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The 10th anniversary of the annual IISS Oppenheimer Lecture gave Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Public Protector of South Africa, a platform to examine the role of justice and good governance in regional and international peace.

South African wine and spirits producer Distell has made its first fully-fledged international acquisition, with the purchase of the renowned cognac brand Bisquit from Pernod Ricard for Euro 31 Million. The deal gives Distell, the world's fourth-largest brandy producer, the inventories of Bisquit's finished cognac, as well as stocks of eau-de-vie (cognac distillate) currently in maturation. The deal augments the company’s spirits stable with a highly respected international brand and gives it access to Bisquit's existing customer base in Europe and Asia for other Distell offerings. To avoid any disruption of supply, Distell has maintained existing distribution agreements with Pernod Ricard affiliates in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Bisquit will be the first wholly-owned Distell brand to be produced outside Africa, taking the local company further into the mainstream international spirits market, and follows on the company's joint venture established two years ago with Scotch whisky producer Burn Steward Distillers to produce and market the Bunnahabhain, Black Bottle and Scottish Leader whisky brands in sub-Saharan Africa. While accounting for only 8.6% of brandy volumes sold worldwide in 2007, cognacs command a higher price than any other type of brandy and growth in sales has outpaced that of any other spirit over the past decade.

South Africa has been ranked fourth in the world for auditing and reporting standards, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009. The implications of such a ranking are encouraging for South African businesses and financial institutions as well as overseas investors. Given the plethora of laws and regulations auditors were subject to, South Africa's ranking will also hopefully have some influence on foreign audit regulators, who need to inspect auditors who audit entities listed on foreign exchanges.

The World Bank has approved an Rs 580 million, five-year technical assistance loan to finance the Mauritius Economic Transition Technical Assistance Project (METTAP), which aims at enhancing the performance of selected public enterprises and services that contribute to an improved investment climate. The METTAP loan is a key support to Mauritius as it transitions from a development paradigm dependent on trade preferences to one centred on global competitiveness. The project revolves around three pillars namely, Business Facilitation, Public Enterprise reform and Utility and infrastructure projects through the Public Private Partnerships. METTAP is a specific programme designed to improve overall public sector efficiency by removing existing administrative hurdles to business and investment and reengineering key public enterprises to improve service delivery and achieve gains. It also helps in undertaking regulatory, legal and institutional reforms to streamline investment-related procedures and contribute to making Mauritius an attractive and preferred investment destination. Mauritius has more that 150 para-statal bodies and METTAP will focus on those that are critical to improving public sector efficiency and facilitating business development.

South Africa is fast becoming a preferred business tourism destination. Large international companies are eager to host international events, conferences and trade expos in the country, and business travellers are as just as willing to attend. The SA Department of Trade and Industry has identified business tourism, commonly referred to as the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) industry, as a niche tourism segment with growth potential. Recent figures show that in the first nine months of 2008, business travellers spent R2.4-billion in South Africa, 32% more than in the same period in 2007. Although the actual number of business travellers declined during this period, they are spending more. While the global financial crisis has reduced international travel, foreign visitors to South Africa increased by 5.1% to 8.6-million in the 11 months to November 2008. Business tourism also has lucrative spinoffs for the leisure tourism industry as business travellers often book tours to explore the region they are visiting, either before or after conferences. According to the Gauteng Tourism Authority, the province is currently listed 35th by the International Congress and Convention Association, which ranks countries according to their ability to present international functions. In a 2007 survey by the Meetings and Incentive Travel magazine, which is circulated to event organisers throughout the UK, Cape Town topped the list of favourite long-haul destination cities. South Africa was voted the second favourite long-haul destination country.

South Africa and Nigeria have launched a joint advisory council to promote and facilitate increased investment between the two continental powerhouses. The Joint Presidential Advisory Council on Investment will help create an environment that will encourage investment flows between the two countries. Trade and investment have grown exponentially since the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994 and the resumption of diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries. Nigeria contributes over 40% of West Africa's regional gross domestic product (GDP). Petroleum plays a major role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for around 40% of the country's GDP. With its large population and abundant natural resources, Nigeria has become South Africa's most important trading partner on the continent. Bilateral trade grew from approximately R180-million in 1999 to almost R11-billion in 2007, with South Africa's imports from Nigeria dominated by crude oil (98% of imports). Over the same period, a number of South African companies have become major players in almost all sectors of the Nigerian economy, the biggest investment being in telecommunications. Other sectors of Nigeria's economy that South African firms are involved in are banking, property, retail, media, mining, construction, tourism, agriculture, entertainment, and fast food franchising.

In line with its status as one of Africa's foremost financial services providers, Guaranty Trust Bank PLC has expanded the scope of its operations in Sub-Saharan Africa with the opening of a Liberian subsidiary located at United Nations Drive, Clara Town, Bushrod Island, Monrovia, Liberia. According to a press release from the bank, the Nigerian bank, which currently has a branch network which spans over 152 locations in Nigeria, has additional subsidiaries in The Gambia, United Kingdom, Ghana and Sierra Leone. The release added that GT Bank's presence and activities in Liberia will herald a rise in trade and investment opportunities, as its Liberian subsidiary will enjoy the leverage of the GT Bank group's enviable heritage and global connections.

The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and the French Development Agency (AFD) have signed a long-term €85 million loan (approx R1 billion) agreement to improve the O.R Tambo International Airport. According to the agreement between the two parties, the loan will be repayable over fifteen years with a three year grace period. According to ACSA, the funds will be utilised to finance the extension and upgrading of ACSA’s flagship airport, in particular the Central Terminal Building. As part of ACSA's strategy to diversify its sources of funding, it has approached a number of financial institutions, particularly those that focus on long-term infrastructure development. AFD is the first international development finance institution to support ACSA in funding its capital investment programme. The AFD, operating in South Africa since 1994, is a French government institution set up to provide development financing especially for urban, rural and infrastructural development, as well as industry, financial systems and education.

ArcelorMittal South Africa is to build 10 new schools over seven years at a cost of R250-million, the first being a new primary school in the township of Mamelodi outside Pretoria. Mamelodi Primary is scheduled for completion by the end of the year, and the remaining nine schools, two in the Eastern Cape and one each in the rest of the provinces, will be built to guidelines provided by the Department of Education. In a first for South Africa, Mamelodi Primary School will be built using insulated panels technology, which relies heavily on steel as a building material. It can withstand extreme weather conditions, is fire-resistant and 10 times faster to erect than using conventional building technologies. For ArcelorMittal, the Mamelodi project is part of its strategy of investing heavily in education, training and skills development. This includes promoting maths and science at high schools, an extensive bursary programme for artisans, engineers and other technical skills, and upgrading the skills of its own employees. The investment not only ensures that the company has a pool of skilled resources for its own operations, but also towards addressing the country's skills shortage in general. Over the past three years, ArcelorMittal has invested some R22-million in a Science Centre and a Centre of Excellence.

The South African National Space Agency Bill, which could see South Africa setting up its own space agency later this year to pull together all space-related activities in the country under a single organisation has been signed into law. The Act creates an agency that will promote the peaceful use of outer space; foster research in astronomy, earth observation, communications, navigation and space physics; foster international cooperation in space-related activities; and advance scientific, engineering and technological competencies through human capital development and outreach programmes, according to the Department of Science and Technology. The agency will also implement the National Space Strategy, which was approved by the Cabinet in December 2008, to stimulate the capability to place South Africa among the leading nations in the innovative utilisation of space science and technology. The agency is also expected to bring together the work of several institutions and harness their capacities to leverage billions of rands to boost the economy and create more jobs. Some of the projects it will co-ordinate include the Square Kilometre Array bid, the Southern African Large Telescope, and South Africa's second indigenous satellite, SumbandilaSat.

The construction of a small craft harbour at Durban's Point Waterfront is expected to attract investment capital in excess of R6-billion to the province. According to the KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sibusiso Ndebele, the small craft harbour will also create 6,000 to 8,000 direct new jobs during construction, and 6 000 permanent jobs once operational. Once completed, the development will increase the rates base of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality by more than R100-million per annum. The development will comprise approximately 575 000 bulk square metres across a variety of usage types, including office, residential, retail and hotels.

A new mass vaccination campaign to be rolled out across West Africa this year promises to eliminate the deadly brain disease meningitis in Africa, according to the UN World Health Organisation (WHO). Twenty-five-million doses of the new meningococcal A, or MenA, vaccine are currently in production in India. The drug is expected to be introduced in Burkina Faso in late 2009. "This is the beginning of the end of the disease," said Marc LaForce, the director of the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP). The project, an initiative of WHO and the non-profit Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health, has been developing the vaccine since 2003. While the disease is more deadly in the meningitis belt than anywhere else in the world, there have been no prevention vaccines for the strain found in Africa – until now, following clinical trials with MenA. Meningitis is caused by inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded MVP’s creation, research and development since 2001.

South Africa's Department of Safety and Security has signed an agreement with the French Embassy to strengthen the country's capacity in the fight against transnational organised crime and terrorism. The Priority Solidarity Funds Agreement will reinforce the South African Police Service's capacity to respond to terrorist threats and tackle international criminal networks. The agreement was informed by the understanding that countries could no longer afford to function in isolation in what has essentially become a connected global village and that the sharing of experiences, information, skills and knowledge was critical in the effort to defeat crime. French training of South African Police Service (SAPS) members in specialised fields, procurement of specialised technical equipment, as well as the sharing of expertise in the field of tracking has all strengthened the country's fight against crime and the three-year cooperation agreement will encompass a financial commitment of more than R15-million to the SAPS.

Nigeria and other developing countries face a financing shortfall of $270-700 billion to pay for their imports and service their debts this year, as the global economy falters and foreign investors withdraw, says the World Bank. According to the organisation, only one quarter of the most vulnerable countries have the resources to prevent a rise in poverty. In a bid to curtail the effects of the global financial meltdown, governments of most developed countries have pumped several billions of dollars into their economy to save their financial system. Nigeria has also taken a number of measures including the reduction of foreign trips by government officials, depreciation of its exchange rate, push for establishment of a Financial Service Regulatory Committee, an Asset Management Company, and deregulation of its oil sector, among others. Nigeria had recorded a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 6.6 per cent last year and proposed a growth rate of 7.5 per cent this year, which analysts insist may not be a reality given the tight liquidity in the economy that has reduced consumer spending. But the World Bank said that international financial institutions could not by themselves currently cover the shortfall of emerging countries - that includes public and private debt and trade deficits - for 129 emerging countries, even at the lower end of the range.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on the international community to act urgently to avoid the devastating effects of the current financial crisis on Ghana and others classified as most vulnerable countries. "After hitting first the advanced economies and then the emerging economies, a third wave from the global financial crisis is now hitting the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries," IMF's managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said at the launch of a new IMF study in Washington DC. The study, entitled: "The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Low-Income Countries", stated that more than 20 countries were vulnerable to the unfolding crisis. Apart from Ghana, other countries are Angola, Nigeria, Zambia, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Haiti, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Albania, Moldova, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and Vietnam. "More than $25 billion in urgent concessional financing will be needed this year in the most affected countries.

International telecoms equipment manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent has partnered with the Telkom Foundation to establish an e-learning centre and internet café at Grassy Park High School in Cape Town. The centre will be able to provide free access to high-speed broadband internet to students as well as residents from the neighbouring community. It will be equipped with the latest high-performance computers and a complete set of learning facilities and tools, and will be able to accommodate about 25 users at a time. The initiative is part of Alcatel-Lucent's corporate social investment programme, which places education high on its agenda, with a view toward developing local talent and providing better learning opportunities for underserved areas, says the company.

The Moroccan government has pledged to increase women's political representation at local levels. Following a reform of the Commune Charter that set a minimum quota of 12% for female representation, the government now intends to get the message out to the public. A national awareness campaign entitled "Women in communes: a driving-force for local governance" was launched was also launched earlier in the year. According to the Moroccan government, the aim is to exceed the set quota for the level of women's representation for the first time and the campaign is the fruit of commitments made by the government, parliament, political parties, the media and other partners. The country has already reached the target for women's representation at the commune level, with an increase from 0.56% to 12% of seats. The campaign will include media messages and community-level activities, and will highlight success stories in the hope of raising public confidence in women's abilities.

South Africa's Standard Bank is to take a 33% stake in Russian investment bank Troika Dialog, forging a major partnership deal despite the mounting economic crisis in Russia. Standard Bank will acquire the stake for 200 million dollars (158 million euros) through a convertible loan while also handing over its Russia operations and all its Russian business to Troika Dialog, the Russian bank said in a statement. The transaction will mark the first time a foreign bank has taken a major share in a Russian financial institution since the financial crisis broke last year, sending shockwaves through Russia's capital markets. Standard Bank said in its own statement that the "combined operation will have a capital base in excess of 850 million US dollars and will be strongly positioned to compete in the Russian financial services sector." The transaction remains subject to regulatory approval. Troika boasts of being the oldest investment bank in Russia, having been founded in 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed.

Angola has secured another billion-dollar (783 million euros) loan from China, according to the country's state media, to be spent on developing its agricultural sector. The southern African country has already received at least five billion dollars in credit from China to pay for its post-war reconstruction, but the World Bank believes up to eight billion dollars more has not been publicised. Chen Yuan, CEO of the China Development Bank, announced the latest finance deal. The China Development Bank is one of the country's largest, and is one of three policy lenders charged with supporting Beijing's government programmes. Trade between the two countries was at 25.3 billion dollars in 2008, and Angola is now China's biggest African trade partner. Angola, a former Portuguese colony, was a key agricultural producer in the 1950s and 1960s, but millions of farmers left their land during the decades of war that left the soil littered with landmines. Most food is now imported. The government, which relies on oil and diamonds for more than 90 percent of its income, is suffering amid the global slowdown and is investing in areas like agriculture in a bid to diversify the economy.

Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is poised to halve from the average of the past decade to slightly more than 3 per cent in 2009 as the continent is struck by the "third wave" of the global economic crisis, the International Monetary Fund has warned. Antoinette Sayeh, director of the IMF's Africa department, said the crisis that began in developed economies and then hit emerging markets was hurting the world's poorest continent via low global commodity prices, tighter credit markets and depressed external demand.

Zambia has launched a US$400 million Kariba North Bank extension project and placed emphasis on building new power stations as well as expanding the existing ones. According to the Zambian Government, it is in the process of concluding the legislation to make the sector one of the priority sectors in the provision of incentives under the Zambia Development Act. The energy sector, specifically electricity, has played a critical role in facilitating growth of the economy and the Kariba North Bank extension project will involve the installation of two additional generators with a total capacity of 360 mega watts. This will bring the total installed capacity at the Kariba North Bank to 1,080 mega watts. President Rupiah Banda has thanked the Chinese government for facilitating the provision of 85 per cent of the cost of the project through the China Export and Import Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa for providing the balance of the project funds. Chinese ambassador to Zambia, Li Qiangmin said the project demonstrated the cordial bilateral relations by the Zambian and Chinese governments and that Zambia was one of the preferred investors' destinations by the Chinese because of its good policies which they had taken advantage of. He said the company contracted to do the works, Sino Hydro, was the biggest power company in China and one of the largest in the world.

A24 Media has announced the launch of its much anticipated online stills collection, which contains some of the best photographic collections in Africa, digitised for the first time. The collection charts the past 50 years of the continent's history, and features never before seen work from world-renowned photographers Mohamed Amin and Duncan Willetts. With images available online; the collection is diverse in content, capturing images ranging from wildlife, culture, sports and portraits from the Maasai of Kenya even to iconic images of the late John F. Kennedy of the USA.

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has launched the Pan African Alliance on E-Commerce to intensify cooperation and initiate common projects of interest in African countries, as part of a two-day workshop on Trade Facilitation and Aid for Trade in Addis Ababa. The Alliance hopes to establish and encourage the use of "Single Window" across the continent, which is an electronic platform where traders undertake transactions on line, reducing the need for paperwork. Senegal, Tunisia and Mauritius are said to already have such platforms, dramatically reducing the time it takes to clear customs in those countries. Trade and transport officials from more than 20 countries from across Africa took part in the workshop, which was organised by ECA's African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC). The Aid for Trade Initiative was launched with the purpose of helping developing countries, the least developed in particular, to build their supply-side capacity and infrastructure needed to take advantage of trade liberalisation and enhance their participation in the world trading system in order to meet their economic development needs.

The Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF) has confirmed it has successfully streamlined the customs administration system in Senegal, considerably reducing the time and costs associated with importing and exporting goods. Additional improvements are expected in 2009 as the second phase of the project gets underway, delivering more tangible changes and further optimizing conditions for trade. Since 2007, ICF has been working with the Government of Senegal, in partnership with implementation agency GAINDE 2000, to streamline and refine its existing system of paperless electronic customs administration. The project followed the recognition that if Senegal is to become a more attractive trading partner, the clearing process in the port has to be speedier and more predictable. Before ICF support, processing time for pre-customs declaration was two days, now it takes just three to seven hours. Likewise, 853 certificates of origin were processed by GAINDE in 2007; with ICF support, this has now increased to 1,983 certificates in 2008. Following the success of the project’s first phase, ICF today announced support of a second phase, which will render the Port of Dakar's customs clearance process entirely paperless. This will be achieved in two stages over the next two and a half years. The second phase of the project aims to reduce the time associated with the custom clearance process by a further 50%, from an average of 18 to just 9 days. An improvement of this scale will put Senegal's customs administration system on a par with countries like France and Spain where it currently takes nine days to clear customs. ICF is the only pan-African body, based in Africa, explicitly and exclusively focused on improving the continent's investment climate. It works with receptive African governments to systematically remove constraints to investment in order to make the continent an even better place to do business. ICF is currently active in Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia, and has a number of pan-African projects and initiatives.

China is regaining its appetite for acquisitions in Africa as asset prices on the continent tumble, according to Standard Bank, Africa's largest lender that is partially owned by China’s biggest bank. Jacko Maree, Standard's chief executive, said in an interview with the Financial Times that Chinese companies were readying to "turn on the taps" once more after 2007’s surge of investment into Africa fell away dramatically due to the global financial crisis. Market valuations for many African companies – particularly miners but also telecoms groups and banks – have fallen sharply during the crisis. Last year, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) took a 20 per cent stake in Standard for $5.5bn.

Irish company Mainstream Renewable Power has signed a Euro 850-million joint venture deal with South African firm Genesis Eco-Energy to build wind farms to generate "an initial pipeline" of over 500 MW of energy in the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape provinces by 2014. The joint venture company plans to have two projects - a 30 MW wind farm at Jeffrey's Bay near Port Elizabeth, and a 40 MW project at Colesberg in the Northern Cape - ready for construction early in 2010. The two projects "are both at advanced development stages and are expected to be fully operational early in 2011," Mainstream said. A shortage of power generating capacity is constraining South Africa's economic growth, and state electricity company Eskom is to spend hundreds of billions of rands over the next five years on increasing this capacity. Besides contributing to South Africa's climate change mitigation strategy, the new projects will give a major boost to local economic development, energy security and job creation.

Absa Capital has launched South Africa's first Shariah-compliant equity-linked exchange traded fund (ETF). The initial public offering for the NewFunds Shariah Top 40 Index ETF opened on 23 February, while the ETF was listed on the JSE on 6 April. According to Absa, the Shariah Top 40 Index ETF is a first for South Africa and will redefine the Muslim investment landscape in the country. The company expects the new offering, a cost-efficient, transparent and easy-to-access investment product that conforms to the principles of Shariah law, to be well-received in a market that urgently required more local Islamic investment products to service the estimated 400,000 Muslim households in South Africa. Absa Capital said the new ETF offered a credible Islamic investment opportunity, aligning the South African Islamic investment market with global trends.

Absa Capital's NewGold ETF, the largest ETF in the South African market, with approximately R9-billion in assets, is also Shariah-compliant, having been approved by the Shariah Supervisory Board. The Shariah Top 40 Index ETF tracks the FTSE/JSE Shariah Top 40 Index jointly established by London's FTSE International and the JSE. The Shariah screening of the index constituents is performed by Yasaar using a two-step methodology. Yasaar represents all major Shariah schools of thought, creating a best practice approach that has credibility across all regions of the Islamic world, and the ongoing screening of the Shariah compliance of the ETF is conducted by Absa's Islamic Banking Shariah supervisory board.

As discussions continue on ways to tackle the impact of the global financial crisis in Africa, the African Development Bank (AFDB) has decided to increase its annual lending to $11 billion to help countries in dire need. President of the AFDB, Mr. Donald Kaberuka, made the Bank's position known at the two-day conference organized by the government of Tanzania and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Dar es Salaam. Kaberuka told the conference participants titled: 'Changes: Creating Successful Partnerships for Africa's Growth' that the bank had also unveiled an Emergency Liquidity Facility of $1.5 billion, a Trade Finance Initiative of $1 billion, and a Framework for Accelerated Resource Transfer of African Development Fund (ADF) Resources to help member states.

Advanced talks between dfcu Limited and United Bank of Africa (UBA) could soon mature into another major bank acquisition in Uganda's financial sector. UBA, a new comer into Uganda's banking sector, is set to take over dfcu. If the negotiations end in agreement, it will end dfcu's search for a buyer that, according to a reliable source, began in 2005. UBA is itself a product of a merger between two of Nigeria's big banks; Standard Trust Bank and Continental Trust Bank. This makes it Nigeria's biggest bank. It owns assets worth more than $14 billion--the largest in the Nigerian local market. UBA operates in seven African countries, which offers consumers a wide range of products. The planned acquisition comes at a time when dfcu is basking in last year's strong financial performance. Dfcu Bank's profit doubled to Shs14.5 billion in 2008, up from Shs7.2 billion the year before. The bank's cost to income ratio - the amount of money a bank spends to make certain profit - also declined.

In its effort to further strengthen Nigeria's financial services sector and checkmating credit crisis in banks, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued the country's first Approval-in-Principle (provisional license) to XDS Credit Bureau Limited to operate credit bureau services. This is in view of Section 57 of the bank's enabling act. With this development, the XDS becomes the first credit bureau licensed in Nigeria that can collate and share data on individual and corporate credibility with financial institutions to enable them make informed decisions while lending to customers. The process will also help to reduce the dependence on collaterals by banks which scare away customers and budding entrepreneurs from accessing facilities with them.

The fourth quarter of 2008 witnessed an uptake in job creation resulting in a decline of 1.3 percent in unemployment in the country, Statistics South Africa reported. Stats SA's Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2008 highlighted that the construction, community and social services sectors of the economy were the biggest contributors to employment in the reported quarter. Employment increased by 1.4 percent and unemployment declined by 6 percent. The combined effect was a decline of 1.3 percentage points in the unemployment rate. Construction, community and social services were the biggest contributors to the employment gain, however, only the change observed in construction was statistically significant, Stats SA reported. Although increases were also observed in other industries such as manufacturing and private households, the increases were not statistically significant. The formal sector of the economy accounted for more than half of the new jobs that were created excluding agriculture which contributed 98,000, but once again the number of jobs created in the formal sector is not statistically significant, Stats SA said. Data showed that that there has been an increase in employment for both men and women in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter of 2008, with 1.6 percent more men entering the job market and 1.1 percent increase in women. The Western Cape was South Africa's leader in terms of increase in employment with 66 000, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 48 000 and the Eastern Cape with 43 000. The number of unemployed South Africans declined in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 3.9 million from 4.1 million in the third quarter. This, Stats SA said, indicates a drop of 249 000 in the unemployment figure.

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has secured an ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification, which is the world's highest accreditation for information protection and security, the bank has said in a statement issued yesterday. It said the independent assessment was carried out by UK-based Lloyds Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), one of the few companies in the world to perform ISO 27001 audits. ISO 27001 is the only auditable international standard which defines the requirements to ensure that sufficient security controls are instituted within the certified organization. Additionally, maintaining the ISO 27001 Certification requires an annual review and three year re-certification in the continual scrutiny of Bank of Ghana's information security management system in a manner that aims to provide confidence to clients and the public as a whole that the Bank's data is protected on an ongoing basis.

The Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, reported an increase in student teachers in 2009 that in some cases doubles other years' statistics. This comes at the end of a steady increase in enrolments over the last three years. As a result of incentivised teacher training, the Minister continued, universities report that applications for entry into teaching increased this year by 50 to 100 percent in comparison with last year. In 2007 the government launched the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme. The scheme provides full-cost bursaries that cover tuition, accommodation, a book allowance and a stipend to successful applicants. The bursary is awarded for studies in "national priority areas", where teachers are needed. These include essential subjects such as mathematics, the science and languages.

The financial crisis and global recession will see African economies lose up to to $49bn by the end of this year, research by ActionAid suggests. About $27bn of this was a fall in aid, export earnings and income from richer recession-hit nations said the charity. The lost income is equivalent to a 10% pay cut for the continent, it added. The ActionAid report found that countries which liberalised their markets, and were large enough to attract significant investment would be most affected by the financial crisis. South Africa would be among the hardest hit, as it was likely to see income from abroad plunge to around a fifth of the country's economic output.

South Africa's internet population is expected to grow as much in the next five years as it has in the 15 years since the internet became commercially available in the country. This is among the conclusions contained in the Internet Access in South Africa 2008 report, released this week by researchers and consultants World Wide Worx. The report shows that the number of internet users in South Africa grew by 12.5% to 4.6-million in 2008 – the first time since 2001 it has grown by more than 8%. The increased growth rate is expected to continue for the next five years, taking the internet user population to the 9-million mark by 2014.

Chinese officials plan to open a malaria research center in the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde, Shen Yi, a Chinese embassy official, said recently ahead of an opening ceremony for the center, Xinhuanet reports. The center is expected to cost three million Chinese yuan, or about $440,000, Xinhuanet reports. China also plans to send four malaria experts to Cameroon for 50 days, Shen said. Shen added that China sends a team of malaria experts to Cameroon annually but that the team plans to work with a Cameroonian team this year to share China's experience in controlling the disease.

The volume of remittances from Ghanaians abroad has dropped by some 16%, in line with general expectations of a possible dip. Latest figures sited show monies sent from Ghanaians abroad to relations home, between January and February 2009, stands at USD 250m, a drop from the USD 300m registered for the same period in 2009. The situation, brought on by the global recession, is likely to worsen in the months ahead but will get better with time, analysts say. Analysts further cite job losses and the loss of investments by Ghanaians living abroad as the reasons stoking the drop. Meanwhile, Ghana continues to register excellent export figures. Exports for the Q1 2009 have gone up to USD 181.5m from USD 154.4m the same time in 2009, an increase of over 17%. Imports on the other hand are expected to be less in the Q1 2009.

South Africa's emerging status as one of the world's most liberalised telecoms markets has received a boost with the launch of O-Tel, the latest entrant into a rapidly growing sector. O-Tel is a licensed national telecoms operator, having receiving its individual Electronic Communication Network Services (i-ECNS) license from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) in January. The telecoms company is able to offer a nationwide telecommunications service from day one because subscribers connect either to the Vodacom 3G network or Telkom's ADSL network to be able to make telephone calls or surf the internet. O-Tel provides coverage within Telkom ADSL or Vodacom 3G with a telephone line for R99 per month and with no contract necessary, according to the company. O-Tel supplies subscribers with proprietary wireless routers called O-Boxes designed by the globe's most respected telecoms equipment manufacturers. Subscribers are then able to purchase their own choice of standard telephone handset to plug into the O-Tel hardware and then make highly affordable voice calls to any telephone in the world with the added advantage of optional internet access. The recent awarding of i-ECNS licences by Icasa, following last year's Altech court judgment, has turned South Africa into one of the world's most competitive telecoms markets overnight.

South Africa has opened a state-of-the-art new embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The 12,000 square metre, South African-styled and decorated building was designed by architects from both Ethiopia and South Africa, and includes a section highlighting South Africa's preparations for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Construction began in September 2006. Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tekeda Alemu said the new building was proof of South Africa's commitment to enhancing cooperation with Ethiopia and the African Union (AU). South Africa has signed a number of memoranda of understanding with Ethiopia, on industrial and technical cooperation as well as on trade and investment, agriculture, defence, arts and culture, tourism, human resource development and health. South Africa and Ethiopia first established official diplomatic relations in 1994.

Single brand store network PEP has extended its African operations to Angola. The first store was opened in Lobito at the end of October 2008 with a new distribution centre in Benguela. According to Africa General Manager Willie Jacobs, PEP's product offering of value for money and functionality will boost the company into the fast-growing Angolan market. PEP now operates in 11 African countries and is the biggest single brand retailer in Southern Africa.

India expects to triple trade with Africa over the next five years to reach $100 billion as it tries to strengthen ties in a region where Asian rival China has made rapid inroads. Despite an economic slowdown, India is planning a slew of projects in agriculture, small industry, mining, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), oil pipelines, chemical industry, power generation and transmission among others. The Indian government also plans to double credit lines to $5.4 billion over five years and provide $500 million for projects from the "Aid to Africa" budget, Pranab Mukherjee, India's External Affairs minister said during a India-Africa business summit in New Delhi. Business leaders and politicians from at least 32 African countries and India vowed to improve bilateral trade and relations, which date back to the British colonial period when thousands of Indians were taken to Africa as indentured labourers. Many stayed on, and there are now close to 2 million people of Indian ethnic origin living in Africa. India's trade with Africa soared from $967 million in 1991 to $35 billion in 2008, but remains way behind China's nearly $100 billion. China trailed India in trade with Africa a decade ago, but its investments have since risen considerably on the back of major energy construction and mineral extraction projects. India will also donate $1 billion to connect 53 African countries through a satellite and fibre-optic network to promote "Virtual" medical and educational programmes. Uganda has a $100 million trade with India and Kiwanuka said that could double in less than five years as Indian companies invest in sectors such as food processing and textiles.

The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government has launched a unique science and engineering training institute, the Moses Kotane Institute, to improve science and technology fields in the province. According to the Premier of Durban, Sibusiso Ndebele, mathematics, science and technology programmes, to be rolled-out by the institute, will be consistent with pro-growth policies. The institute comprehensively supports the government's Agrarian Revolution by offering broad modules on agricultural science. The new Institute will specialise mainly in building the skills of historically disadvantaged students. The institute has forged formal links with the National Department of Education which will officially regulate all programmes. The institute is named after struggle veteran Moses Kotane, who made an enormous contribution to educating South African freedom fighters who were in the former Soviet Union and in Tanzania.

South Africa ranks as the sixth most optimistic country out of the 36 surveyed in accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton's 2009 International Business Report (IBR), up from ninth last year. 35% of privately held businesses in South Africa are reportedly optimistic about prospects for the economy in 2009, a drop from 75% in 2008, with an overwhelming consensus that falling consumer demand and the shortage of business credit are the biggest obstacles. Despite the slump in optimism, say the report’s producers, there are still pockets of hope in the South African marketplace, and privately held businesses are some of the first to realise this. According to the firm, this is the first time that pessimists have outweighed optimists about the outlook for the economy - with the most optimistic province being Gauteng, at 40%, and the least optimistic being the Eastern Cape, at 17%. The drop follows a global trend, in which business optimism around the world has slumped by 56% in the last 12 months, contributing to the firm's International optimism/pessimism barometer recording a negative balance of -16%, compared to 40% in 2008. Globally, some countries surveyed have high turnover expectations, with Vietnam at +91%, India at +71% and Botswana at +70%. Others fear the worst: Hong Kong registered -48%, Taiwan -44%, Japan -23%, and Spain -21%. The most optimistic country in the survey is India at +83% (+95% in 2008), which can be attributed to the robust economic growth of recent years, which the country hopes to maintain throughout 2009. Now in its seventh year, the IBR survey researches the opinions and expectations of privately held businesses in 36 countries.

Africa Interactive, the publisher of the pan-African news website AfricaNews.com, is announcing the release of their mobile news website:  http://m.africanews.com. This latest innovation follows an unprecedented mobile phone revolution in Africa in the past years. The mobile version of AfricaNews.com makes the company one of the few African media outlets to both source and publish content via mobile devices. The mobile website is unique as it is the only mobile service dedicated to broad news on Africa. As internet on mobile devices flourishes in Africa the company has again taken the lead to serve new and emerging audiences. This website is optimized for mobile devices and gives a clear overview of the latest news submitted by the more than 400 AfricaNews.com reporters who report from 35 African countries.

The South African subsidiary of UK-based telecoms group BT has been awarded both individual electronic communications services (i-ECS) and electronic communication network services (i-ECNS) licences, paving the way for the company to broaden the range of networked IT services it provides in the country. The i-ECNS licence provides similar provisioning rights as presently held by local telecommunications incumbents and the major local mobile operators. This development is part of the broader opening up of South Africa's telecommunications market, with several value added network services (VANS) operators receiving licences. BT has been operating in the South African market with a VANS licence. Last year, under pressure from the key players in the telecommunications sector, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa decided to convert the VANS licences into individual i-ECNS and i-ECS licences.

South Africa's government budgeting system has been rated as the second most transparent in the world – ahead of such wealthy democracies as the US, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. This is according to the International Budget Partnership's (IBP) recently published Open Budget Survey 2008, which evaluates whether central governments give the public access to budget information and opportunities to participate in the budget process, and examines the ability of legislatures and auditors to hold their governments accountable. According to the survey, the world's most transparent countries are the UK (with a score of 88 out of 100), South Africa (87), France (87), New Zealand (86), and the US (82). The survey classified these five countries as "providing extensive information". "These top performers include both developed and developing countries," the IBP said. The organisation said in a press release that the strong showing of South Africa, as well as that of Slovenia, Sri Lanka, and Botswana (all of which provide significant information to their people), demonstrated that developing countries can achieve transparency given sufficient willingness of their governments to be open and accountable to their people.

A new study by a US-based investment advisory firm suggests that Africa's broadband market is set to quadruple by 2012, with the current 2.7-million users soaring to 12.7-million. Aimed at service providers, investors and infrastructure suppliers, the study was conducted in 33 African markets. With its report titled 3G, WiMAX, ADSL and the Future of African Broadband, the company aims to dispel the pessimism that has pervaded the broadband sector in recent years. AfricaNext attributes the low incidence of broadband penetration in Africa until now to a variety of factors such as expensive services, high prices for international bandwidth, dilapidated infrastructure, and restrictive regulatory frameworks. However, a number of new, more positive factors are making the future of broadband in Africa is looking much brighter and will see a surge in broadband growth over the next four years. These factors include last mile competition, international gateway licensing, new submarine cables, domestic fibre backbone developments, unified licences, improvements in radio spectral efficiency, increased internet usage from a younger population, and increased availability of capital. AfricaNext argues that 2009 is likely to be the start of greater things for the telecommunications sector and singles out Huawei Technologies as a major influence on future developments. The networking and telecommunications equipment supplier is the largest such company in China and has spent the last decade making substantial investments in Africa. With more than 2 000 employees, over 50% of whom are recruited locally, Huawei has set up training centres in Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia, and most recently, South Africa.

African leaders agreed in the Ethiopian capital to transform the African Union (AU) Commission into the African Union Authority (AUA) and elected Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as the new AU Chairman.

Tickets for the 2010 Fifa World Cup kick-off on 11 June 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa are now on sale to the general public. Of the 1.65-million World Cup tickets that Fifa has allocated to the general public, just over 570.,00 have been set aside for Fifa member country supporters, and 344,00 for tourists who book with Fifa-registered tour operators. That leaves a total of 743,965 tickets that anyone, from anywhere in the world including South Africa, can apply to buy. Fans can apply online, through www.fifa.com, or over the counter at any First National Bank (FNB) branch in South Africa. All ticket orders will be entered into a random selection draw at the same time on 15 April 2009, regardless of whether they were submitted on the first or the last day of the first sales phase. Fans have the choice of match-specific tickets for the 64 games to be played in the tournament, as well as team-specific ticket series that allow them to follow the country of their choice. These range from three-game ticket series (for three games involving the same country) to seven-game ticket series. Tickets are available in four categories, with prices that vary accordingly. Any tickets left over from the first, "random selection" phase - or released by any of Fifa's other customer groups - will be sold in a second, "first-come-first-served" sales phase running from 4 May to 16 November 2009. Two more sales phases - a random selection followed again by a first-come-first-served phase - will follow the World Cup Final Draw, in which the 32 participating teams will be drawn into eight groups for the tournament.

Interfin Merchant Bank has applied for a licence from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to switch over to commercial banking. IMB hinted that that the financial group wanted to expand its product range, which it cannot do as a merchant bank. The group wants to offer a wider range of products, something that we can't do as a merchant bank. Commercial banks are financial intermediaries. They basically accept and keep deposits from clients while merchant banks are mainly involved in trade finance issues. They also offer financial services and advice to corporations and wealthy individuals on how to use their money.

The South African government is to spend Rand10 billion over the next three years on the National Jobs Initiative, which will bring together a range of new and revamped programmes as part of an initiative to save jobs during the global economic crisis. Details of the initiative were released in a report, "Framework for South Africa's response to the international economic crisis", drawn up by a task team comprising members of government, business and organised labour. The initiative's goals are to minimise job losses, ensure that all activities strengthen the capacity of the economy, and sustain are high levels of investment in public sector infrastructure. According to the report, attention would be given to those sectors which were already showing signs of early job losses, including the clothing, textiles and footwear, mining, and the automotive and capital equipment sectors.

Sponsored by Diageo, the Africa Business Reporting Awards were created in 2004 to help transform perceptions about the continent. Six years on, Africa is seen very differently and the Awards continue to seek out and recognize journalists and editors around the world who have gone the extra mile to promote a balanced view of economic opportunity and business achievement in Africa. The 2009 Awards are now open for entries for the following categories: Best Published Feature, Best Radio Feature, Best Television Feature, Best Published Photograph, Media of the Year, and Journalist of the Year. The closing date for entries is 14 April 2009. For details of the Awards and entry guidelines:  www.africabusinessreportingawards.com. There are no entry fees.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has published the election timetable for South Africa's upcoming national and provincial elections. South African President Kgalema Motlanthe officially proclaimed 22 April as the date for the country's general election, signalling the closing of the voters' roll. Voters who cannot vote at a voting station due to physical infirmity or disability or pregnancy have until 14 April to apply to a municipal electoral officer for a special vote. Voters who will be temporarily out of the country on voting day, and who have notified the IEC, may apply for a special vote at a South African embassy on 20 April between 9am and 5pm. For more information on voting:  Independent Electoral Commission website.

The Independent Electoral Commission has announced that there are over 23 million South Africans registered to vote in the national and provincial elections provisionally set for 22 April. According to the IEC, the final registration weekend led to a 3.16 million increase in the number of registered voters. The new registrations follows a voter registration drive which saw a higher than expected number of South Africans visiting some 19,000 voting stations across the country. There were 18.1-million people listed on the voters' roll ahead of South Africa's 1999 general elections and 20.6-million people listed ahead of the 2004 general elections, with the IEC initially setting a target of growing the list to 22-million ahead of the upcoming general elections. A total of 1 508 642 new registrations were recorded over the past weekend, of which 78.3% were from South Africans younger than 30 years of age.

The Constitutional Court has ruled that South African citizens abroad who are registered to vote will be allowed to vote in the 22 April general elections. The court also said those South Africans who are registered and who are interested in voting would be required to inform the electoral office within 15 days.

The government of Japan, through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) programme, has provided R3.38-million to South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to support its voter education campaigns. Japan has been providing funds for the IEC's voter education campaigns since South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994. The IEC said they would use the funding to produce comic booklets to promote voter education throughout the country. The booklets will significantly boost the IEC's outreach programmes especially the civic and voter education, a flagship programme which enabled the commission to reach millions of voters since the start of the registration campaigns for the elections on 22 April. The material will be translated into all South African official languages as well as in Braille for the visually impaired, and a total of three million copies will be distributed to all the IEC's provincial offices.

Predictions are that the youth will turn up in unprecedented numbers to vote in South Africa's forthcoming elections. Political analysts and the Independent Electoral Commission project that the 2009 election will represent a record year for voter turnout, especially among young voters. Young people had been spurred into action because they felt their interests were not being addressed by politicians. South Africa's youth has emerged as a powerful new force determined to make its voice heard in the general election on April 22. An analysis of the voters' roll and statistics from the recent voter registration drives shows that South Africa is experiencing an explosion in political activity among the youth. More than 1 million young people in the 18-to-29 age bracket registered to cast their ballots for the first time, compared to 300000 older citizens. More young women took part in the registration drive, with 546579 versus 461228 men. A total of 6 million youths under the age of 29 are now on the voters' roll, compared to 4 million in 2004. South Africa now has 23 million registered voters, compared to the 20 million captured by the IEC during the 2004 election.

Access Bank Plc, one of the largest banks in Nigeria, is due to start operations in Ghana by April. The bank has acquired a building at La for its corporate head office, and is considering siting its business office in the strategic Ridge enclave which houses a number of corporate business offices including UBA, Databank, Fidelity Bank, MTN and Ecobank Ghana.

Despite the economic slowdown, 2008 remained a buoyant year for the South African tourism industry, says Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk. According to the Minister, the latest available figures for foreign arrivals, for the first 10 months of 2008, showed a strong increase in arrivals of 5.4% from January to October. This follows a growth rate of 8.3 percent in 2007, during which year the country exceeded nine million foreign arrivals. Arrivals from North America remained stable compared to October 2007, arrivals from Australasia were up 6.3%, and arrivals from the Middle East were up 5.9%. However, the industry experienced decreases in arrivals of 6.5% from Europe and 4.6% from Central and South America. Van Schalkwyk said a cohesive approach was needed to position South Africa better as a tourist destination, to proactively identify chall

Ashoka has announced a $15 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support social innovation and entrepreneurship in agricultural and sustainable rural development. The foundation's grant will allow Ashoka to elect more than 90 Fellows who will spread promising innovations aimed at helping small farmers living in poor, rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and India move out of poverty. Ashoka's proven expertise and local and global networks — approximately 2000 social entrepreneurs in 63 countries—are supporting the world's most powerful new ideas and its leading social entrepreneurs. Through its wide-ranging, global "nominators network," Ashoka finds individuals with transformative ideas who lack financing, legal support, or the basic means for scaling their work. After completing Ashoka's rigorous global selection process, Ashoka Fellows are provided with the best intellectual and process leadership for refining and replicating their successes, and for hatching entirely new ideas. Agricultural and rural sustainable development initiatives supported by Ashoka will be oriented around key issues such as new technologies, farmer productivity, key agricultural policies, and connections between smallholder farmers and markets. Founded in 1980, Ashoka is the world's working community of approximately 2,000 leading social entrepreneurs. It champions the most important new social change ideas and supports the entrepreneurs behind them to start, grow, succeed, and collaborate on their ventures. 703.600.8204  www.ashoka.org

The World Cocoa Foundation has announced sustainability principles and goals to help the world's cocoa farmers, guide industry efforts and prioritize the Foundation's development projects in West Africa, Southeast Asia and the Americas. Developed over the past two years through discussions among Foundation members, producing country governments, and program partners, the sustainability principles and goals are intended to help guide economic and social development as well as environmental stewardship in cocoa-growing communities around the world. More than 50 World Cocoa Foundation partner organizations from around the world provided input for the sustainability principles and goals. The World Cocoa Foundation is a partnership of nearly 70 member companies fully committed to sustainable cocoa growing. The principles will help famers grow the crop profitably, safely and responsibly, as well as with care for the environment. Established in 2000, the World Cocoa Foundation is a leader in promoting economic and social development and environmental stewardship in 15 cocoa-producing countries around the world.

