 through the establishment of a monetary union and the adoption of a single currency. The establishment of WAMZ was in line with the broader goal of creating a single monetary zone in the whole of West Africa as proposed in the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Program (EMCP) adopted in 1987.

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