South Africa's Competition Tribunal has approved the merger between mobile network operator MTN and Durban-based airtime retailer iTalk Cellular. MTN, which provides mobile voice and data services, will acquire the 59 percent of ITalk's shares that it does not already own, said tribunal registrar Lerato Motaung. MTN will thus hold all of iTalk's issued shares and exercise sole control over the company, which sells airtime, handsets and related products.

The World Bank Group has announced the creation of a $ 2 billion fast-track facility to speed up grants and long-term, interest-free loans to help the world's poorest countries cope with the impact of the global financial crisis. The International Development Association (IDA) Financial Crisis Response Fast-Track Facility, approved by the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors, will allow the Bank Group to provide rapid funding for social safety nets, infrastructure, education, and health. The facility would fast-track an initial $2 billion of the $42 bn of IDA15 resources available to 78 of the world's poorest countries over the coming three years. The facility will foster rapid Bank response to the pressing needs of IDA countries based on more swift World Bank analysis of those needs. It will finance expenditures needed to maintain economic stability and sustain growth, address volatility, and protect the poor. Operational responses will include funding budget expenditures in infrastructure services, education, and health and social safety nets. The new IDA Facility builds on the Food Crisis facility created earlier this year to support countries hit hard by the food crisis. Last month the Bank Group announced 3 other initiatives to help confront the financial crisis including a doubling of the Global Trade Finance Program to $3 billion, a global equity fund , supported by the Government of Japan to recapitalize distressed banks, and a new facility to provide roll-over financing to existing, viable, privately funded infrastructure projects facing financial distress.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is looking to increase its development impact in Mali by supporting an improved investment climate, developing programs in education and tourism and seeking investment opportunities in financial institutions, manufacturing, mining and tourism, IFC Vice President Thierry Tanoh told reporters today during his first visit to the country in this capacity. Tanoh was accompanied by IFC's new Director for Western and Central Africa Yolande Duhem. They met with businesspeople and key government officials, including President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure to discuss investment and advisory services opportunities in tourism, education, manufacturing, mining and the financial sectors. Since it began working in Mali IFC has mobilized about $134 million in investments. IFC's investment portfolio in the country stands at nearly $7 million, including gold mining company SEMOS, and loans to Hotel Salam, and Graphique Industrie. IFC's strategy in Mali includes expanding the Support and Training Entrepreneurship Program and the recently approved joint IDA-IFC Country Assistance Strategy. The country ranked 166 out of 181 countries in the IFC-World Bank Doing Business 2009 report which ranks countries based on the ease of doing business in the country and could benefit greatly from an improved business climate to attract more private sector investment.

Pan-African cellular operator MTN and fixed-line operator Neotel are to jointly build a 5 000km fibre-optic cable network connecting several major centres across South Africa. According to an article by Engineering News, the total cost of building the network will be about R2-billion, while the two companies will be able to save between R400-million and R500-million in capital and operational expenditure as a result of working together. The agreement with Neotel marks the biggest collaboration in the South African telecommunications industry, according to MNT. The first phase of the national fibre network will run from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal province, incorporating Pietermaritzburg and Durban, and also linking up with undersea fibre-optic cables such as Seacom, which is currently being laid, and Eassy. Construction of the first phase is expected to start in March, with completion ahead of the country's hosting of the Fifa World Cup in June 2010. According to the statement, the fibre-optic network will provide both companies with "almost infinite" bandwidth capacity to carry more voice and data information, at higher speeds, over greater distances, and using less power than conventional copper cables.By having their own network in place, both companies will no longer have to rely on competitor Telkom to provide them with bandwidth capacity, which MTN said was both costly and unreliable.

The first World Conference on Constitutional Justice, organised by the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the Venice Commission, took place in Cape Town from 23 to 24 January. The conference brought together, for the first time, courts of constitutional jurisdiction from all over the world, including Commonwealth courts and members of various regional groups of courts of constitutional jurisdiction. The conference explored the impact these courts have, both on their own societies and on the development of a global jurisprudence on human rights. At the same time, it will seek to promote co-operation between these courts, and further the development of global human rights principles. South Africa's Constitutional Court, established in 1995, played a crucial role in the finalisation of the country's first post-apartheid democratic Constitution.

South Africans are being invited to apply for a scholarship to study music and dance in Indonesia. The Indonesian government is again offering the Darmasiswa Scholarship for a variety of disciplines at Indonesian universities. According to an Embassy spokesman, the government of Indonesia is giving an opportunity for young South Africans to study various subjects of arts and culture in prestigious Indonesian universities and colleges through the 2009/2010 academic year. Students can choose subjects ranging from Indonesian languages to traditional music, ethno-musicology, shadow puppetry, traditional dance, crafts, painting, batik-making and photography. The Darmasiswa programme covers tuition fees, a monthly living allowance and a clothing allowance. 18 South Africans have already benefited from the scholarship and that four were currently participating in the programme for the 2008/2009 academic year. Over 5 000 students from 75 countries have participated in the programme since it started in 1974. The next programme will start in September 2009 and people younger than 36 who are interested in participating in it should submit their applications before 20 March. Interested individuals or art organisations can obtain application forms from the Indonesian embassy in Pretoria or http://darmasiswa.diknas.go.id

The work to establish three to five economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa proceeds smoothly, China’s Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said recently. The China-Africa Development Fund, aimed at encouraging and supporting Chinese enterprises investing in Africa, has also already invested nearly US$ 400 million. Chen led a Chinese government economic and trade delegation in January on a visit to the three African nations of Kenya, Zambia and Angola. Setting up three to five economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa is one of the eight measures proposed by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2006, regarding economic and trade cooperation with Africa. The Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, the Nigeria-Guangdong Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Nigeria, the Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone and the Ethiopian Oriental Industrial Park are all under construction. Among them, the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone was the first one established by China in Africa. In 2007, Chinese President Hu Jintao unveiled the plaque of the zone together with Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, former President of Zambia. To date, the zone has developed well, as evidenced by the fact that 10 enterprises that have set up offices in the zone have signed contracts to make a total investment of more than 700 million USD in industries such as mining, smelting and chemical engineering. They will offer 3,500 jobs to local people and reach a total of 300 million USD in local procurement. The China-Africa Development Fund, officially launched in 2007, is currently China's largest private equity fund and its first equity investment fund focused on investment in Africa. The first phase of funding, 1 billion USD, was financed by the China Development Bank. Funding will eventually expand to 5 billion USD. During this visit to Africa, Chen looked specifically into how Chinese enterprises fulfill their social responsibilities there.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has signed a Shs 27.3 billion (US$ 350 million) deal with Qatar's Afro-Asia Investment Corporation (AAIC) for the development of a high class airport hotel and a conference centre. Managing Director, George Muhoho, said the investment was in line with the ongoing expansion programme at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and that the investment would bring in much needed benefits to the aviation industry and the national economy. Muhuho further explained that both the Cabinet and the KAA board had approved the project. The deal entailed signing the lease documents, concession documents and contract agreement. The project involves construction of a 450-room, five-star hotel, convention centre, exhibition centres, international financial centre for Africa, multi-media centre, Europe and American trade centre, bonded warehouse and five office blocks, among other facilities. The new development is a culmination of three years of negotiations with the Qatari government on the need to bring on board private sectors and to develop Jomo Kenyatta International Airport into a premier hub. Under the deal, the Kenyan government has leased a 90-acre piece of land to the Qatari investment institution for a period of 80 years whereby Kenya would be getting a percentage of the gross earnings. The project is expected to stimulate the Kenyan economy and create more than 5,000 new jobs.

Nigeria and Dubai have signed a preliminary agreement worth $16 billion to develop oil and gas infrastructure in Africa's top crude producer, officials said. The deal will see Dubai World Corporation (DWC) wholly-owned by Dubai emirate, investing in projects in the restive Niger Delta, Africa's oil and gas heartland, which accounts for nearly all of Nigeria's around 2.0 million barrels of crude per day. Lack of development there is one of the grievances of militants who launched a violent campaign of sabotage against the oil industry in early 2006, shutting a fifth of Nigeria's crude output. Nigeria's Justice Minister Michael Aondoakaa and Dubai's Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem signed the agreement on behalf of their governments. The agreement covers infrastructure projects with the main emphasis in oil and gas. It also covers investment in the real sector, agriculture and power. DWC, which was set up by the government of Dubai in 2006, manages and supervises a diversified conglomerate of businesses, investments and projects spanning over 100 different cities around the world, with over 50,000 employees.

Libya's only internet service provider is launching its first commercial wireless network which it says is one of the most advanced in the world. The state-owned firm said only a handful of countries have rolled out the advanced internet connection known as WiMax on such a wide scale. Libya Telecom and Technology aims to start with WiMax coverage, including a mobile feature, in 18 cities. Africa is seen as a potentially huge market for WiMax technology. The network is meant to be cost effective in the long run and does not depend on often poor conventional wire infrastructure. Anyone with a simple USB device which can be plugged into a laptop can connect to the internet within 50km (30 miles) of any WiMax tower. The new WiMax network, which has a capacity for 300,000 subscribers, will begin taking on business clients from next week and individual customers the week after. There are an estimated 51,000 broadband subscribers in Libya and some 170,000 still depend on the much slower dial-up internet. Both of these connections need a fixed phone-line, a service that has come under massive pressure in recent years because the available infrastructure is outdated and limited in coverage. The WiMax network is meant to do away with all these hurdles and bridge the digital divide, making the internet available to people across the country.

The MacArthur Foundation grant aims to expand and strengthen the network of human rights organisations in Nigeria, Mexico, and Russia that provide the basic infrastructure for a national human rights culture based on the rule of law. In Nigeria, the grants support leading human rights organisations, both nationally and in selected states. Special attention is given to the issue of police reform, including mechanisms for improving accountability and addressing police abuse of human rights, and efforts to strengthen Nigeria's legal architecture through reform of national laws and domestication of international treaties. Grants are made for work at the national level and for work in four states: Lagos, Kano, Plateau, and Rivers. Grants are awarded only to organisations that define clear objectives for their work and measures of progress toward those objectives. The foundation provides multi-year support. Proposals must fit clearly within the geographic and thematic priorities of the Human Rights and International Justice programme. Organisations interested in applying for support should submit a letter of inquiry to the Foundation as well as a one-page summary of the proposed project.

Global brewer SABMiller has announced plans to launch a new lager in south Sudan, becoming the first brewery in the country in 25 years. This follows the change in government in the south to semi-autonomous secular law. Identifying a strong market for a local beer brand, the company plans to invest US$ 37.3 million in the plant in creating a new beer in Juba, the capital of south Sudan. The new brewery expects to employ 250 people and also produce soft drinks.

Sasol continues to enlarge its international footprint through its latest venture, a strategic partnership with Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), to explore hydrocarbons in offshore Mozambique. Drilling commenced in early October 2008 with Sasol as operator of the consortium and equity split between Sasol Petroleum International, Petronas Carigali Mozambique E&P Limited and the Mozambiquan government and its national oil company. As early as November the group reported a natural gas discovery with the economic viability of the finding yet to be tested. The partnership forms part of Sasol's commitment to adding value to the economy and people of Mozambique.

Nedbank, currently South Africa's fourth largest banking group and a unit of London-listed insurer, Old Mutual, has entered into a business co-operation with Togo's Ecobank, creating a network of 1,000 branches and banking outlets in 3 countries throughout southern, west, east and central Africa. Aimed at creating a one bank experience, the alliance will provide clients of both banks with the ability to use one bank in multiple countries. This would benefit corporate clients in particular, with both banks enabled to provide them with shared advisory and technical experience.

Construction on West Africa's first toll road that will connect the towns of Lekki and Epe is to commence in 2009. The Lekki Peninsula has boomed as oil prices soared and the deal was closed before oil prices began to plunge. The project is expected to cost approximately US$ 382 million which will be supplied by the African Development Bank, Standard Bank and local and national governments and banks. Road users and businesses will benefit on completion of the project in three year's time, as traffic congestion in Lagos is expected to improve considerably. The state-owned oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, has signed a US$ 16 billion investment agreement with Dubai World Corporation. Funds will be allocated to infrastructure developments including dams, electricity, mineral resources and agriculture. This will not only benefit the operations of the oil company, but will also encourage existing and future business activity in the West African country.

Heritage Oil has made what may be the company's biggest discoveries yet in the Lake Albert Rift Basin. However, it will take two to three years to determine the full potential of the basin. Reserves are expected to exceed 400 million barrels of oil, making it potentially larger than the M'boundi oil field discovery in the Republic of Congo. The discovery bodes well for Uganda’s oil industry, although falling oil prices may counter the gains.

Angola will receive a loan of approximately US$ 1 billion from the World Bank between 2009 and 2013. The funds will be allocated to the diversification of the oil-rich country's economy away from oil – an important shift given the volatility of the oil price and especially the recent excessive decreases. US$ 250 million will be made available per year should the government decide to make use of the loan, especially for the manufacturing and construction sectors which the government expects to grow by 15.5% in 2009.

The Ecobank Group has increased its regional footprint with the opening of its latest affiliate in Uganda. The bank will enable banking services to be accessed easily between Kenya and its East African Community (EAC) partner states namely Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi where the bank has a presence. Ecobank Uganda opened for business with six branches in and around Kampala. The Uganda country affiliate brings to 26 the number of countries in Africa in which Ecobank operates. Ecobank is now consolidating much of its growth and expansion across middle Africa. This latest addition to its network also introduces Ecobank’s new corporate logo, which the group begins rolling out this month. It marks a new phase in Ecobank's development—one in which the bank intends to focus more on improving customer service, efficiency, productivity and performance.

Fitch Ratings has revised the Outlooks on Kenya's Long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) to Stable from Negative. The ratings were affirmed at 'B+' and 'BB-' (BB minus), respectively. The Short-term rating is affirmed at 'B' and the Country Ceiling rating at 'BB-' (BB minus). The Stable Outlook reflects the return to stability following the formation of a grand coalition government (GCG), in the wake of disputed elections held in December 2007, which remains intact and has put Kenya on the road to recovery, said the company. Although Kenya's recovery is being affected by the global economic slowdown and liquidity crunch, this will delay rather than derail a return to strong growth and Kenya's fundamentals remain supportive of a 'B+' rating. Public finances proved resilient to the country's political crisis. The deficit in FY08 (July 2007-June 2008) came in at 3.5% of GDP, below the projected 5.3% of GDP, reflecting strong revenue growth in the lead-up to the crisis, while reduced capital spending offset increased spending on security.

African Leadership Academy (ALA), the only pan-African secondary school dedicated to developing Africa’s future leaders, held its opening in February with guests including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Graça Machel. African Leadership Academy expects to develop 6,000 leaders for Africa over the next 50 years. Its African Leadership Academy brings together promising 16-19 year old leaders from all 54 African nations for a two-year program designed to prepare each for a lifetime of leadership on the continent. In 2008, 1700 of the continent's top young leaders applied for the 100 places available in the inaugural class, making entry into ALA more competitive than Harvard University. ALA's program combines a internationally-recognized academic core with a unique curriculum focused on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies, and is taught by 20 world-class educators chosen from a pool of 500 international applicants.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Abt Associates, Inc., has launched the Ethiopia Health Sector Financing Reform Project. The 15 million dollar project, which focuses on health care financing reform and health insurance, will improve the lives of over 40 million Ethiopians in the next five years by improving quality of health services, increasing access to health care and improving the utilization of modern health care. The project builds on the successful USAID-supported health financing reform of the Federal Ministry of Health and regional health bureaus, and will support a national health insurance initiative and implement health sector financing reforms at the regional level. This new, five-year Health Sector Financing Reform Project was designed jointly by the Ministry of Health and USAID, and funding for the project is provided by the American people through USAID and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The project will be implemented throughout the country in phases.

South Africa's JSE Limited has launched the Africa Board, a new trading segment on the exchange's main board featuring top companies from across the continent, in a bid to increase interest and investment in African companies. According to the stock exchange, the decision came about after it was continually approached by foreign investors looking for ways to diversify their portfolios; the Africa Board was conceived as offering the best value. Only companies classified as African by the South African Reserve Bank will list of the board, and a company is African if it is domiciled in Africa, says the Exchange. However, if a company is based outside Africa, but the majority of its activities are geographically located in Africa, then it also qualifies as an African company. An African company already listen on an exchange in its home country could still apply for a listing on the JSE's Africa Board. Foreign clients, including investors from within Africa, are able to trade on the Africa Board through local brokers, or alternatively through JSE member brokers. The establishment of the Africa Board was established to give Africans the chance to invest in profitable African companies, allowing "Africans to invest in Africa". Pension is a massive industry in South Africa and Africa, and the Africa Board gives pensioners and those with a bit of money behind them the chance to invest in Africa's top companies. The benefits to African companies listed on the board include increased trading hours and greater exposure, increased liquidity, improved product offerings, strategic positioning for the rest of Africa, and favourable listing requirements, fees and obligations.

Telkom's African expansion has taken another step forward with the acquisition of an additional 25% stake in Multi-Links, giving the South African fixed-line operator full ownership of the Nigerian telecoms company. Multi-Links is a national private telecommunications operator that has a Universal Access License, which allows it to provide fixed, mobile, fixed-wireless, international and data services in one of the continent's fastest-growing telecoms markets. The company also owns an internet service provider license. An independent expert has valued the 25% stake, to be purchased from Kenston Investments, at US$130-million (about R1.31-billion). Telkom acquired 75% of Multi-Links in May 2007 for $280-million. Since Telkom's acquisition of a 75% stake in Multi-Links two years ago, the company has increased its mobile subscribers from around 262,000 to more than 1.7-million as of the end of September last year. At the same time, the company has been increasing capacity in order to provide quality data products, especially to the corporate market. With its low penetration and pent-up demand for voice and data services, Nigeria is a market that will help advance Telkom's goals of becoming Africa's leading information communication technology provider.

A telemedicine programme has started in Cameroon in partnership with several international institutions, including UNESCO, the main promoter of the project, Cameroonian scientist and economist, Jacques Bonjawo, has said. Telemedicine is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where medical information is transferred via telephone, the Internet or other networks. The telemedicine programme in Cameroon plans to open four sites in rural areas connected to a main server from which specialists could make diagnostics and prescribe therapies. Cameroon's ministries of health and economy, the Cameroon Telecommunications Company (CAMTEL) and the national health professionals are partners in the programme that should be quickly expanded to other African countries, according to the promoter. After the pilot phase, the programme will probably expand the use of communication technologies in Gabon and to countries in West Africa. Several other southern countries, including India and Senegal, have experimented with telemedicine as a response to the shortage of health specialists and facilities in rural areas.

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to call for proposals for its revamped programme for the publication of text books for use in African universities. The programme was initially introduced as part of a broad set of objectives for achieving greater balance and relevance in curriculum development in African universities by making available to teachers and students, text books that are adapted to the African historical context and the environment of research and learning on the continent. In this role, it was conceived as an important element of the Council’s wider institutional mandate and publications strategy but it also helped, along side other CODESRIA publications, to assuage the book famine that afflicted the African social research community in the 1980s and 1990s. Through the revamped text book programme, the Council aims to continue to contribute to the nurturing and growth of younger African researchers brought up in a tradition of critical, engaged and rigorous scholarship premised on theoretical and methodological foundations that enable them to contribute meaningfully to the advancement of the frontiers of knowledge. To be eligible for consideration for support within the 2009 financial year of the Council, all applications should be received by 30 June, 2009.

The African Development Bank has developed a four-step plan to minimise the burden of the global financial crisis on African countries. The bank, which promotes economic and social development in Africa, has only recently seen success after two decades of structural adjustment, while the global financial crisis presents a threat. The Bank's President, Donald Kaberuka, has announced that the Bank has taken four major steps to minimise the burden, including setting up a $1.5 billion emergency liquidity facility and $1 billion trade financing facility. In addition, the bank has set up an African Bond initiative to mobilise resources. The Bank also plans to accelerate the finance system in order to make short and fast loan receiving procedures and reduce the red tape that slows funds from reaching low-income countries. The African Development Bank warned that many projects risked losing financing due to tightening global credit. This follows projections that the current global economy will affect Africa's economic growth. It is expected to slow to 3.5 percent this year, from an annual average of 5.8 percent over the last decade. It may even drop to 2.5 percent in 2010. This in turn means that Africa runs the risk of rising social tension, the rollback of economic reforms, unwise financial regulations and an erosion of global competitiveness, not only because of shrinking revenues and rising budget deficits, but also because of cuts in foreign investment and aid. The president of the only multilateral development body devoted specifically to Africa, cautioned against hasty decisions that were not anchored on sound confidence in light of governments attempting to recapitalise banks faced with a credit crunch.

Kelly, South Africa's leading talent management organisation, has launched Kelly ICT which is built around the skills and talents of core ICT experts. Kelly ICT is specifically geared toward giving client's technical staffing objectives an elevated position through the unique resources and worldwide presence of Kelly. Kelly's current international recruiting strategies and worldwide alliances gives the company access to a wide selection of candidates. The company promises seamless ICT staffing solutions for all businesses from top blue chips to individually owned companies.

An initiative by a voluntary organisation called the NARM (Naming And Role Model) Project appeals for male role models of African descent closer to home in a week when the world has focused on the first African-American President. In the wake of the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, Brent-based voluntary organisation BTWSC (its acronym is taken from the organisation’s first project entitled Beyond The Will Smith Challenge), whose remit include raising aspirations, is launching the second phase of the NARM Project with a new website on January 26, where the general public can nominate British African male role models. BTWSC has been researching the lives of British role models over the last century, starting from 1907. It aims to unearth especially those that engage in community activities.The second phase opens up the research for members of the British public, irrespective of race, gender or age, to send in their nominations. The Project will publish a free booklet, and a DVD consisting of interviews with the most popular living nominees, and mount a photographic exhibition at Brent Museum over the summer. Profiles of the nominees and related resources will be posted at www.btwsc.com/NARM, where nominations can also be posted. The Project is working with young and adult volunteers in researching and recording testimonies from a number of local and, it is hoped, national figures. It is also running workshops with schools and Brent Archive. Role models will be chosen from the fields of politics, legal, business, the sciences, the judiciary, education, arts, sports, voluntary organisations and charities. BTWSC has already received support from a wide range of organisations and individuals confirming demand for the Project. Closing date for nominations which count towards the main ranking list from which living nominees will be interviewed for the DVD and booklet, is February 28. Late nominations will be used in supplementary lists and added to the online resources. info@btwsc.com, www.btwsc.com/NARM Website and www.btwsc.com/NARM URL may be offline as designers work on it for launch on Monday Jan. 26 2009. info@btwsc.com   can be used instead, or try http://btwsc.com/projects.php?id=33&project=detail. Nominations must include reasons for nomination, and any information on community engagement done by nominee.

PetroSA has announced that they have posted a record R11billion in revenue for the for the 2007/08 financial year. Revenue for the financial period was up 23 percent from R8.9billion in 2007. The company also recorded a R1.8 billion after-tax profit. High crude prices and a weaker rand were the main contributors to the high revenue levels. There was also a significant increase in imported diesel re-sales, which make up 16 percent of gross revenue, which were required to augment the declining indigenous gas-fields’ out-turn. PetroSA continued its drive to effect sustainable transformation in the liquid fuels industry. PetroSA has decided to embark on Project Mthombo, which seeks to establish a deep conversion, 400 000 barrels-per-day crude refinery at Coega, Port Elizabeth in order to meet expected growth in demand. During the year under review PetroSA experienced no adverse environmental or safety incidents.

Sonangol has recently published the winter edition of Universo Magazine. Universo is distributed to an international audience of approximately 15,000 readers, interested in oil, business, politics and culture in Angola. To receive a free copy of Universo Magazine, please send an electronic request to: circulation@universo-magazine.com.

Over the next five years, Angola will receive over 200 scholarships each year from the Cuban Government, under current cooperation agreements in education. Half of the scholarships will be in the area of health sciences.

In an attempt to promote the export of value-added products and generate jobs and revenue Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has offered investors free land. The President made the comments while opening the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC) meeting in Kampala in 9 December 2008. The two-day forum brought together 30 European countries, the USA, Japan, South Korea and Mexico with the aim of addressing the challenges of globalisation. OECD works closely with NEPAD to support African countries in developing policy reforms that strengthen investment and development. During their meeting the delegates discussed investment on transport infrastructure and regional integration. Transport costs remain high in Africa, accounting for 14% of the value of exports, compared to only 8.6% for developed countries. Currently, only 27.6% of Africa’s two million kilometres of roads is paved compared to 43% in Asia and 33.5% in Latin America.

A three-year agreement on support for bioscience networking via the BioFISA programme has been signed by Finland and South Africa. BioFISA -- the Finnish-Southern African partnership programme to strengthen the Southern African network for biosciences -- is a co-operation programme with NEPAD and the South African Ministry of Science and Technology. The aim of the programme - the first tripartite project in Southern Africa - is to build up a co-operation network in the field of biosciences between universities, research institutes and NGOs in 12 Southern African countries. It is based on NEPAD's SANBio network and supports the exchange of information in the field of biosciences and the utilisation of indigenous plants through access to global markets and commercialisation of research results. To support bioscience research NEPAD has launched a research programme, including biodiversity research, biotechnology, and the harnessing of indigenous knowledge and technologies. Four research networks have been established in Africa, including SANBio - the Southern African Network for Biosciences. One of the key goals of the BioFISA research network is the development of public-private cooperation. The BioFISA project, which will be launched at the beginning of 2009, will support the research activities and utilisation of the results of SANBio in the following fields of biosciences: the development of anti-inflammatories for the treatment of HIV with reasonable user prices, the research of the biodiversity of inland freshwater fishes in Southern Africa, and the development of mushroom production. Agriculture constitutes 35 per cent of the gross national income on the African continent, 40 per cent of the exports, and offers employment to 70 per cent of the labour force. However, agriculture has failed to respond to the increased demand resulting from population growth. In addition, agricultural production is further burdened by natural catastrophes, overgrazing, and the impact of climate change. Consequently, African nations are now investing in scientific research in the field of biosciences. Biosciences form an extensive area of research, including efforts to develop more durable crops with higher yields, cattle with higher resistance to diseases, more advanced disease diagnostics, and more accurately targeted medicines and vaccines.

A ministerial conference on higher education in Africa, with the theme: "Engaging African universities in the development agenda," will be held in Lusaka, Zambia, on 23-27 February 2009. Convened by COMESA and RUFORUM in partnership with NEPAD, FARA, CTA, FARNPAN and ANAFE, the international conference is a bid by stakeholders to bring together key policymakers and others to mobilise political commitment for increasing investments in higher education in Africa, facilitate networking at all levels to spur and sustain high quality higher education in Africa and mobilise African universities to re-engineer their human resource development programmes through proactive engagement in the continent's development agenda and to make their contribution to research and innovation. The conference will be officially opened by Zambia's President Rufia Banda. To register online visit: www.ruforum.org

The African Union (AU) is hoping to set up a communal fund to pay for education, science and technology programmes on the continent. The fund would be held by the African Development Bank (ADB), and be open to contributions from international donors as well as from African governments. Many millions of dollars are pledged in support of science and technology development in Africa every year. But fears over how money will be managed are making donors reluctant to fund projects, says Hakim Elwaer, director of science and technology at the AU Commission. In addition to putting donors' minds at rest, the fund would also help the AU coordinate science and technology programmes on the continent - something that is problematic at the moment. Elwaer said that an important step towards establishing the fund came when the ADB sent an envoy to the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) in Abuja, Nigeria, to express the bank's willingness to host the fund. But much of the detail has yet to be worked out - such as how the fund will work, how much money it might hold and when it might be established and the ADB is awaiting the outcome of a feasibility study expected by March 2009. The idea for a mechanism to coordinate pan-African funds for science programmes was mooted in the Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA), a continental science plan adopted by governments in 2005.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has bestowed this year's Ceres Medal to Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson for her work in promoting food security and agricultural development. At the 6 December ceremony in the northern Liberian town of Voinjama, Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General, the West African nation has prioritized bolstering agriculture as part of its development efforts, despite the degradation of the farming sector following two wars. Mr. Diouf lauded the Liberian leader, the first elected female president in Africa, for continuing to invest in agriculture amid the international financial crisis. The Ceres Medal is named after the Roman goddess of agriculture. Liberia is rebuilding after 14 years of brutal war that ended in 1996. In 2003, more than half of the country''s 3 million-strong population was estimated to be undernourished.

Rwanda's booming manufacturing and farming sectors could push growth in the country to 10% this year, according to the Rwandan central bank governor. Agriculture is particularly strong and is growing at a minimum rate of 10%, said Francois Kanimba. But Rwanda's growth rate is likely to fall to 6-7% next year because of the global financial crises. Several African countries are feeling the fallout of the financial crisis and are readjusting their growth forecasts, said Kanimba who said that the current assumption for 2009 is a growth rate of 6-7%. He also said that the drop in commodity prices, a slowdown in the growth of manufacturing and services and a decrease in the amount of remittances Rwanda received would contribute to the lower figure. But he maintained a positive outlook on 2008's growth figures, suggesting economic growth will be close to 10%. Agriculture output is growing at a minimum of 10%, while manufacturing and service sectors over the last five years have averaged higher than 10%. The forecast 2008 growth rate figures are considerably higher than last year figure of 6%. Rwanda has been trying to revamp its battered economy since the 1994 genocide. It is particularly ramping up its farming, tourism, mining and energy sectors.

The government of China has extended grant aid of 20 million Chinese Yuan (3 million US dollars) to Sudan for strengthening north-south unity. The Chinese Vice-Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng pointed out that the Chinese donation comes in the framework of the partnership between the Chinese and Sudanese people. While the Sudanese Finance Minister Awad Al-Jaz said the money will be used in the program of unity between the north and south. Sudan and China have agreed to activate economic cooperation and trade between the two countries and open branches of Chinese banks in Sudan to revitalize the commercial relations between the two countries. China is Sudan's leading commercial partner while Sudan is China's third largest trade partner in Africa. The volume of trade exchange between the two countries in 2007 reached 5.6 billion US dollars, while the trade volume in the first nine months of 2008 was at 6.5 billion dollars comprising different sectors, particularly oil, machinery, equipments and goods.

Lonrho, the pan-African conglomerate, has secured leasehold rights to 25,000 hectares of rice paddies in Angola and is negotiating two bigger land deals in Mali and Malawi. David Lenigas, Lonrho's executive chairman, said the group has agreed to a 50-year lease of the rice fields in the Uige province of Angola, which were abandoned during the country's long civil war that ended in 2002. The deal would use up the bulk of $6m planned spending on agricultural projects this year, and would be leveraged with Angolan financing. The company would re-develop the land in collaboration with state agencies and pay royalties on food produced. Mr Lenigas said the two further deals under negotiation - one on the inland delta on the Malian stretch of the Niger river, another on the shores of lake Malawi - would bring total land in Africa under development by Lonrho’s agricultural subsidiary to 150,000 hectares. The deal represents one of the most ambitious land buy ups yet on the continent and in contrast to many recent deals designed to serve export markets, will focus initially on domestic African consumption. The Angolan government is striving to diversify its oil dependent economy and is seeking $6bn in agriculture investment over the coming five years. Source: Financial Times

The Nigerian Federal Government has formulated a new policy that would enable federal education inspectors to acquire Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training, to enable them to compute the activities of the education sector and enhance their productivity. The training, which would be conducted in collaboration with the office of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), is part of government's reform agenda of improving efficiency in service delivery. According to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Goke Adegoroye, those selected for the training were from the Federal Inspectorate of Service (FIS) offices nationwide. The policy focus of the Ministry of Education is on computerisation of the activities of the education sector and staff ICT capacity building for enhanced productivity, and the training is part of the reform agenda of the ministry, to re-invigorate the FIS and improve its proficiency on quality assurance delivery. While attributing the perceived downward trend in educational output to use of obsolete tools for quality assurance practices, Adegoroye reiterated government's commitment to building the ICT capacity of its staff, to make them responsive to emerging global trends. Chief Operating Officer, NIIT Jailesh Shah said the training, which would last for two weeks, would enable participants to improve on their data management skills, thereby developing the country's education sector.

Oceanic Bank International Plc has again won the keenly contested 2008 'Best Bank in Nigeria'. The award was from the EMEAfinance, the UK-based financial intelligence magazine covering Europe, Middle East and Africa. The magazine named Oceanic Bank International Plc as emerging Best Bank in Nigeria 2008 among the hordes of banks nominated for the award at its maiden African Bank Awards Luncheon held in London last Monday. Oceanic Bank, according to EMEAfinance, won the awards on account of "robust growth in its asset base, profitability, return on equity, and regional expansion, among others." EMEAfinance is a leading financial intelligence magazine and a reputable information source for the financial services industry in Europe, Middle East and Africa. The feat achieved by the bank, according to the statement, is coming on the heels of similar award of Bank of the Year won in 2006 and 2007 consecutively - a prize instituted by The Banker magazine, a subsidiary of the Financial Times of London.

Ecobank-Liberia has made another history again in the banking sector. Eco-Bank recently won an International award; the 2008 Bankers' Award for Liberia at the Annual Award of Excellence ceremony organized by Bankers' Magazine and Financial Times in London. The awards, considered to be the most prestigious event within the global banking industry was held at the renowned Dorchester Hotel in London; recognizing the best banks in over 130 countries of the world. Ecobank-Liberia emerged the clear winner putting the country on the map of world-class banking institutions. It is the first time ever for Liberia to be considered for the Bankers' Award entering its 8th session this year.

South Africa's No. 4 banking group, Nedbank, has agreed to a pan-African business tie-up with Ecobank Transnational Inc. to expand its reach on the continent, the companies said on Tuesday. The alliance between Nedbank, which is strong in southern Africa, and Ecobank, which operates in west, east and central Africa, would create a network of 1,000 branches and banking outlets in 30 countries.

Ghana Commercial Bank limited (GCB), the largest indigenous Bank with over 130 branches nation-wide has doubled its profit for the period ended September 2008. The bank's main revenue lines include interest income, fees and commissions from customer account servicing and letters of credit. Other operating incomes include gains made from financial transactions. Interest Income increased by 54% from GH¢ 78.55 million to GH ¢120.92 million whilst Fees and Commissions increased by 30% from GH¢25.39 million for the period ended September 2007 to GH¢33.13 million in September 2008. Gains made from financial transactions however fell significantly from GH¢2.72 million to GH¢0.62 million.

Platinum Habib Bank (Bank PHB) has successfully acquired Spring Bank Plc having obtained the minimum 51 percent of over 3 billion shares of Spring Bank Plc it needs to take over the financial institution. With the acquisition of majority stakes in Spring Bank Plc now complete, the expectation is that Bank PHB will move in with a new management at the expiration of the tenure of the current Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) appointed Interim Management, by December 31, 2008. Bank PHB had on November 28, 2008 opened a N21 billion bid for more than three billion units of Spring Bank Plc in a bid to take its stake in the bank to more than 51 percent to give it controlling stakes in Spring Bank Plc. Bank PHB, at the time had 33 percent of the issued shares of Spring Bank which was acquired with the approval of Nigeria's banking and capital market regulatory authorities. Analysts are of the opinion that the takeover and the injection of a new management by Bank PHB is expected to bring a new lease of life into Spring Bank Plc, once a top ten bank at consolidation but currently in the low 20 ranking in the Nigerian banking industry.

The Gaborone-based Bourse Africa Limited was recently licensed by the government of Botswana to set-up spot or derivative multi-asset exchange for trading in commodities, currencies, bonds and diamonds. Goromonzi, now the executive director for Bourse Africa Limited, said the balance equity would be held by other African financial institutions, banks, global multi-lateral developmental ventures, exchanges and other strategic investors. The exchange will offer participants an efficient, cost-effective and secure trading platform, supported by a world-class regulatory framework to ensure market integrity, systemic stability and investor protection. Bourse Africa will serve financial and commodity market participants and investors, both African and international, to provide possibilities for hedging, arbitrage and investment.

Small and medium scale investors in the country have expressed joy over reforms in the business sector which the government adopted in 2008 to reduce the cost and burden of investing in Rwanda. A handful of small scale investors interviewed in a random survey carried out by The New Times since the beginning of December across selected suburbs in Kigali city, revealed that the private sector investors were happy with continued effort by government in improving conditions of accessing capital, reducing non tariff barriers and "a reasonable tax policy".

China Union Investment Company has arrived in Liberia with an investment of US$2.6 billion, believed to be the largest investment under the administration of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, barely a week following the arrival of Seaboard Corporation with an initial investment of US30million. China Union Company Limited is expected to invest in one of Liberia's most prosperous site, the Bong Ranges, formerly operated by the Bong Mines Company (BMC). The Chinese company recently successfully won a bid to operate Bong mines with a very high score.

Smallholder farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Kenya that are engaged in agro-based initiatives now have more opportunities for accessing funds for their activities and the usual constraints they faced in finding working capital could be a thing of the past. This is a result of flexible credit schemes being provided by the Equity Bank through credit guarantees from development partners in support of the implementation of NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The bank was awarded 1 million Kenya shillings (US$ 14,000) by GTZ-Kenya as equity to guarantee credit of 40 million shillings (US$550,000) to SMEs and farmers to promote the use of environmentally friendly firewood stoves. In a similar development the bank reached an agreement with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to mobilise resources of US$50 million to provide credit access to smallholder farmers, agricultural input dealers, processors and marketers of agricultural produce. AGRA will provide the bank with 10% of the funds as a credit guarantee to ensure that farmers can still have access to finances in cases of unforeseen circumstances.

Beginning in 2009, London Square Real Estate Company will begin setting up factories, to build metal structures for prefabricated housing, in various Angolan provinces. Each factory is estimated at USD 13 million. The company is currently finalizing project negotiations with the Angolan Private Investment Agency (ANIP).

KBR Inc., the U.S. engineering firm that split from Halliburton Co. last year, and Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company, signed an agreement to build a refinery in the port of Lobito, KBR said. Work on the refinery will begin in January, John Quinn, president of KBR's downstream division, said in an interview in the capital, Luanda. The company will also oversee all construction work and hire contractors, he said. The Houston-based company got involved in the project after Sonangol in March last year said it ended talks with China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. over the $3.7 billion, 200,000- barrel-a-day refinery project, known as Sonaref. Angola, which vies with Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer, is seeking to process more of its own oil to boost earnings and has been planning to build the refinery at Lobito, 373 miles south of Luanda, since 2002. The country has a 39,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Luanda. It also plans to build a second refinery in Lobito and expand its natural gas industry.

The Chinese government will fund major infrastructural projects to promote investment, that would see Kenya elevated into a middle level economy, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said. Speaking during a Commemorative Scholarship Awarding ceremony in Kibera, Mr Odinga said the China African Development Bank (CADB), which runs a multi-trillion shilling investment base, has expressed interest in the construction of the Lamu-Juba standard rail-line project, whose completion would link countries in the horn of Africa to the sea port. He said the CADB, which plans to open a regional office in Nairobi to coordinate the infrastructural projects, was on the verge of completing the highway stretching from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Gigiri. Odinga also urged the Chinese business community to increase imports of Kenyan tea in the Asian country to bridge the current trade imbalance for the mutual benefit of all parties. During the ceremony, 45 students were given education scholarships by the Chinese embassy in Nairobi. The scholarships are tailored to benefit destitute students from the sprawling Kibera slums and enable the beneficiary students to study China in the 2009/10 academic year. The PM said the footprints of the Sino (China)-Kenya relationship were evident in various initiatives, including the education, economic and non-commercial interests since the turn of the millennium, which coincided with the economic liberalisation in the country.

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a market leader and award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, has signed a new partnership agreement with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) to address youth unemployment in Africa as a part of its corporate social responsibility commitment in the region. The nations of Africa face many challenges in their development efforts. Fundamental to addressing them is working to increase economic activity, particularly by promoting job skills and preparing young people for successful, long-term careers. The new collaboration will implement a multiple phase youth employment and entrepreneurship program. Phase I will begin immediately in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, and expands on current IYF programs in each country. Under the agreement, Samsung will provide financial support and work with IYF to find ways to utilize its cutting-edge technology and expertise to help address the employment needs of Africa's youth. The proposed projects will have a lasting impact on thousands of young people on the African continent and present an opportunity through which Samsung's local employees can be directly involved.

The Angolan Government invested approximately USD 7.5 billion to rehabilitate, build, and modernize economic and social infrastructures in 2007. This figure represents approximately 60% of total public investments.

2008 has been the most expensive year for Ugandans since the turn of the millennium according to statistics by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. The cost of living this year exceeded that of 2000 by over 58% according to the consumer index department of the Bureau.

Zain will invest US$420 million in its new network in Ghana and for the first time will be offering 3.5G services to its customers. Zain Ghana's network will offer its customers ultra high-speed internet access and for the first time in Ghana the ability to make video-calls and use rich multimedia content including the ability to send video clips, music and pictures at the touch of a button. The launch of its Ghana operation brings the number of countries in which Zain's award winning 'One Network' service coverage map to 17. 'One Network' Zain's borderless mobile service is available to over half a billion people across the Middle East and Africa - an area greater than the United States of America . One Network offers Zain customers favourable rates, free of roaming surcharges for cross-border communications. Ghanaian Zain customers now have access to One Network service and can travel freely with their phones through Burkina Faso , Democratic Republic of the Congo , Gabon , Kenya , Nigeria , Niger , Tanzania and Uganda . The company said there are plans to make the service fully operational in all other Zain countries by the end of the year.

Susie Smith, a pioneer in the fight against HIV and AIDS, worked for Oxfam GB for 30 years. With this prize, Oxfam wants to acknowledge her commitment to sub-Saharan Africa and her constant willingness to challenge conventional thinking. The prize of £3,000 will be awarded for a single piece of writing on HIV and AIDS from sub-Saharan Africa, which has already been published. Any writing - possibly an article, poetry, fiction or a chapter of a book - of up to 10,000 words and published in English since 2006 will be eligible. The judges will focus on the quality of the submissions and on the impact the writing has had. All submissions must be received by March 31st 2009. Please include a cover letter outlining the impact your piece has had. We expect to announce the winner in July 2009. To enter, send your submission, with a cover letter to: susiesmithmemorialprize@oxfam.org.uk

Virgin CEO Richard Branson has handed out awards for business proposals to students of the Branson School of Entrepreneurship. The proposals of the eight finalists in the competition ranged from fashion design to maize-grinding. All were small businesses that had only recently been started up. The winner, 29-year-old Sonwabile Mngenel of Mngenela Promoters, pocketed R10 000. Mngenela creates unique ceramics, already has wholesalers, and says he wants to take his company global. Branson said that one of the goals of the competition, and the school, was to create small businesses that could compete with giant companies. "You can build international empires with small amounts of money," he said. Branson also announced that an anonymous businessman was so impressed by the programme that he had pledged US$10 000 to the winners of the competition for the next five years. The CEO of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund, Malose Kekana, spontaneously offered all eight contenders R10 000 in funding for their businesses. In addition, one of the judges of the competition, Peter Callum, who is head of the Cass Business School in London, offered Mngenela a place in Cass's summer programme. Mngenela is originally from the Eastern Cape, and ceramics run in his family. His entire family, from his sister to his 100-year-old grandmother, produces ceramics in home-made stoves. One of the school's business managers, Martin Lugho, said the Branson School of Entrepreneurship was different from traditional institutions like the University of Witwatersrand or the University of Johannesburg. The Branson School of Entrepreneurship is affiliated with CIDA City Campus. It provides bursaries for all of its students to cover their fees as well as room and board. All of its students are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition to an education, the school is also a massive networking hub, connecting young entrepreneurs with established businesses who might want to invest in their ideas.

African workers will benefit from oil training courses run by Venezuelan energy experts to streamline upstream operations, a Venezuelan state official has declared. According to Afrik, foreign affairs vice-minister Reinaldo Jose Bolivar told journalists that the country had signed more than 150 training and development pacts with various African countries under the remit of the South America-African Union partnership. Following a meeting with African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping, he said that the country would not shirk its commitment to human development because of the global downturn. He did warn that the sliding oil price is likely to affect state revenues, although he iterated the country's commitment to intercontinental cooperation. According to Dow Jones Newswires, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has recently entered an agreement with counterpart Raul Castro of Cuba which will see the latter country's refinery output supplemented.

Telkom has announced the sale of a 15% stake in cellular operator Vodacom, worth R22.5-billion, to multinational cellular operator Vodafone. The deal, one of South Africa's largest recent foreign direct investments, will also see Vodacom becoming one of the largest South African companies listed on the JSE. The transaction will see Vodafone's share in Vodacom increased from 50% to 65%, giving the UK-based cellular operator full control of South Africa's largest cellular operator by subscriber numbers. Telkom will distribute its remaining 35% stake in Vodacom to its own shareholders by way of an unbundling process, and investors will for the first time have direct equity in Vodacom. According to government sources, the sale represents one of South Africa's largest recent foreign direct investments and signalled Vodafone's confidence in the future of the country. It also enables Telkom to speed up its deployment of enhanced, fixed and mobile, services to South Africans. Telkom will no longer be restricted from offering mobile voice services in South Africa or making mobile acquisitions in Africa south of the Equator. Vodacom, in turn, would be Vodafone's expansion vehicle in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding North Africa, Ghana and Kenya.

The South African Department of Agriculture has entered into a partnership with Khula Enterprise Finance to extend financial services to South Africa's emerging farmers and agri-businesses. The follows the signing of an agreement by Department of Agriculture director-general Njabulo Nduli and Kuhla Enterprise Finance MD Xola Sithole, which will see the establishment of the Khula-Mafisa Fund. The fund will provide portfolio indemnity to financial institutions that provide production loans to emerging black farmers within the Khula-Mafisa target market. According to Nduli, the arrangement will enable the leveraging of additional financial resources from commercial financial institutions, the maximum loan ceiling is also higher under the agreement, and banks will provide packaged support to their clients. The arrangement improves access to credit by mainly black and emerging farmers, who have insufficient collateral, but are bankable, thus giving them an opportunity to build up a credit record.

Following a strategic cooperation agreement between Fifa and the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB), spectators in sub-Saharan Africa will be able to view the 2010 Fifa World Cup free of charge. According to Fifa, the agreement ensures the broadcasting of all 64 World Cup matches live on free-to-air television and radio in 41 African territories in English, French and Portuguese. Fifa has selected the AUB as its partner for the region based on its capacity to reach the largest possible audience, as well as its commitment to broadcasting development and tailored programming and content exchange in sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership extends to the coverage of the men's and youth tournaments to be staged in Africa in 2009 and 2010, as all broadcasters have to meet jointly agreed criteria in the framework of Fifa's "Win in Africa with Africa" initiative to be eligible for the rights. The criteria covers a range of commercial and technical requirements designed to ensure the development of football's technical and commercial infrastructure on the African continent far beyond 2010. The strategic cooperation agreement also provides for the establishment of the AUB-Fifa Broadcast Academy which aims to provide a legacy of capacity development of broadcasting in Africa.

Gateway Communications, the leading supplier of secure, reliable telecommunications services across Africa, has won the prestigious award for "Best pan-African Wholesale Offering". Gateway Communications has been at the forefront of developments in the world's fastest growing telecommunications market. Today they serve 1,200 of Africa's leading multinationals and corporations. Gateway has also invested over $250 million in African communications since 2005 and continues to invest in growth and expansion across the continent. Capacity Magazine's Global Wholesale Telecommunications Awards recognise the achievements of leading players in the wholesale telecoms industry. Gateway Communications wholesale offering was assessed on quality and performance of its network, reach of the network, speed to market, pricing strategy, and the company's overall investment in its network. Gateway Communications owns and operates the largest and most advanced pan-African communications network, with customers in 40 African countries.

The World Bank is gearing up to lend $100bn (£63bn) over the next three years to protect developing nations from the economic contagion spreading from richer western countries. The Bank said it expected almost 40 million people to fall into poverty as a result of the turmoil caused by the global credit crunch. The bank said it expected growth in developing countries to be 4.5% next year, against the 6.4% it had previously pencilled in, adding that each percentage point off growth rates meant 20 million people slipping into poverty. This, it added, would be in addition to the 100 million pushed below the poverty line by the sharp increase in food and energy prices over the past two years. The bank believes 2009 will be one of the weakest for global activity since the Second World War, with a 0.1% contraction in high-income countries leaving global growth at only 1%. Sharply tighter credit conditions and weaker growth are expected to cut into government revenue in poor countries and affect their ability to invest to meet the goals set by the United Nations for education, health and gender equality, as well as the long-term infrastructure expenditure needed to sustain growth. As a result, the bank is planning to increase lending to developing countries from $13.5bn this year to $35bn annually in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Aside from expanded lending, the World Bank Group is also working to speed up grants and long-term, interest-free loans to the world's 78 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Help will be targeted at countries that have had to shelve plans to enter global capital markets, and those affected by the recent plunge in commodity markets, the weakening of exports or the drying up of remittances from abroad.

The World Bank has offered Nigeria $3 billion facility to enable the President Umaru Yar'Adua improve education, health, roads, and agriculture with a view to reducing the nation's poverty rate and living standards of the people. The loan would be provided under the International Development Assistance (IDA) and would be in three tranches of $ 1 billion, annually, between 2009 and 2011. According to the Bank, the offer was the organisation's way of responding to Nigeria’s critical infrastructure needs and that being an IDA arrangement, the facility would attract no interests. The loan would not add any burden to Nigeria and has been offered to Nigeria because of the massive improvement in the economy. Though concessionary, IDA facilities attract service charge of 0.5 per cent and non-utilisation fee of 0.75 per cent. Such loans come with a re-payment package lasting between 35 to 40 years and a 10-year moratorium. The World Bank's offer is coming at a time the Federal Government is sourcing private sector operators with whom to collaborate under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the provision of power, rails, roads, water and other infrastructure facilities. The economic team of the Federal Government had said as much as $ 100 billion would be required to provide some of the infrastructure needs of the nation. If the Federal Government takes the loan, it would push the country's foreign debt portfolio to about $ 6.5 billion. The current figure is about $3.5 billion.

According to the Head of ACCA South Africa, Dr Quinton Simpson, in South Africa there is currently a shortage of over 22,000 accountants which could impact on the sound functioning of the economy, the country’s ability to attract FDI, including investment associated with the 2010 Soccer World Cup, and most importantly, on the service delivery in the public sector, in the short to medium-term. Manpower South Africa’s second annual Talent Shortage Survey released in May 2008, ranked accounting and finance staff as the third most sought after skill in South Africa. Skills shortages are already perceived to be impacting very negatively on business in South Africa. Some 58% of respondents in Grant Thornton’s International Business Report released earlier this year cited a lack of skills as the greatest constraint to doing business in South Africa. In a similar vein, the Global Competitiveness Index, indicated that South African business executives had identified South Africa’s inadequately educated workforce as the single most problematic factor for doing business.

Trade in West Africa is worth $20 billion a year, which is 50 times official current figures according to estimates from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). This is an indication of trade opportunities available to increase intra-regional trade to contribute to the overall growth of the region. According to the Chief of Party of Agribusiness and Trade Promotion (ATP), Ishmael Ouedraogo, the trade potentials in West Africa have not been fully tapped because of a number of constraints. These include tariff and non-tariff barriers which increase transaction cost and time; transportation difficulties such as bad roads and harassment; weak private sector advocacy; and weak linkages among value-chain actors. ATP is being funded by USAID with $16.9 billion to run the Agribusiness Trade Promotion Project, which aims at increasing the value and volume of intra-regional agricultural trade in the sub-region in order to achieve the 6% agriculture growth target set under the AU/NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). It is hoped that the four-year project will eventually reduce all the barriers that hinder smooth trade in the region. Cereals such as maize whether for human consumption as foodstuff, beverage and oil or for animal feed are of great importance in intra-regional trade. Commercial trade in sorghum and millet also has strong potential for development. Improved storage, processing, packaging and distribution are essential to the cereals value chain. Currently, only seven West African countries - Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana - are benefiting from the ATP programme, which will later be spread across the region.

The management of the Aquaculture and Fisheries Collaborative Research Support Programme (AquaFish CRSP) at Oregon State University has released a request for 26-month proposals for the period 1 August 2009 to 30 September 2011 for one or two awards of under $400,000 eligible at U.S. universities or colleges to serve as lead partners. The awards will focus on aquaculture and the nexus between aquaculture and fisheries. Fisheries-only topics will not be addressed. Projects are envisioned to comprise many partners in a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional approach to solve a development problem. Lead partners are expected to assume strong administrative and technical leadership for projects, be involved in advisory groups serving the overall programme, and form collaborative partnerships through sub-awards to host country institutions, NGOs, private sector firms, and other U.S. universities or colleges. Matching support (non-federal cost share) is required. Proposals will be peer-reviewed through an open and competitive process. Applicants will select a country in Africa for operations and may involve other countries to broaden the potential impact of their results. The AquaFish CRSP is a five-year programme awarded to Oregon State University on 29 September 2006 by USAID. The USAID goal for the AquaFish CRSP is to "develop more comprehensive, sustainable, ecological and socially compatible, and economically viable aquaculture systems and innovative fisheries management systems in developing countries that contribute to poverty alleviation and food security."

Mauritius and Namibia are the most child-friendly governments in Africa, a report said while Eritrea and Guinea-Bissau ranked as the worst. Among the least child-friendly governments were Central African Republic, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Liberia, Chad, Swaziland, Comoros and Guinea. "The African Report on Child Wellbeing: How child-friendly are African governments" looked at indicators such as health care, access to education and laws protecting children, according to Reuters. The report by the African Child Policy Forum, an independent policy and advocacy organisation based in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The top 10 were Mauritius, Namibia, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Algeria and Cape Verde. Countries where child soldiers have traditionally been used in war, such as Sierra Leone and Sudan, were rated "less child friendly." The report will be published twice a year to gauge what African governments are doing to better children's lives. It rated 52 countries on the continent apart from Somalia, which has not had central rule in 17 years, and Western Sahara, which is locked in a territorial dispute.

Angola is currently experiencing a post-war construction boom, funded largely by the proceeds of its oil exports, according to the newly released Angola Infrastructure Q4 2008 report. Most of the foreign investment is from firms in China, Portugal, Brazil, and South Africa. However, recently there has been something of a scramble as European countries look to capitalise on the perceived opportunities. There is huge demand for housing and transport infrastructure, as well as considerable potential for the development of a hydro-electricity industry. Foreign investment continues to flood in from emerging market giants; in October 2007 seven cooperation agreements were signed with Brazil, and a US$1bn extension was provided to the existing credit line facilitating investment from Brazilian companies. The Brazilian construction company Odebrecht is an active player in Angola's infrastructure boom, having won contracts for many projects. Furthermore, finance from China shows no sign of abating, with financial support pledged by China for reconstruction in Angola now standing at almost US$7bn. China's aid includes two credit lines each of US$2bn from the country's Exim Bank, and US$2.9bn from China International Fund. Finance from the West is also burgeoning: Angola recently received large credit lines from European banks eager to foster trade between Angola and Europe, with France's Societe Generale and Germany's Deutsche Bank loaning EUR300mn and EUR225mn, respectively. http://tinyurl.com/5vcg83

The Contact Centre Industry in South Africa has matured to such an extent that it offers South Africans exciting and dynamic career choices. Growth in the contact centre industry has been so phenomenal that Kelly conducted its annual Contact Centre Survey to reveal the trends and salary opportunities across predominantly three specialised industries: Banking, Information Technology and telecommunications. The inaugural Contact Centre Survey results for 2008/9, released November 2008, reveal that overall, Gauteng salaries within the industry are higher than in Cape Town and KwaZulu Natal. The Contact Centre Salary Survey 2008/9 reflects the ongoing challenge to secure skills in a talent short market and the willingness to pay a higher rate to fill certain positions.

The Bio-Energia Sugar, Ethanol, and Electrical Energy Project has secured US$168 million in funding from a group of Angolan banks. The banking group includes Banco Africano de Investimentos (BAI), the Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA) and the Banco Espírito Santo de Angola (BESA). Under the first phase of funding, BAI will invest USD 57 million, while BFA and BESA will invest US$ 55.734 million each. Led by BAI, the funding will also include the participation of Sonangol, Dimer and Odebrecht.

FIFA completed its lineup of 2010 World Cup broadcasters Tuesday by signing a television rights deal for Nigeria. The agreement with the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) guarantees live coverage on free-to-air television and radio of all 64 matches in the tournament in South Africa. FIFA, football's world governing body and the competition organizer, said in a statement that its media deals were finished ahead of schedule. FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said FIFA expects to earn US$3.2 billion from selling television and marketing rights for the 2010 World Cup.
Source: IMC

The Nigerian Government is to establish a US $85-million-dollar rice fund to boost production of this staple food by more than a million tons. This was announced by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Ademola Seriki, on behalf of Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan at the opening of the Rice Investment Forum in Abuja late 2008. The forum was organised by the NEPAD Business Group Nigeria and the Nigeria Economic Summit Group. The Minister said that rice farmers would be empowered and organised to access credit facilities, while the Government would provide the needed infrastructure. He called on the private sector to collaborate in the areas of accessing credit facilities and the building of rice processing factories. The Special Adviser to the President and Head of NEPAD Nigeria, Amb. Tunji Olagunju, said the greatest challenges were the rural infrastructure, technology, markets and funds to boost production.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has partnered with Deutsche Bank to launch International Derivatives (IDX), a new asset class that allows South African investors to trade single stock futures on internationally listed companies for the first time. Deutsche Bank will provide liquidity on futures over 21 top European companies, selected from both the FTSE 100 and DJ Eurostoxx 50 benchmark indices. The companies include major multinational corporations such as BP, GlaxoSmithKline, LVMH, Nokia and Vodafone. According to the JSE, this represents a new landmark in trading as, for the first time, local investors will be able to gain exposure to international companies without dealing with an offshore bank or broker. Participating in international markets has been an onerous process with complex administrative and approval requirements. By contrast, the International Derivatives contracts can be traded through a JSE registered broker in the same way as any local derivatives product. Individuals and corporate investors will not have any exchange control restrictions when trading International Derivatives on the JSE, though the fund management industry would have to comply with their foreign portfolio allowances. The contracts are priced and settled in South African rands, meaning that investors will benefit if the rand depreciates.

The NEPAD e-Africa Commission has initiated a study on the feasibility of its Umojanet terrestrial network – a key step forward in the development of a broadband infrastructure network for Africa. The study will determine what the cost of the network in the various regions will be. This input will then determine what the SPV (special purpose vehicle) will need to make the network a reality, said Dr Edmund Katiti, policy and regulatory adviser for the e-Africa Commission. The commission says the six-month study will focus on the fibre-optic couplings that Umojanet will need to link to the 40 000km Uhurunet submarine cable. The first feasibility study will cover 23 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa regions. The e-Africa Commission was awarded $410 000 by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in September 2007. The study will be presented to prospective investors in the NEPAD SPV that will develop, own and operate the terrestrial broadband network. The SPV will lease or sell Umojanet services to licensed telecom operators in various countries. The e-Africa Commission is also seeking a range of investors for its Umojanet and Uhurunet projects, ranging from telecoms companies to financial investors who are willing to invest over 15 to 20 years.

The African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) at South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal – the lead institution for activities and policy development of Pillar 3 of NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) – is expected to take part in a Higher Education for Development programme, sponsored by USAID. Applications have been requested for 20 awards of up to $50,000 for a five-month period. These awards – known as Africa-US Higher Education Initiative Planning Grants - are intended to support planning for long-term partnerships to strengthen the capacity of African higher education institutions in the areas of Agriculture, environment and natural resources; Health; Science and technology; Engineering; Education and teacher training/preparation; and Business management and economics. The aim is also to increase the engagement of U.S. higher education institutions in Africa. Higher Education for Development (www.hedprogram.org) mobilises the expertise and resources of the higher education community to address global development challenges. The USAID-eligible African countries are: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. The closing date is 2 February 2009.

The export volume of Ghana is expected to fall in 2009 following the ongoing economic recession that has hit the world's major economies, Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) has predicted. PEF has said that since most of the industries in US and Europe are collapsing, the demand for our export commodities is expected to be lower in 2009. In the same year, the cedi is expected to depreciate highly due to the imbalances between export and import. PEF further predicted that the volumes of financial flows for investment would reduce drastically in the coming year. At the end of 2008, the cedi depreciated by 15.8% against the US dollar, 14% against the Euro and 6.2% against the British Pound. Comparable figures as at September 2007 are 5%, 17.5% and 6.9% respectively.

Banks are to drastically reduce risky private lending with the long-awaited launch of the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB). CompuScan CRB Ltd was contracted by the Bank (BOU) of Uganda to implement the CRB and the Financial Card System (FCS). The central bank is optimistic that the benefits would include improved credit assessment and the shortening of the loan approval time. Getting loans will be quicker due to timely access of your loan records and loan providers will not need as many documents for a loan, noted CRB. While non-performing loans have reduced to about 3% of the total assets in the financial system, interest rates are still high due to the risk of borrowers defaulting on loans. Data from the central bank shows that lending rates on loans are hovering between 21% and 28% per annum.

NEPAD has initiated the formation of a coordinating unit to assist in the integration of NEPAD structures into the African Union (AU). According to NEPAD, the coordinating unit would, among other duties, compile a report on the NEPAD Secretariat’s activities and would then report to the Heads of State of the AU countries in January 2009. The process of integrating NEPAD into the AU structures would ensure that there was a permanent vehicle established that would drive the planning and coordination of NEPAD programmes across the continent. Structures integrated into the AU would include decision-making structures at the highest level, and programme integration. This would ensure that roles within the two organisations were clarified and that communication between the two units was more effective. NEPAD as a programme will continue to exist. What the organization is looking at is making a more permanent structure by creating a NEPAD planning and coordinating authority. The decision to integrate NEPAD into the AU came as the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee, along with the AU, in 2003 agreed on the 13th point conclusion of Algiers as a basis of the integration of NEPAD.

As part of the ongoing effort by NEPAD to sensitise the African media – TV, radio, online and print – on the activities of NEPAD, on African agriculture and science and technology, a Better Science Reporting workshop will be held for West African English-speaking journalists at the Global Agriculture and Environmental Sustainability Conference in Ibadan, Nigeria on 15-20 March 2009. The training workshop will be run by WRENmedia of the UK, through the ongoing partnership of NEPAD with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and its Research into Use (RIU) programme. The subjects to be covered in briefings and practical work will include soil science, crop production and protection, and the environmental sciences.

Prof. Richard Mkandawire, Head of NEPAD Agriculture/CAADP and Komla Bissi, CAADP agribusiness adviser have paid a two-day working visit to the Government of Liberia to review and advocate for the fast-tracking of CAADP implementation. The visit grew out of the current effort by Liberia to boost its development agenda through additional investment in agriculture and the response of the Government to integrate CAADP into the broader national agriculture development. CAADP – endorsed by the African Union (AU) and NEPAD in 2003 – is an Africa-led and Africa-owned initiative and framework to rationalise and revitalise African agriculture for economic growth and lasting poverty reduction. The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. J. Chris Toe, expressed Liberia's readiness to embrace CAADP as a vehicle for the reduction of poverty, hunger and the attainment of full food security status in Liberia. Liberia has captured the imagination of the global community for both its rebirth and its high quality of leadership that is determined to resolve the legacy of the past. The country has also undergone a number of significant changes in the agriculture sector in the past two years as a result of a more than US$ 300 million concession loan agreement for revitalising its rubber, palm oil and rice industries. Plans are currently underway to increase cassava production by 109% from 444,000 metric tons to 930,000 metric tons and increase milled rice production by 100% from 85,000 to 170,000 metric tons. Source: Nepad

A key project on conservation agriculture in Southern Africa – part of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) agenda – was launched by NEPAD at a meeting in South Africa on 1 December 2008 as the latest in a long list of national and regional responses to rising food prices. Spread across four countries - Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique - this unique project is targeted at 23,700 households. The aim is to provide practical training in the application of conservation agriculture, farm inputs (seed and fertilizer) and farm tools to boost local food security and sustainable land management. CAADP - endorsed by the African Union and NEPAD in 2003 - is an Africa-led and Africa-owned initiative and framework to rationalise and revitalise African agriculture for economic growth and lasting poverty reduction results. The conservation agriculture project is led by the African Union and NEPAD with the support of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Norwegian Government and local farming networks.

The Portuguese plastic packaging company, Logoplaste, plans to open a factory in Angola, with an investment of US$ 6.3 million. Logoplaste currently exports pre-molds and plastic molds to Angola and wants to focus on production in Angola as producing packaging near the customer is beneficial in terms of logistics, costs and environmental implications.

Support for Africa has officially opened a Cameroon Clinic named after Footballer Lauren in the Bayangam village, the organisation's fourth clinic to date and its first in Cameroon. The Clinic is being run by CBCHS (the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services) who already have a team of nurses at the clinic. CBCHS have several headquarters in Cameroon from which they provide mobile treatment to remote villages. Their services would be more effective if they had basic health clinic built, with basic accommodation in these villages from which they could provide more efficient and steady health service to the surrounding villages. According to the Nigerian singer and entertainer, it is hoped that naming the clinic after Lauren will encourage other footballers to help other charities build health clinics in remote areas of their home towns.

The number of black employee placements in corporate South Africa has more than doubled over the past two years, according to research by leading South African headhunting company Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters, and figures show the greatest area of transformation at senior management levels are amongst black females. Company statistics indicate that Black African placements (male and female combined) increased from 16% in 2006 to 28% in 2008, while Black female placements increased 10% to 33% during the same period. According the headhunters, most of the company's placements are the result of mandated search assignments where there is often a specific preference - and in some cases a requirement - to appoint an 'employment equity' (EE) candidate. But despite this, the total employment equity placement figures, when one takes into account all Black, Indian and Coloured placements, has only increased from 32% of placements in 2006 to 38% in 2008. On one hand, says the company, this indicates a focus on Black African appointments, but also reveals a continuing shortage of suitably skilled EE candidates at senior management levels. The placement of white candidates at a senior management level remains at a much higher percentage than EE placements, despite some reduction in the number of white placements from 68% in 2006 to 62% in 2008. Nevertheless over 60% of all senior management placements were for white men and women. The company says that experienced EE candidates are not necessarily receiving financial packages significantly more generous than those offered to their white counterparts, despite myths about high salaries. In their experience, employers are unwilling to offer packages to any candidate that deviate drastically from predetermined salary bands.

The South African Department of Home Affairs is to issue an 'event visa' to allow soccer fans coming to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup to use dedicated counters at airports and give them pre-clearance before they arrive. The dedicated counters will allow the department to process the thousands of tourists who are expected to arrive in the country ahead of, during and after the event, much faster. According to the South African Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, this would be the first time that such a visa – which will be used for both the FIFA Confederations Cup [in 2009] and 2010 FIFA World Cup - will be used by a country hosting a major world event. Available free of charge, foreigners will be able to go through a pre-screening and pre-clearance process at selected ports of entry. This will take place both regionally and abroad, meaning tourists can receive the pre-clearance in their own country before they even arrive in South Africa. South African immigration officials will be stationed at several of the busiest airports around the world, including Heathrow, Dubai, India and Hong Kong. Those passengers who have received pre-clearance by South African immigration officials will be able to arrive in South Africa and go straight through to baggage collection and then customs, thereby facilitating the entry and exit process through the country’s borders.

Angola recently launched its first private television channel, TV Zimbo, which will go on-air for several hours a day, during a three-month test phase. The channel will become fully operational before the presidential elections in 2009 and the African Cup of Nations Soccer Championship in 2010. Owned by local group Medianova, TV Zimbo will compete for viewers and a share of the growing advertising market against TV channels TPA1 and TPA2.

Innovative Service to Provide Certified Election Results to Ghanaians Abroad

Ghana Decides ‘08!!! Ghanaians and other persons in the UK who are interested in the Ghana elections can receive results certified by the Electoral Commission direct to their mobile handset. The service is available on Orange, O2, T-Mobile, Vodafone, 3 and BT Cell. Results will be sent immediately the Electoral Commission certifies both the Presidential and Parliamentary results at all constituencies, and subscribers will receive regular updates as results are released. The service is organized by the Ghana Journalist Association with authorization from the Electoral Commission. To subscribe, send "GH" only once to short code 60999 on the networks mentioned and receive regular result updates throughout the election period. Get the news before anyone else. Premium rates apply.'

Microfinance Leader Launches New Hub in Africa

ACCION International, a pioneer and leader in microfinance, has launched its new hub office and training center in Accra, Ghana, underscoring the U.S.-based nonprofit organization's commitment to expanding financial services for Africa's working poor. The center's staff will provide support to ACCION's team of African microfinance experts, who currently work with microfinance institutions in both East and West Africa. The center will also address the clear need for capacity-building among microfinance practitioners in the region, offering education and training to ensure that future generations of microfinance managers possess the capacity and technical expertise to effectively meet the growing demands of Africa. In the next three years, ACCION intends, through its emerging training center network, to train 3,000 microfinance practitioners in such disciplines as business planning, risk management, lending and governance. Since first beginning work in Africa in 2000, ACCION has advised microfinance institutions across the continent, providing technical assistance and sometimes investment to help them expand. ACCION has helped to build and transform Uganda Microfinance Limited; built micro lending operations in Benin with PADME; and helped to create the microfinance operations of established banks in Zimbabwe (MicroKing) and Tanzania (Akiba Commercial Bank). ACCION has more recently established 'greenfield' microfinance operations in Nigeria, launching ACCION Microfinance Bank (AMfB) in 2007. This year, ACCION and its West African partner Ecobank launched EB-ACCION Savings & Loans to serve micro-entrepreneurs in Ghana and beyond.

New Fund to Invest in Clean Technologies in Southern Africa

The Evolution One Fund, a 10-year private equity fund that focuses on investments in clean technology in the southern African region has raised R400-million from four core international investors to date, and is expected to grow to R1-billion by mid-2009. The fund, managed by Cape Town-headquartered Inspired Evolution Investment management, has secured the initial investment from the International Finance Corporation and other investors. Cleantech spans many industries, including clean energy generation, water purification, waste management and efficient production technology. Evolution One's investment philosophy is based on the premise that the use of cleantech products, services and processes not only provide superior performance at lower costs, but also reduce environmental and climate change impacts, thereby promoting mutually reinforcing benefits for society. The Evolution One Fund will make around 10 to 15 investments over a period of three to five years across the whole SADC region, with a focus on cleaner energy and the environment, and aiming to generate an enhanced annual internal rate of return by focusing on key sectors and sub-sectors.

South Africa's Telkom to Deploy 3G Network

South African telecoms company Telkom is deploying its own third generation (3G) wireless network across the country, taking the fixed-line operator closer toward providing its customers with fully converged information communication technology solutions. The company announced in March this year that it would look to expand into the fixed-mobile space as a means of maintaining its market share and growing revenues. W-CDMA is a third generation (3G) mobile technology that offers services like high-speed Internet access, video and high quality voice transmission. Telkom will initially focus on providing fixed voice and fixed-mobile data and, in the near future, nomadic voice services, offering its customers choice at a highly competitive cost. Telkom has appointed Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei as a technology partner to deploy its fixed-wireless and mobile data network on a turnkey basis.

South Korea Contributes R8 million for South African ICT centre

South Korea is to contribute R8 million over three years toward the establishment of information communication technology cooperation centre in South Africa to promote the exchange of experiences in the field between the two countries. The contribution toward the development of the centre is being channelled through the Korean Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion, a specialised government entity that is dedicated to providing support in closing the digital divide, both domestically and abroad. According to the South African government, South Africa's Meraka e-Skills Institute will have the responsibility for the project identification and design. The two countries aim to cooperate in various areas, including the operation of an e-skills training centre, the implementation of e-government and the development of e-government related skills, the development of projects to proactively identify ICT skills needs in the country, to provide consultation and advice on national ICT development, and to build mutually cooperative relationships between the ICT sectors of the two countries.

Ethiopia Opens Commodity Exchange

Ethiopia has opened a commodity exchange, designed to bring order to the country's often chaotic food markets. ‘Informal' practices effectively force farmers to sell locally to traders they know and trust. This prevents commodities moving from regions where there is abundance to those where there are shortages, intensifying the risk of famine and for prices to plummet in districts experiencing a production glut. The Addis Ababa exchange – called the ECX – will trade in six commodities: coffee, sesame, haricot beans, tell, wheat and maize.

Polio Eradicated From Somalia

The World Health Organisation's (WHO) Global Polio Eradication Initiative says that Somalia is now free of polio, with no cases since March 2007. The WHO had managed to help wipe out polio in Somalia once before but the disease was reintroduced by travelers. Now, thanks to 10,000 Somali volunteers and health workers repeatedly vaccinating more than 1.8 million under-fives, it has been wiped out again.

NEPAD initiative of "paramount importance", says Malawi

The African Science and Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII) agreement signed in Lilongwe in 23 September 2008 is of "paramount importance", says Henry Mbedza, director of science and technology in the Malawi Government. The ASTII is a NEPAD agreement that, among other things, will help Malawi to conduct a survey to measure the impact of science and technology on national development. Mbedza said a one-year programme which began in Lilongwe in October 2008, will train 15 government and university staff on collecting statistical data, focusing on the effectiveness of initiatives and investments supporting Malawian science and technology. The information will be able to be used by policymakers to assist them in decision-making. Participants will be drawn from the Malawi National Statistical Office, Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, Department of Agriculture Research and Technical Services, the National Research Council and the University of Malawi. The initiative is part of the follow up to the AU/NEPAD consolidated plan of action for science and technology, approved by African Science Ministers in 2005 and adopted by African Union Heads of State and Government in 2007. Malawi is the 19th African country to sign the agreement. Source: NEPAD

African Union to lead new Drive to Implement CAADP

The African Union Commission (AUC) will lead efforts to expedite the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), according to a joint statement by the AUC and USAID. The statement said the African Union recognises both the need to urgently expand support for agriculture in Africa and the foundations that have been created for joint programming, mutual accountability and increased coherence of agricultural development assistance. The CAADP will include steps to advance short, medium and long term actions, including stimulating a near term supply response to meet immediate food needs, urgent steps to work with the private sector to modernise agricultural value chains, reduce poverty and improve infrastructure and trade in Africa to achieve high rates of agricultural growth. USAID and other development partners have committed themselves to work together to tackle key barriers to the implementation of the CAADP process and agenda, especially in countries that are taking steps to advance the CAADP.

World Cocoa Foundation Awards Innovation Challenge Grants

The World Cocoa Foundation has awarded $146,000 in challenge grants that will be used over the next 12 months to design and test innovative technologies benefiting cocoa farmers and building the capacity of local extension services and farmer associations. Grants were awarded to eight research institutes, universities and farmer organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America for work focused on advancing labor saving technologies, production efficiency, and education. According to the Foundation, innovation is the key to helping cocoa farmers fully benefit from the world's growing appetite for cocoa and new approaches are need to to strengthen farm families and communities both economically and socially. The grants will bring this much needed innovation to the field, making it more accessible to cocoa farmers around the world. The grants awarded included one in the area of education innovation to the University of Cape Coast, Ghana's School of Agriculture to develop participatory learning approaches encouraging farmer adoption of artificial cocoa pollination, significantly improving productivity, yield and long-term sustainability. Established in 2000, the World Cocoa Foundation is a leader in promoting economic and social development and environmental stewardship in 15 cocoa-producing countries around the world.

New Lighting System for Luanda to Cost US$15 Million

The project to refurbish and expand Luanda's public lighting system is estimated at USD 15 million and is expected to conclude at the beginning of 2009. The project consists of refurbishing the entire public lighting and electricity distribution grid, restructuring and creating a new medium and low voltage grid and repairing the underground network. The work is part of a project set up between Inotec and the technical office of the Luanda Provincial Government (GPL). Inotec has been in the Angolan market for three months, and is a part of the Portuguese group CME – Construção e Manutenção Elçectromecânica.

Cape Town Mayor Wins Best Mayor Award

Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille has been selected as the world's number one mayor by City Mayors, a global local government think-tank. Ms Zille came out tops out of a group of 820 mayors from around the world in the competition which has spanned 18 months. A shortlist of 50 was selected from the 820 public nominations, which was later reduced to 11, and then to five. An outstanding mayor is described as someone who possessed qualities of greatness, leadership and vision, has good management abilities, is socially and economically aware and has the ability to provide security and to protect the environment. Commentators who supported her nomination said that Ms Zille was making a difference and giving people hope. Editor of City Mayors, Tann vom Hove, said the Cape Town mayor was the judging panel's unanimous choice for the 2008 World Mayor Prize. The World Mayor competition has been running since its inception in 2004. It aims to raise the profile of mayors worldwide as well as to honour those who have made lasting contributions to their communities and are committed to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally.

Using Africa's Mineral Resources for broad-based Development

A conference involving African ministers responsible for mineral resources development and mining experts was held at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2008 under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The purpose of the ministerial conference was to bring together the African ministers and African experts in mining and natural resources to brainstorm on some of the key issues for African mineral resources development. The brainstorming conference was an opportunity for the African Union Commission to develop a concerted continental strategy rooted on broadening the economic base and developing not only direct "upstream" and "downstream" linkages between mining and other sectors, but also various indirect activities, particularly "sidestream" supply and support activities, and induced contributions to maximise development and social outcomes.

Uganda prepares National Development Plan

A five-year National Development Plan (NDP) is being prepared within the framework of Uganda's national vision - endorsed by the Cabinet in July 2007 - to replace the poverty eradication action plan (PEAPs) implemented between 1999 and 2007. This is being done mainly to provide an updated framework for budgeting, implementation of Government programmes and donor support, as well as provide more comprehensive national, sectoral and local government planning. The transformation of the PEAP into the NDP is also intended to cater for emerging economic issues such as regional cooperation and emerging aspirations of leadership, for example, northern Uganda's reconstruction challenge. In the effort to draw lessons from the previous plans, an independent evaluation of the PEAP was conducted and the findings are being used for the NDP process. The proposed theme for the NDP is Prosperity for all Ugandans. The National Planning Authority (NPA) in consultation with other key stakeholders is spearheading the development of the NDP. The key objectives of the NDP are to increase household incomes; enhance quality and availability of gainful employment; improve the stock and quality of economic and trade infrastructure; increase access to quality social services; promote innovation and competitive industries and strengthen good governance and improve human security. The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) National Commission and the National Planning Authority (NPA) are in the process of putting in place a mechanism of ensuring that the plan of action (POA) is fully integrated into the NDP to see through the President's commitment to his peers of implementing the plan.

Total Invests US$30 Million in Angolan Training Facility

The oil company Total E&F Angola has invested more than USD 30 million in the construction of a new training center, which was recently inaugurated in Luanda. The school will have the capacity to hold 120 students and will train middle and upper-level personnel in oil production and engineering. The first group of graduates will study for a year and a half, with classes both in theory and practice on the company's platforms. The center will offer classes in Introduction to Drilling, Valves, and Tubing; Electrical Instrumentation; Measurement While Logging; Geological Structures and Systems; Corrosion and Inspection; Rotational Equipment; Industrial Design; Team Spirit; and Risk Analysis. The oil company plans to build an additional four schools in the provinces of Bengo, Kwanza-Norte, Malanje, and Cunene.

Movicel Invests US$ 50 million in Angolan Network Expansion

Cell phone operator Movicel has invested USD 50 million to expand its network throughout all of Angola. The company currently has two million customers, and with new services being introduced, the number continues to rise. Since 2003, Movicel has been providing mobile telecommunications services and global management as a subsidiary of Angola Telecom. The network operates in all Angolan provinces and in 60 municipalities.

Gazprom signs MOU with Equatorial Guinea

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea and Gazprom Neft. According to the Ministry, the MOU is related to upstream, downstream and financial studies which Gazprom Neft intends to undertake together with the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy. This will strengthen the co-operation between Russia and Equatorial Guinea in the area of oil and gas.

Uganda Joins UN Security Council

Uganda has been elected to occupy a non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council for the 2009-10 term. Uganda, which was already assured of a seat from a unanimous regional backing, has been joined by Japan, Turkey, Austria and Mexico. Among European nations, Austria and Turkey won places on council, while Iceland's bid was defeated. Only Uganda and Mexico ran uncontested and won seats representing Africa and Latin America respectively. Uganda succeeds South Africa as Africa representative in the UN body.

Ericsson Predicts African Mobile Market up 20% in 2009

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson expects sub-Saharan Africa's cell phone market to grow by at least 20% in 2009, the company's head of South Africa told Reuters. According to Jan Embro, the MD of Ericsson South Africa, the company expects to see 50-60 million new cell phone subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa next year compared to 235-million existing users. This translates to another 50-60 million subscribers coming on in sub-Saharan Africa. Ericsson supplies telecommunication equipment and services to 65 mobile and 20 fixed-line operators on the continent, including MTN, sub-Saharan Africa's biggest operator. It said it had increased its market share in the region to 50% currently from less than 30% in 2001. Africa is a key frontier market for major telecoms firms from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, offering a vast untapped market of millions without cell phones.

China sees Risk to African Trade with Global Crisis

According to the head of the Africa Department at China's Ministry of Commerce, the global financial crisis will hit trade between China and Africa, but Beijing will keep expanding its investment in the continent to maintain strong ties. Sino-African trade reached $74-billion in the first eight months, up 62% from a year earlier, but, according to Zhou Yabin, the country "cannot be very optimistic about sustaining such growth."

China guarantees Increase in demand for Angolan Oil

Angolan oil exports, the country's main source of revenue, will continue to increase in the near future thanks to growth in demand from China which will compensate for possible setbacks in other markets, according to analysts from Portugal's Banco BPI in their report on Angola, published in September. Throughout this year Angola has boosted its position as the largest and most reliable oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, with estimated production of 1.9 million barrels per day, ahead of Nigeria. Over the next few months an important strengthening of Angolan production capacity should take place, with new oil fields such as Saxi and Batuque starting production and Mondo and Cabinda stepping up their output. China has established itself as an important candidate for the main destination for Angolan exports, say analysts and, in 2007, China represented 28% of Angolan foreign sales, 10 percentage points up on the previous year. These oil exports were worth US$ 10.605 billion dollars, second only to exports to the US which reached US$12.855 billion dollars.Currently oil represents around 80 percent of Angolan exports and, directly, over 57 percent of its GDP.

Nokia opens research office in Africa

Nokia has launched a regional research center in Nairobi to gain a better understanding of the needs of African consumers. Nokia Research Africa (NoRA) will work with universities and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) to develop prototypes of devices that are suitable for the African market, with an eye on offering benefits in health care and education. Nokia researchers will also study the telecommunication services sector on the continent. An increase in mobile penetration has been found to impact positively on the growth of a country's gross domestic product. According to the company, the research will enable the design of relevant products and services. Nokia has chosen to work with NGOs and universities because the institutions have an understanding of local communities. In Kenya, NoRA is already undertaking a study through partnership with SlumCode, an NGO aimed at understanding the dynamic of informal music in urban slum communities. Other areas NoRA is interested in exploring include entrepreneurship, energy management, social media, arts and culture.

Rwanda Receives $24 Million Boost for Regional Broadband Networks

The World Bank has approved $24 million for a program that will see Rwanda develop her national capacity to provide broadband connectivity. The money that was cleared through an International Development Association (IDA) financing grant for the Regional Communication Infrastructure Program - Rwanda Project (RCIPRW), is supposed to increase the availability of broadband to more than 700 Rwandan institutions including schools, health centers and local government administrative centers. IDA is the concessional lending arm of the World Bank.

Nigeria: Zenith Now Best Global Bank in Africa

In recognition of its positive influence within Africa's financial market, Zenith Bank Plc has emerged the Best Global Bank in Africa at this year's African Bankers Awards held at The Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. The ceremony was hosted by the London-based IC Publications Ltd, publishers of African Banker Magazines on the eve of the World Bank's critical global discussions on the state of the world's financial systems. Over 350 people, including Africa's finance ministers, governors of central banks, financial market regulators, global media personalities, industry leaders and top bankers attended the glittering ceremony. A total of 17 awards were presented. Zenith Bank was previously named the Best Bank in Nigeria by the prestigious Euromoney magazine at an award ceremony held in London.

Ghanaian Government Secures U.S. $119m to Assist SMEs and Banks

The government, with the help of the World Bank, has negotiated for $119 million to provide both financial and business development support, as well as technical assistance, to small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and banks in the country. The Ministry of Finance noted that until structures of the economy were changed, and the constant changes in prices of international commodities checked, and the unemployment rate brought under control, the eradication of poverty, which is major factor in the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), would remain a mirage.

South African Employment Market Growing Stronger

A new survey of hiring trends covering businesses in 14 countries around the world has uncovered a generally positive picture of the employment market for managers and professionals despite the effects of the `credit crunch' and higher energy, fuel and food prices. With the high percentage of companies recruiting in South Africa expected to grow and the low level of firing expected to decrease, the jobs market appears to be booming. The `Global Snapshot' from the international recruitment firm, Antal, asked over 1, 500 major companies in both western and eastern Europe, Africa, India and China whether they were currently hiring at professional and managerial level. The rapid development of South African business centres such as Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth has created a lively jobs market for managers and professionals, with 84% of companies currently hiring. In Germany 57% of companies were hiring now and 64% expected to do so in the next quarter, while in Italy over 70% were currently recruiting and expected to do so in the coming three months. In the UK the survey revealed that only 31% of employers were recruiting at the moment. Whilst the construction and property sectors and certain parts of the financial services industry are suffering a real crisis of confidence, organisations in other areas such as telecoms and technology are generally positive about hiring.

Developing countries to Participate in ICT Standards Process

Leading stakeholders in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry are to work together to minimise the standardisation gap between developed and developing countries through the Bridging the Standardisation Gap Fund. The fund will assist in facilitating the participation of developing countries in the standards development process and allow them to profit from access to new technology developments, according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T). The standardisation development gap is creating disparity between developed and developing countries, while the ability of developing countries to influence and contribute to international standards setting is almost non-existent. The continued shortage of human resources in the standardisation field in developing countries resulted in a low participation by developing countries in the standards-making process. This has in turn contributed to a standardisation gap between developed and developing countries which adversely affected the ability of representatives from developing countries to access, implement, contribute to and influence international ICT standards.

African Countries Form Single Market

Leaders of the Tripartite Summit from 26 African countries belonging to the three regional economic blocs in the East and southern Africa have resolved to merge the blocs into a single regional market. The summit, which brought together leaders of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has agreed to establish a free trade bloc and a single customs union, stretching from South Africa to Egypt and from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Kenya. The launch of the free trade bloc will place the African continent in a stronger position to respond effectively to intensifying global economic competition and will create the largest free trade area in Africa, with a population of over 248 million people and a combined GDP of $650 billion. The three blocs will have a single airspace within a year and an inter-regional broadband network for Internet. The three communities also resolved to coordinate their master plans for regional transport and energy within 12 months.

Africa Gains Access to Supercomputer

The South African Department of Science and Technology and multinational technology company IBM have launched the Blue Gene for Africa initiative, giving the country access to supercomputing power not previously seen on the continent. The BG4A is hosted by the Centre for High Performance Computing, an initiative of the department, and is managed by the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). According to IBM, Africa needs to invest in human capital development, infrastructure and increased research and development in order to spur further socio-economic development. With research infrastructure also being key to development, the company's donation of the Blue Gene supercomputer is its contribution towards sparking scientific and socio-economic progress on the continent. The donation of the supercomputer forms part of a US$120-million (about R1.1-billion) investment in sub-Saharan Africa announced by IBM in December 2007, and followed a series of meetings on economic development opportunities convened by IBM that year as part of its Global Innovation Outlook strategy. This donation has given impetus to the Blue Gene for Africa initiative, which has three interlinking thrusts: infrastructure, promoting collaborative with a major impact on the African continent, and human capital development - building of high-end computing capacity in Africa. Potential projects which could benefit from this initiative are environmental simulations (water management, climate and atmospheric simulations), plant genomics and agricultural modelling, energy, information analytics and complex systems modelling (such as business systems, risk management, financial models, transportation management and health). As the Blue Gene is for the whole continent, potential users who wish to access the high performance computing are encouraged to contact the Centre for High Performance Computing.

Unity Needed to Protect Africa's Financial Markets

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the Ghana Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at enhancing cooperation and exchange of information on all stock exchanges in Africa. The understanding provides a framework for the exchange of information for purposes of enforcing compliance with the governing laws of the regulators' respective jurisdictions. Areas of mutual assistance and cooperation will include investigations and enforcement in connection with applicable regulations relating to capital markets in Uganda and Ghana. Others include monitoring compliance with applicable laws regarding the duties of issuers of financial products in relation to information disclosure, maintaining high standards of fair dealings and integrity in their conduct of business.

First Peer Review Summit a Milestone for Nigeria and Burkina Faso

The first Extraordinary Summit of the APR Forum held in October in Cotonou, Benin was followed by a meeting of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). The APRM, launched in March 2003, is voluntarily acceded to by member states of the African Union as an African self–monitoring governance mechanism. It ensures that the policies and practices of participating states conform to internationally agreed governance values, codes and standards as a means of fostering political stability, economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration. The APR Forum has the ultimate responsibility for the oversight of the APRM organisation and processes, for mutual learning and capacity building, and for exercising the constructive peer dialogue and persuasion required to make the APRM effective, credible, and acceptable. The peer review is a process of sharing information and experiences and mutual learning to assist the country concerned in improving on identified weaknesses as well as providing other participating countries with the opportunity to learn from the best practices of the country under review. The Extraordinary Summit of the APR Forum concluded the peer review of Nigeria and Burkina Faso. It also deliberated on selected cross-cutting issues encountered so far in the APRM process, among others the issues of managing diversity and xenophobia; elections in Africa; resource management; land; corruption; and the Gacaca Court system in Rwanda. Twenty nine countries have formally acceded to the process so far - Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Sao Tome e Principe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

Sasol's R250m Investment in Engineering

South African petrochemical giant Sasol is to spend R25-million a year helping the country's universities develop world-class science and engineering graduates, attract and retain talented academics, and grow the engineering profession. The investment forms part of a greater R250-million initiative, spread over 10 years, to ensure world-class teaching in the disciplines of chemistry and engineering. According to the company, Sasol has already spent R75-million upgrading research facilities and equipment at nine participating universities over the past three years and this represents a proactive step to help universities meet critical research and development skills essential to the future growth and prosperity of South Africa. The initiative will also contribute to the Engineering Council of South Africa's commitment to growing the engineering profession by increasing the number of engineering practitioners to ensure sufficient future capacity to stimulate the economy.

South Africa Selects 'Jerusalema' for Academy Awards

South Africa's Academy Award selection committee and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) have submitted South African feature film Jerusalema for consideration in the category of best foreign language film at the 2009 Oscars. Jerusalema joins a growing list of productions that have represented South Africa at the Oscars. Written and directed by Ralph Ziman and produced by Tendeka Matatu, Jerusalema was released to critical acclaim in August. According to NFVF CEO Eddie Mbalo, the film's high production values attest to the ability of the South African film industry to meet global standards of quality in filmmaking, while retaining a distinct South African flavour that has universal appeal. The 81st Academy Awards will be televised live from Hollywood on Sunday, 22 February 2009.

IFC sets aside $3 billion for African banks

The World Bank's International Financial Corporation has set aside $3 billion to help insulate banks in poor African countries from the effects of the global credit crisis. The global financial meltdown has forced many western governments to inject billions of dollars to support affected financial institutions but many African countries are too poor to offer similar help to their own. The IFC - the private sector lending arm of the World Bank - said it would focus on banks in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. The corporation will also invest $2 billion in African energy projects. The IFC plans to spend over $2 billion on power projects in Africa, with the first project in Rwanda next year. The East African country hopes to double its power output by building a hydro dam on Akagera River.

Economy of Johannesburg Grows by 6.4%

With an economic growth rate of 6.4 percent between 2006 and 2008, Johannesburg is one of South Africa's most important economic hubs in terms of investment, business and construction. According to the City's executives, the city's economy has grown by more than 6% per year in the last two years, reaching a 6.4% growth between 2006/07 and 2007/08. The growth has been fuelled by a range of sectors, with the construction sector playing a key part. The city has an economic growth target of 9% if the country's overall economy grows by 6% in 2014. To achieve this goal, it is planned to increase the diversification of the city's business sector and resources. Johannesburg is home to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the largest and most sophisticated stock exchange on the continent and is the headquarters of many large multinational corporations. In terms of the value of the city's economy in relation to the country, Johannesburg contributed 48.2% to the provincial economy, and 18.1% to the national economy.

CAADP Leader Honoured for Work to overcome Poverty

Professor Richard Mkandawire, Head of the NEPAD Agriculture / CAADP has won this year's Drivers of Change individual award. The Drivers of Change awards, which are organised by the South African Mail and Guardian newspaper and the Southern Africa Trust recognise individuals or organisations from across the Southern Africa region that are making a real impact, especially in developing effective public policies and strategies, to overcome poverty. The global financial meltdown and the ensuing recession has led some analysts to predict that Africa is going to lose out in terms of the external focus, partnerships and assistance that in recent years have been dedicated to its development agenda. However, African-based initiatives such as NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) are standing out as the most prudent avenues for genuine poverty reduction efforts in Africa. The award is in three categories: civil society, government, and business and was established to hold up living examples of innovative practices, inclusive attitudes, and effective processes that build social trust and create the best conditions to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of people living in poverty. This year, 60 nominations were received. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, which was endorsed by the African Union in 2003, is an Africa-led and Africa-owned initiative and framework to rationalise and revitalise African agriculture for economic growth and lasting poverty reduction results. As part of the CAADP framework, African governments have already agreed to increase public investment in agriculture by a minimum 10% of their national budgets and to attain an annual average growth rate of 6% in agriculture. NEPAD is a home grown African initiative, crafted by African leaders to respond to Africa's continued under-development and marginalisation within the context of the broader global political economy. NEPAD serves as a platform for the articulation of a new voice rooted in the collective commitment of African leaders to democratic principles and to crafting a new development paradigm for Africa.

DBSA wins "Best Bank" Award

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) won the Best Development Bank of Africa award at the recent African Banker Awards. These awards were endorsed by the World Bank Africa Region and supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Corporate Council on Africa. Participants included finance ministers, central bank governors, bank directors and CEOs from across the African continent as well as representatives from intergovernmental organisations and leading businessmen and VIPs from all over Africa, Asia, Europe and the US. The DBSA was chosen from a strong shortlist by a distinguished panel of judges, including Virginia Anchu, CEO, MGSL, Lagos; Aissa Hidoussi. CEO, Best Bank, Tunis; Koosum Kalyan, Chairman, G8 Business Action for Africa; Dr. Nkosana Moyo, Managing Partner, Actis Capital, London; Christopher Peel, Head of Africa Equity Research, Exotix; and Lionel Zinsou, Managing Partner, PAI Private Equity, Paris.

Italy Plans to Invest Over US$ 9 Million in Angola

In 2009 Angola will receive investments from Italy estimated at USD 9 million. The financing is in response to the Angolan Government's request to address needs in public health, clinical laboratories, and agriculture. Cooperation between the two countries is currently estimated at USD 250 million.

New International Luanda Airport Concluded in 2010

The new International Luanda Airport, located 30 kilometers from the Angolan capital, will be built by China International Fund Limited, and will conclude in 2010. The new airport will cover an area of 5,000 hectares, with two double runways and the capacity to receive the world's largest commercial airliner, the Airbus A380. The northern runway will be 4,200 meters long and the southern runway will be 3,800 meters long (both 60 meters wide). Construction will also include a passenger terminal for national and international flights, a control tower and several hotels.

CPLP to Create Bank for Financing Development Programs

A development bank of the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community (CPLP) will be created to help finance development programs and empower the companies and associations within the organization. The bank will guarantee the financial stability within the CPLP, providing services and products to customers, granting low interest loans and mainly serving the citizens of the community.

Moremi Initiative for Women's Leadership in Africa Website Launched

Research conducted by Moremi Initiative shows women occupies only two percent of executive positions within the top one hundred companies in the Ghanaian private sector. Moremi Initiative's research (Dake & Herlands 2003: Data on Women in Leadership in Ghana) also shows that in general, women exercise little power in political, economic, and social institutions in Ghana. Moremi Initiative firmly believes that an investment in young women's leadership will provide double dividends to make the world a better place for all. Moremi Initiative for Women's Leadership in Africa strives to engage, inspire and equip young women and girls to become the next generation of leading politicians, activists, social entrepreneurs and change agents: Leaders who can transform and change institutions that legitimize and perpetuate discrimination against women. Moremi Initiative is a non-profit organization based in Nigeria and the United States and operating throughout Africa. We strive to engage, inspire and equip young women and girls to become the next generation of leading politicians, activists, social entrepreneurs and change agents. To achieve its mission, Moremi Initiative is pursuing proactive strategies to develop and empower women and girls to take on leadership roles in their communities.

Swaziland Close to Eliminating Malaria

Health experts predict Swaziland will be the second country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to eliminate malaria. Malaria kills more than one million people worldwide most of whom are children under five years and almost 90 percent of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria killed five people last year in Swaziland. The SADC Malaria Strategic Plan - a malaria elimination programme that aims to wipe out the disease in the region - lists Swaziland, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia as countries where malaria elimination is possible. Swaziland is likely to be the first country of the four to reach this goal. If Swaziland manages to eradicate malaria for three consecutive years, the World Health Organisation (WHO) will declare the country a malaria-free zone and issue a certificate of elimination. Mauritius was the first SADC country to receive the certificate after the last case of malaria was reported on the southern African island in 1997. Mauritius was therewith the first country in the region to reach one of the Millennium Development Goals whose target it is to stop malaria by 2015. The Swazi government hopes that eradicating malaria will not only improve the health of its people, but also develop the country by creating sustainable employment and equity in access to economic opportunities.

Finbank Plc Takes Over AGIB Management

The Arab Gambian Islamic Bank (AGIB) has marked the inauguration of the new management of the bank, which is now set to operate in partnership with a Nigerian bank, Finbank. AGIB highlighted its significance and the role it has been playing in The Gambia's financial sector since its establishment twelve years ago. The strategic partner will provide additional capital and bring technological and human resource improvements to the bank. Finbank, which holds 70% of AGIB shares, intends to run the bank purely on Islamic principles.

CPLP to Create Bank for Financing Development Programmes

A development bank of the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community (CPLP) will be created and in the short term aimed at financing development programmes and empowering the companies and associations within the organization. The bank will have the task of guaranteeing the financial balance within the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community, providing gratifying services and products to customers, granting low interest loans and mainly serve the citizens of the community.

South African TV goes Digital

South Africa has entered a new era in broadcasting with the official start of its conversion of its television broadcasting signal from analogue to digital technology. There will be a period of "dual-illumination" between 1 November this year and 1 November 2011, during which television will be broadcast via both analogue and digital signals. After 1 November 2011, the analogue signal will be switched off, and viewers will need a set-top box to convert the digital signal for their analogue television sets. The migration to digital also has the potential for providing special interactive services such as e-government services, as well as features audio descriptions and sub-titling for people with visual and hearing impairments. The change also means that there will soon be specialised television services dedicated to education, health, youth and sport, as well as three regional service channels. According to South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the public broadcaster will provide up to eight new video channels in the same bandwidth as one analogue channel. The migration from analogue to digital signal was first agreed to at the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency for telecommunication. Member states were given timelines per region to comply with the decision. Africa forms part of region 1, together with Europe and the Middle East.

Algeria Renegotiates New Energy Projects

Algeria will renegotiate energy projects currently being developed with foreigners to ensure that the Algerian partner has a majority stake. According to the country's Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil, the move had become necessary following a new law passed in August that limits to 495 the stake held by any foreign investor in any sector of the economy. Algeria's energy sector plans to invest $45.5 billion in 2008-2012, with $35.8 billion from state company Sonatrach and $9.7 billion from foreign partners. in cases where foreign partners indicated that they could not take part on a minority basis, Algeria would try to find a way to involve them in some way in the management of the project or in the transfer of skills and technology. The new law is part of a package of measures implemented during the summer that have tightened the investment regime in Algeria.

China Doubles Scholarships for African Students

The Chinese government has doubled the number of scholarship it grants to Africa to 4,000 students per year, says Yu Wenzhe, China's Ambassador to Ghana. The expanded package is China's contribution to help Africa to achieve its goals, Mr. Wenzhe said at a reception he hosted for 34 Ghanaian students who have received Chinese government scholarships for the 2008-2009 academic year. According to the Ambassador, the Chinese government values these educational scholarships as a means of boosting friendship between the two countries and China is also helping the University of Ghana make the Chinese language an attractive course for students of the university.

Nosso Super Expansion to Generate 7,000 Jobs in Angola

Approximately 7,000 jobs will be created countrywide with the expansion of the Nosso Super supermarket network, under the Structuring of the System of Logistics and Distribution of Essential Commodities (PRESLID) Program, which has been underway since 2007. Nosso Super will be opening 31 supermarkets nationwide, including 12 in Luanda, 2 in Benguela, 2 in Zaire and one in each of the remaining provinces. Currently, Nosso Super has 22 establishments.

Absa to open Call Centre at Coega

Local banking group Absa has become the first investor at the Coega Industrial Development Zone's business process outsourcing (BPO) park, announcing plans to open a 105-seat outbound call centre. The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) says the project has come just as the company is making a concerted effort to lure more investors to the BPO Park. A pilot of the Absa contact centre has been running at Coega since January this year, and the CDC is also in talks with other international companies to take up prime space in the massive BPO park planned for the zone. The outbound facility currently employs 105 people - the majority of whom were previously unemployed or had very little work experience – and the project has confirmed the bank's strategy of combining business with social imperatives. The initiative was aimed at doing business in a responsible way that enables people to uplift themselves through employment and business opportunities, with a key focus was on affording work experience to unemployed individuals.

World Bank Winter Internship Program Application Period Now Open

The application period for the Winter Internship Program 2008 is now open. The Program is open to students who are nationals of the Bank's member countries and attracts a large number of highly qualified candidates. The goal of this Internship Program is to offer successful candidates an opportunity to improve their skills as well as the experience of working in an international environment. Interns generally find the experience to be rewarding and interesting. To be eligible for the Internship Program, candidates must possess an undergraduate degree and already be enrolled in a full-time graduate study program.

Angola Opens Business Information Centre

Angola's Business Information Center, an initiative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has been inaugurated as part of the Angolan Business Program. The new center will promote small and medium enterprises (SMEs), private firms and others interested in obtaining specialized business information. The UNDP is partnered in the Luanda venture by Angola's ministry of industry, through the Angolan Institute of Industrial Development (IDIA) and Chevron.

South African Sees Wine Exports Soar

South African wine exports are soaring in defiance of the international economic slowdown, says Wines of South Africa, with over 363-million litres sold offshore in the 12 months to July 2008, an increase of 27% on the previous 12 months. Citing increased export volumes of 31% for the first seven months of 2008, due to a weaker rand and the continued strength of big brands in markets such as the UK, Sweden and Canada, the increase is also due to the emergence of buyers in developing markets such as Angola and south-east Asia. Exports have also been fuelled by rising rosé sales, up 60% on the previous year, as local producers successfully catered to the thirst for pink wines on international markets. In 2003, the UK and the Netherlands accounted for 72% of all South Africa's packaged wine exports. Today the UK and the Netherlands, together with Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the US, make up 72% of these sales. At the same time, there is growing interest in South African wines from countries in Africa and the East. The UK is still South Africa's largest wine export destination, however, with growth resuming in that market. The shift in the composition of South Africa's biggest customers had seen Germany overtaking the Netherlands to become South Africa's second-largest wine market.

Actis invests $49 m in Egyptian Food Business

Actis has completed a deal to invest $48.5 million in Mo'men Group for, an operator of chain of quick service restaurants under the brands 'Mo'men','Pizza King' and 'Planet Africa'. Actis's $48.5 million investment in Mo'men will help the group pursue expand its operations in Northern Africa and the Arabian Gulf region. "Given the changing population demographics and the increasing wealth of the middle classes, the company has a clear opportunity to expand to meet this demand," said Sherif Elkholy, Actis investment principal in Cairo. Mo'men also a produces branded household frozen foods and ready meals under the label 'Three Chefs'. The business was founded by the Mo'men Family in 1988. Source: Private Equity African News.

African Development Bank and Japan Sign Exchange of Notes and Loan Agreement

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of Japan have signed a bilateral Exchange of Notes for a loan to the AfDB of JPY 32.1 billion, equivalent to USD 300 million. The "Second Private Sector Assistance Loan under the Joint Initiative titled EPSA for Africa" helps finance the AfDB's private sector operations. The loan is provided by Japan on concessional terms and is part of the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance (EPSA) Initiative, an innovative, multi-component, multi-donor framework for resource mobilization and development partnership to support implementation of the AfDB's Strategy for Private Sector Development. Drawing on successful development experience in Asia and around the globe, EPSA was initially conceived in partnership with the Government of Japan (GOJ), which provided generous support to its launch in 2005 with a pledge of $1 billion in financial support through 2010. With the signing of the Second Private Sector Assistance Loan, Japan's fulfilled commitments under the EPSA Initiative total nearly $600 million, demonstrating Japan's strong commitment to the Bank and to Africa.

UN Says Aids in South Africa is Stabilising

South Africa is one of the three countries in southern Africa where the prevalence of HIV/Aids has stabilised, according to a report from the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids). The 2008 Report on the Global Aids Epidemic finds that the prevalence of HIV/Aids in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia were decreasing. The report also provided encouraging data on the trend of HIV/Aids epidemic in South Africa and the African continent. According to the report, of the three million people on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment worldwide by 2007, South Africa accounted for close to 429 000, up from only 55 000 in 2004. According to the UNAids report, close to 160 000 HIV-positive people who also had Tuberculosis (TB) received TB and HIV treatment in 2007. The report acknowledged the efforts being made in the area of prevention, noting that some 96% of South African schools were providing life skills based HIV education in the last academic year.

Kenyan Bank to Introduce Money Transfer by Cellphone in South Sudan

The Kenyan Equity Bank, One of the world's first cellphone-to-cellphone cash-transfer systems, intends to expand its activities to southern Sudan by the end of the year. The system, called M-PESA, allows customers to transfer cash via their mobile phone, through an agent or store which supplies the cash. To send cash, a customer has to buy E-money which is then loaded on to his account and then he can send to a recipient who receives a text message with a code telling him to go and collect money from an agent within his proximity. Equity bank chief executive, James Mwangi, on Tuesday confirmed that the bank had already obtained approvals from the two industry regulators - the Central Bank of Kenya and the Central Bank of Southern Sudan. The money transfer is a crucial issue in the southern Sudan. The Nile Commercial Bank, a southern Sudan government commercial bank, and some Somali transfer companies are the sole current agencies in the region.

South African Judge is Appointed UN Human Rights Chief

South African judge Navanethem Pillay has been appointed as the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Instituted in 1993, the High Commissioner for Human Rights is the highest UN office dealing with human rights. Pillay succeeds Canadian Louise Arbour, who completed her five-year term on 30 June. An activist attorney under apartheid, Pillay has served as a judge on the International Criminal Court based in The Hague in the Netherlands since 2003. Prior to that, she served as both judge and president on the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which she joined in 1995. Pillay's nomination, Ban said in a statement last month, was made at the end of a "clear and rigorous" selection process which included consultations with UN member states, international non-governmental organisations and human rights organisations. In 1967, Pillay became the first woman in what was then Natal province to open a law practice. As senior partner in the firm, she represented many opponents of apartheid, and handled precedent-setting cases establishing the effects of solitary confinement, the right of political prisoners to due process, and the family violence syndrome as a defence. In 1973, Pillay made a successful application against commanding officer of the prison on Robben Island, establishing that political prisoners held on the island had rights and privileges. In 2003, Pillay was awarded the Human Rights Prize of the US-based Peter Gruber Foundation for her "courageous leadership in advancing women's human rights" while working on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Africa faces ‘dramatic' Physician shortage by 2015, says UN

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Africa faces a "dramatic" shortage of physicians by the year 2015, according to a new study. It is projected that there will be nearly 13 million doctors by then, a figure that will meet demand and will exceed the target of achieving the benchmark of having 80 per cent of all live births covered by a skilled attendant. But given the imbalances in physician distribution, Africa will face a scarcity of care, WHO said, with 255,000 doctors in 2015, which is 167,000 fewer than needed to meet the birth coverage goal. The study notes that in 2004, Africa carried nearly one quarter of the world's disease burden with only 2 per cent of global physician supply and less than 1 per cent of health expenditures worldwide. Similarly, South-East Asia bore 29 per cent of the global disease burden, with 11 per cent of the world's supply of doctors and 1 per cent of health expenditures. Meanwhile, the Americas region, with 10 per cent of the world's disease burden, accounted for half of the world's health expenditures and one fifth of all physicians. Hefty increases in health-care investment and robust policies are essential to boost the number of doctors in Africa, WHO said. "Given the disproportionate burden of disease in this region, policies for increasing the supply of physicians are urgently needed to stem projected shortages," according to the study.

Judges from Africa Sought for Children's Essay Competition

Men and women of African descent are wanted from across the African Diaspora to Judge essays written by children aged 8 to 16 years for "The Annual Essay Contest for Children of African Descent". Essays will be submitted in both English and French. Schools in English- and French-speaking Africa and the Diaspora are invited to indicate their interest in participating in this contest. http://www.lornajones.net

European Union to Help African Countries Expand Electricity Networks

The EU is to help African countries expand their electricity networks and promote energy interconnections between Africa and the EU, such as a Trans-Saharan gas pipeline. The EU aid will amount to €1 billion for a period of two years. It is the first concrete step to implementing the Africa-EU partnership, which was agreed in December 2007, according to a commission statement, which stressed "the urgent need to promote Africa electrification." The EU is to offer technical assistance worth €10 million to African utility regulators and a further priority of the Africa-EU energy partnership is to be the development of oil and gas pipelines between African countries, but also between Africa and the EU, such as the €9 billion Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline, planned to transport up to 30 billion cubic metres of gas per year to Europe via Nigeria, Niger and Algeria by 2015. The EU and AU commissioners also agreed to increase transparency, elaborate a road map for the launch and implementation of a renewable energy co-operation programme and support for Africa's participation in the Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership of oil and gas producing countries. The International Energy Agency has warned that Africa needs to spend an estimated €400 billion by 2030 to generate an additional 260,000 MW of power.

Congo Prepares to Sell off Mining Assets

The government of Democratic Republic of Congo has announced its plan to privatise some of its most valuable mining assets, as well as take a larger share of any future discoveries made in the mineral-rich country. According to Victor Kasongo, Congo's deputy minister of mines, "a major future initiative" for the government was the transformation of state-owned mining companies into commercial entities. He said new management would be drafted in to turn round ailing businesses and then they could be floated through an initial public offering or stakes could be sold to private mining groups.

South Africa Invests More than R16 billion on Research and Development

South Africa has spent at least R16.5 billion on research and experimental development (R&D) in the 2006/07 financial year; an indication that the country is progressing towards a knowledge-based economy. This is according to the latest national survey of R&D activities, released by the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). The purpose of the survey was to collect data which was used to produce indicators of R&D activities within South Africa's borders for use by analysts and other interested parties, both nationally and internationally. The survey showed that South Africa is gradually increasing spending on research and development, an excellent indication of the country's ability to participate in a knowledge-based economy. The results of the 2006/07 survey represent an improvement on the situation experience in 2005/06, where R&D expenditure of R14.1 billion, or 0.92 percent of GDP was recorded. Most South African R&D were performed in the research field of the engineering sciences (comprising 20.9 percent of total R&D), followed by the natural sciences (20.3 percent) and the medical and health sciences (15.1 percent).The higher education sector undertakes 20 percent of national R&D while government (including the science councils) performs 22.8 percent of the total but finances 33.9 percent of R&D. South Africa has a total of 30 986 full time equivalent (FTE) R&D personnel, comprising researchers, technicians and other support staff.

UN provides $22 million boost for poor Ghanaian farmers

The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced a $22 million loan to Ghana to boost the livelihoods of over 100,000 households in the West African nation. The funds from IFAD are part of a larger $103 million initiative targeted at achieving sustainable livelihoods for poor people in rural areas, especially small farmers, women and vulnerable groups in northern Ghana.

The Northern Rural Growth Programme seeks to enhance the incomes of rural residents. Some 45,000 households will be directly supported, and it is hoped that more than double that amount will benefit from improved infrastructure. The scheme aims to improve access to financial services and increase investment to protect against post-harvest losses. Additionally, irrigation systems will be enhanced. It is a direct response to the three poverty divides in Ghana: rural-urban, north-south and gender.

'Africans to gain' from Web Plan

Google is helping develop a system to bring high-speed internet connections to three billion people developing countries in Africa and elsewhere. The 03b Networks system aims to use satellites to provide broadband services at the same speeds as those on offer in rich countries. The service, which is due to begin in 2010, is also backed by cable operator Liberty Global and the bank HSBC. It aims to tap into booming mobile phone usage in the developing world. It will target markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The founders of 03b Networks recently helped pioneer the first commercial 3G mobile and fibre-to-the-home networks in Rwanda, the company said in a statement. Production of an initial 16 satellites has begun, and the project allows for additional satellites to increase capacity. The company said the system will enable the spread of locally generated content and e-learning, encouraging social and economic growth in the developing world. There are various other projects under way to bring faster and cheaper internet access to the African continent. Kenya has commissioned a fibre-optic cable from Fujaira in The United Arab Emirates along the sea floor of the Gulf of Oman, down the East African coast to the port town of Mombasa. Another undersea telecommunications cable, known as East African Submarine Cable System (Eassy), intends to connect 21 countries to each other and the rest of the world with high-quality internet.

Papers Sought for Journal of African Cinemas

The Journal of African Cinemas will explore the interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. It recognizes the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas. Identity and perception are interrogated in relation to their positions within diverse African film languages. The editors are seeking papers that expound on the identity or identities of Africa and its peoples represented in film.   http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals.php?issn=17549221

South Africa Rises in Ease of Business Rankings

South Africa has climbed from 35th to 32nd place in the World Bank and International Finance Corporation's Doing Business 2009, an annual survey of the time, cost and hassle involving in doing business in 181 countries around the world. The survey tracks indicators of the time and cost involved in meeting government requirements in business start-up, operation, trade, taxation, and closure. South Africa is also a strong performer when it comes to getting credit (2nd overall) and protecting investors (9th overall), but weak when it comes to ease of employing workers (102nd) and trading across borders (147th). According to the survey, Africa had a record year for regulatory reforms that make it easier to do business, with 28 African countries completing 58 reforms and four countries - Senegal, Burkina Faso, Botswana and Egypt - placed in the top 10 regulatory reformers. Mauritius was the continent's top performer for the year, moving up to 24 on the overall rankings, with South Africa the second most business-friendly African country at 32, followed by Botswana at 38.

Sasol Wax to Double Production

South African petrochemical company Sasol has approved R558-million for Sasol Wax to double production of hard wax at its facility in Sasolburg, south of Johannesburg. The funds will go toward completing basic engineering for the operation, as well as for ordering long-lead items for the first phase of the two-phase expansion project. According to the company, Sasol Wax is the world's leading producer and marketer of synthetic and petroleum-derived waxes, with production facilities in South Africa, North America, and Europe. The synthetic waxes, which are manufactured via Sasol's advanced proprietary technology in South Africa, are used in a wide variety of specialised applications, including hot-melt adhesives, polymers, inks and high performance bitumen modifiers. Construction of the first phase is expected to be completed in 2011, with the second phase expected to be in full operation in 2013.

Sonangol to Build Fuel Stations along Angola/Namibia Border

The Angolan State-owned oil company, SONANGOL, plans to build two fuel stations along the border between Angola and Namibia in 2009. The project will include the construction of a fuel station to fill vehicles at Xangongo locality and the creation of a distributor of butane gas. The construction of new fuel sites in Luanda, a mini-station at 11 de Novembro Airport, and a storage location for fuel tanks are currently in their final stages.

2008 Woman of Substance Winner Announced

The African Woman Chartered Accountants (AWCA) forum, which aims to provide support for the development and advancement of black women Chartered Accountants (CAs), has named Sindi Zilwa as their 2008 Woman of Substance. Woman of Substance is an annual event which celebrates and honours a woman, who in the view of the AWCA board, has gone beyond the call of duty to support and empower black women in the accounting profession and business in general. What distinguishes all the recipients of the award is that they have all given back to their community and displayed a highly developed sense of civic duty which has touched the hearts and lives of many people. Sindi Zilwa was the second black woman CA after qualifying in 1990 and has always committed to breaking down barriers as well as being fearless in her pioneering spirit. In 1998 she was named South Africa's Business Women of the Year by the Executive Women's Club.

Eskom secures R2.8bn Medupi Loan

Eskom has secured a R2.8 billion export credit financing loan from Germany's KfW-IPEX to fund part of its capital expenditure activities. The South African state utility said in a statement that the loan would be used to partially finance the six boilers that the Hitachi Power consortium will supply for the construction of the new Medupi coal-fired power station, being built near Lephalale in Limpopo. The first of Medupi's six generating units will be commissioned by early 2011, with the last unit scheduled for commissioning by January 2015. The first of Kusile's six generating units is scheduled for completion by 2013, followed by the completion on an additional unit after every eight months. Eskom has also called for statements of qualification from local and international companies interested in investing in South Africa as independent power producers.

Africa investor launches SRI Index with NEPAD and the UN

Africa investor (Ai), a leading international investment research and communications group, has announced the launch of its Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Index Series (the Africa investor SRI 50 & Africa investor SRI 30) at the United Nations in New York, as a concrete step to engage investors and business in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. Between 2005 and 2007, global SRI assets increased by 18% while the broader universe of professionally managed assets increased by less than 3%. Research estimates that SRI Assets Under Management (AUM) will reach US $3 trillion by 2011. However, until now no pan-African SRI platform has existed for investors seeking exposure to SRI opportunities in Africa. Africa investor was commissioned by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the United Nations to establish the first internationally recognised pan African SRI benchmark to attract global SRI investment flows to the Africa. The Africa investor SRI Index Series is aligned with the MDGs and internationally recognised ESG principles, which form part of the selection criteria to assess companies working toward the achievement of the Goals. The SRI Index Series consists of the Ai SRI 50, a benchmark index to give development finance institutions, researchers, analysts and shareholders an overview of SRI across a broad spectrum of businesses and markets in Africa; and the Ai SRI 30, an investable index targeting institutional and retail SRI investors.

Work starts on NEPAD Submarine Cable Network

Construction has begun on NEPAD's UHURUNET undersea cable network which is due to be completed in time to provide international communications for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that will take place in South Africa in 2010. The fibre optic submarine segment of the network will initially run from Durban, South Africa, to Port Sudan in Sudan. Construction of the cable means that African governments must start formulating policies that favour the development of ICT and communication networks in the region, said Radakrishan Roy Padayache, Ugandan Deputy Minister for Communication. With a capacity of 3.84 terabits/sec, the cable will connect Africa directly to the Indian subcontinent, Middle East, Europe, and Brazil. It also provides for landing points to every coastal and inland country in Africa. The completion of the cable network is expected to greatly contribute to reduction of telecommunications costs that have been a hindrance to doing business in Africa. The submarine segment of the NEPAD network has been named UHURUNET; its terrestrial segment, UMOJANET; and the holding company of the submarine cable BAHARICOM. These words are Swahili, an indigenous African language of the African Union. The NEPAD Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), established under the Kigali protocol to construct, own, maintain and operate the NEPAD ICT broadband infrastructure network, including the undersea cable, will own 30 percent (the single largest investor in the company), the African investors and African ICT companies 45 percent and the international philanthropic and other investors 25 percent. The e-Africa Commission is NEPAD's task team for the development and implementation of the NEPAD ICT programme. Together with the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund it will coordinate and promote the African participation in the submarine cable project.

Johannesburg Stock Exchange is World's 10th Largest Derivatives Exchange

The Futures Industry Association (FIA) has ranked South Africa's JSE the 10th largest derivatives exchange in the world by number of contracts traded. This ranking, published in a recent survey by Futures Industry - the official international publication of the FIA - reveals that the JSE traded over 216-million contracts during the first six months of 2008, a 61% growth over the corresponding period in 2007. The rapid growth of single stock futures and currency futures, as well as options, have all contributed to the overall success of the JSE derivatives market. In August, the JSE unveiled a new equity derivatives trading system specifically designed for the South African market, enabling new functionality and greater flexibility for local brokers, fund managers, market makers and other institutional investors. In July, the JSE listed and began trading on the first ever variance future on the exchange, which, with increasing demand, could be the forerunner to an entirely new asset class at the exchange. The JSE has also launched the Shariah Top 40 Index in partnership with the FTSE Group, allowing interested investors - including South Africa's 850,000 Muslims - to invest in Shariah-compliant companies. In July 2007, the JSE overtook the National Stock Exchange of India as the largest operator of single stock futures (SSF) market in the world in terms of volumes of contracts traded.

Makerere University Plans Sustainability Leadership Strategy

The Vice Chancellor, Makerere University/Forum Chair Professor Livingstone S Luboobi has revealed plans to help transform the University into a new thinking and direction through sustainability leadership development strategy aimed at taking Africa into an Ecological Age. Professor Luboobi has opened up an opportunity for investment partnership with the private Sector and other development partners in Makerere Africa Institute of Sustainability (MAIoS), project; a new vehicle for taking Africa into an Ecological Age. A MAIoS programme is tailored for early and mid career professionals from any professional background and nation. The Institute's languages of instruction and learning will be African languages, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, and Kiswahili. Preference shall be given to sustainability focused programmes in environment, natural science, engineering, business management, policy studies, social sciences, agriculture, public health, and economics among others; Training cycles may range from one week training to a three-year maturity leading to award of certificates, diplomas, Masters and PhDs; Off campus training through workshops, seminars, conferences and in-company boardroom lectures will be encouraged; Faculty Exchange Programme (FEP) within and outside the partnership to promote information sharing, knowledge transfer and experience sharing will be at the fore front of MAIoS; North-to-South and South-to-South student educational exchange and sustainability will be part of the programme. For full information , please contact Professor Livingstone S. Luboobi, Vice Chancellor, Makerere University Email:  vc@admin.mak.ac.ug

Cape Town Is One of World's Sustainable Cities

Cape Town is one of 10 cities that are most likely to become a global sustainability centre by 2020, according to a list of the '20 cities of 2020' by the Ethisphere Institute, a New York business ethics and social responsibility think-tank. The 2020 Global Sustainability Centres comprises of ten large cities (600,000+ citizens) and ten mid-sized cities (60,000-600,000 citizens) lauded for long-term city planning and building strong, principled foundations. Cape Town joined Toronto, Hyderabad, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, New York, London, Frankfurt, Curtiba and Melbourne on the list of large cities. Cities were considered for their environmental and sustainability practices; health and recreation; education, arts and culture; economic and business environment; regulatory framework; law enforcement and transparency; media and speech; transportation and housing; and innovation and investment. Cape Town was acknowledged for developing a sustainable development programme in 2004 to help deal with growing energy needs of the city. The programme aims to have 10 percent of homes using solar power and 10 percent of the city's energy consumption coming from renewable sources by 2020.

China's Investments in Nigeria Hit $3 Billion

China's current investment in Nigeria stands at $3 billion while bilateral trade as at the end of 2007 amounted to $4.3 billion, making Nigeria the third largest trading partner of China in Africa.

Sonangol Publishes Fall Edition of Universo Magazine

Sonangol has recently published the fall edition of Universo magazine. Universo is distributed to an international audience of approximately 15,000 readers interested in Angolan oil, business, politics and culture. To receive a free copy of Universo Magazine, please send an electronic request to:  circulation@universo-magazine.com

South African Government Launches BEE Information Portal

The South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has launched a new website offering a wealth of resources, including legal information and useful tools, related to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) in South Africa. The new portal highlights what is expected by the BEE codes of good practice and will help the government monitor and report on the implementation of BEE across the economy. According to the government, the portal will promote business opportunities, manage the flow of information to the department, and provide a channel through which members of the public can report on BEE "fronting". Visitors to the portal will be able to use an interactive self-assessment tool, likened to a BEE calculator, which will help companies gauge their empowerment credentials. It is also hoped that the portal will simplify compliance and minimise costs associated with broad-based black economic empowerment, standardise the reporting process by stakeholders, and encourage broader participation.  bee.thedti.gov.za

Banco Sol Angola Grants US$ 45 Million in Credit

As part of a government program to offer consumer and micro credit, Banco Sol has granted USD 45 million in credit to farmers and teachers in Angola. The project has benefited 25,200 teachers, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in rural Angola, and 40,000 farmers organized in cooperatives. Under the program, Banco Sol is responsible for the provinces of Luanda, Bié, Malanje, Zaire, Bengo Huambo, Benguela, and Huíla.

Senegal is First to benefit from UN project to reduce Africa's Brain Drain

Scientists at a Senegalese university are the first to benefit from a United Nations-backed project aimed at providing colleges in five African countries with the technology and tools needed to prevent the migration of graduates and reduce the continent's “brain drain.” The installation of the first computing grid at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar is part of a joint initiative by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Hewlett-Packard and the Grid Computing Institute of France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Grid computing is a hardware and software infrastructure that clusters and integrates high-end computer networks, databases and scientific instruments from multiple sources to form a virtual environment in which users can work collaboratively. Connected over the Internet, these sets of servers or computers make it possible to process and store data and to multiply computing power and speed. The University's grid node, set up by the Grid Computing Institute of the CNRS, is the first sub-Saharan African component of the grid infrastructure created in 2004 by the European Union. According to UNESCO, launching this first link represents an important step in bridging the digital divide between North and South. It will facilitate international scientific cooperation for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole and for Senegal in particular. The joint project “Reversing Brain Drain into Brain Gain for Africa” follows the successful implementation of a similar UNESCO/Hewlett-Packard initiative for Southeast Europe, launched in 2003.

Angola Sees 62% Increase in Tourism in 2007

According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Angola had 194,730 tourists visit the country in 2007, representing a 62% rise over the 2006 figure of 121,462. Tourists to Angola come from Europe (89,351 tourists), United States of America (38,113 tourists), Other African Nations (33,419 tourists), Asia (31,297 tourists) , Middle East (1,278 tourists), Australia (1,272 tourists).

Applications Open for 2009 Stars Impact Awards

Stars Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of the 2009 STARS Impact Awards recognising organisations working in children's health, education and protection. Established as an annual award, the STARS Impact Awards support organisations committed to achieving excellence in the provision of services to disadvantaged children and encourage the replication of effective approaches and practices. Each Award provides US$100,000 of unrestricted funding as well as consultancy support tailored to meet the needs of the recipients. In addition, a smaller Award may be made at the discretion of the STARS Board of Trustees to recognise the work of an organisation whose application demonstrates potential as a ‘rising star'. The closing date for applications is 28 November 2008.   http://starsfoundation.org.uk/

BPI Sells 49.9% of Banco Fomento Angola to Unitel

Portuguese bank BPI recently sold 49.9% of the Angolan bank, Banco Fomento Angola (BFA) to Unitel, an Angolan telecommunications operator, for approximately USD 485 million. BFA is the biggest private bank in Angola and has a market share of over 20 percent, and has 100 branches with deposits of USD 3.8 billion.

African Humanities Fellowship Competitions Programme Open

Through a program of fellowship competitions, regional workshops, and peer networking, the African Humanities Program provides support to the humanities in five African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The program is supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The centerpiece of the program is the distribution of fellowships to African scholars in these countries for work on dissertations, research projects, and scholarly manuscripts. The African Humanities Program will award approximately 40 such fellowships in its 2008-2009 competition. In future years, funding will be available to subsidize the publication of manuscripts completed with fellowships of the African Humanities Program. In coordination with African scholars, ACLS hosts a series of annual meetings in the five African countries participating in the program. These meetings provide opportunities for senior African scholars from a variety of disciplines to collaborate with ACLS representatives in the local design of programs, while giving younger scholars a means to learn about the application process and gain feedback on their project proposals. Through the activities of the African Humanities Program, ACLS promotes local and transnational cooperation among humanities scholars at all stages of their careers, working towards the development of a self-sustaining network of African humanities scholars.  http://www.acls.org/grants/Default.aspx?id=3210

Africa investor and Standard Bank launch Chinese investment magazine in Beijing

Africa investor, a leading international investment communications group and Standard Bank, today launched a dedicated bi-monthly Chinese language pan African investment magazine. The new magazine, published by Africa investor, provides investment news, comment and analysis and is distributed exclusively to several thousand Chinese business and government leaders. The magazine allows Africa investor to facilitate investment partnerships between African and Chinese businesses, particularly in the delivery of infrastructure projects and the lucrative emerging capital market opportunities as the global financial markets slow down. Ai in Mandarin will reach a dynamic new Chinese readership while delivering a unique platform and increased value to the African business and government advertising community seeking Chinese partners.

2,000 Hotel Rooms in Luanda for African Nations Championship

To prepare for the increase in tourism, brought on by the African Nations Championship being held in Angola, approximately 2,000 hotel rooms are being built in Luanda, and an additional 800 rooms and a new hotel are being built in Benguela. The opening of new hotels and tourist facilities will create a variety of lodging and restaurant options for tourists, and will boost the contribution of tourism to the General State Budget.

Zambian Government Strikes Trade Deal with European Commission

Zambia has struck a trade deal with the European Commission (EC) that wall give the southern African nation full access to markets in the European Union (EU). The announcement was made by EU Trade Commission. The 27 member EU has deals with poor countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) to replace the former Cotonou trade arrangements deemed illegal by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

2009 East African Young Women's Leadership Programme

Do you want to experience a nine-month –long internship programme (April to November 2009) at a regional women's rights organization based in Kampala, Uganda? Do you want to interact with young women from four countries in the region? Do you want to experience a multicultural networking, educational, empowerment and capacity building? Do you want to be part of the women's movement in Eastern Africa? Then why don't you apply to be one of the fortunate 4 young women to be selected for mentoring and coaching by the Eastern African sub Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women? You must be a female from Burundi Ethiopia, Rwanda or Uganda between the ages of 20 and 35. The Eastern African Sub-regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) was formed in 1996 as a mechanism that would facilitate networking within the Eastern African sub Region (Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somali, Tanzania and Uganda) to build on the gains made following the Beijing 4th World Conference on Women. EASSI prioritizes on the 12 critical areas of concern for women identified in the Beijing and the African Platforms for Action. The founding principle of EASSI was to stimulate activism at national, regional and international levels and to make concrete and meaningful change for women of the sub-region. The young women's internship programme provides opportunities for learning, interacting and networking. Its objective is to develop and enhance young women's skills in leadership, gender, lobbying and advocacy, management, report writing and analysis, research and documentation, information management, developing resourceful data bases, website maintenance and resource centre management. In 2008 the young women in this programme came from Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania. The deadline for submission is Friday 13th February 2009 at 1200pm GMT. Website: www.eassi.org

Poverty in South Africa 'is declining'

A new report released by the South African Presidency has found that there has been a reduction in both absolute income poverty, which is the income of poor people, and in relative income poverty, which is the gap between the average income of poor people and the poverty line. The report, entitled "Towards a Fifteen Year Review Synthesis Report", reviews the government's successes as well as shortcomings and challenges over the last 15 years, and investigates the impact of government programmes in improving the lives of South Africans. Various studies have confirmed that social grant support were well targeted and contributed considerably to poverty reduction. Of social grants, the report indicated that 62% of the total went to the poorest 40% of households, and 82% to the poorest 60%. While many poor South Africans were lifting themselves from abject poverty, the rich in South Africa were getting richer, most likely due to access to economic opportunities.

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.

Ghana: Non-Traditional Exports Are Booming

Impressive growth in exports from Ghana to the rest of the world has been witnessed over the past few years as more and more Ghanaians explore production in non-traditional sectors. Nowadays it is not only this West African country's cocoa and minerals exports that are enjoying a boom. Handicrafts and agricultural produce such as pineapples and mangoes have picked up over the past five years. Finance and economic ministry recently indicated that the export sector as a whole has performed well, showing steady growth and earning foreign exchange. Exports raised 3,858 million dollars in 2007, representing growth of approximately 40% over 2006. Central Bank has confirmed the growth of the non-traditional sector at a recent press conference. Non-traditional exports rose by 27.1% to 259 million dollars for the first quarter of 2008, compared with 204 million dollars for the corresponding period in 2007. This continues the growth in 2006: non-traditional exports grew from 207 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2006 to 325 million dollars in the same period in 2007.

Tunisia Ranks Highest for Africa in Global Competitiveness

The highest ranking African country is Tunisia on the Global Competitiveness Index for 2007/8, at 32 with its competitiveness ranking of 4.59. South Africa was ranked 44th out of 130 countries, ahead of Italy and India. Conducted by the World Economic Forum in partnership with leading academics and a global network of research institutes, the index calculates its rankings from publicly available data and the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey. For the 2007 report, more than 11 000 business leaders in 131 countries were interviewed. The study ranks the US as the world's most competitive economy. Other African countries included are Mauritius (60), Botswana (76), Namibia (89), Mozambique (128) and Zimbabwe (129). Chad was rated lowest, in 131st and last place. The index is based on 12 pillars of competitiveness: institutions; infrastructure; macroeconomic stability; health and primary education; higher education and training; goods market efficiency; labour market efficiency; financial market sophistication; technological readiness; market size; business sophistication; and innovation.

Brain Drain affects Poor Countries Worst

The world’s poorest countries are suffering from a punishing exodus of their most talented, experienced and educated citizens, a UN Conference on Trade and Development report claims. Around a million skilled people from officially-designated Least Developed Countries (LDCs) lived and worked in developed countries in 2004, a brain drain of some 15% of people with university-level educations. The UNCTAD paper said that in some of the LDCs, the brain drain is truly disastrous with five countries – Haiti, Cape Verde, Samoa, Gambia and Somalia – losing more than half their university-educated professionals. Without enough of these trained professionals, it is impossible for the firms and farms of LDCs to use technology to upgrade their products and efficiency, said the agency.

Free Mosquito Nets Save Lives, says WHO

Free distribution of mosquito nets in Kenya has reduced by nearly half the number of child deaths from malaria in high-risk areas. The World Health Organisation has issued new guidance that nets should be given away rather than sold in the developing world. In a groundbreaking project, Kenya’s Health Ministry has distributed 13.5 million insecticide-treated nets across the country since 2003, with the result that the number of children sleeping under a net went from 5% to 52%. Early results from the programme show that in four high-risk areas, childhood deaths from malaria have fallen by 44%. Three hospitals in the malarial-prone coastal areas reported a drop in admissions of 57% in 2006, compared with 1999.

World Environment Fund Invests US$4 Million for Rehabilitation of Natural Reserves

Between 2009 and 2010, the World Environment Fund will invest approximately USD 4 million in Angola, to finance projects related to the rehabilitation of national parks and natural reserves. The first phase of the project will include the rehabilitation of the National Park of Iona, in southern Cunene Province, and Cameia, in eastern Moxico Province, the preservation of endangered species based in the Maiombe forest, in northern Cabinda Province, studies to restore the National Park of Quissama, in northern Bengo Province, and Bicuar (Huíla) and the preservation of Black Antelope in Malanje Province.

Brazil’s Odebrecht Invests Over US$600 Million in Angola

Brazilian group, Odebrecht, currently has investments in Angola totaling over USD 600 million. The investments are related to projects currently underway, and many others are being prepared in Angola, particularly for the interior of the country. Odebrecht’s main business in Angola is construction and they are also interested in the food sector. Maize and sugar are part of the list of goods that the Brazilian company wants to invest in, and some of these projects are already moving forward in Malanje Province.

Volkswagen Wins R12 Billion Filter Export Contract

Volkswagen South Africa, along with catalytic converter and exhaust systems manufacturer Eberspächer SA, have been awarded a R12-billion contract to supply the Volkswagen Group with diesel particulate filters for the next five years. The deal is one of the biggest export contracts for a single part ever awarded to the company. A diesel particulate filter is a device designed to remove diesel particulate matter or soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine. The component forms part of the latest common rail engines manufactured by the Volkswagen Group. Volkswagen SA and Eberspächer SA, who will share the production volume, are to invest approximately R55-million in tooling and equipment to manufacture the parts. In addition, the investment in the national supplier base - 80% of whom are based within the Nelson Mandela Bay region (greater Port Elizabeth) - will be approximately R26-million. The new contract will secure more than 100 jobs in the region, with intensive training of operators and quality personnel to ensure that strict international standards on diesel particulate filters are met.

Angolan Cotton Investments Reach US$ 40 million

Efforts to re-launch cotton production in Angola will begin in 2009 with investments estimated at USD 40 million, of which USD 32 million will be financed through a line of credit from the Republic of Korea, with the remainder from the Angolan Government. The project will take place in the Kapango military center and in Kipela, Ngangula Commune, in Kwanza-Sul. Main infrastructural support and irrigation works will be completed by next March and by 2010, the cotton should be ready to produce its first bolls.

Angola Telecom Installs Fiber Optic Network in Luanda

Within the next few months, Angola Telecom will install over 70,000 telephone lines in the city of Luanda, as part of its new project to expand the fiber optics network. The new system will use state-of-the-art technology: 70% Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) and 30% Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL). The new network is a partnership between Angola Telecom, Nokia, and Siemens. Its services will include basic telecommunications, broadband, connections between service provider s, broadband internet, and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Coega Secures New Investor

The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has signed up its fifth investor, following a decision by parcel and freight company UTI Sun Couriers to lease a R20-million warehouse within the industrial development zone's automotive cluster area. The CDC has said the speculatively built 3 040 square-metre warehouse was leased to UTI at the beginning of June, only two months after its completion. According to the CDC, such speculative developments are ideal for potential investors who have tight time frames and who want to move into ready-built facilities - such as UTI Sun Couriers, which specialises in the movement of envelopes, parcels and freight throughout South Africa. The warehouses are being constructed in anticipation of high demand due to the number of signed investors and the opening of the Port of Ngqura in the first quarter of 2009.

IBM opens New Africa Innovation Centre

An Africa Innovation Centre has been opened to drive information technology skills development and address business challenges in the economic growth of Sub-Saharan Africa. The first of its kind on the continent, the new centre is part of IBM $120 million, two-year investment through to 2009 that includes new market expansion initiatives and houses Africa's first cloud computing centre. The centre will showcase business approaches and open technologies such as cloud computing, Web 2.0 technologies, service-oriented architecture and systems management. It will also demonstrate next generation banking systems offered at the Banking Centre of Excellence as part of the new innovation centre and environmentally-friendly computing designs. According to the company, the Africa Innovation Centre is a landmark investment for IBM and puts South Africa on the global radar of IBM's business strategy as they continue to be an active partner in the continent's economic transformation into a major global player. IBM is already working with almost 300 software companies in Sub-Saharan Africa and the centre will offer access to IBM's global network of 39 IBM Innovation Centres and 60 research and development labs.

International Conglomerate to invest US$500 Million for Cement Factory in Angola

A group of companies will invest US$ 500 million in the construction of a cement factory in Cuara district, coastal Kwanza Sul Province. The factory will be completed by 2011 and will have the capacity to produce 1.4 million tons per year. The factory named Kwanza Sul Cement Factory (FCKS) will occupy an area of 10 hectares. It has an exploration reserve estimated at 100 years. The factory will also generate over 4,000 jobs. The investors include: Sojitz, of Japan, Acúrias of France, Eta of United Arab Emirates, F1 Smidth of Denmark and Wartsila of Finland.

UBA Takes Over Nigerian Liberty Bank

The Nigerian Deposits Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has formally handed over Liberty Bank to United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), following the conclusion of the Purchase and Assumption (P&A) arrangement. NDIC disclosed that with this handing over, UBA has acquired additional N1.7 billion private sector deposit liabilities made up of about 19,604 accounts. The bank indicated that this transaction brings to six, the number of failed banks acquired by UBA, having earlier acquired Trade Bank Plc, Metropolitan Bank Plc, City Express Bank, African Express Bank and Gulf Bank With this, the depositors of Liberty Bank can be rest assured that they can now get their money from UBA. He noted that with the P&A arrangement which it recently introduced, the private deposits liabilities of 11 failed banks totaling N74.20 billion have been resolved, accounting for 88 per cent of the N84.5 billion deposits in 13 failed banks after the consolidation era. NDIC was appointed liquidator of 11 of the fourteen banks that whose licenses were revoked in January 2006. Sequel to the Federal High Court decision on Societe Generale Bank's lawsuit, the number of banks for resolution by NDIC reduced to 13.

Namibia reaches target of 30% Women in National Assembly

Namibia has become the fourth country in the region to achieve 30 percent female representation in political and decision-making positions. Three more women were appointed to parliament in Namibia in May, bringing to 24 the number of women out of a total 78 members in the National Assembly. This gives women 31% of the seats, up from the previous 27%. The women were appointed on party lines to replace three members of parliament who had died or resigned, two from the ruling SWAPO party and one from the opposition. Some political parties in countries use a system of proportional representation to select women candidates for every second or third place on their list to ensure equitable representation. Namibia has shown a consistent commitment to ensuring women’s equal participation in politics and decision-making as evidenced by the upward trend in the number of women in parliament. At the last general election in 2004, the number of women in Parliament increased from 20 percent to 27 percent. At the same time Namibia appointed a woman, Libertina Amathila as Deputy Prime Minister. Women were also appointed to the positions of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, as well as Minster of Finance. With the latest appointments, Namibia becomes the fourth SADC country to attain the target set out in the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development in 1997, joining Mozambique, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania in fulfilling this quota.

US Oil Company Invests US$3 Billion in Angolan Block 14

Chevron, a US Company, will invest USD 3 billion in the development of the Tômbua Landana Project in Angola’s offshore Block 14. This Angolan project is part of an overall investment of USD 20 billion planned for the next five years. The idea is to respond to higher world demand for oil and gas by stimulating production in Africa, especially in Angola and Nigeria. Tômbua Landana is expected to pump nearly 125,000 barrels per day (bpd) during its initial phase. The 5-year investment plan surpasses the company’s 2003-2008 plan by 30%.

Social Exclusion and the Gender Gap in Education

Why does an educational gender gap remain in some countries? This policy research paper for the World Bank Human Development Network Chief Economists Office reviews gender in education and tests the relevance of ethno-linguistic fractionalisation (ELF) in explaining cross-country differences in learning and school attainment. Evidence from cross-country studies, household surveys, and anthropological observation shows that educating women provides multiple pay-offs for households and societies. Despite a sharp increase in the share of girls who enrol in, attend, and complete various levels of schooling, a gender education gap remains in some countries. These gaps are especially severe in countries where historically women have been marginalised, and where they are ‘doubly disadvantaged’ through also being socially excluded. Economic and psychosocial obstacles to schooling exist where girls are impoverished, from ethnic minorities, lower castes or remote communities. ELF captures the degree of racial and linguistic difference within 190 countries, and was developed originally to explain the drivers of economic growth. It is highly correlated with other measures of social exclusion. The study applies ELF to the analysis of gender education gaps for the first time.

http://econ.worldbank.org/external/default/main? pagePK=64165259 &theSitePK=469382&piPK=64165421&menuPK=64166093

Mauritius Launches a Budget in Support of Women

The recently approved national budget on the Indian Ocean island state Mauritius is seen as unique in an African context. It puts women and gender issues right at its centre of focus. The budget outlines a comprehensive programme that, among other things, offers training and re-skilling activities geared to women, which take into account the needs of mothers for flexible working conditions and childcare facilities. The Mauritian programme for mothers is just one of the budget plans designed to not only support families in the short term, but also more importantly give women skills and opportunities that will help them help themselves. To assist women with accessing finance to start or grow businesses, a Manufacturing Adjustment and Small Medium Enterprise Development Fund to provide loans of up to rupees 100,000 (about US$ 3,600) without any collateral. Budgets have been earmarked to reduce the unemployment of women, eradication of poverty, and assistance to victims and survivors of gender violence. This step forward in Mauritius continues the nation's progressive moves to taking a gendered approach to their national economic plans, looking at the impact that national resources can have to better the lives of both men and women in the country. Source: afrol News

Chinese Equity Fund to invest $300 Million in Africa

A Chinese private equity fund set up a year ago for ventures in Africa plans to spend about $300 million on projects in 2008iday. The China-Africa Development Fund (CADFund) was launched in June 2007 with an initial $1 billion provided by the China Development Bank and plans to eventually grow to $5 billion, according to the Fund's vice-president Hu Zhirong. It has invested $60 million in the first glass factory in Ethiopia, a power station in Ghana and a chrome plant in Zimbabwe. It is also working with several Chinese firms to form a holding company that will manufacture construction materials in all African countries. Bilateral trade between China and Africa has soared this decade to $73.8 billion in 2007 from $10.8 billion in 2000, while foreign direct investments grew from $500 million to $13.7 billion during the same period, he said. Hu said China was intervening in Africa through government aid and concessionary loans, but that direct investment was the best way to aid the continent in creating wealth. Although the idea to set up the fund was mooted at a China-Africa cooperation summit in Beijing at the end of 2006, the fund finances private sector projects, he said. CADFund's priorities are in agriculture and manufacturing industries, infrastructure development, natural resources and industrial parks. Exponential growth in China and India have supplied a model for successful growth to Africa's developing nations. Economic expansion on the continent was an average 5.8 percent in 2007, according to the United Nations. Source: Reuters

Donors increase Financial Support for NEPAD Infrastructure Facility

Donors at the 8th NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility oversight committee meeting in Libreville, Gabon, in June 2008 have pledged to contribute more than US$10 million to the facility to support its capacity building activities for the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). During the two-day meeting, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) announced it was contributing US$5 million for the operationalisation of the African Union Commission’s coordination mechanism, while Germany is considering contributing more than 2 million euros pledged last year. Their endeavour surpasses clear commitments made during a meeting in Tunis in December 2007 where Norway vouched for US$8m; DFID US$12.4m, and Germany US$2.9 million. It came on the heels of key achievements scored by the African Development Bank (AfDB), host of the facility since 2004. According to NEPAD-IPPF’s task manager, Mike Salawou, disbursement has increased this year and 22 regional infrastructure projects have been approved for a total commitment of US$13.7 million. The facility is increasing its staff, scaling up investment in infrastructure, as demonstrated by the recent record level increase in the ADF XI, and using a database to manage projects. Capping its recent achievements is AfDB's contribution of 6.3 million UA to the special fund.

South Africa Making Gains on Unemployment

South Africa appears to be turning the corner on unemployment, says Minister of Trade and Industry Mandisi Mpahlwa, pointing to statistics showing a fall in unemployment as well as a steady rise in people's average incomes. With “truly significant” growth experienced over the past decade, and more recently 5.4 percent growth on gross domestic product in 2006, followed by 5.1 percent growth last year, fixed investment in the economy has risen as well, from 15 percent in 2004 to 21 percent in 2007, he said. Real income per capita – that is, the average income per person – has risen at around four percent per person annually since 2004. Around the same time, the official rate of unemployment fell from a high of 31.2 percent in March 2003 to 23 per cent in September 2007.

Angolan Diamonds Export 30% to Dubai

Data released at Angola’s International Mining Fair (FIMA) revealed that over 30% of Angola’s diamonds are exported in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, which is followed by Israel and Belgium with 20%. Hong Kong and New York only account for a small percentage of the sales.

African Development Bank’s NEPAD Department Appoints New Director

Philibert Afrika has been appointed Director of the NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade department (ONRI) in the African Development Bank. In a statement on his appointment he said, “The AfDB has positioned itself to play an expanded role in regional integration and to support the NEPAD process”. The department, created in 2006 to fulfill the mandate that the Heads of State and Government gave the Bank, provides technical assistance to Regional Economic Communities and the African Union in programme design, implementation and in capacity building initiatives. It initiates the preparation of policies and strategies on infrastructure development for AfDB intervention, advises member countries and institutions on technical aspects of projects, conducts sectoral studies in connection with lending programmes, and helps implement regional infrastructure projects financed by the Bank. Mr. Afrika has 28 years' experience in various functions in the Bank. Previously he was Director for Operations, Policy and Compliance under which he provided guidance and oversight for the preparation of sectoral and operational policies.

Ghana-NEPAD Silver Medal for the Private Sector Awarded to Engen

The Ghana-NEPAD award for country contribution – a silver medal for fostering intra-African trade – was presented recently by the Vice-President of Ghana, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, to the Managing Director of Engen-Ghana, John Mensah-Bunsu. He commended the company “for its contribution to the Ghana economy in the context of NEPAD”. The presentation of the award, which is conferred annually under the auspices of NEPAD and the Ghana Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation, was made in Accra at the third Ghana-Africa business awards ceremony. The role that trans-national corporations like Engen have played in contributing to Africa’s development has demonstrated that they have heeded the call for more and active participation of the private sector in the implementation of NEPAD projects, including the African development agenda. Engen has interests in the Southern, West, and East African regions, operating in more than 15 countries. Source: Allafrica

Angolan Government Invests in Housing

The Angolan Government will invest USD 2.6 billion, 10% of the 2008 General State Budget, for housing and community services. The investment is part of the Biennial Public Investment Program, which provides the funding for housing with infrastructures including electricity, drinking water, and basic sanitation. In the coming months, two real estate investment funds are expected to enter operation, beginning a new stage in Angola’s economy. The funds are directed at private or institutional investors who wish to diversify into low-risk products with greater return than traditional deposits. The first fund, FII, will be launched by Real Fund Management in Luanda. The fund will have capital of USD 30 million and will finance the construction of 77 residences in the area of Luanda-Sul, over an 18 month period. The other fund, BESA Património, will be provided through Banco Espírito Santo Angola. Once launched, it will be managed by Sociedade Gestora de Fundos de Investimentos (BESAACTIF). The fund is sustained by 62% capital from BESA and 35% from ESAF - Espírito Santo Participações Internacionais, SGPS. The remaining 3% will be provided by individual entities. In Angola, the make-up and operation of funds are regulated by the Capital Market Commission (CMC), an agency linked to the Ministry of Finance. The CMC lays out norms and regulations that will guarantee good performance for companies and protection for investors. Management activities are regulated by the CMC, with the goal of attracting investment funds and applying them to the chosen real estate projects.

Niger signs Power Deal with China

The government in Niger has signed an agreement for China to help improve the country's power supplies. China will transfer several electrical power units to Niger under the agreement, officials said. The deal comes as Niger's cities have been experiencing power outages, partly due to problems in supply from Nigeria. Chinese companies have recently become more active in Niger, exploring for uranium and oil in the north and east of the country. Government officials said the power units were being dismantled in China prior to their transfer, the BBC's Idy Baraou reports from Niger. Each unit is expected to provide 15-20 megawatts (MW) of power. Meanwhile, Niger's government says it is investing about $4m for short-term improvements to the country's power grid. Demand for power in Niger, a major producer of uranium, has been increasing. Source: BBC

Call for Applications: UPEACE-IDRC Doctoral Research Award

The UPEACE Africa Programme has secured funding from The Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC). This funding will be strictly allocated to African students studying at African institutions and in particular for those, who are in the final stage of their PhD studies. The award is intended to support PhD candidates in their field research, data analysis, associated travel and production costs. In addition, part of the award may be used to access updated scholarly materials and disseminate research findings through publications and conference presentations. The maximum award is US $10,000 per eligible student. Applicants must hold citizenship of an African country and must be enrolled in a PhD Programme in an African academic institution. Complete applications must be received at the Office of the Africa Programme by 12 September 2008.

Kofi Annan Honoured by University of South Africa

The University of South Africa (UNISA) will confer an honorary doctorate on former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, the university announced. Kofi Annan will receive a Doctorate of Literature and Philosophy from Unisa's College of Human Sciences in a special ceremony to be held at the university's Pretoria Campus where he will address media and invited guests. The doctorate will be conferred in honour of Annan's achievements and contributions to development and peace in Africa. Since his retirement Annan has continued to play an important role in African and global socio-political matters. He is currently the chairperson of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a member of The Elders and the head of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities. It was in this capacity that he participated in the negotiations to end civil unrest in Kenya earlier this year. Annan has received numerous awards and honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 and over 20 honorary degrees and national awards from various countries.

JM Eagle and Columbia University's Earth Institute Start Water Infrastructure Project in Senegal

JM Eagle, the world's largest plastic pipe manufacturer has launched a major initiative with Columbia University's Earth Institute to provide safer water to more than 11,000 of the poorest people in Senegal. JM Eagle has donated and delivered over $800,000 worth of high-strength polyvinyl chloride (PVC) water pipe which is being installed in several Millennium Villages-projects designed to end extreme poverty in rural communities throughout Africa. The company also plans to expand its current work with the Earth Institute into many more Millennium Village projects over the next five years to bring both potable and non-potable water to some of the poorest people in the country. The initiative is focused on extending a severely inadequate water distribution system that reaches only one-third of the individual communities in the Potou area in northwestern Senegal. Upon completion this fall, the new water supply network will consist of more than 68 miles or 110 kilometers of PVC pipe that connects to 53 villages. Driven by pressure and gravity, the new pipelines will increase drinking water coverage to nearly 80 percent of the region and be the basis for a sustainable infrastructure that drives future health and prosperity.

Renault-Nissan to invest R1Billion in South Africa

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is to invest R1 billion to upgrade Nissan's manufacturing plant in Rosslyn, outside Pretoria. This will help increase output and produce the Nissan NP200 pickup and the Renault Sandero for the South African market, according to Southafrica.info. Nissan says the upgrade will enable the company to produce right-hand drive versions of the two models, as well as to develop the local components and accessories supply chain. The plant upgrade will create an additional 300 jobs, while also increasing output from the current rate of 40 000 units per year to 68 000 units per year by 2009, with the new range of vehicles initially being sold only on the local market - though exports are a future possibility. The Renault Sandero will contribute significantly to Renault's growth in South Africa, and the company is to expand the product line-up offered to local customers with vehicles ranging from entry-level to upper range.

Citi and Ashoka’s Changemakers Launch Changemakers Competition

Citi and Ashoka have launched the Changemakers Competition “Banking on Social Change: Seeking Financial Solutions for All,” a worldwide search for financial-service projects that use the transformative power of innovation and skills to achieve real economic and social change. The competition is designed to reach the world’s entrepreneurs and challenge them to use their substantial talents and commitment to providing financial services for all. The objective is to channel the collective energy of entrepreneurial ideas and skills as a means for creating economic and social change worldwide. Nominations are encouraged from the global community by September 26th, 2008. Innovators must submit their entries by October 1, 2008. All entrants will be provided with exposure to new ideas, the opportunity to promote their solutions, and a wide range of access to collaborative partners and investors. A panel of judges, comprised of leaders from media, finance, social enterprise, corporate and academic sectors will select the 12 finalists. These top innovations will then be profiled on the Changemakers’ website where the online community will vote to select the three winners. Ashoka is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs—men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since 1981, it has elected over 2,000 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in more than 60 countries. www.ashoka.org. For more information please visit the competition page at: www.changemakers.com/en-us/bankingonsocialchange

First Women Lawyers Association opens in Somalia with UN Help

The first women lawyers association in Somalia has been established in the Somaliland region with the help of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “It will take time for the male-dominated legal profession to understand and accept the importance of women lawyers in society,” Antonia Lulvey, UNDP’s judiciary project manager, said. According to the UNDP, the association, which was created earlier this year, currently has five members, with a further 17 women set to graduate from the University of Hargeisa in September. The UN agency has provided grants to enable women to attend the law faculty, as well as supplying equipment, training and financial support to the association. The sole practising female lawyer in Somaliland until last year was Ifra Aden Omar, who currently heads the association. With UNDP help, Ms. Omar provides free legal aid services to women and juvenile cases – most commonly rape, domestic violence, divorce, child custody, child maintenance and inheritance. Currently there are no female prosecutors or judges in Somaliland, according to UNDP, which says it is in discussions with local officials on how to support new female law graduates to practise either as prosecutors or trainee judges.

Nosso Super Commercial Network Nets Over US$ 74 Million in Angola

Angola’s supermarket network, Nosso Super, has recorded US$ 74.38 million from March 2007 to June 2008, and provided services to pproximately 6.4 million customers. Since March 8, 2007, a total of 18 supermarkets have been built in 14 out of the country's 18 provinces, with exception to Kwanza Sul, Lunda Norte, Kuando Kubango and Cunene. The 19th supermarket will soon be opening in Kwanza Sul Province with the capacity to accommodate 500 people per day. The co mmercial outlet is part of a series of 31 supermarkets of the Nosso Super network to be built countrywide, till next December, in a global investment estimated at US$ 202 million.

NEPAD-Spanish Fund support for Women of Namibia

The NEPAD-Spanish Fund for the Empowerment of Women has donated R2.5 million to the Women's Action for Development (WAD) for empowerment training and programmes for 2008 in Namibia’s 13 regions. The training ranges from computer skills, typing and office administration, to needle-work, civic education, project management and bookkeeping as well as the Namibian constitution and laws. WAD is a local non-governmental organisation established in 1994 to empower rural unemployed women through training to generate income for themselves. To date it has trained 30,000 women. New courses in hospitality, housekeeping, upholstery, soap-making, civic education, brick-making, brick-laying and weaving were introduced this year. At the handing-over ceremony WAD executive director Veronica de Klerk said she was grateful to the NEPAD-Spanish Fund for coming on board for 2008 and expressed her appreciation to the Spanish Government for its outstanding financial support. The Spanish Ambassador to Namibia, Maria Victoria Scola Pliego, encouraged other women empowerment organisations to apply for the funds in order to improve the living standards of the Namibian women.

Cisco launches Africa Training Programme

Cisco South Africa has announced a new skills development programme that will develop local next-generation network consulting engineers. The Global Talent Acceleration Programme (GTAP) to be based in Johannesburg, South Africa is the company’s second, following their first programme in Amman, Jordan in 20007. The South African facility will eventually act as a hub for emerging African talent. GATP will see selected candidates undergo a rigorous skills development and training programme that will combine theory, industry exposure and hands-on experience. Developed by Torque-IT, a Cisco and Microsoft training and services company, the programme is directed at associate-level and mid or professional level IT students with prior experience in Cisco networking. The programme will run between 12 and 18 months. Sixteen students have joined the programme for its first intake with applications expected to open for the second intake, later this year. Successful trainees will be hired on a fixed-term contract with Cisco for the duration of their training program. Thereafter trainees will be moved to a full Cisco, or Cisco-partner contract. More information about GATP is available through Cisco: (011) 267 1000. Source: www.sagoodnews.co.za

Four-Star Hotel to be Built in Soyo

The Angolan company Dánia will invest US$ 20 million in the construction of a 4-star hotel in the city of Soyo, in Angola’s Zaire Province. The hotel, Hotel Nempazo, will have 92 rooms and 12 suites. The investment is financed by the Angolan banks Keve and Espirito Santo, in an initiative aimed at assisting the government in the Tourism and Hotels sector. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete.

BHP Billiton Investments in Angola Surpass US$60 Million

BHP Billiton, a partner of Eskom Mining, has invested USD 63 million in the development of geological studies in Angolan diamond exploitation. BHP Billiton originally began operations in oil and in order to extend services to other areas of natural resources has since expanded to operate in the diamond industry.

NEPAD Business Foundation sets up African Project Management Office

The NEPAD Business Foundation has established a project management office (PMO) to create a new linkage within Africa. The PMO will provide information on NEPAD projects; the facilitation and co-ordination of projects; and partners and programmes across all sectors. Professional project management capability will ensure correct planning and budgeting, as well as accurate allocations of resources, finances and time. Administrative support provided by the project office will ensure that all projects have a greater chance of success as terms of reference, project charters, assistance in raising funding, interaction with NBF partners and cross-sectoral interaction will be facilitated by the PMO. Corporate companies joining the NEPAD Business Foundation will have access to the PMO for any large projects they are establishing in Africa. The PMO will also double-up as the centre for knowledge management for all sectors within the NBF, thus helping to co-ordinate and support sector activity. In addition, the PMO will assist each sector by tracking and reporting on sector progress, as well as driving and monitoring NBF-driven initiatives. The PMO will be financed initially through sponsorships, but the long-term intention is to be self-funding through facilitation fees and service fees and thereby contributing to the NBF’s sustainability in the years ahead. The establishment of the PMO is seen as a vital link to facilitate projects between government and the private sector, providing added value to NBF members. Source: Nepad

Angola is Africa’s Second Largest Exporter to Canada

In 2007, Angola was the second largest African exporter to Canada, with sales reaching USD 1.186 billion. Other top 2007 exporters to Canada were Algeria, South Africa, Nigeria, and Equatorial Guinea.

South Africa Writes Off Cuba's Debt of R926m

South Africa has written off nearly R1bn of Cuba's debt as the Caribbean island state is not in a position to repay the debt in the foreseeable future. This emerged after a post-cabinet news briefing yesterday when chief government spokesman said Cuba's debt position also had the potential to undermine bilateral economic relations between the two countries. The debt arose out of the insurance cover provided to Cuba by the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of SA for the export of diesel engines and pesticides in 1996.

Investment Guide to Kumasi, Ghana Launched

Launched in April, Invest in Ghana: Focus Kumasi. Is the first city investment guide in West Africa. This investors' Guide can be downloaded from the Millennium Cities Initiative website http://www.earth.columbia.edu/mci or the Columbia Program on International Investment website http://www.cpii.columbia.edu/. The Guide, the first city investment guide in West Africa, was prepared by the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI) in cooperation with the Columbia Program on International Investment (CPII) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD. Kumasi is Ghana's second largest city and capital of the Ashanti region. It is an important commercial center. Its location, climate and safety, combined with Ghana's increasing access to foreign markets, make Kumasi attractive to investment in a number of areas. One sector of great potential discussed in the Guide is in the area of cocoa and its processing. Another concrete opportunity is the production of fruit juice made from different fruit growing in the region. Furthermore, opportunities were identified in the hotel sector and in retail. The production of pharmaceuticals also has great potential. Other areas with potential for investment include agriculture and agro-processing as well as manufacturing. The Guide outlines these opportunities, as well as relevant matters such as tax and regulatory conditions in Ghana.

NEPAD e-Africa Commission and Global Digital Solidarity Fund to work together

The NEPAD e-Africa Commission and the Global Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Johannesburg, South Africato collaborate in bridging the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world and within the continent. The MoU creates a framework for the two parties to collaborate in supporting activities related to ICT development and will contribute to the building of an information society by promoting and facilitating equitable and affordable access to ICTs in Africa. It is expected that the MoU will result in substantial support from the DSF to the NEPAD e-Schools Initiative, which is now going into the roll-out stage. Specifically, the Global Digital Solidarity Fund is looking at helping the NEPAD e-Africa Commission in the areas of ICT infrastructure development; e-services and applications; and human capacity building. The Commission and DSF will identify common projects in ICT development and will collaborate in fundraising activities, by facilitating contact with regional stakeholders, including governments, development banks, local authorities and companies. The commission and the DSF will also jointly explore innovative financial mechanisms to reduce the digital divide, including the promotion of the DSF "1% digital solidarity principle". This innovative financing mechanism, which may be adopted voluntarily, is a 1% contribution on public ICTs procurement contracts. The NEPAD e-Africa Commission is the ICT task team mandated by the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee to develop policies, strategies and projects at continental level as well as manage the structured development of the ICT sector in the context of NEPAD.

South Africa Aims at Producing 2,500 Engineers Each Year

The South African Government has announced that it plans to produce 2,500 engineers a year to deal with the country’s skills shortages and as part of governments Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa). The initiative targets a limited number of priority skills thought to be some of the key constraints to the country’s economic growth. As South Africa invests in roads, electricity, water and housing, there is a need for more engineers. According to Alan Hirsch, Chief Economist within the South African Presidency, the output of engineers from South Africa’s education system in 2007 had already increased to about 1,500 per annum from a low point of about 1,200 per annum at the beginning of the decade. To reach a target of 2,500 engineers per annum, the Government’s strategy includes an increase in the number of engineering graduates; a higher number of registered and practicing engineers and the retention and re-employment of retired engineers.

Vietnam and Angola Sign Cooperation Agreements

At the fourth session of the Vietnam-Angola Intergovernmental Committee, representatives from Vietnam and Angola signed cooperation agreements on education, training, tertiary education, and personnel training. Vietnamese officials committed to help Angola carry out projects on motorbike and bicycle assembly, farm industry, rice production, garment and textile production and cotton planting. Vietnam will also send agricultural experts to help Angola implement pilot projects to establish farms in the country. Angola requested Vietnam’s cooperation in ocean exploration and assessment of marine resources.

Nepad Regional Training workshop Held on Science and Technology

A regional training workshop on fisheries and aquaculture, science and technology and innovation systems was held in Lilongwe, Malawi in May 2008. It was organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) in collaboration with NEPAD, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and Bunda College of the University of Malawi. The workshop was attended by national stakeholders and regional fisheries experts from Ministries of Agriculture, research organisations and universities from Ghana, Malawi, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. The objectives of the workshop were to introduce participants to the importance of science, technology and innovation for development in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) region, introduce the concept of the national innovation system and explore the nature of STI policymaking and discuss the methodology used for analysing the innovation system in the agricultural sector in the ACP region and applying it to the fisheries sub-sector.

Ethiopia in Trademark First: New Coffee Brand Unveiled to Boot Income of Nation's 15 Million Coffee Farmers

The Ethiopian Government has launched an innovative and radical new brand management program to champion its fine coffee export industry and the nation's unique, distinctive coffees. It is the first time that an African nation has undertaken such a contemporary approach to developing its economy through brand management, and begins a new era in Africa's economic development and independence. Ethiopia is the historical birthplace of coffee, and exports more than 177,000 tonnes of coffee a year, representing about 15% of the world's total coffee production. However until now, the international promotion of these famous fine coffees has not been proactively managed by Ethiopia. While coffee professionals are very conscious of Ethiopia's distinctiveness, there is a significant opportunity to broaden consumer awareness and appreciation of coffee brands such as Yirgacheffe, Sidamo and Harar. Leading brand specialist Brandhouse was commissioned to create a distinctive and easy-to-use brand identity system for Ethiopian Fine Coffees and for the three initial trademarked fine coffee brands that will be used wherever these coffees are distributed and sold. The new brand identity comprises a central logo for Ethiopian Fine Coffee, which takes its inspiration from the coffee bean itself, together with individual designs for each of the coffee designations. Licensees are required to feature Ethiopia's new brand identity in their marketing as part of their licensee agreements. Licensing agreements are now in place with more than 70 companies in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, with licensees committed to promoting Ethiopian Fine Coffees using the brand in their particular markets.

South Africa has World's Highest Brain Drain

South Africa has the world’s highest brain drain and worst skills shortages of 55 countries studied, according to Productivity SA and the 2007 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook. South Africa also ranked last on infrastructure, internet costs, health problems, availability of qualified engineers and life expectancy. Its top rating – 1 – last year for electricity to industry is likely to plummet this year. South Africa also has among the world’s most severe shortages of those with finance skills and senior management competence ranking 52nd and 51st respectively. Productivity SA research showed that South Africa had a 3,2% per annum increase in private sector productivity since 1996 which fuelled international competitiveness. The 2007 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook of which Productivity SA is a partner institute showed a drop in South Africa’s rankings from 38th position to 50th position out of 55 countries. Factors contributing include South Africa’s economic performance competitiveness dropping from 40th in 2006 to 54th in 2007, high unemployment and low GDP per capita. Productivity SA’s data shows that private sector business efficiency was steady at 32nd while productivity and efficiency increased from 56 in 2006 ranking to 44 last year. Stock market capitalization as a percentage of GDP was at an impressive 4 and adequate financing to companies from stock markets ranking 17th.

NEPAD tourism conference aims to spread the benefits across Africa

NEPAD, in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality, hosted a four- day international tourism conference and exhibition in May 2008 in the city of Durban, South Africa. The conference included a one-day workshop on the NEPAD Tourism Initiative, aimed at raising awareness, promoting dialogue and exploring ideas for an African tourism initiative to support the implementation of NEPAD. The workshop was an interactive session for sharing experiences by participating countries from across Africa and paving the way forward for ensuring continuous networking among African tourism professionals and institutions. The conference was in the context of the annual Tourism Indaba (Exhibition) as a NEPAD tourism flagship project. This is a South African tourism initiative which has been taking place in Durban on an annual basis over the past decade and brings together business organisations from various African countries and beyond to display and sell tourism products. Tourism is one of the priority areas NEPAD has identified in addressing the current development challenges facing the African continent, with the promotion of sustainable tourism presents a significant potential to diversify economic opportunities and generate income and foreign exchange earnings for African countries. Source: Nepad

UN and HP Partner to Boost IT Skills of Africa’s Youth

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) have joined forces to help young unemployed people across Africa build their entrepreneurial and information technology (IT) skills. The Graduate Entrepreneurship Training Through IT (GET-IT) initiative will initially be launched in six nations – Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda – and eventually be expanded further to span the African continent. The scheme seeks to train youth and graduates, who are between the ages of 16 and 25 and do not have jobs, acquire IT skills and run their own businesses. GET-IT courses will focus on teaching practical solutions for businesses in finance, management, marketing and technology management. HP started the programme last year in 18 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and its new partnership with the UN will allow it to extend its reach in Africa.

Ghana Launches E-Zwich

The National Switch and Smartcard Payment System that would link the payment systems of all licensed banks and non-bank financial institutions in the country has been launched. The e-Zwich, as it is called, operates under the new Universal Electronic Payments (UEPS) technology. It is meant to ensure that all commercial banks, rural banks and savings and loans institutions implement a common payment platform and biometric smartcard and a secure way of paying for goods and services throughout the country based on biometric identification. The introduction of the e-Zwich is an integral part of his government's overall vision of making Ghana the gateway to the West African sub-region, and transforming her into a major financial hub. Fundamentally, the system would allow Ghana to be a significant player in the global financial market and mark a major transformation in the financial and payment systems of the country. The system would involve building a common platform to electronically link all banks, sales outlets, rural and commercial banks, automatic teller machines and all such payment systems so that the public could get easier access to financial transactions. There will then be an e-Zwich smart card that will enable holders to use their thumbprint as a form of identification.

Africa is set to Benefit from a Comparative Study on the BPO Industry

Research for a study commissioned by the International Development Research Council (IDRC) will aim to bridge the gap of insufficient data and statistics on BPO in many African countries. The research will examine the BPO sector in developed and developing countries, said Edith Adera, IDRC program officer. The study is expected to provide empirical evidence and a deeper understanding of the success factors to better inform policy decisions and investment choices in the BPO industry. The study will engage BPO clients in the U.S. and U.K., African BPO pioneers such as Kenya and Ghana, emerging BPO service countries such as South Africa and Egypt and mature BPO services in India and Mauritius. The Regional Asian BPO Association will also be interviewed. The study will involve key stakeholders drawn from academia, industry and society, according to Tim Waema, a professor at the University of Nairobi and a member of the research team. By conducting the research in pioneering, emerging and mature markets, the study will provide deeper understanding and inform Africa's policy decisions and investment choices, Waema said. Many African countries lack legislation to guide the BPO industry. The study will identify the critical success factors in BPO industries in developing countries, he said. Policy and institutional environment, legal and regulatory considerations, incentives and infrastructure and bandwidth requirements will be examined. The findings will be published in a book called "The BPO Sector in Mature, Emerging and Pioneer Markets: Lessons and Opportunities for National Development." Source: Computerworld Africa

ANIP Launches Electronic Magazine

The 2007-2008 issue of In Angola Magazine is now available in an electronic format. The magazine offers readers timely information about Angola’s targeted sectors and development zones, investment potential and growth, a simplified investment process, and more. To view your copy of In Angola Magazine, please visit the ANIP website at www.investinangola.com

Private Investment up 45% in Angola

Private investment in various sectors of the Angolan economy rose 45% last year, reaching US$ 2 billion. Macroeconomic stability remains the key draw for investors, who are now shifting their investments to rural Angola. In 2007, 77% of investments were concentrated in Luanda.

IMC Aims to Build South African Brand Champions

The International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMC) has launched a multifaceted campaign aimed at building South African "brand champions". The campaign, produced for the IMC by Kaelo Worldwide Media, uses mass media as a tool to educate, stimulate debate and inspire, extended by direct training and engagement in organisations in order to have a powerful influence on behaviour. Kicking off the media component, inspirational stories highlighting South African people and organisations. The stories include fuel cell "Social Innovator" Rolf Papsdorf, "Trailblazer" Thabang Skwambane, an investment banker who cycled to Kilimanjaro for HIV/Aids orphans, and "Community Builder" Miriam Cele, the founder of the Gozololo Daycare Centre. Through the Brand Champion campaign, the IMC aims to communicate successes to potential brand ambassadors in an engaging way, both through a mass media campaign and through direct training activities. In addition to the 90-second inserts broadcast on e.tv, the campaign will include story inserts on community radio, regular national print media features in community papers, a book, and online coverage on SouthAfrica.info, linked to the Movement for Good. Source: Brand South Africa

African West Coast Cable for South Africa

The South African government has identified the Broadband Infraco-led African West Coast Cable (AWCC) project as a lead initiative to create a sustainable, competitive international bandwidth market in the country. The AWCC is a 3.8 terabit cable that will stretch from Melkbosstrand, outside Cape Town in the Western Cape province, to the United Kingdom with capacity terminating in London. The project, which is expected to be functioning in the middle of 2010, will have branching units to at least 10 countries along the west coast of Africa and have a design length of 13,000 kilometres. Costing about US$600-million (about R4.5-billion), the project has brought together 40 nations and some of the world's most influential telecommunications players in a joint effort to use state-of-the-art technology in linking more people more efficiently than ever before. The South African government created Broadband Infraco as a new state-owned enterprise to deliver affordable broadband to South Africans on an open access basis.

US Launches South Africa Workforce Housing Fund

USA-based International Housing Solutions (IHS) has raised some US$175-million (about R1.3-billion) in capital from institutional investors for its newly launched South Africa Workforce Housing Fund. HIS will use the fund to invest in rental and for-sale housing for low and moderate-income families in the country. IHS provides innovative financial solutions, including debt and equity, to owners and developers of affordable housing projects, opening its Africa head office in Rosebank, Johannesburg, in 2007. The company also expects several additional investors to commit further capital to the SA Fund, increasing its size to $240-million (about R1.8-billion), enough to fund the construction of an estimated 30,000 homes, and help meet the large and growing demand for housing in South Africa.

AGOA Admits Gambia Textiles

Gambia Textiles have been admitted under the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA]. The AGOA initiative was started in 2000 with the aim of strengthening non-traditional exports into the United States of America via quota and duty-free exports. Hailed as one of the best enactments in the US for Africa, AGOA has been welcomed in most African States and has induced high foreign exchange earnings through non-traditional exports. Gambia became AGOA-eligible in 2002 [one of 26 countries out of 37 eligible countries in Africa] and tremendous efforts have gone into getting non-traditional exports in the country. The current trade visa allows export of textiles into the US on a quota and duty-free basis. We believe that upon receipt of the Certificate 9 for the commencement of exports, foreign exchange earnings from the export of non-traditional products will buttress the current inflow through groundnut and the tourism industry and see a strengthened Dalasi against the dollar.

RFS Opens New Office Complex in Gambia

Gambia’s first non-bank Financial Services provider, Reliance Financial Services has opened a new ultra-modern office in Churchill’s town Gambia. This is forms a strong part of the bank’s commitment to bring financial services to the doorsteps of most Gambians.

Kenya’s Safaricom IPO Oversubscribed

The Safaricom initial public offer brought in Sh191 billion in bids from local and international investors. The amount realized was considerably above the targeted Sh50 billion that the Government hoped to raise from 10 billion shares it offloaded in the market. Preliminary figures show that the local investors have oversubscribed their share offer by close to 254 per cent. This translates into Sh141 billion refund - an amount that can finance entire budgets of Roads, Water, Housing, Energy and Transport ministries' for and still remain with a reasonable change of Sh6.5 billion. According to preliminary data released by the Government, foreign investors paid a 10 per cent premium price for the issue to attract Sh76 billion ($1.15 billion). Locally, the issue mopped up a staggering Sh115 billion from the money market. The combined bids reflect a subscription rate of 382 per cent, or a 282 per cent over-subscription. The report indicated that the foreign investors would pay Sh5.50 per share after a successful book building process that attracted fund managers from South Africa and London, among other key pool of international investors. Source: Databank

Ghana Makes Its Largest Oil Discovery

Kosmos Energy says its oil field at West Cape Three Points is the largest discovery in deep water West Africa and potentially the largest single field discovery in the region. It said an appraisal of one of the wells drilled at the West Cape Three Points Block, christened Mahogany-2, and had encountered a substantial light crude oil column, based on what it described as "the results of drilling, wireline logs and reservoir fluid samples. The announcement comes at a time when global prices of oil are at their highest ever of $120 a barrel. Kosmos said the results showed that the Mahogany-2 well was in communication with the Mahogany-1 discovery well on the West Cape Three Points Block announced in June 2007 and the company's Hyedua-1 confirmation well on the Deepwater Tano Block announced in August 2007. The successful wells validated the fact that the Jubilee Field discovery was a significant oil field. The development sanction of the Jubilee Field project is expected this year, followed by- first oil production commencing as early as late 2009 to early 2010. Source: Databank

Tanzania’s Insurance Industry in Dire Need of Skilled Manpower

Tanzania's insurance industry faces a daunting task of finding adequately trained and skilled manpower. For over 30 years after the nationalization of industries, insufficient attention was directed towards training Tanzanians in this industry. The monopolistic nature of the insurance industry during the 30 years did not help either as Tanzanians became less aware of the need and advantages of insurance. Tanzania’s insurance sector was liberalized a decade ago. In 1998 the country had six insurers and the number has grown to 16 companies at present. Meanwhile, the Government has promised to continue providing a friendly environment to investors. The Government liberalized the insurance industry 10 years ago it wanted the industry to provide services in an efficient, cost-effective, competitive, economical, comprehensive and customer-driven manner. Source: Databank

MasterCard Foundation Launches Scholars Program to Expand Training of Microfinance Professionals

The MasterCard Foundation has launched its Scholars Program by awarding grants totaling $600,000 to six leading microfinance training institutes. The program will fund 200 scholarships for staff working in microfinance in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East to participate in management and professional development courses. According to a recent study by the Center for the Study of Financial Innovation, the greatest risk facing the microfinance sector, which provides access to financial services to low-income populations in developing countries, is the uneven quality of management and limited staff capacity. Strong leadership and staff capacity is critical as the sector rapidly expands and faces new demands for services. The Scholars Program will help meet this need by extending educational and training opportunities to microfinance staff at the regional and local levels. The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, private charitable foundation headquartered in Toronto, Canada.

South African Home Affairs to Fast-track Skilled Foreign Applicants

The Department of Home Affairs is expected to improve its ability to process applications for work permits for highly skilled foreign applicants in the next few months. According to the Government, this forms part of the department’s efforts to improve its services and to get foreign skills in to the country. The department is currently involved in actively promoting South Africa as a hub for chemical, materials, civil, structural, and mining and quality engineers from abroad. As the country is experiencing a tight skills availability environment, the Government needs to not only to develop skills locally but to attract foreign skills, including the fast-tracking of high skills immigration.

Access Gambia Acquires Three Others

Access Bank Plc, the parent company of Access Bank Gambia has completed the acquisition of three commercial banks in Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Access Bank Plc acquired 88 per cent interest in Omnifinance Bank through a combination of purchase of existing shares and injection of additional capital and acquired 75 per cent interest in Bancor Bank of Rwanda and a 90 per cent interest in Banque Privee du Congo.

Education is a Key Salary Determining factor in South Africa

Education has emerged as the greatest determining factor in South Africa when it comes to salaries, economist Mike Schüssler said at the release of the 7th United Association of South Africa (UASA) Employment Report. According to the report, a person’s education makes the biggest difference by far [in the salary a person earns], population group is the second biggest factor, and a person’s age is the third biggest factor for a South Africa. The theme of the 7th UASA Employment Report, which was researched and compiled by Mr. Schüssler, is “What are you worth?” In determining what an employee is worth, he said, a number of factors were brought into the equation including education, field of study, area of work, population group, age, whether or not a person had trade union membership, and the size of the business. Provincially, the report reveals that Gauteng is still the biggest earner, followed by Free State, Northern Cape, the North West Province, Limpopo, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, and in last place is the Eastern Cape.

European Union Invests US$ 774 Million in Angolan Development

The European Union has invested US$ 774 million in several projects in Angola, including rural development, the construction of 20 bridges and drinking water systems, as well as the rehabilitation of roads. Approximately USD 330 million has also been made available for the development of future undertakings.

NEPAD Conference Focuses on Promotion of Tourism in Africa

NEPAD held its first tourism conference in Durban, South Africa, in May 2008, and heard presentations from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mali, Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa on the status of tourism in their individual countries and on the continent. The conference discussed ways in which tourism could be promoted at a national and continental level. All role players were urged to meet their responsibilities in tourism as one of the vehicles through which Africans can address some of the challenges facing the continent. All the participating countries agreed to the adoption of the recommendations for the promotion of tourism in their countries.

Pan African Parliament Celebrates Ethiopian Millennium

Members of the Pan African Parliament, sitting in Midrand, South Africa, briefly suspended their deliberations to celebrate the unique African Millennium of Ethiopia. The President of the Parliament, Dr. Gerttrude Mongella, together with Ambassador Mohamout Dirir, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, cut a red ribbon to mark the millennium, which comes seven years after that of the rest of the world because of Ethiopia's unique measuring of time. Activities for the celebration included an exhibition showcasing Ethiopian products and its various cultures as well as a gala dinner. Ethiopia is one of the oldest civilisations in the world and has a long recorded history. In addition to its calendar, Ethiopia has its own number system and alphabet and has never been colonised.

Shell opens Call Centre in Cape Town

Oil multinational Royal Dutch Shell has opened a global call centre in Cape Town, which will be used to service the company's customers in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, with centre operators conversing with their clients in Flemish and Dutch. The call centre will harness the Afrikaans language medium largely spoken in the Western Cape province, with Shell training speakers to converse in Flemish and Dutch over several weeks, allowing the Cape Town-based staffers to converse with customers in these countries in their own language. The language capacities - particularly with the international language medium of English - and the cosmopolitan nature of South Africa's cities placed the country in a good position to attract further investment in the sector. According to Shell, time zone synergy allows staffers to work day shifts, which would lead to cheaper costs, as employees did not have to be compensated for working night shifts in order to cope with time zone differentials. The centre has so far created 145 jobs in the city, with 300 new jobs envisaged by the end of 2010, Shell said.

Skilled Zimbabweans heading to South Africa

One of the tragedies facing Zimbabwe is the loss of highly skilled people on a daily basis, evident by the number of applications received by SAQA. Almost 60 percent of the foreign qualification evaluations undertaken by SAQA’s Centre for the Evaluation of Educational Qualifications (CEEQ) are for Zimbabwean work permit applications. According to the South African Qualifications Authority, of the 17 086 evaluations of qualifications it performed between January and September last year, 9 756 (57 percent) were for the purpose of processing Zimbabwean work permit applications. With limited local skilled workers and in line with Government initiatives to overcome this challenge, companies have taken to importing skills from other countries to meet the demand.

South African Business schools among Best in the World

Four South African business schools have been voted among the world's best in the 2008 Financial Times business school rankings. The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) was ranked in 38th place among 50 business schools in the Top Executive Education Open Programmes category. The University of Stellenbosch's Executive Education programme (USB-Ed) earned its place in the category at 50th place. Wits Business School joined GIBS and USB-Ed in the rankings for the top 65 schools offering executive training programmes customised for particular companies. GIBS was ranked at 51, USB-Ed at 60 and Wits at 62. The University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business maintained its place in the Top 100 Global MBA rankings, though dropped significantly from its 52nd place ranking of 2007 to 71st place in 2008. The Lagos Business School (LBS) in Nigeria is the only other African institution to appear in this year's rankings. LBS ranked 48th in the open enrolment programme category. The category was topped by the University of Pennsylvania, The London Business School and Columbia University.

Gambia Welcomes Intercontinental Airlines

Intercontinental Airlines has added to Gambia’s aviation list of airlines. The airline is yet to fully commence operations and officials say they came to Gambia because of its safe aviation industry and the high prospect for the growth of the industry. The launching of the new airline will facilitate and consolidate the country’s resolve to provide solutions in accessing and connecting nation states and communities. The airline provides customers the opportunity to buy their tickets from Guaranty Trust Bank, IBC or better still purchase it much cheaper on the Internet from anywhere in the world. Flights will be to seven destinations including Freetown, Dakar, Abidjan, Accra and Lome; followed by seven other destinations among which would be Ireland, Jeddah, US, UK, Dubai, among others.

Sonangol Acquires 49.9 Percent of Millennium Angola's Capital

A strategic partnership agreement has been signed between the National Fuel Society of Angola (Sonangol), the Portuguese Commercial Bank and the Atlantic Private Bank (BPA), foreseeing the acquisition of 49.9 percent, by the national oil company and BPA, of the social capital of Millennium Angola. According to the accord, the acquisition of the Portuguese bank's capital by the two Angolan business institutions shall be carried out through an operation of capital increase to be underwritten in cash. Based on the accord, the Millennium Bank of Angola, owned by the Portuguese Commercial Bank, will purchase 10 percent of the capital of the Atlantic Private Bank. Under the terms of the contract, the Millennium Angola will maintain its current status of subsidiary of the Portuguese Commercial Bank, but will start benefiting from the shares of Sonangol and of the Atlantic Private Bank, thereby reinforcing its speciality and capacity to become a renowned institution in the development of the Angolan financial sector and of the economy. Sonangol already owns 9.96 percent of the capital of Millennium -BCP, alongside the Eureko (Dutch mutual firm) as one of the main shareholders of the biggest Portuguese private banking institution.

African Development Bank Grants $200 Million Loans to Nigerian Banks

The African Development Bank (AfDB) said that it has granted about $200 million credit facilities to some Nigerian banks for onlending to the different sectors of the economy. AfDB told Nigerian journalists at the 43rd Annual General Meeting of the Bank Group in Maputo, Mozambique that the loans were meant for the development of infrastructure, health and social services. The loans were to enhance the growth of the Nigerian economy through the development of these sectors. Nigeria is now limiting itself to concessional borrowing with small interest rates and long repayment periods to facilitate the development of the economy. The bank was working with Nigeria to re-align its macroeconomic policies to the 7-point agenda of the current administration. AfDB is also working toward strengthening its presence in the field operations in Nigeria by allowing many of its workers to supervise projects in the country.

Ecobank to Raise Additional Capital

Shareholders of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, the parent company of Ecobank Gambia, have approved a special resolution authorizing the Board to raise additional capital of three billion dollars for operations over the next three years. The amount will be used to meet the minimum capital requirements of subsidiaries, fund specialized banking operations, expand its reach on the continent and beyond as well as invest in technology. Forty per cent of the shares will be allotted to existing shareholders through a rights issue and the remaining 60 per cent floated to the general public. Existing shareholders have equal opportunity to participate in the public share offer. Total Assets of the Ecobank group grew by 87 per cent to 6.6 billion dollars last year compared to 3.5 billion dollars in 2006. Similarly, profit after tax increased by 61 per cent to 139 million dollars up from 86.3 million dollars in 2006.Ecobank is listed on the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres of Abidjan, the Ghana Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange and has operations in 22 African countries.

Stanchart Profit Up 30% in Kenya

Standard Chartered Bank's pre-tax profit for the first three months of the year rose 30 per cent to Sh1.3 billion. This was against Sh1 billion recorded over the same period in 2007. The key driver to the profitability was interest earned on loans and advances, which went up from Sh978.9 million in 2007 to Sh1 billion, although the amount of money the company lent to its customers increased marginally from Sh36.8 billion to Sh37.5 billion. A strong contribution came from investment in government securities that brought in Sh576.3 million from Sh558.3 million. However, during the period under review, the group's investment in Treasury bills and bonds dropped from Sh24.2 billion to Sh23.1 billion.

South Africa targets Ghana as its Gateway to West Africa


2005 marks the fifth anniversary of the Millennium Declaration which gave birth to the Millennium Development Goals, a global commitment to a major reduction of poverty by 2015.

Ghana has emerged as the hub for South African companies seeking to do business in West Africa. A recent SA Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) survey revealed that 40 South African companies, the majority of which are listed on the JSE, are in business in Ghana.

At the top of the list is AngloGold, whose recent US$1.4 billion merger with Ghana′s Ashanti Goldfields corporation created the world′s second-largest gold mining company. Food retailer Shoprite and brewing company SABMiller have also established a significant presence.

Although, with a population of 20 million, Ghana represents a relatively small market; drawn by the country′s stable economy and continuing economic growth, South Africa is challenging the market share of Ghana′s traditional investors from Europe and the USA.

Source: Databank Securities Limited

Is a prosperous Africa really in our Common Interest?


Analysis of the Blair Commission for Africa report results in divided opinions

Reactions to the recent report of Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa have pulled no punches.  But outright and outspoken cynicism from some quarters has been balanced by cautious optimism from others as well as a positive endorsement of the Report’s analysis of Africa’s challenges and its recommendations for action from others.

{mosimage}A recent event held at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies provided a platform for well-known commentators on Africa to debate whether the report had anything new to offer. The panellists, representing civil society and the private sector, included Clare Short, British MP and former International Development Secretary, Richard Dowden of the Royal African Society and journalist Dr. Tajudeen Abdul Raheem.

Citing the reaction to the US nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank President as the first test of the UK government’s commitment to the report, Ms. Short expressed her doubts that the report’s call for a doubling of aid to Africa would be met.  She acknowledged that any crisis in Africa would impact on its close neighbour, Europe, and that success for Africa was in Europe’s best interest.  Ultimately, she stated, it was less the Commission’s report than the increasing impatience of African societies that would be the biggest driver to enforcing change and addressing corruption and bad governance.

From the perspective of African commentator, Dr. Abdul Raheem, the report while fundamentally offering no new solutions, did signal a shift in nuance by acknowledging the issue of corruption in Africa as a two-way process and by highlighting the role of the West in enabling corruption in Africa.  Describing the presentation of 2005 as an apocalyptic year for Africa as “ridiculous”, he urged the UK to take the lead in abandoning self-interest and fulfilling its own promises to Africa.

The report’s emphasis on capacity building and training for Africans was welcomed by South African Koosum Kalyan who chaired the Business Contact group that reported on the private sector contribution to the Commission’s report.  Highlighting capacity and corruption as the two greatest barriers to the levels of growth required across Africa to meet the Millennium Development Goals, Ms. Kalyan welcomed the report’s recommendations on identifying practical solutions to support Nepad and the African Union to address these issues.

According to Richard Dowden, former Africa Editor for the Economist, while the report was well written, in his view it raised expectations that would be hard to fulfil, even under the best scenarios. 

But the report has attracted support from international bodies and during a recent visit to London, the World Bank’s Vice-President for Africa, Gobind Nankani, welcomed the report’s ‘hopeful realism’.  He stressed the World Bank’s commitment to supporting efforts by African governments to achieve greater economic growth through a balanced assessment of their own needs against available external financing/funding options.

The Commission for Africa report can be accessed in both English and French through the Commission’s website

FIVE YEARS ON - NEPAD reviews Millennium Development Goals in Africa


2005 marks the fifth anniversary of the Millennium Declaration which gave birth to the Millennium Development Goals, a global commitment to a major reduction of poverty by 2015.

In line with the NEPAD principle of African leadership and ownership of Africa′s development, the NEPAD Secretariat has been preparing a report, based on its own analysis of the status of MDGs in Africa, to identify the constraints, prospects and challenges in meeting the MDGs and to assess the human, technological and financial resources needed to reach the goals.

The report will be prepared for each of the five African Union sub-regions of the continent and will reflect their respective needs and priorities, laying the foundation for collective action by African leaders, policy makers and their development partners in helping African countries meet the MDGs by 2015. The final AU/NEPAD MDG Report will be presented at Africa’s MDG Review Summit in July 2005 in Addis Ababa as a precursor to the UN Millennium Declaration Review Summit scheduled to take place in New York in September 2005.

As the Nepad Secretariat notes, "The significance of the year and the unprecedented opportunities Africa has to influence the development agenda make it imperative that Africa speaks with one voice for a common response to meeting the MDGs across the continent." www.nepad.org

African Stock Markets Posted Strong 2005 Performance


ImageAfrican Stock markets for the 4th year in a row posted strong performances in 2005. Egypt, for the second consecutive year, posted the highest returns in the world with the main market index gaining 162% in US dollar terms in that year alone. Economic and political reforms coupled with bullish oil prices were the main factors that underpinned this impressive performance. Zambia and Uganda were also very exciting markets during the year with index returns in US dollar terms reaching 116% and 81%, respectively.  (source: Databank Group, www.databankgroup.com)

Angola Private Investment Agency Launches Investment Magazine

ImageAgência Nacional para o Investimento Privado (ANIP) has announced the publication of Angola Magazine, a publication created to attract foreign direct investment.  With over 10,000 copies distributed world-wide, it will educate readers about the various market sectors, inform investors of the many opportunities in Angola, provide clear information about the latest developments among the legal aspect of investing, and highlight local culture and current events.

The publication highlights the legal aspects of investing and guides readers through the investment proposal process. The magazine also provides an informative look at the incentives within each market sector and geographic locations that provide a competitive advantage.

For further details please contact Ari De Carvalho, ANIP, at (244) (912 51 0963) or via email at aricarvalho@nexus.ao

International Financial Services Planned for Ghana

President Kufuor of Ghana has announced plans to establish an international financial services centre in Ghana by mid-2006. The ‘offshore’ banking centre would be set up as a joint venture between Government and Barclays Bank, and would be the first of its kind west of the Atlantic, the President said. A recent survey placed Ghana as the 22nd most attractive location worldwide for the outsourcing of financial services. With a growing domestic banking industry, Ghana has the potential to offer its banking services to companies abroad. (source: Databank Group, www.databankgroup.com)

UN Upbeat about Africa

The United Nations expects African countries to produce economic growth of 5.5% this year, following a year in which there was a 65% leap in the amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the continent. These were key findings of the UN's World Economic Situation and Prospects report, which showed that as growth in Africa increased from 5.1% in 2004, foreign direct investment climbed to $30bn from $18bn. However, even though the UN presented a relatively upbeat picture of Africa's improving economies, it cautioned that growth rates may still not be fast enough to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015.

"The aggregate rate of growth has remained below 7%, which the Economic Commission for Africa and World Bank estimates as the minimum needed to meet these goals”, it said.  This is despite the fact that Africa's 5.1% growth exceeded the overall 3% global growth.

But the increased levels of FDI, which typically see overseas companies buying into local operations, are an important aid to increasing growth in Africa.  There is still some scope for FDI into Africa to expand because, despite last year's 65% gain, the continent still only gets about 11% of the $278bn in FDI going to developing countries.

There were a number of reasons for Africa's improved economic performance last year, including progress in macroeconomic reforms and greater political stability. The UN said that efforts such as the African Peer Review Mechanism were likely to eventually confirm Africa as a desirable destination for FDI.

China is now Africa’s 3rd Largest Commercial Partner

Trade between China and Africa has quadrupled since 2000. China is now Africa’s third largest commercial partner after the US and France and the second largest exporter to Africa after France. A series of articles in the Financial Times has highlighted China’s involvement in Africa and its role in changing the pattern of trade and investment.  

From energy to metals, food and timber, China has had an “explosive” impact on the region.  Along with its exports of textiles, electronic and technology products to Africa, China has invested heavily in infrastructure on the continent as well as assisting with aid, debt relief and by providing specialists across a range of sectors.  Ethiopia’s President has described China as his country’s main development partner while, in the case of Zimbabwe, China is now its largest trading partner after South Africa.  Conversely, almost 30% of China’s oil supplies come from Africa and, in particular, the Sudan, Angola and Congo-Brazzaville. Source: www.asiantribune.com

East African Stock Market Integration Planned

The three East African bourses will integrate by year end through automated trading systems that will allow electronic trading. The automated trading systems will be installed at the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE), Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) to make trade faster and more efficient for investors. The automated systems project was started by the East African Securities Regulatory Authority in 1997 and will be a milestone in the integration of the region's capital markets. (source: Databank Group, www.databankgroup.com)

First Annual Private Sector Development Research Competition


The International Finance Corporation -- http://www.ifc.org -- of the World Bank Group and the Financial Times (FT) -- http://www.ft.com -- invite entries for the first international private sector development research paper competition for 2005-2006 -- http://www.ifc.org/competition. The theme is Business and Development: The Private Path to Prosperity. The competition seeks to promote the best thinking on the role of business in development. Papers should add to the global discussion on private sector development and economic growth by providing new and innovative analyses, perspectives, or ideas. All papers must be submitted in English and have a maximum of 4,000 words. Abstracts must have a maximum of 300 words. All entries must be received on or before June 30, 2006. Gold Award: US$30,000; 2 Silver Awards each US$15,000; 3 Bronze Awards each US$10,000.

World Bank Board Approves $70 Million for Public Service Reforms in Uganda


The World Bank has approved an International Development Association credit of US$70 million to support public service reforms in Uganda. The Uganda Public Service Performance Enhancement Project (UPSPEP) aims at transforming the public service to make it affordable, efficient and accountable in the use of public resources and service delivery. The project is also expected to support improvement in the policy, institutional and regulatory environment, for sustainable growth and service delivery.  The UPS-PEP has two main components; the first component of $15 million supports the implementation of the Government’s Public Service Reform Program (PSRP) through a sector-wide approach program.  The second component will support performance enhancement initiatives on a demand-driven basis.  An effective public service will contribute to the Government’s effort to improve governance and fight corruption in the country.

South Africa Standard Bank enters Angola

The Standard South African Bank, one of the biggest financial institutions of the continent, announced that it will soon open a branch in Angola. "Based on market opportunity and customer demand, we are expanding our operations in Angola and will be opening a representative office," said Craig Bond, Managing Director of the bank's Africa operations, which trades by the name Stanbic. Source: ANIP

Ghana is the Best Place to Do Business

Ghana is the number one location for doing business in the ECOWAS sub-region, according to a new World Bank survey, and the 9th best in Africa.  Meanwhile, business confidence in Ghana is high, according to another continental business survey, which highlights Ghanaian business leaders as the most optimistic about the progress and future of their economy.  Ghana emerged as one of the most attractive investment destinations in the sub-region in the World Bank Doing Business in 2006 Report, ranked first for protecting her investors of the 11 ECOWAS countries surveyed and 28th in the world for the same category.  Source: Myghanareport.net

Coca-Cola reports 7% Increase in 2nd Quarter Earnings

The Coca-Cola Company has reported that second quarter earnings in Africa have grown by 7% from last year's second quarter. The Africa operating group's unit case volume increased 7 percent, reflecting growth across all divisions, said the company. Coca-Cola said that growth in sales and a slight favourable currency benefit helped offset operational difficulties experienced in some countries. It added that operating income growth of 16% reflected the increase in net revenues and effective management of expenses. However, the recent FIFA Soccer World Cup would have had a positive effect too.  Source: Databank  

IFC Puts Commitments into Action in Africa

The Board of Directors of the IFC has approved a $30 million grant with other donors and private companies for the Investment Climate Facility for Africa. Supporting the African private sector and improving the investment climate, the IFC is the largest multilateral source of loan and equity financing for private sector projects in Africa and offers key advisory and technical assistance.  IFC will also contribute expertise to the facility.  The Investment Climate Facility for Africais a new public-private partnership that focuses on improving the continent's investment climate. It provides a mechanism through which the private sector, the G8 countries, donors, and African governments and institutions can support Africa's vision for sustainable growth and development. Established as an independent trust with a seven-year lifespan, the ICA is based in South Africa and its co-chairmen are Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, and Niall Fitzgerald, Chairman of Reuters. Shell, Unilever, and Anglo American, have also contributed financial resources.  

Mauritania: Public Sector Capacity Building Project

The World Bank has approved a loan of $13 million to assist Mauritania with mining sector capacity building. The main objective of this project is to build up and consolidate the Government’s long term institutional and technical capacity to manage the country’s mineral resources, including social and environmental management, promote private investment in the mineral sector and improve its contribution to national and regional socioeconomic development. The main objective of this project is to promote good governance, increase access to public services and improve tools to monitor the impact of public finance expenditures.  It will contribute to the improvement of performance, efficiency, and transparency of public resources management in the country. The project supports the overall objectives of the Africa Action Plan in terms of strengthening development capacities and orienting development programs towards better public services.

600 Firms Attend FILDA Trade Fair

600 companies across various sectors attended the 23rd Luanda International Trade Fair (FILDA) in July in the Angolan capital. With a ceremony chaired by the Industry minister, Joaquim David, a total of 22 countries attended the event, including Spain, Russia, USA, Ghana, The Netherlands, Mozambique, Brazil, Portugal, South Africa, Germany, Namibia and China.  Of the 600 firms attending the exhibition, 340 were local and 260 foreigners. Seminars, talks and guided visits to the premises of Angola’s various ministries were held alongside the trade fair. Source: ANIP

Egypt: Mortgage Finance Project

A World Bank loan of $37 million will help to lay a firm foundation in the banking sector for mortgage finance. The Government of Egypt is pursuing a major agenda for macroeconomic and structural reform and modernization of the financial sector, including restructuring public sector banks, increasing the share of the private sector in the banking sector, reforming the insurance sector, developing a new system of mortgage finance for a more sustainable housing finance market, and strengthening regulatory capacity and financial supervision apparatus.

Israeli Company to Supply Angola Telecom

Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. has signed a deal to provide satellite modems and services to Angola Telecom. The satellite modems are "equipped with high-quality modulation systems and mechanisms for anticipating errors that reduce the costs of satellite transmission," according to the Israel High Tech and Investment Report. Israel-based Gilat will also supply the infrastructure needed to expand Angola Telecom's cellular network. The African company is one of the continent's largest telecom providers, but its competitor Unitel recently announced it would invest $53 million in expanding its cellular network. Gilat will also install "a radio access solution at several points (throughout) the country, (making) it possible to bring together GSM and 3G capacity".  The country's telecommunications regulator, INACOM, said the number of cellular customers in Angola rose 33 percent in the past year, according to the report. The country does not yet have 3G infrastructure. Source: ANIP 

Nestle Extends Its Investment in South Africa

Nestle SA plans to invest a further R300 million in South Africa over the next three years, according to its Managing Director Yves Manghardt.  The company is celebrating its 90th year in South Africa where its activities include social responsibility programmes involving entrepreneurship and agriculture.

Representatives from the Bank and the government of Chad signed a memorandum of understanding under which the government has committed 70 percent of its budget spending to priority poverty-reduction programs, and provided for long-term growth and opportunity by creating a stabilization fund.  The government will also enhance transparency and accountability with a new pledge of support for the role of the oil revenue oversight authority. Priority programs are in the areas of health, education, agriculture, infrastructure, environment, rural development, de-mining and good governance. Source: World Bank

2010 World Cup will earn FIFA Record Amounts

FIFA is set to earn record revenues from the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa in 2010.  According to the organization, FIFA has already secured over $3 billion in broadcasting rights and sponsorship, with more expected from African, Asian and South American broadcasting rights. FIFA earned less than $2 billion in the period between 2003 and 2007 for the World Cup in Germany and, according to South Africa’s Local Organising Committee, the record sponsorship achieved to date reflects the confidence of business in South Africa’s ability to handle the football tournament.  FIFA’s top level sponsors include Adidas, Coca-Cola and Sony, while mobile phone company MTN has announced a $6.5 million global sponsorship deal, the first ever deal of its kind by an African company.

Portugal to Give Angola USD 630 Million Credit Line

Portugal has agreed to provide Angola with a USD 630 million line of credit by the end of this year under a memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries. According to a joint communiqué, the credit would be channeled primarily to road, railroad, port, airport, health and education, construction and rehabilitation projects in Angola's reconstruction program. The credit would also be used to finance the production, transport and distribution of power and water, as well as for scientific and technological research and innovation and professional training programs.

Ghanaian Miners Sign up to Responsible Mining Alliance

Newmont Ghana Gold and Gold Fields Ghana have signed up to the Ghana Responsible Mining Alliance, which commits the two companies to being more responsive to local economic and human rights needs.

Nigeria Signs Agreement for Clean Energy

The city of Aba in the Delta region of southern Nigeria is the site of Nigeria's first Clean Development Mechanism project to reduce greenhouse gases. The 120-megawatt Aba Clean Energy Carbon Project will construct an efficient, gas-fired power plant that will displace the electricity and steam currently being generated by industrial and large commercial enterprises in the city. Residents and business enterprises say the current grid is over-stretched and unreliable. Many have turned to on-site diesel generators that are often inefficient, use expensive fuel and release carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. The new system will rely on dual-fuel turbines that primarily use natural gas, backed-up by diesel facilities in case of gas pipeline interruptions.  Source: World Bank

$600 Million for Renewal and Modernization of Angola’s TAAG Fleet

Angola will spend around $600 million in a program of renewal and modernization of the country’s national airline (TAAG) fleet. The program includes the purchase of four new Boeing 737-700 aircrafts for short and medium distance flights and three Boeing 777-200ER aircrafts for long distance trips. The planes will be acquired by Angola over time, with two of each version expected in September 2006. The final Boeing 777 is expected to arrive in November 2006. The operation will also cover training of maintenance personnel, flight operations and other TAAG related areas. Staff training is currently in progress in Seattle, USA. The investment will lead to the involvement of TAAG in the process of technical assistance and rehabilitation of Angolan airports.  Source: ANIP

South African Government Approves Space Agency

The South African Government has approved the establishment of the South African Space Agency to co-ordinate and implement the country's space science and technology programmes.  The Agency will work closely with the South African Council for Space Affairs and report to the Minister of Science and Technology.

World Bank Provides Liberia US$30 Million for Emergency Infrastructure Grant

The World Bank Group today approved an Emergency Infrastructure Grant for US$30 million to Liberia which will help the government rapidly reconstruct parts of the country’s devastated infrastructure. The project aims to help Liberia revive its economy and reintegrate the country by restoring vital transport links throughout Liberia. It will support the improvement of living conditions in the capital, Monrovia by restoring and expanding potable water supply services and improve the provision of emergency power to parts of Monrovia. It will also contribute to poverty reduction among rural and urban populations by creating short-term employment opportunities associated with the works contracts and by improving rural access through reduced travel time and reduced transport costs of food from producers to the market.  The Emergency Infrastructure Grant will support the repair of some primary roads and major bridges, as well as improvement of potable water supply to Monrovia through the emergency rehabilitation of a surface water treatment plant and the testing and potential development of additional groundwater resources.  The project will also focus on strengthening the government’s capacity to carry out Liberia’s road management and maintenance functions while also providing support for the institutional strengthening of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation.

China Visit Results in Agreement to Support NEPAD

A Memorandum of Understanding between the NEPAD Secretariat and the Secretariat of the China-Africa Forum was signed by NEPAD’s Chief Executive, Prof. Firmino Mucavele, at the end of a visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese Government.  The MoU aims to strengthen co-operation and exchange of information between the Secretariats and to explore means of supporting NEPAD, especially in human resource development.  As a follow-up to the visit, the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Liu Guijin, handed over a cheque for $500,000 from the Chinese Government to the NEPAD Secretariat. The donation is for a nursing and midwifery training programme in Tanzania and Kenya to improve the levels of clinical competence in nursing and health care, to equip specialist nurses to do clinical and health systems research and to prepare nurses for HIV/Aids care. The training will take place at universities and other educational institutions.  Source: Nepad Dialogue

Fund to Spur African Investment


ImageBusiness and political leaders in Africa have launched a $550m (£294m) fund to promote investment in Africa. The fund - the Investment Climate Facility (ICF) - aims to breakdown barriers to business in Africa. Aims of the fund include accelerating business registration, improving customs regulation and securing property rights. The fund was launched at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town. "We will be able to show that Africa is ready to prepare a climate that is favourable for investment," said Benjamin Mkapa, Tanzania's former president and the fund's co-chair. Barriers to business and trade include bottlenecks at ports and when registering businesses. Mr. Mkapa also said that improving the investment climate was crucial to combating poverty.   The aim is for $550m to be provided over the fund's seven-year lifetime, with multilateral and country donors giving $500m and the remainder coming from private firms.

Kwanza "gained Second Most Value among African currencies”

"The Macauhub economic news service reported that Angola’s kwanza was the African currency to have gained the second most value over the last year, thanks to oil revenues and reduced inflation, according to the South African Standard Bank’s latest report.  In the last twelve months, the Standard report said, the kwanza had gained 9.8 percent in value against the dollar, and was surpassed only by Zambia’s kwacha, which increased by 35 percent during the same period, and projections pointed to a continuation of this trend.  ‘While oil export revenues remain strong, the National Bank of Angola will continue to intervene in the currency market to maintain the currency’s relative stability,’ said the report.  At the end of the week, it continued, the Angolan currency was worth US$0.0215, a record value on the international market.  Angola’s economy expanded by 15.7 percent last year and this year, according to the latest forecast from the International Monetary Fund, should grow 26 percent, the highest growth rate on the African continent.  Source: Angola News

Gold Takes over from Cocoa as Ghana’s Leading Forex Earner

"Ghana recorded a significant increase in all mineral productions in 2005 with gold taking over from cocoa as the leading foreign exchange earner for the Country.  Mineral revenue went up from 798 million dollars in 2004 to 995.2 million dollars in 2005 contributing about 13% of the total collection of Internal Revenue Service in the year under review. Gold production recorded an increase of 63% in 2005 with its export revenue increasing from 731.2 million dollars to 903.9 million dollars. These were contained in the 2005 annual report of the Chamber of Mines released at its 78th Annual General Meeting held in Accra under the theme, "The Impact of Mining on Local Economy." The Report said bauxite revenue increased from 11.9 million dollars in 2004 to 18.1 million dollars in 2005, while diamond rose from 26 million dollars to 34.7 million dollars. Manganese exports realised 39.1 million dollars in 2005, up from 30.2 million dollars the previous year. Source: Databank

DRC Prepares for $40 billion Power Project

"The Democratic Republic of Congo is seeking investors to fund the expansion of its Inga hydroelectricity project at a cost of $40bn, its Energy Minister said. The largest single hydropower initiative in the world, Inga in the western DRC is seen as key to powering up stretches of central and southern Africa. The DRC says it is now time to launch the expansion, with a target capacity of 40 000 megawatts, forming the base of an African grid that will link the continent's power pools. The country needs to raise the investment required and Salomon Baliene, the Energy Minister plans to hold a conference in July in South Africa to speak to businesses and investors about a stake in Inga.

South African firm to invest in Angolan Diamonds

"The South African company Metalon is to spend US$10 million this year on diamond prospecting in Luachassi, municipality of Chitembo, in the central highland province of Bié.  Mzi Khumalo, President of the Board of Directors of Metalon, said this sum was only for the first phase of prospecting, analyses to complete the feasibility study, the acquisition of equipment and the installation of material.   He said the project would benefit the local population because his company would rebuild destroyed bridges and build schools, homes and other undertakings.   They also planned to build hospitals.  ‘Metalon will be the first company to do this in the region,’ he said. Ana Maria Mvuayi, deputy governor of Bié Province for social affairs, said partnerships between the provincial government and diamond companies were important because this project would create many jobs for local youth and would contribute to the economic and social development of the region through the rehabilitation of facilities destroyed during the war. Source: Angola News

MTN Plans Takeover of Investcoms


MTN is planning to raise part of the $5,5bn it needs to take over the pan-African and Middle Eastern cellular operator Investcom by selling bonds worth up to R8bn. It has started selling bonds to South African investors in a sale led by Deutsche Bank's South African arm, said finance director Rob Nisbet. Four banks including Deutsche will lend MTN the cash it needs, but Nisbet did not name the other backers. MTN would borrow $3,85bn and issue up to 204-million shares to complete the payment, giving Investcom shareholders up to 13% of MTN. Taking over Beirut-based Investcom will give MTN another 4,9-million customers in eight countries, along with licences to operate in two more. Source: Databank

China Signs $1.3 billion Energy Deal with Zimbabwe

China has signed a $1.3bn deal with Zimbabwe to help relieve an acute shortage of energy. Chinese companies will build new coal mines and three thermal power stations in the Zambezi valley on the Zambian border. In exchange, Zimbabwe will provide China with chrome. Zimbabwean industry suffers from hours of power cuts every day. Zimbabwean officials and representatives of the China Machine-Building International Corporation (CMEC) signed the deal Chinese companies are also to rebuild Zimbabwe's rail network and provide trains and buses. Source: Databank

Mozambique and Angola Sign Cooperation Protocol

The Governments of Angola and Mozambique recently signed a cooperation accord in the field of public works that, among other matters, provides for a reciprocal technical training of staff and a permanent exchange of projects between the two countries. The accord was signed by the Angolan minister of Public Works, Higino Carneiro, and his colleague, Feliciano Pedro Zacarias, Mozambique. Carneiro stated that the sector of Public Works will become a fundamental element for the re-launch of bilateral cooperation and for the social and economic development of Southern Africa. The protocol will enable the establishment of an important partnership for the Government of Mozambique, mainly in the rehabilitation of roads.  Source; Angola News

Kenya Airways Report 24% Rise in Profits

Kenya Airways has reported a 24 per cent rise in after tax profit to Sh4.83 billion driven by good performance in African and European routes. The airline, one of Africa’s most profitable carriers, saw its profits rise from Sh3.88 billion recorded in the previous year. This is the first time that the airline’s profitability has crossed the Sh4 billion mark since it was privatised in 1996. The earning rise had defied the negative impact brought about by sharp rise in fuel prices and concerns of terrorism attacks witnessed during the review period. This year, the airline is also recommending a final dividend of Sh1.75 per share, a 40 per cent increase over the previous year’s offer. During the period, the strongest growth was registered on African routes, with West and Central Africa leading with 26% growth, followed by Southern, Northern, and Eastern Africa at 22, 21 and five per cent respectively. Source: Databank

Cadbury Schweppes Purchases Leading South African Gum Company

Confectionery giant Cadbury Schweppes has completed the purchase of South Africa's leading chewing gum company for £33m ($62m) in cash. Dan Products makes the Stimorol and Dirol brands in Botswana for sale in South Africa. Cadbury Schweppes says the deal will "reinforce its strong participation in the fast-growing South African market". It also says the purchase will give it a platform for expansion into other southern African markets. In 2005, Dan Products' revenue is forecast to be £9m, and earnings before interest and tax of £3m. The purchase has been cleared by the South African competition authorities.

Angola Registers Highest Economic Growth

Economic growth of 20.6% in Angola’s economy was recorded in 2006, being the country’s highest to date. According to the country’s Finance Vice Minister, Severim de Morais, in the same period, public investments were at a high and valued at USD 850 million. With record highs in the economy and the unemployment rate decreasing by 74 percent in 2005, to 29.2, hope of a more emphatic reduction, this year, is growing. In the Public Investment Program for 2005/2006, the government registered 1,663 projects. Of the 1,663 projects, 52 percent are complete or are in the process of implementation. The majority of the projects are in the fields of education, health, public works, energy and water.

Roundtable on African Investment

World Bank Group President Paul D. Wolfowitz said Africans can attract far higher levels of investment, and in doing so, generate the jobs that will lift more of the population out of poverty.  Co-chairing a roundtable discussion at the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Investment Summit in Washington, he said that since coming to the Bank, “I’ve discovered how much hope there is” in Africa, made stronger by the sustained growth record of some 15 countries. But he warned against impatience and reform fatigue, stressing that economic and social change takes time. Africa Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka, who co-chaired the roundtable, said that African countries need to “close the gap between policies and practice,” noting that many countries have adopted sound economic policies without substantially changing the investment environment.  A number of African countries are taking steps to create a more business-friendly environment. For example, Madagascar has brought down the time required to register a firm from 38 to 8 days, while Burkina Faso has created a one-stop shopping concept that cuts by nearly a third the time required to start a new company. Company registration costs there have dropped 60 percent.  Source: World Bank

World Bank Approves Funds for Senegal Basin Water Programme

The World Bank has approved three International Development Association (IDA) credits* and one grant in the amount of US$110 million to support the development of water resources in the four riparian countries of the Senegal River Basin (Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal).  The three countries that received IDA credits are Mali (US$30.08 million), Mauritania (US$31.78 million) and Senegal (US$30.08 million) while Guinea received an IDA grant of US$18.04 million.   The Senegal River Basin Multi-purpose Water Resources Development (MWRD) program, as it is called, will fund integrated water resources development activities focusing at the local level to help generate income to reduce poverty among rural communities along the river basin.   The funding will also be used to strengthen disease surveillance systems and local operations research capacity, in the hope of creating a sustainable platform for improved disease monitoring.   The MWRD will help consolidate and modernize the institutional, legal and technical framework of the Senegal River Basin Organization (OMVS) to better serve the four countries.  Source: World Bank

Angola Wants to Become Member of OPEC

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is assessing a request from Angola to become a member of the organization, along with another from Sudan. The two countries submitted their requests to the ministers of OPEC for a decision. If the new members are admitted, Angola and Sudan would be the first countries to join OPEC since 1971, when Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer became a member of the cartel, which represents around 40 percent of world oil production. The current president of OPEC, the Nigerian oil minister, Edmund Daukoru, recently visited Angola and Sudan, as part of the applications to join the organization.  Source: Angola News

Africa is a Hospitable Investment Destination


Sub-Saharan Africa is becoming a more hospitable destination for investors, according to the World Bank. Africa attracted about $12 billion of foreign direct investment in 2004, about 3 percent of the global total, with investment flows rising in 40 of the 53 countries in the region.  Portfolio investments are at about $3 billion and rising with much of the inward investment directed to South Africa or to the extractive industry sectors.  The Doing Business report shows that a number of countries are registering meaningful reforms.  Notably, Kenya has brought down the number of required business licenses, substantially reducing the cost of starting up a business.  Madagascar has reduced the time required to register a business and Mozambique has adopted a new investment code and cut the transfer tax for property from 10 percent to 2.4 percent.  Burkina Faso has created a one-stop shopping concept for new businesses that cuts by nearly a third the time required to start a new company. Company registration costs have dropped 60 percent.  http://www.doingbusiness.org/

China denies Economic Colonialism in Africa

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao countered accusations that China’s attitude to Africa is one of economic neo-colonialism.  During his recent tour of Africa, the Chinese premier highlighted the importance of Africa’s natural resources to his country’s economy but refuted suggestions that China’s involvement with Africa was without consideration of human rights in Africa.  Citing China’s policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, Wen Jiabao instead stressed the high value that China placed on its economic and trading ties with Africa and its initiatives to help build capacity within the continent. Over the past 50 years, China has given 5.5 billion dollars in assistance to Africa, sent 16,000 health workers to 43 different countries on the continent and reduced or cancelled the debt of 31 nations.  Source: AFP.

Nigeria Removed from Money Laundering List

Nigeria has been removed from the International Financial Task Force (FATF) list of non-cooperating countries in respect of money laundering.  The announcement was made by the international corruption group following the development of a national anti-money laundering strategy by Nigeria.  The move was welcomed by the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as a boost to the country’s risk profile and one that would ease Nigeria’s ability to undertake international financial transactions.  While the 33-member task force said that it would continue to monitor Nigeria, it conceded that the country has taken steps at the highest level to combat money laundering.

Spain Pledges US$50 Million on Social Projects in Angola

Spain wants to spend over US$50 million over the next four years in Angola on projects in the sectors of health, education, and rural development, as part of the existing cooperation between the two countries. The acting coordinator of Spanish cooperation to Angola, Alberto Quintana, said approximately $30 million will be funded by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and the rest by local institutions, non-governmental organizations and autonomous communities.  Source: ANIP

Increase in South Africa's Wealthy

Merrill Lynch Report Signals increase in South Africa's Wealthy The wealth of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in South Africa i.e. people with net financial assets of at least UIS$1 million, excluding their primary residence and consumables, grew by 15.9% in 2005, according to the 10th Anniversary Edition of the World Wealth Report released by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini. Globally, the wealth of HNWIs climbed to U.S. $33.3 trillion in 2005, an 8.5 percent increase over 2004. The Report found that the number of HNWIs grew by 6.5 percent over 2004, to 8.7 million, and that the number of Ultra-HNWIs - those who have financial assets of more than U.S. $30 million - grew by 10.2 percent, to 85,400 in 2005. The HNWI population grew most dramatically in South Korea, rising 21.3 percent; India rising 19.3 percent; Russia, where it rose 17.4 percent, and South Africa.

Malawi Open to Fixed Line Telecoms Competition

According to Malawi's Information Minister, Patricia Kaliati, the Government of Malawi is advertising for a second fixed line operator to enhance competition with the country's only operator, Malawi Telecoms Limited (MTL). Citing improved quality of service as a key benefit of competition, the Minister also spoke of the government of Malawi’s desire to improve the sector by providing affordable services and that it would welcome a number of mobile phone service providers if this would improve the congested nature of the country's telecommunication traffic. MTL, the only fixed line operator in the country, was privatised and sold in 2005.  Source: Afrol News/The Chronicle

Angola is now China's Top Crude Supplier

China's crude imports from Angola surged over 40 percent in May, allowing it to reclaim the title of Beijing's number one oil supplier after being overtaken by Saudi Arabia in April. Sub-Saharan Africa's number two crude producer provided China with around one fifth of its total imports over the first five months of the year - 11.2 million tons, or over half a million barrels per day. The closest major competitor, Saudi Arabia, supplied over 9 million barrels less. Angola pumps 1.4 million barrels a day, a figure the government sees rising to 2 million bpd by the end of 2007. Petro-dollars have fuelled a restoration boom in the country and Chinese firms are also helping build roads, railways and housing. Angola is China's second largest trading partner in Africa, with bilateral trade totaling nearly $7 billion in 2005, and ties between the two nations look set to grow.  Source: ANIP

French supports NEPAD ICT Programme

The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has signed a grant agreement with the NEPAD e-Africa Commission, through the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), to support NEPAD’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Broadband Infrastructure Programme.  Under the agreement, the AFD will provide a grant of Euro 850,000 to the NEPAD e-Africa Commission to support the development of a terrestrial broadband ICT network for Central, Western and Northern Africa. The project will build on the conclusions and recommendations of a meeting held in Dakar in 2005 by the NEPAD e-Africa Commission to initiate the Central, Western and Northern Africa ICT Broadband Infrastructure Programme.  One of NEPAD’s priority objectives is the promotion and integration of regional ICT infrastructures all over Africa and the e-Africa Commission was set up to manage the structured development of the ICT sector on the continent by developing policies and broad ICT strategies and by initiating projects. Source: Nepad

World Bank Approves Funds for Secondary Education in Burkina Faso

The World Bank Board has approved an International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$22.9 million to assist the government of Burkina Faso in the implementation of its post primary education strategy, which will be co-financed by the Netherlands and other donors. The Second Post Primary Education project will support the Burkina Faso government in increasing the number and quality of graduates from secondary school, while reducing costs for parents and balancing the gender and rural versus urban student ratios.  The first component of the project supports the expansion of post-primary education through increased services, lowered fees and the promotion for more community management and support, while the second component aims to improve learning and teaching through the implementation of a new curriculum, materials, methods and technology.  The third component will improve post-primary education service delivery through enhanced sector planning and managerial capacities of MESSRS at the school, regional and central levels.  Source: World Bank

China Supports Upgrade of Ghana’s Communications Network

China has agreed to a low-interest loan or around $66 million for a number of telecommunications projects in Ghana.  Premier Wen Jiabao and Ghanaian President John Kufuor agreed to the loan as part of a plan to upgrade Ghana's communications network by increasing phone lines and improving the country's Internet-access.  The plan also includes training students and workers in communications technology.  Source; Pambazuka News

Ethiopia undertakes Financial Sector Capacity Building Project

The World Bank has committed US$15 million to Ethiopia to help build the foundation for a more transparent, well-governed, well-regulated, and competitive financial sector that allocates resources to the private sector more effectively and efficiently, while helping to ensure better access to finance for all individuals.  The Financial Sector Capacity Building Project for Ethiopia will strengthen  the human and institutional capacity of the National Bank of Ethiopia and support economic research, policy formulation, and implementation functions, internal audit and finance; information technology; human resource management; and bank modernization. The grant will also help to develop  new financial products that are critical to improving access to finance and fostering financial sector broadening and deepening,  enhances professional skills in the financial sector by developing in-country training capacity, including strengthening of the Ethiopian Institute of Banking and Insurance, to build up the skills of financial sector professionals, including bankers, insurers, leasing experts, mortgage specialists, securities brokers and issuers, accountants and auditors. Source: World Bank

Luanda to Receive Investment of US$500 Million in Five New Hotels

The Angolan capital of Luanda is to receive an investment of US$500 million over the next two years, to be spent on five new hotels, two of which are to be built by state companies Endiama and Sonangol.   According to Jonatão Chigunji, Angolan Minister for Hotels and Tourism, there is room for 4, 3 and 2-star hotels in the city and current occupancy rates are 97%, regardless of category.  Chigunji also said that the government welcomes serious investments and groups with the capacity to partner local companies on projects.  Source: ANIP

Virgin Mobile Launches in South Africa

Virgin Mobile has launched Virgin Mobile South Africa, a joint venture with Cell C, a subsidiary of UAE-based Oger Telecom. Oger Telecom is a leading telecommunication, multi-media and information technology holding company based in Dubai and has operations across the Middle East and South Africa.  The deal reinforces the company’s commitment to Cell C and South Africa. Virgin’s Richard Branson lauded the venture as “a great opportunity for our mobile phone business”. Cell C is the third licensed operator and has over 3 mllion subscribers and around 10% of the South African mobile market. Cell C will provide Virgin Mobile with an advanced mobile cellular network infrastructure and carry all of Virgin's voice and data traffic.  Virgin Mobile South Africa will create over 500 jobs.

World Bank Board Approves $70 Million for Public Service Reforms in Uganda


The World Bank has approved an International Development Association credit of US$70 million to support public service reforms in Uganda. The Uganda Public Service Performance Enhancement Project (UPSPEP) aims at transforming the public service to make it affordable, efficient and accountable in the use of public resources and service delivery. The project is also expected to support improvement in the policy, institutional and regulatory environment, for sustainable growth and service delivery.  The UPS-PEP has two main components; the first component of $15 million supports the implementation of the Government’s Public Service Reform Program (PSRP) through a sector-wide approach program.  The second component will support performance enhancement initiatives on a demand-driven basis.  An effective public service will contribute to the Government’s effort to improve governance and fight corruption in the country.

South Africa Standard Bank enters Angola

The Standard South African Bank, one of the biggest financial institutions of the continent, announced that it will soon open a branch in Angola. "Based on market opportunity and customer demand, we are expanding our operations in Angola and will be opening a representative office," said Craig Bond, Managing Director of the bank's Africa operations, which trades by the name Stanbic. Source: ANIP

Ghana is the Best Place to Do Business

Ghana is the number one location for doing business in the ECOWAS sub-region, according to a new World Bank survey, and the 9th best in Africa.  Meanwhile, business confidence in Ghana is high, according to another continental business survey, which highlights Ghanaian business leaders as the most optimistic about the progress and future of their economy.  Ghana emerged as one of the most attractive investment destinations in the sub-region in the World Bank Doing Business in 2006 Report, ranked first for protecting her investors of the 11 ECOWAS countries surveyed and 28th in the world for the same category.  Source: Myghanareport.net

Coca-Cola reports 7% Increase in 2nd Quarter Earnings

The Coca-Cola Company has reported that second quarter earnings in Africa have grown by 7% from last year's second quarter. The Africa operating group's unit case volume increased 7 percent, reflecting growth across all divisions, said the company. Coca-Cola said that growth in sales and a slight favourable currency benefit helped offset operational difficulties experienced in some countries. It added that operating income growth of 16% reflected the increase in net revenues and effective management of expenses. However, the recent FIFA Soccer World Cup would have had a positive effect too.  Source: Databank  

IFC Puts Commitments into Action in Africa

The Board of Directors of the IFC has approved a $30 million grant with other donors and private companies for the Investment Climate Facility for Africa. Supporting the African private sector and improving the investment climate, the IFC is the largest multilateral source of loan and equity financing for private sector projects in Africa and offers key advisory and technical assistance.  IFC will also contribute expertise to the facility.  The Investment Climate Facility for Africais a new public-private partnership that focuses on improving the continent's investment climate. It provides a mechanism through which the private sector, the G8 countries, donors, and African governments and institutions can support Africa's vision for sustainable growth and development. Established as an independent trust with a seven-year lifespan, the ICA is based in South Africa and its co-chairmen are Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, and Niall Fitzgerald, Chairman of Reuters. Shell, Unilever, and Anglo American, have also contributed financial resources.  

Mauritania: Public Sector Capacity Building Project

The World Bank has approved a loan of $13 million to assist Mauritania with mining sector capacity building. The main objective of this project is to build up and consolidate the Government’s long term institutional and technical capacity to manage the country’s mineral resources, including social and environmental management, promote private investment in the mineral sector and improve its contribution to national and regional socioeconomic development. The main objective of this project is to promote good governance, increase access to public services and improve tools to monitor the impact of public finance expenditures.  It will contribute to the improvement of performance, efficiency, and transparency of public resources management in the country. The project supports the overall objectives of the Africa Action Plan in terms of strengthening development capacities and orienting development programs towards better public services.

600 Firms Attend FILDA Trade Fair

600 companies across various sectors attended the 23rd Luanda International Trade Fair (FILDA) in July in the Angolan capital. With a ceremony chaired by the Industry minister, Joaquim David, a total of 22 countries attended the event, including Spain, Russia, USA, Ghana, The Netherlands, Mozambique, Brazil, Portugal, South Africa, Germany, Namibia and China.  Of the 600 firms attending the exhibition, 340 were local and 260 foreigners. Seminars, talks and guided visits to the premises of Angola’s various ministries were held alongside the trade fair. Source: ANIP

Egypt: Mortgage Finance Project

A World Bank loan of $37 million will help to lay a firm foundation in the banking sector for mortgage finance. The Government of Egypt is pursuing a major agenda for macroeconomic and structural reform and modernization of the financial sector, including restructuring public sector banks, increasing the share of the private sector in the banking sector, reforming the insurance sector, developing a new system of mortgage finance for a more sustainable housing finance market, and strengthening regulatory capacity and financial supervision apparatus.

Israeli Company to Supply Angola Telecom

Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. has signed a deal to provide satellite modems and services to Angola Telecom. The satellite modems are "equipped with high-quality modulation systems and mechanisms for anticipating errors that reduce the costs of satellite transmission," according to the Israel High Tech and Investment Report. Israel-based Gilat will also supply the infrastructure needed to expand Angola Telecom's cellular network. The African company is one of the continent's largest telecom providers, but its competitor Unitel recently announced it would invest $53 million in expanding its cellular network. Gilat will also install "a radio access solution at several points (throughout) the country, (making) it possible to bring together GSM and 3G capacity".  The country's telecommunications regulator, INACOM, said the number of cellular customers in Angola rose 33 percent in the past year, according to the report. The country does not yet have 3G infrastructure. Source: ANIP 

Nestle Extends Its Investment in South Africa

Nestle SA plans to invest a further R300 million in South Africa over the next three years, according to its Managing Director Yves Manghardt.  The company is celebrating its 90th year in South Africa where its activities include social responsibility programmes involving entrepreneurship and agriculture.

Chad Signs Memorandum of Understanding with World Bank

Representatives from the Bank and the government of Chad signed a memorandum of understanding under which the government has committed 70 percent of its budget spending to priority poverty-reduction programs, and provided for long-term growth and opportunity by creating a stabilization fund.  The government will also enhance transparency and accountability with a new pledge of support for the role of the oil revenue oversight authority. Priority programs are in the areas of health, education, agriculture, infrastructure, environment, rural development, de-mining and good governance. Source: World Bank

2010 World Cup will earn FIFA Record Amounts

FIFA is set to earn record revenues from the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa in 2010.  According to the organization, FIFA has already secured over $3 billion in broadcasting rights and sponsorship, with more expected from African, Asian and South American broadcasting rights. FIFA earned less than $2 billion in the period between 2003 and 2007 for the World Cup in Germany and, according to South Africa’s Local Organising Committee, the record sponsorship achieved to date reflects the confidence of business in South Africa’s ability to handle the football tournament.  FIFA’s top level sponsors include Adidas, Coca-Cola and Sony, while mobile phone company MTN has announced a $6.5 million global sponsorship deal, the first ever deal of its kind by an African company.

Portugal to Give Angola USD 630 Million Credit Line

Portugal has agreed to provide Angola with a USD 630 million line of credit by the end of this year under a memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries. According to a joint communiqué, the credit would be channeled primarily to road, railroad, port, airport, health and education, construction and rehabilitation projects in Angola's reconstruction program. The credit would also be used to finance the production, transport and distribution of power and water, as well as for scientific and technological research and innovation and professional training programs.

Ghanaian Miners Sign up to Responsible Mining Alliance

Newmont Ghana Gold and Gold Fields Ghana have signed up to the Ghana Responsible Mining Alliance, which commits the two companies to being more responsive to local economic and human rights needs.

Nigeria Signs Agreement for Clean Energy

The city of Aba in the Delta region of southern Nigeria is the site of Nigeria's first Clean Development Mechanism project to reduce greenhouse gases. The 120-megawatt Aba Clean Energy Carbon Project will construct an efficient, gas-fired power plant that will displace the electricity and steam currently being generated by industrial and large commercial enterprises in the city. Residents and business enterprises say the current grid is over-stretched and unreliable. Many have turned to on-site diesel generators that are often inefficient, use expensive fuel and release carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. The new system will rely on dual-fuel turbines that primarily use natural gas, backed-up by diesel facilities in case of gas pipeline interruptions.  Source: World Bank

$600 Million for Renewal and Modernization of Angola’s TAAG Fleet

Angola will spend around $600 million in a program of renewal and modernization of the country’s national airline (TAAG) fleet. The program includes the purchase of four new Boeing 737-700 aircrafts for short and medium distance flights and three Boeing 777-200ER aircrafts for long distance trips. The planes will be acquired by Angola over time, with two of each version expected in September 2006. The final Boeing 777 is expected to arrive in November 2006. The operation will also cover training of maintenance personnel, flight operations and other TAAG related areas. Staff training is currently in progress in Seattle, USA. The investment will lead to the involvement of TAAG in the process of technical assistance and rehabilitation of Angolan airports.  Source: ANIP

South African Government Approves Space Agency

The South African Government has approved the establishment of the South African Space Agency to co-ordinate and implement the country's space science and technology programmes.  The Agency will work closely with the South African Council for Space Affairs and report to the Minister of Science and Technology.

World Bank Provides Liberia US$30 Million for Emergency Infrastructure Grant

The World Bank Group today approved an Emergency Infrastructure Grant for US$30 million to Liberia which will help the government rapidly reconstruct parts of the country’s devastated infrastructure. The project aims to help Liberia revive its economy and reintegrate the country by restoring vital transport links throughout Liberia. It will support the improvement of living conditions in the capital, Monrovia by restoring and expanding potable water supply services and improve the provision of emergency power to parts of Monrovia. It will also contribute to poverty reduction among rural and urban populations by creating short-term employment opportunities associated with the works contracts and by improving rural access through reduced travel time and reduced transport costs of food from producers to the market.  The Emergency Infrastructure Grant will support the repair of some primary roads and major bridges, as well as improvement of potable water supply to Monrovia through the emergency rehabilitation of a surface water treatment plant and the testing and potential development of additional groundwater resources.  The project will also focus on strengthening the government’s capacity to carry out Liberia’s road management and maintenance functions while also providing support for the institutional strengthening of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation.

China Visit Results in Agreement to Support NEPAD

A Memorandum of Understanding between the NEPAD Secretariat and the Secretariat of the China-Africa Forum was signed by NEPAD’s Chief Executive, Prof. Firmino Mucavele, at the end of a visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese Government.  The MoU aims to strengthen co-operation and exchange of information between the Secretariats and to explore means of supporting NEPAD, especially in human resource development.  As a follow-up to the visit, the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Liu Guijin, handed over a cheque for $500,000 from the Chinese Government to the NEPAD Secretariat. The donation is for a nursing and midwifery training programme in Tanzania and Kenya to improve the levels of clinical competence in nursing and health care, to equip specialist nurses to do clinical and health systems research and to prepare nurses for HIV/Aids care. The training will take place at universities and other educational institutions.  Source: Nepad Dialogue

Angola Telecom Launches Wireless Telephone System


Angola Telecom has launched a wireless telephone system called "Touch More". According to Angola Telecom’s managing Board Chairman, Manuel Avelino, the new product of the fix operator will provide voice, data, message and internet services. Mr. Avelino revealed that the firm has invested $10 million in the implementation of the services which are currently operational in the provinces of Luanda, Cabinda, Huíla and Bengo, adding that a total of 13,000 lines have been put in place.  Source: ANIP

E-Ghana Project Receives $40million funding from World Bank

The World Bank Group has approved US$40 million to the Government of Ghana, to support the implementation of selected components of the Government’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for Accelerated Development Policy. This policy was completed a few years ago and adopted into Ghana’s poverty reduction strategy as a key framework for growth. Ghana was one of the first countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to undertake a program of liberalization in the telecommunications sector in the mid 1990s.  Since then, significant improvements have occurred which have led to the growth of the ICT sector and an unprecedented explosion in overall telephone penetration, from 4.7% in 2003 to 20% in June 2006. Most of this growth is attributed to the mobile sector which has grown from zero to about 4 million within the past 10 years. The telecom sector contributed 5.3% of GDP in 2004 (up from 1.8% in 2000). The funding will assist the government of Ghana to generate growth and employment by leveraging Information and Communications Technologies and public-private partnerships to develop the IT Enabled Services industry. It will also contribute to improved efficiency and transparency of selected government functions through e-government applications.  Source: World Bank

World Bank Launches Voluntary Disclosure Program

The World Bank announced that its Board of Executive Directors has formally approved a Voluntary Disclosure Program that will strengthen the institution's capacity to prevent corruption in its operations. The Program is a proactive anti-corruption investigative tool designed to uncover corrupt and fraudulent schemes and patterns in Bank-financed projects through the voluntary cooperation of participating firms and individuals. The Program allows entities which have engaged in past fraud and corruption to avoid administrative sanctions if they disclose all prior wrongdoing and satisfy standardized, non-negotiable terms and conditions. Source: World Bank.

Japanese Grant to Help on Environmental and Social Challenges in Africa

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency announced that a US$1 million grant from the Japanese government will permit the Agency to launch a pilot facility to help foreign investors address environmental and social challenges in Africa. The program will later be expanded if the model proves successful. MIGA’s priority in Africa is to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives by spurring economic growth through socially and environmentally friendly, and developmentally sound, foreign direct investment.   Foreign investment has played a critical role in the development of many countries, by introducing modern technology and management methods, and by linking the countries to the world.  In the 2006 fiscal year, MIGA supported 13 new projects in Africa by providing $180 million in political risk insurance to firms investing in a variety of sectors.

South AfricaConference launches Marketing of 2010 FIFA World Cup

As South Africa prepares for the FIFA 2010 World Cup, the custodians of Brand South Africa, the International Marketing Council of South Africa hosted a one-day conference in collaboration with the 2010 National Communication Partnership Task Team in Johannesburg in August 2006. The conference gave invited marketers, communicators and other stakeholders from both the public and private sectors a unique opportunity to coordinate communication messages as we move towards 2010, and to explore the potential for collaboration and partnerships.

International Finance Corporation Financing

The International Finance Corporation offers a wide variety of financial products for private sector projects in developing countries. A company or entrepreneur seeking to establish a new venture or expand an existing enterprise can approach IFC directly by submitting an investment proposal. After this initial contact and a preliminary review, IFC may proceed by requesting a detailed feasibility study or business plan to determine whether or not to appraise the project.

Angola Industry Department Holds Trade Seminar

The Provincial Department of Industry, Trade, Hotels and Tourism in the south eastern Kuando-Kubango province held a seminar entitled "Trade in Angola, Towards Modernization and Development". The seminar debated topics including the regulation on trading and services activities, the strategy of organizing the retail market, the new commercial network of approach and the wholesale-market
organizing strategy. Source: ANIP

Government Invites bids for Kenya-Re Float

The privatisation of the State-owned Kenya-Reinsurance Corporation (Kenya-Re) is back on the agenda with the Government announcing intention to float a 40 percent stake. After toying around with the idea of a strategic investor or even selling the business as a going concern, the Government has now invited bids for key professional services for the process to be carried out through an initial public offering (IPO). Kenya-Re was initially slated for privatisation almost eight years ago with the Government seeking a strategic partner. Source: Databank

South Korean Multinational Invests USD 20 Million

South Korea’s multinational Hyundai Heavy Industries is to invest over $20 million in social development projects in Angola. The money invested will go to the construction of schools, hospitals and orphanages in the regions of Benguela and Lobito. Hyundai Heavy Industries has operated in Angola since 2001 and is responsible for the supply of materials and equipments for the oil companies that work in Angola, namely the state-owned Sonangol. Source: ANIP 

HFC Bank leads the Mortgage Sector in Ghana

HFC Bank, a pioneer in Ghana’s mortgage industry, in collaboration with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) will make available to GREDA a 100 billion cedis ($11m) for residential housing development during the second half of 2006. This is to put the bank at the forefront of the mortgage industry in the country after several mortgage companies have entered the industry. The bank recorded a profit after tax of ¢6.396 billion by the end of June this year and projects to hit a profit of ¢14.841 billion by the end of the year compared to last year’s 7.169 billion. Source: Databank

UAE Launches Satellite Service in Angola

Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications of the United Arab Emirates officially launched the regional satellite telecommunications system in Angola. In a ceremony held at Trópico Hotel, Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications promised to offer services and products for communication via satellite, such as telephones, cell phones, laptops, public phone boots, rural telephones, management of fleets, among others. Thuraya will work with SISTEC to correspond to the needs of telecommunications of strategic sectors such as the exploring of oil and minerals. Thur aya Satellite Telecommunications offers a total coverage to 110 countries in the Middle East, North and Central Africa, Southern Africa, Europe and Asia, covering a population estimated at about 2.3 billion. Source: ANIP

Nigerian Bank embarks on Capital Growth Strategy

Access Bank of Nigeria has announced that it is embarking on a capital growth strategy which will see the Bank attain a capital base (Tier I & II) of $1 billion by 2010. This will be achieved in three phases through convertible loan stock, bond issue and public offering. In the first phase, Access Bank will commence with the issuance of a $150 million (20 billion) convertible debt (loan stock). This will be followed by the phase second phase that has to do with a $50 million (6.5 billion) long term bond. Thereafter the Bank will raise additional capital by a way of public offering. The ultimate objective of this initiative according to the Access Bank, is to create a large and well capitalised bank.  Source: Databank

Angola Telecom Earns Golden Lion

The firm’s commitment to continued technical innovation has earned Angola Telecom the Golden Lion award during the 23rd edition of the Luanda International Trade Fair (FILDA/2006), in the category of telecommunications. Services such as broadband internet and fix-mobile telephone were factors that helped the firm secure the award. The company has doubled its commitment to innovative service and to providing customers with access to new technologies. A total of 657 exhibitors attended the event, of which 340 were local companies across sectors including telecommunications, banks, industry, beverage, food, oil, civil construction, machinery, automobile, information technology, insurance, housing, clothing and shoes.  Source: ANIP

Uganda among 10 Best Destinations

Uganda has been elected as one of the world's 10 best holiday destinations in 2006 by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The country earns this distinction because of it magnificent attractions. These attractions include the wildlife which comprises the mountain gorillas and the ancient impenetrable Bwindi rain forest. Other leisure is the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Source:  Tourism Africa news.

Sonangol’s Aviation Unit Signs Accord

SonAir, the aviation arm of Angolan state energy company, Sonangol, has signed an accord to provide services to Sino-Angolan energy consortium, China Sonangol International.  Under the deal, SonAir will operate and provide maintenance on two Airbus A319CJ jetliners. The company will also offer services to China International Fund, which supports Luanda’s national reconstruction projects.   Sonangol has a 30 percent shareholding in China Sonangol International, registered in Hong Kong.  Source: ANIP

Tata Steel Commences Construction of Plant in South Africa

The South African Deputy President, Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngruka has unveiled a plaque to commemorate the commencement of construction of the R 670 million Ferrochrome Plant of Tata Steel KZN (Pty) Ltd.  Tata Steel is rated as the most efficient global steel producer and the company is committed to commissioning the plant on schedule in October 2007, says the Chairman of the Tata Group, Ratan Tata.  According to the company, the high carbon ferrochrome plant would be “the cleanest in the world” with state-of-the-art production processes. Ferrochrome is used in the manufacture of stainless steel and the plant’s output will be exported to Tata Steel existing customers, principally in Asia, Europe and the United States. Tata Steel is considering doubling the size of the plant, from two furnaces to four, and a decision will be made after the first year of operation. If the phase 2 expansion is approved, it will result in additional investment of possibly R400 million. South Africa was selected because of factors including power costs skilled technological base and manpower, developed infrastructure/ logistics arrangements, and its strong financial institutions.

Angolan Development Fund provides $300 Million for Private Investment

The National Development Fund (FND) will provide approximately $300 million to national business people for the financing of various projects.  Close to 5% of FND resources will come from the annual oil fiscal revenues and two percent from diamond industry, as well as from other sectors. The National Development Fund will be an account registered in Angola’s Development Bank (BDA), the institution that will be in charge of financial management of the Fund, according to terms defined by the Government. The FND will focus on the funding of the national private sector’s projects, thus contributing to the promotion of the private investment, through the granting of government-subsidized loans, with widen reimbursement terms.  Source: ANIP

Angolan Exports to Reach US$28 Billion in 2006


Angolan exports are expected reach nearly US$28 billion, by the end of the year, compared with US$23.2 billion in 2005.  Speaking at a lecture under the theme "The role of the Reserve Bank in the development of Angola", Amadeu Mauricio, the Governor of the country’s National Reserve Bank (BNA) revealed that the exports on the oil sector will reach US$26 billion. In 2003 they accounted for only around USD 8.7 billion. The rapid increase in export income has been the main factor behind the strengthening of the country’s balance of payments.  Source: ANIP

South Africa launches Neotel Telecoms Network

A second telecommunications network operator, Neotel, has been launched in South Africa.  Derived from the Setswana word "neo", meaning gift, the company intends to open up new opportunities for businesses and for South Africans on the global stage, taking on Telkom, the country’s only fixed line provider to date. The company announced a R11-billion capital expenditure plan and its intention to develop its network and services to both corporate and retail markets by the second quarter of 2007.  The expectation is that a second network operator, by ending the monopoly in South Africa’s fixed line telecommunications market, will help reduce the high costs of telecommunications in South Africa.  Neotel has a number of major shareholders including Transnet, Eskom and SEPco, a strategic equity partner.  

Auto Africa 2006 Showcases South African Car Industry

The Auto Africa 2006 motor show, taking place at Johannesburg's Expo Centre from 26 October to 5 November, will highlight the growing importance of the local automotive industry to South Africa's economy.  The show is expected to attract over 20,000 visitors from around the world, bringing all aspects of South Africa’s motor industry together and showcasing the best of South African and global automotive companies.   The exhibition is one of only 22 exhibitions worldwide that are on the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) list of accredited international motor shows for 2006. A number of important industry-related conferences will take place during Motor Industry Week to promote trade and business-to-business exchange.

Social Investment Exchange in South Africa set to Boost Investment

A new social investment exchange to lead the way on transparency has been launched at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to help boost investment in social causes and reduce poverty.  The exchange, dubbed the South African Social Investment Exchange or Sasix, is the brainchild of a local NGO, GreaterGood.  Modelled along traditional stock exchange lines, Sasix hopes to help NGOs raise funds for poverty-reduction projects by attracting investors with a social conscience.  Launched in June as a tool to break the cycle of poverty in South Africa, the transparency with which Sasix operates and its investments in enterprise development have been viewed with interest by corporate social responsibility activists. At every stage of a project’s implementation, investors will be able to obtain regular progress reports. At the end of the project, a performance analysis is conducted to give investors an understanding of whether the project met expectations and an idea of the lessons that were learnt. Source: Ethical Corporation

South Africa to get new Low Cost Airline

A new low-cost independent airline called Low Cost Airlines is expected to start activities in South Africa before the end of the year 2006. The company promised to be the first truly low-cost airline in South Africa with high operational efficiency.  Source: Tourism Africa News

Tunisia Wins Annual ADB Prize for Road Network

The annual ADB Prize for the best performance was awarded to the Tunisian road network.  The Tunisian road network was selected by the Department of Evaluation of Independent Operations (OPEV) as the best for 2006 within the framework of the annual Prize of the best performance.  According to the African Development Bank, this development project represents an exemplary performance in terms of implementation of a project by the bank. The project obtained recognition in all the categories of the independent evaluation by OPEV and, in particular, for its relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, viability, and its impact in terms of institutional development and follow-up/evaluation. Source: Tourism Africa News

World Bank Libya Country Economic Report

A recent World Bank Country Economic Report headlines the new website for Libya launched by the region. The report says that the Libyan economy is dominated by hydrocarbons and the public sector. Sizeable oil wealth has supported decent living standards for Libya's population and socioeconomic development compares favorably with standards in other Middle Eastern and North African countries. The main challenge for Libya is to promote growth of the non-oil sector, and diversify its economy.  Source: World Bank

Agrinvest to Invest US$250,000 in Product Preservation Facilities

Angolan agricultural sector company, Agrinvest, is set to invest US$ 250,000 on refurbishing a set of warehouses and refrigeration units used for preserving products. The refurbishment work, which is taking place to the south of Luanda, will include the installation of offices and sales and storage warehouses. The development is intended to ensure that the agricultural products grown at Agrinvest’s farm, located in the Bengo province, are delivered in good condition. Agrinvest has decided to set up preservation warehouses in Luanda in order to prevent products from being exposed to excessive heat and to keep them closer to the city’s supermarkets, which are the company’s main customers.  Source: ANIP

75 Percent of Luanda's Adult Population has Mobile Phone

A study carried out by the Angolan market research company, Audit, concluded that 75.9 percent of the population of Luanda over 18 years of age owns a mobile phone. The study of the quality and satisfaction of the mobile telecommunications market was performed at the request of the Angolan Telecommunications Institute (Inacom), and took place between September of 2005 and April of 2006, a period in which mobile phone use in Luanda grew 11 percent. The study, which was carried out with a sample of 1,500 people, also concluded that of the people that did not own a mobile phone, 88.8 percent planned to acquire one within the next six months. Source: ANIP

SABMiller acquires India's Foster

SABMiller has acquired the Foster's business and brand in India for $120million. SABMiller is listed on both the Johannesburg and London Stock Exchanges and is one of the world's largest brewers with brewing interests or distribution agreements in over 60 countries across five continents. In the year which ended March 31 2006, the group reported $15.307mn in revenues and profit before tax of $2.453mn. SABMiller India, through its national network of breweries, will extend Foster's Lager through its national networks to seek significant cost benefits from brewing and distributing the brand locally.

Angola's Unitel and Sweden's Ericsson Sign US$150 Million Agreement

Angolan mobile phone company Unitel and Swedish manufacturer Ericsson recently signed a contract to supply and install equipment and services worth USD 150 million. This amount is part of Unitel's investment plan for the year, which is expected to reach USD 250 million. According to a Unitel statement, the contract with Ericsson was signed as part of a strategy outlined by the company to improve service levels. Specifically, Unitel plans to upgrade its infrastructures and systems and expand its coverage area this year to a total of 52 municipal regions. Source: ANIP

South Africa to invest in Mauritius

Several major South African companies plan to invest in the Indian Ocean Island, according the Mauritian Minister of Finance, Rama Sithanen who made a recent visit to South Africa. Among these South African companies are hotel groups that have expressed their interest in investing in Mauritius. Mauritius aims to attract two million tourists by 2015, up from about 700,000 per year at present.  Source: Tourism Africa News

Angola to host 2010 African Nations Cup

Angola has won a four-way contest to host the 2010 African Nations Cup. The Southern African state was the unanimous choice of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee, ahead of Libya, Nigeria and a joint bid by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. This will be the first time a Portuguese-speaking country stages the nation’s cup and only the second time the event has been held south of the continent after South Africa stepped in 10 years ago when Kenya withdrew.

IMF Commends Ghana for Fiscal Prudence

Ghana has been commended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for maintaining a prudent fiscal policy. The IMF said Ghana, at its current development pace, could achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of halving poverty in 2012 ahead of 2015 deadline. Briefing the media in Accra after a Staff Mission to Ghana, Mr Sam Itam, Senior Advisor in the African Department of the IMF, said even though the situation might not be true for most African countries, Ghana’s economic performance over the last few years has been very satisfactory with real GDP growth increasing from 3.7 per cent in 2000 to 5.9 per cent in 2005. Mr Itam noted that the situation had led to a more than doubling of the growth of real GDP per capita from 1.2 per cent in 2000 to 3.2 per cent in 2005. Source: Databank

Russia Pledges a Boost in Economic Ties with South Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to boost business ties with South Africa on a landmark visit. He said economic ties between the two nations, both with vast mineral and diamond reserves, lagged far behind the political affinity they enjoyed. "The decades-long interruption in ties between South Africa and Russia is now history," Mr Putin said. This was the first trip by a Russian president to the country. Moscow once aided South Africa's ruling party, the ANC, which received military training and financial support from Moscow during its years of fighting apartheid. Source: Databank

Japan Pledges Support to Kenya’s Agriculture and Fisheries

The launch of the Japan-Africa partnership programme in Nairobi saw Japan pledge $10bn into developing Africa's agriculture, fishery and forestry sectors. Japanese agriculture, fishery and forestry minister, Shoichi Nakigawa, said the funding would be released over a three year period. Japan would post 10,000 experts to study and eliminate trade barriers between developing countries and the global market. Assistance would also be given to support production and processing for agriculture and fisheries. Source: Databank

Nigerian President Urges Stock Market Integration

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on African Stock Exchanges (ASE) to embrace integration as a shortcut to the critical mass required for exploiting the economy of scale and competing in a globalised securities market where size has become a major success factor. Obasanjo observed that already the African Stock Exchanges Association (ASEA) has adopted harmonised listing requirements to facilitate cross-border listing among stock exchanges of the continent. He added that the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission have signed Memorandum of Understanding with some African Stock Exchanges and regulators, leading to inward and outward listings between Nigeria and South Africa by companies quoted on both exchanges. Source: Databank

Central Bank of Nigeria Announces $7bn Budget Surplus

The Central Bank of Nigeria announced a budget surplus of $6.99bn for the first six months of 2006, against a projected budget deficit of $7.4bn (94.5bn naira) for the same period.  According to the CBN, Nigeria's GDP grew by 7.5 percent compared with the 2.7 percent recorded during the first quarter of the year. The Nigerian government has projected 10 percent overall growth for 2006, up from 6.2 percent in 2005. The Central Bank added that foreign exchange sales to authorised dealers rose dramatically from $0.68bn in the preceding quarter to $2.93bn, an increase it attributed to the increased liberalisation of the foreign exchange market.  

SA in Global Top 30 for Doing Business

South Africa ranks among the top thirty countries in the world in the World Bank's Doing Business 2007 report, released in Washington on Tuesday. Doing Business is an annual report that measures the ease of doing business in 175 economies around the world. The 2007 Doing Business report ranks economies on their ease of doing business, from 1 - 175, with first place being the best. A high ranking on the ease of doing business index means the regulatory environment is conducive to the operation of business. This year's report measured the effect of 213 reforms that reduced the time, cost, and hassle for businesses to comply with legal and administrative requirements. The report found that that Africa had made some of the greatest progress of all the regions in the preceding 12 months. Two-thirds of African countries made at least one reform, with Tanzania and Ghana ranking among the top 10 reformers. The report is published annually by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. www.doingbusiness.org

World Bank Supports eRwanda Project

The World Bank has approved US$10 million to support improvements in Rwanda’s operations and service delivery systems, particularly in rural areas, with a focus on the use of technology as an enabler to growth and development. The project aims to modernize key internal systems of the government that are critical to its overall development strategy.  Source: World Bank  

Angolan Government Approves New Model for Buying and Selling Diamonds

The Angolan government has approved a new model for the buying and selling of diamonds and the plan for sale to preferential customers, as part of the new sector policy approved in May. The model, approved by the Permanent Commission of the Council of Ministers, aims to provide the government with a legal framework with which to regulate contracts drawn up by Angolan diamond sales company, Sodiam. The new model follows the new diamond sales policy approved at the beginning of May, approximately six months after the first diamond cutting factory was opened in Angola, thus allowing Angola to export cut diamonds as well as diamonds in the rough. Diamond production in Angola totalled over 6 million carats in 2005, with Angola’s state diamond company Endiama estimating it will reach 10 million carats at the end of this year and 19 million in 2009. Angola is currently the sixth-largest diamond producer in the world, but, due to the quality of its stones, is the fourth in terms of revenue from diamond mining.  Source: ANIP

Angola's Banking Sector sees a Renaissance

The Angolan banking sector is seeing a renaissance. Three new banking groups are scheduled to start up activities during the coming months and more than 10 have signalled an interest in seeking the necessary authorizations to be able to operate on the national market. Although it will be difficult to evaluate the impact that the new competitiveness will have on the profitability of existing banks, successes for newcomers are possible, as shown by the Banco Internacional de Crédito (BIC), which after only one year managed to gain fourth place on Angola's bank rankings, in terms of deposits. 

Acergy S.A. Awarded USD 150 Million Offshore Installation Contract in Angola

Acergy S.A. announced that it had been awarded a contract by Cabinda Gulf Oil Company, a subsidiary of Chevron, for the installation of the export pipeline system on the Tombua Landana development offshore Cabinda, Angola. The contract, valued at approximately US$150 million, is for the installation and tie-in of two export pipelines that will connect the Tombua Landana drilling and production platform and the Benguela-Belize oil and gas pipeline transportation system. Offshore installation is planned for mid 2008. Acergy S.A. is a seabed-to-surface engineering and construction contractor for the offshore oil and gas industry worldwide.  Source: ANIP

South Africa Largest Recipient of FDI in Africa


South Africa was the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa in 2005, with a sharp increase in inflows to $6.4bn from $0.8bn in 2004, according to a report by UN agency UNCTAD.  The agency highlighted in its World Investment Report 2006, FDI from Developing and Transition Economies: Implications for Development, that Africa received record high FDI inflows in 2005 of $31bn, although this was mostly concentrated in a few countries and industries. UNCTAD said in that a sharp rise in corporate profitability and high commodity prices over the past two years helped produce a growth rate of 78 percent in FDI inflows to the region. The report noted that Africa's share of global FDI remained low at about 3 percent in 2005.

Increases Investment in Angola’s Oil Sector

Two US companies linked to the oil sector and services, ENS Pump (oil services provider) and Pegasus (linked to the fuel sector), are to invest in the Angolan oil sector in 2007, according to the executive director of the USA-Angola Chamber of Commerce, Paul Hare.  Hare noted that the two companies’ focus on the Angolan oil sector is a follow up to contacts made with Angolan during 2005 between the chambers of commerce and industry of both countries. Source: ANIP

Kenya launches Vision 2030

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has launched Vision 2030 as a call to all Kenyans to assist in eradicating poverty, famine, mass unemployment and preventable deaths from malaria and water borne diseases.  Noting that Kenya was still a long way to go before being transformed into a fast growing and diversified economy, President Kibaki called on citizens to build on the comparative advantages in the key sectors of the economy to substantially expand the country's share of the global market.

China Courts Africa

Political leaders of 48 of the 53 African countries, including 40 heads of state attended the China-Africa forum in Beijing in November.  The three-day event was set up to expand trade between China and the African region, allowing China to secure the oil and ore it needs for its booming economy and to offer aid to help African nations improve roads, railways and schools. China has the world’s fastest-growing major economy and has nearly $1 trillion in foreign currency reserves. The forum’s slogan — “Peace, Friendship, Cooperation, Development” — underscored China’s pledge not to discriminate or intervene. China’s trade with Africa is growing faster than with any other region except the Middle East, increasing tenfold in the past decade, to just shy of $40 billion last year. China buys timber from the Congo Republic, iron ore from South Africa and cobalt and copper from Zambia. An estimated 80,000 Chinese expatriates live in Africa, selling shoes, televisions and everything else the world’s factory produces.  Source: The New York Times  

Angola Sonangol Invests US$700,000 in Pre-University Center

Over US$ 700,000 will be spent this month by the National Fuel Society (Sonangol) for the construction of a Catholic Pre-University Center in the central Huambo Province.  The Catholic Pre-University Center (CPUC), to be built in 10 months by the civil construction company Organizações Mouceli Lda, will 560 students in two shifts. Source: ANIP

South Africa joins the UN Security Council

South Africa has been elected to serve on the United Nations (UN) Security Council in a non-permanent capacity. South Africa was elected unopposed to the UN General Assembly to occupy one of the Security Council's 10 temporary seats for two years starting in January 2007. Besides its five permanent members - China, France, Russia, the UK and the US - the council has 10 non-permanent members drawn from around the world for rotating two-year terms.

Vietnamese Business to Build Bicycle Factory in Luanda

Vietnamese and Angolan investors are planning to build a bicycle factory on the outskirts of Luanda, at a total investment of US$3.5 million, which will create over 100 jobs. The project will soon be presented to the Angolan government, who will be responsible for its final approval.  Trade between Vietnam and Angola currently totals around US$50 million per year, with rice as the main Vietnamese product imported by Angola. Imports of Vietnamese rice are of over 40,000 tons per year, but the country also sells computer equipment, wooden products, clothing and health items to Angola, amongst other goods. Source: ANIP

Africa investment hits record high

Africa received record high foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows of US$31-billion in 2005, with good prospects for another increase in 2006, the United Nations' trade and development body said on releasing its World Investment Report 2006. UNCTAD said that FDI inflows into Africa grew by 78% in 2005 compared to 2004, driven by a sharp rise in corporate profitability and high commodity prices over the past two years. The share of foreign direct investment in fixed capital formation projects in Africa also increased. In relation to average earnings, sub-Saharan Africa had a promising year. Africa's top 10 recipient countries - South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria, Tunisia and Chad - accounted for close to 86% of the continent's total FDI.  The report also found that FDI inflows to Africa were concentrated in a few industries, notably oil, gas and mining. Six oil-producing countries - Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Sudan - accounted for about 48% of the continent's investment inflows.

South Africa’s Transnet Chief is 16th Most Powerful Woman in Business

Transnet’s Maria Ramos was placed as the 16th most powerful woman in business in the world by Fortune Magazine in its annual ranking of leading businesswomen. According to Fortune, Ramos is "overhauling South Africa's largest transport company", Transnet, while she has increased profits at the company by 57% in the last financial year.

Angola’s Commercial Balance to Record Second Surplus

Angola’s commercial balance might record its second consecutive surplus, based on oil exports that, in 2005, grew from USD 4.6 billion to 19.8, with the reserves reaching USD 3.2 billion, equivalent to 4.3 months of imports. According to data produced by a study called "Bank under analysis-Angola/2006", jointly conducted by "Deloitte Angola" and the Angolan Banks Associations (ABANC), in the period mentioned, there was a rise in tributary revenues of about USD 3.9 billion, thus elevating the budgetary balance to about USD 1 billion. The increment in the fiscal revenues has been financing the public investment program for the 2005/2006 biennium. The fiscal performance of investments was of about USD 810 million, against a budget of 1.5 billion. The expected rate of growth of the non-oil sector was about 10.4 percent, with stress to the sectors of construction (16 percent) and agriculture and fisheries (15.6 percent). Source: ANIP

Two more countries sign for NEPAD ICT Broadband

Two more countries – Botswana and Zimbabwe – have signed the protocol to roll-out the NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network, bringing the number of countries committed to the protocol to nine. The occasion was attended by ICT Ministers of South Africa, Rwanda and Zambia as well as the AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr Benard Zoba.The signing of the protocol in South Africa follows an earlier ceremony held in Kigali, Rwanda on 29 August 2006, during which seven countries signed the protocol at a ceremony presided over by the Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Source: NEPAD

South Africa’s Economy is Creating Jobs

South Africa’s Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, has presented his medium term budget policy statement and announced that for the first time in a generation, South Africa's economy is creating jobs faster than new entrants are joining the labour force. According to Manuel, up to 540 000 new jobs have been created in the past year and over the past three years, over one million jobs have been created.  New employment is boosting household spending, along with a massive infrastructure spending programme by government and public enterprises The South African government expects spending on public infrastructure to grow by 15% a year and to reach about R150-billion a year by 2010.  While R15-billion has been set aside for South Africa's hosting of the Soccer World Cup in 2010 - with R8.4-billion going to stadiums and R6.7-billion to public transport and surrounding infrastructure - there is also a strong focus on other service delivery requirements.

Total merges its Operations in Ghana

Total Petroleum Ghana Limited (formerly Mobil Oil Ghana Ltd) and Total Ghana Limited are to merge.  As part of the merger agreement, Total Ghana Limited will be put into voluntary liquidation with its assets transferred to Total Petroleum Ghana Limited. The merged company will be known as Total Petroleum Ghana Limited and will remain quoted on the Ghana Stock Exchange. The merged company will have an estimated 28% share of the Ghanaian market and a network of 225 service stations across the country. 

China-Angola Trade to Hit USD 10 Billion in 2006

The China-Angola trade volume will top US$10 billion this year, according to the Angolan government and Chinese-Angolan bilateral trade is expected to hit $10 billion dollars this year. Angola is now China's biggest trade partner in Africa and the two countries have signed a series of cooperation agreements. According to the agreements, China provides Angola with funds, technology, materials and equipment. China has also built infrastructure for Angolan agriculture, health, education, transportation, media, power and civic projects. Angola is a major supplier of oil to China. Source: ANIP

African governments urged to integrate NEPAD Principles

African governments have been urged to integrate the principles, values and philosophy of NEPAD into their institutions of governance. NEPAD Chief Executive Officer, Professor Firmino Mucavele, speaking at the NEPAD multi-stakeholders meeting in Nigeria in November said such a move is vital for the programme to benefit all Africans. Citing the NEPAD principles as ownership, self-reliance, partnership and self-confidence, which he said are crucial for any development project to be sustainable and beneficial to the implementing nation, he said that through NEPAD principles Senegal had managed to acquire cassava production and processing technology from Nigeria, a country where the production process is very advanced. Professor Mucavele said there is a need for African countries to understand the philosophy of self-reliance, which means that a country counts on its own resources in a partnership. Source: Nepad Dialogue  

Angola Opts for Submarine Cable to Boost Communications

Angola’s Savings and Credits Bank (BPC) is set to provide US$70 million for a new fibre-optic cable network which will connect Angola’s coastal provinces. The provinces are Cabinda, Zaire, Luanda, Kuanza Sul, Benguela and Namibe. Angola’s Council of Ministers has approved the project to improve TV and telephone services in the six provinces, choosing submarine cable as their means of delivery. Angola Telecom will operate the new system, while Ericsson South Africa will construct the network, which is to be known as Adonis.  Source: ANIP

Africa will be a priority in German presidency of G8

Germany will give priority attention to Africa when it takes over the presidency of the Group of Eight (G8) nations from Russia in January 2007. Attending a meeting in Nigeria, the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) programme manager, Klaus Bruckner, was quoted as saying that the German government has decided to put Africa high on its agenda, helping the continent attain economic development. Germany has been a committed partner of NEPAD since it was established in 2001 and has provided technical support and helped design institutional structures.  GTZ has earmarked about 12 million euros for institution building in Africa between 2002-2008, to support NEPAD, the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Pan-African Parliament. Source: Nepad Dialogue

Africa Moving out of ‘Economic Stagnation’


Africa is on the cusp of breaking out of a long period of economic stagnation, according to the World Bank. Renewed growth and improved governance can be seen across a number of African states said the bank's Vice-President for Africa, Gobind Nankani, during the launch of a World Bank study 'Facing the challenges of African Growth' that highlights infrastructure, investment, innovation and institutional capacity as critical areas for sustainable development.

ACCION Partners with Ecobank to Expand Microfinance in Africa

Global microfinance pioneer ACCION International has announced a partnership agreement with the Ecobank Group, the leading independent regional bank in Africa, to expand microfinance in West and Central Africa. ACCION will work with Ecobank to develop a regional banking platform that will deliver financial service products to micro- and small entrepreneurs in African countries within the Ecobank network. Over the next three to five years, ACCION will work with Ecobank to develop a comprehensive mix of tailored financial products that will be distributed through its existing branch network, and introduce alternative delivery channels such as ATMs, point-of-sale terminals and cell phone banking. Ecobank currently operates in 13 West and Central African countries. Source: CSR Wire

CNBC Africa launches in South Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa's first international business news channel, CNBC Africa, will begin broadcasting from its new Johannesburg headquarters in May 2007. CNBC will be investing US$20 million in setting up its new operation in South Africa. The channel's entire workforce will be recruited locally, creating around 130 jobs for South Africans. CNBC's African entry is backed by South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which will own 30% of CNBC Africa. A listing on the JSE is also planned for the future. Source: Engineering News

South Africa invests R1 billion to benefit 26,000 in rural areas

Rural communities throughout the country are set to benefit from a R1 billion skills development programme by the South African Department of Labour. According to the Department of Labour, provinces will each receive a R100 million for skills development. The Labour Department’s National Skills Fund (NSF) funds the programme, which aims to help provide various critical and scarce skills to about 360,000 South African rural youths between 2007 and 2009.

International Agricultural Development Fund Provides Aid

The United Nations Fund for Food and Agriculture is coordinating a project estimated at US$40 million to benefit the agricultural and farming sector in Angola. The financing will come from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank and will be channelled in to the provinces of Huambo, Bié and Malanje. The Food and Agriculture Fund is already coordinating two projects; an irrigation project and an agro-farming and rural infrastructure rehabilitation project in the town of Caála, Huambo, financed by the African Development Bank.

South Africa launches R6Billion Literacy Campaign

The South African government is to roll out a R6.1-billion literacy campaign over the next five years, targeting 4.7-million South Africans who were previously denied access to education. The campaign will target 4.7-million South Africans who were denied access to education and training under apartheid. It will target young people, women and adults with special learning needs, kicking off in 2007 with 1.2-million learners. The campaign will be aligned with other government programmes, such as the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgi-SA), the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and the National Skills Development Plan.

EKA Brewer Invests US$30 Million in Modernisation

Angolan brewer, EKA, located in the Kwanza-Norte province, will invest US$30 million in increasing and modernizing the factory. According to the company, the money will be used to purchase of high-technology equipment from Germany, Belgium and France. After repairing old equipment and installing a new filling line, which includes the use of disposable bottles and computerisation of some production systems, the project will achieve a significant increase in production as well as the creation of 30 new work posts. The French Group Brassier International Holding (BIH), who own 46% of the shares, runs EKA. The Angolan State holds 4 % while 50 % belongs to national private investors.

South Africa receives ‘Low’ Rating for Political Risk

According to international Business risk consultancy Control Risk annual survey of 198 countries worldwide, the political risks of doing business in South Africa are low. South Africa's rating is relatively positive in light of the overall finding of the group's RiskMap 2007 report that almost half of the countries in the world fail to provide a stable environment for business. According to the report, South Africa's low political risk rating – meaning that businesses can operate with few problems - place it on a par with such countries as Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy and Japan.

Botswana Top of Anti-Corruption League for Africa

According to Transparency International (TI), a civil society organisation which aims to fight corruption globally, Botswana is again top of the list of African countries, scoring 37th place, followed by Mauritius (42), South Africa and Tunisia (both 51), followed by Namibia. The top position was shared by Finland, Iceland and New Zealand, each with a score of 9.6. Haiti was at the bottom of the list, coming in at 163rd place with a dismal 1.8. The 2006 index points to a strong correlation between corruption and poverty, with a concentration of impoverished states at the bottom of the ranking. The 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index is a composite index that draws on multiple expert opinion surveys that poll perceptions of public sector corruption in 163 countries around the world, the greatest scope of any CPI to date. It scores countries on a scale from zero to ten, with zero indicating high levels of perceived corruption and ten indicating low levels of perceived corruption. In October 2006, TI launched its Bribe Payers Index ( which looks at supply side of corruption in terms of the propensity of companies from 30 leading exporting countries to pay bribes overseas and in December, TI launched its 2006 Global Corruption Barometer which looks at public perceptions of the level of corruption in major institutions such as the courts, parliament and the police.

Sonangol Concludes Signing of 32 Oil Contracts

Angolan state-owned fuel supply company, Sonangol, recently concluded the signing of 32 oil production contracts with exploration companies. The agreements will provide Sonangol with revenue estimated at US$ 3.1 billion. Among the companies that signed the contract are Sonangol Research and Production, Tullow Oil, Predol, Force Petroleum, Vaalco, Inter Oil, Petrobras and Gema Group.

South Africa and Canada Co-operate on Governance

South Africa and Canada have signed a cooperation agreement, setting the stage for strengthening service delivery on governance, HIV and AIDS amongst others. The General Agreement on Development Cooperation provides a legal framework for development cooperation and the implementation of the Country Development Programming Framework.

Brazil's Petrobras Wins Operating Rights in Angola

Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras has signed four production-sharing deals with Angola's national oil company, Sonangol, winning operating rights for the first time in the southwest African country. Under the agreements, Petrobras will acquire 3D seismic data and drill exploration wells at the shallow-water 6/06 block in the Kwanza basin, the deep-water 18/06 block in the Lower Congo basin and Block 26 at the deep-water frontier Benguela basin. Petrobras got a 40-percent stake in the 6/06 area, 30 percent in 18/06 and 80 percent in Block 26, all with operating rights. The operator will drill seven exploration wells in the 18/06 area and two wells in each of the other two blocks. Source: Reuters

Delta Air Lines Opens Ghana Office

Delta has become the only major U.S. carrier to operate scheduled non-stop services from Accra to New York JFK and has opened a sales office in Accra. Between Ghana and New York JFK, Delta will operate service using Boeing 767-300ER aircraft seating up to 214 passengers with 35 seats in Business Elite, Delta's award-winning business class. With more than 50 new international routes added in the last year, Delta is America's fastest growing international airline and is a leader across the Atlantic with flights to 28 trans-Atlantic destinations

Angola to Host First International I.T. Forum

The first International Forum on Information Technologies ended in December in Luanda, Angola, under the Government’s concerned National Commission (CNTI) and Arena Direct business group. The event was the first of its kind with international scope and had the theme "The challenges of Information technologies in Angola." The conference tackled such topics as the importance of information technologies in Angola and development of the information society and brought together about 100 local and international firms in the IT sector. Source: ANIP

New Report Reveals Potential for the World's Poor to Bank Through Mobile Phones

The Vodafone Group has published a report that reveals the economic and social benefits being created by mobile banking (m-banking) amongst the world’s poorest communities. The report, titled Economic Empowerment through Mobile, is the third in a series of Corporate Responsibility Dialogues produced by Vodafone and includes the results from three independent research projects. Vodafone collaborated with The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and World Resource Institute (WRI) to research the impact of mobile phones in enabling economic transactions. It also worked with Forum for the Future (FFF) to understand the social and economic impact of its Airtime Transfer product in Egypt. www.vodafone.com/responsibility/dialogues

Peer Review Report Submitted on Kenya

There is a need for the African Union to create a high-level team to help Kenya write a new Constitution and put new laws in place. This was the finding of the Country Review Report presented to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) by the Executive Director of the Secretariat of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Dr Bernard Kouassi. The report highlights endemic corruption, ethnic political parties, high cost of business, poverty, and imbalances in regional wealth as some of the challenges facing the Government. Of the 57 African Union members, Kenya, Ghana, and Rwanda are the only ones who have undergone full assessment under the African Peer Review Mechanism, where countries are voluntarily audited for their performance in democracy, human rights and delivery of basic human needs. The Kenya review was conducted by an 18-member team led Dr. Graca Machel and also highlights areas where the Government has performed well, including its peacekeeping roles in the region, the sacking of 29 judges over corruption allegations, a free primary education programme, and expanded freedoms of speech and association. The Government also earned praise for establishing a centre for corporate governance, and for its efforts against HIV/Aids. Source: Nepad

Angolan Government to Create 217,000 New Jobs by 2008

According to Angola’s Fisheries Minister, the Government plans to create at least 217,000 new jobs by late 2008, taking into account the investments that have been carried out in the state-related and private sectors. Various research projects will contribute to the sustainable development of the country’s fishing resources. Other activities include the reinforcement of the biological sampling program of commercial fishery, the improvement of equipment in the laboratories of quality control, as well as the development of the action lines for the research of continental waters’ resources.

Ghana “shining example” of Peer Review process

Ghana has been a shining example of the APRM process, says APRM Executive Director Dr. Bernard Kouassi in a report to the Pan-African Parliament. The APRM Country Review Mission to Ghana noted that democracy and political governance allowed interaction between the President of Ghana and the people. According to the review findings, Ghana is a peacekeeper and a peacemaker on the continent. In the area of corporate governance, the findings showed a hospitable business environment in Ghana and that the Government has initiated specific policies for funding small scale and medium enterprises. Economic development was also targeting rural women. The report noted that although Ghana is a country with highly educated citizens, it faces a shortage of human resources because of the emigration of its nationals to other countries. Source: Nepad

Luanda Opens First Shopping Mall

The first shopping mall in Luanda, known as Belas Shopping, opened in December, with a total investment of US$ 35 million, financed by Brazilian and Angolan investors. The first phase of the project has 100 stores, eight cinemas, a restaurant area, and 900 parking spots. Belas Shopping, located in Talatona in the south of Luanda, has a construction area of 28,300 square meters and was financed by a consortium in which Angola’s Hogi has a 70% stake and Brazil’s Odebrecht with the remaining 30% and it will be managed by the Brazilian company Enashoppe. Initial forecasts point to Belas Shopping having, on average, between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors per day

African Business Round-up


Chad signs $80 million deal with China

China has signed a series of loan, debt relief and economic cooperation agreements worth $80 million with Chad, less than six months after the oil-producing central African country restored diplomatic ties with Beijing, according to Reuters. The agreements follow a visit to Chad by China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.  Chad cut its ties with Taiwan in August 2006, switching its allegiance to China, which has made a major push to secure access to Africa’s vast reserves of minerals, and oil as it seeks to supply its own booming economy.   Source: Reuters

Microsoft and Nigeria Sign 3 Year Agreement

The Federal Government of Nigeria has signed a three-year agreement with Microsoft for information and communications technology to accelerate the country’s economic growth. The partnership agreement signed in Abuja will help in building the skills of the nation’s software industry to streamline the Federal Government's use of Microsoft's software tools. The new agreement builds on one implemented in 2003. According to the Nigerian Minister of Science and Technology, the agreement will streamline internal communications, improve transparency, reduce costs and help to provide efficient service to Nigeria’s citizens. Under the new agreement, Microsoft will continue to support programmes such as the Computers for All Nigerians Initiative (CANi); to translating software into local languages such as Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba; and to protecting citizens from the threats of cybercrime. Microsoft will also be driving programmes that enable a broad spectrum of Nigerians to gain experience and expertise in ICT. This includes continued investment in the Partners in Learning technology-in-education investments, as well as the sustainability of digital villages already established across nine Nigerian states.   Source: This Day.

Angola to increase its Hotel Network in 2007

The quantity of hotels in Angola’s network is to be increased in 2007, with the construction of an additional six hotels in several of the country’s provinces, creating over 2,000 jobs. Among the developments to be built is the San-Sivol hotel, with 238 rooms and the Horizonte hotel, with 154 rooms. A chain of hotels, Godwana, will also be built while rehabilitation is planned for the Meridien Panorama and Grande Hotel in Huila Province. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism plans to establish tourist areas in Angola in 2007, increase tourism promotion and adapt the sector’s legal and regulation framework, as well as defining strategy and the tourism training system.  Source: ANIP

New UN Chief Appoints Tanzanian Deputy

The new Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, has selected Tanzania's Foreign Minister as the first woman UN Deputy Secretary General. Asha-Rose Migiro takes over the post previously occupied by Britain's Sir Mark Malloch Brown. Appointed Tanzania's Foreign minister a year ago, Ms. Migiro had served six years as the minister for Community Development and Children's Affairs.  The new Deputy Secretary General is a lawyer with a PhD from the University of Konstanz in Germany. Source: The Nation

World Bank Study Highlights Business Practices in Africa

A recent study, Doing Business 2007 by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation has compared 175 economies including 45 from Sub-Saharan Africa has ranked South Africa in 29th place. The study also takes stock of economies that are reforming to bring about a positive business environment and is based on research of laws and regulations that favour setting up business. The study uses several indicators including entry regulations that look at the procedures needed and the time it takes to start a business. Uganda ranks among the countries with the fewest procedures and ranks alongside Denmark in terms of the cost and capital needed to start a business.

Angola institutes New Customs Code

A new Customs Code came into force in Angola in the New Year which aims to revise the fundamental legal principles and standards for import and export activities. The profound changes that the country has undergone and its membership of the World Trade organization (WTO), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had led to the need for a complete revision of its customs system. With the new Customs Code, the Angolan government plans to ensure total compliance with legal customs standards and to combat customs tax evasion, by applying sanctions, including fines and imprisonment, and efficiently deal with less serious cases of tax evasion, administrative errors and negligence.

Angolan Local Private Sector Invests US$1 Million in New University

The local private sector has invested over US$1 million to build Benguela University.  The University will have the capacity to host 400 students, as part of the Angola Educational Projects, underway in the province since 2004. The construction work of the new university, financed by Banco Internacional de Crédito (BIC) and which the national firm, Consco, is carrying out will be completed in early 2007. Once Benguela University opens, Benguela Province will have three private universities.

CDC joins Citigroup in $200 million Africa Venture

CDC Group, a private equity investor owned by the British government, has teamed up with U.S. banking giant Citigroup to invest at least $200 million in Africa.  CDC will invest $100 million in Citigroup's first dedicated African private equity fund, CVCI Africa Fund, with the U.S. bank matching that amount.  Citigroup Venture Capital International (CVCI), a unit of Citigroup Alternative Investments, will manage the fund.  CDC, whose latest investment brings its total commitments to Africa to over $830 million, said there were investment opportunities for the fund in infrastructure, natural resources, energy, telecoms and general manufacturing.  According to CVCI, Africa has rising GDP growth rates and large markets in nine major countries with a combined GDP of $600 billion and a population of 400 million.  The amounts invested by the Fund and other CVCI managed funds in individual deals are expected to range between $20 million to $60 million and will be invested in firms in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa.  CDC said its backing of the Citigroup fund would benefit the private equity industry in Africa.

2006 Record High for South Africa's Stock Exchange

According to Bloomberg, 2006 was a record-beating year for South Africa's Stock Exchange.  Foreign investors bought a record net R. 73.7 billion worth of local shares while the All Share index reached 38%, topping the average 29% increase in 25 developing country exchanges tracked by the Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Markets Index.  Overseas investment in South African stocks were also at a record high in 2006 with investors in rewarded with an average 30% return on their investments during the year.  At the same time, AltX, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s alternative exchange for small to medium and growing companies, also gathered increased momentum.

Diamond Sector on the Rise in Angola

Angola is the fifth-largest producer of raw diamonds on the planet and owns the world’s fourth largest open-cut mine, Catoca, located in the province of Lunda Sul. Diamonds are the second-biggest source of revenue in the General State Budget. Angola’s diamond reserves are estimated at 50 million carats in kimberlitic deposits (the rocks from which diamonds are extracted) and 40 million carats in alluvial deposits. But studies suggest reserves may actually be much higher, and ENDIAMA foresees annual diamond output tallying 12 million carats by end 2006, with a possible jump to 29 million by 2009.  Diamond production is expected to keep on advancing in Angola, with steady growth in the numbers of licenses to prospect, research, and explore for precious stones.  The diamond-cutting industry appears to be expanding, enabling the country to capture the high profit margin that has been going to buyers of the raw gem. Controlled 99% by ENDIAMA, SODIAM is responsible for marketing all diamonds produced in Angola.

Angola’s Education Ministry to Admit 50,000 Teachers

Approximately 50,000 new teachers will be admitted in Angola’s education sector, over the next three years, aiming at contributing to the placement of more children and staff into the public education system.  The admission of new teachers will be one of the big challenges for the education sector in 2007/2009.

Property Consortium to Invest Further in South Africa

The British- and Dubai-led consortium that bought Cape Town's landmark Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront has indicated that it will invest US$1 billion on the development of "Africa's Riviera" ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Istithmar, the private equity arm of government-owned Dubai World, partnered with UK-based London and Regional Properties and a local black empowerment grouping in a successful bid to buy the Waterfront in 2006. The V&A Waterfront, a world-class mixed-use development near the heart of Cape Town's central business district, attracts up to 22-million visitors a year.  The company cited South Africa as having a sophisticated economy backed by a sound legal system and a banking system comparable to that of the US or UK and offering excellent returns on investment.

US-Irish Joint Venture for Affordable Housing in South Africa

International Housing Solutions, a joint venture between MuniMae of the US and Irish property group Howard Eurocape, has opened its head office for Africa in Johannesburg with plans to invest in affordable housing development across South Africa. With extensive experience in financing affordable housing around the world, International Housing Solutions (IHS) aims to bring foreign capital and expertise to South Africa to boost the supply of quality, yet affordable, housing for low- and moderate-income households.

Banco Fomento Angola Plans to Open 100th Branch

The Angolan bank, Banco Fomento de Angola (BFA), plans to have 100 branches by the end of 2007, or 24 more than its current 66 branches. In 2006 BFA increased the speed at which it was expanding its network of branches and opened 23 new branches and also opened seven Company Centers and Investment Centers to provide personal services to customers. The bank’s 2006 expansion plan represented an investment of over US$40 million. BFA, owned by Portuguese banking group BPI, has 1,200 workers and around 300,000 customers.


African Development Bank will mobilize $1.6bn for Transport and Energy

The African Development Bank (ADB) has mobilised $1.6bn to finance various infrastructure improvement projects across Africa, mainly concentrated in rail, road and energy sectors. According to the Bank, it has already financed 33 different projects across Africa, totaling $800mon under Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa's Development) initiatives. The Bank has completed plans for the launching of the construction phase of the Kenya-Ethiopia highway, extending nearly 1,600km from the port of Mombasa to Addis Ababa, as a way of enhancing transport and communication in the Eastern Africa region. The Bank is also ready to rollout the construction of the Kenya-Uganda oil pipeline later this year. The bank has mobilised additional finances to bolster Africa's push for better railways, electricity and is currently working on the launch of a major financing initiative to dispense more financial resources to African countries under a G8 initiative. ADB offers concessional loans to African countries seeking to expand the road infrastructure in their countries

High rating for Africa’s Economic Status

African economies are continuing to sustain their growth momentum, which has built up in recent years, a United Nations official has told the African Union’s Executive Council. The UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said that the continent's overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2006 increased by 5.7 percent from 5.2 percent in 2005. The UN expert said despite this trend, evidence showed that the continent was unlikely to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015 unless new approaches were adopted.

Construction of Afrobasket 2007 Pavilions Begins in Angola

Estimated at US$32 million, the construction works of four pavilions for the African Basketball Championship (Afrobasket 2007) will begin in March and end in August of 2007. The cities that will benefit from the new multi-use pavilions are Benguela, Cabinda, Huambo and Lubango. The provinces of Luanda, Benguela, Huila, Cabinda and Huambo will be the hosts of the continental competition

African Business Round-up


Chad signs $80 million deal with China

China has signed a series of loan, debt relief and economic cooperation agreements worth $80 million with Chad, less than six months after the oil-producing central African country restored diplomatic ties with Beijing, according to Reuters. The agreements follow a visit to Chad by China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.  Chad cut its ties with Taiwan in August 2006, switching its allegiance to China, which has made a major push to secure access to Africa’s vast reserves of minerals, and oil as it seeks to supply its own booming economy.   Source: Reuters

Microsoft and Nigeria Sign 3 Year Agreement

The Federal Government of Nigeria has signed a three-year agreement with Microsoft for information and communications technology to accelerate the country’s economic growth. The partnership agreement signed in Abuja will help in building the skills of the nation’s software industry to streamline the Federal Government's use of Microsoft's software tools. The new agreement builds on one implemented in 2003. According to the Nigerian Minister of Science and Technology, the agreement will streamline internal communications, improve transparency, reduce costs and help to provide efficient service to Nigeria’s citizens. Under the new agreement, Microsoft will continue to support programmes such as the Computers for All Nigerians Initiative (CANi); to translating software into local languages such as Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba; and to protecting citizens from the threats of cybercrime. Microsoft will also be driving programmes that enable a broad spectrum of Nigerians to gain experience and expertise in ICT. This includes continued investment in the Partners in Learning technology-in-education investments, as well as the sustainability of digital villages already established across nine Nigerian states.   Source: This Day.

Angola to increase its Hotel Network in 2007

The quantity of hotels in Angola’s network is to be increased in 2007, with the construction of an additional six hotels in several of the country’s provinces, creating over 2,000 jobs. Among the developments to be built is the San-Sivol hotel, with 238 rooms and the Horizonte hotel, with 154 rooms. A chain of hotels, Godwana, will also be built while rehabilitation is planned for the Meridien Panorama and Grande Hotel in Huila Province. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism plans to establish tourist areas in Angola in 2007, increase tourism promotion and adapt the sector’s legal and regulation framework, as well as defining strategy and the tourism training system.  Source: ANIP

New UN Chief Appoints Tanzanian Deputy

The new Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, has selected Tanzania's Foreign Minister as the first woman UN Deputy Secretary General. Asha-Rose Migiro takes over the post previously occupied by Britain's Sir Mark Malloch Brown. Appointed Tanzania's Foreign minister a year ago, Ms. Migiro had served six years as the minister for Community Development and Children's Affairs.  The new Deputy Secretary General is a lawyer with a PhD from the University of Konstanz in Germany. Source: The Nation

World Bank Study Highlights Business Practices in Africa

A recent study, Doing Business 2007 by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation has compared 175 economies including 45 from Sub-Saharan Africa has ranked South Africa in 29th place. The study also takes stock of economies that are reforming to bring about a positive business environment and is based on research of laws and regulations that favour setting up business. The study uses several indicators including entry regulations that look at the procedures needed and the time it takes to start a business. Uganda ranks among the countries with the fewest procedures and ranks alongside Denmark in terms of the cost and capital needed to start a business.

Angola institutes New Customs Code

A new Customs Code came into force in Angola in the New Year which aims to revise the fundamental legal principles and standards for import and export activities. The profound changes that the country has undergone and its membership of the World Trade organization (WTO), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had led to the need for a complete revision of its customs system. With the new Customs Code, the Angolan government plans to ensure total compliance with legal customs standards and to combat customs tax evasion, by applying sanctions, including fines and imprisonment, and efficiently deal with less serious cases of tax evasion, administrative errors and negligence.

Angolan Local Private Sector Invests US$1 Million in New University

The local private sector has invested over US$1 million to build Benguela University.  The University will have the capacity to host 400 students, as part of the Angola Educational Projects, underway in the province since 2004. The construction work of the new university, financed by Banco Internacional de Crédito (BIC) and which the national firm, Consco, is carrying out will be completed in early 2007. Once Benguela University opens, Benguela Province will have three private universities.

CDC joins Citigroup in $200 million Africa Venture

CDC Group, a private equity investor owned by the British government, has teamed up with U.S. banking giant Citigroup to invest at least $200 million in Africa.  CDC will invest $100 million in Citigroup's first dedicated African private equity fund, CVCI Africa Fund, with the U.S. bank matching that amount.  Citigroup Venture Capital International (CVCI), a unit of Citigroup Alternative Investments, will manage the fund.  CDC, whose latest investment brings its total commitments to Africa to over $830 million, said there were investment opportunities for the fund in infrastructure, natural resources, energy, telecoms and general manufacturing.  According to CVCI, Africa has rising GDP growth rates and large markets in nine major countries with a combined GDP of $600 billion and a population of 400 million.  The amounts invested by the Fund and other CVCI managed funds in individual deals are expected to range between $20 million to $60 million and will be invested in firms in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa.  CDC said its backing of the Citigroup fund would benefit the private equity industry in Africa.

2006 Record High for South Africa's Stock Exchange

According to Bloomberg, 2006 was a record-beating year for South Africa's Stock Exchange.  Foreign investors bought a record net R. 73.7 billion worth of local shares while the All Share index reached 38%, topping the average 29% increase in 25 developing country exchanges tracked by the Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Markets Index.  Overseas investment in South African stocks were also at a record high in 2006 with investors in rewarded with an average 30% return on their investments during the year.  At the same time, AltX, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s alternative exchange for small to medium and growing companies, also gathered increased momentum.

Diamond Sector on the Rise in Angola

Angola is the fifth-largest producer of raw diamonds on the planet and owns the world’s fourth largest open-cut mine, Catoca, located in the province of Lunda Sul. Diamonds are the second-biggest source of revenue in the General State Budget. Angola’s diamond reserves are estimated at 50 million carats in kimberlitic deposits (the rocks from which diamonds are extracted) and 40 million carats in alluvial deposits. But studies suggest reserves may actually be much higher, and ENDIAMA foresees annual diamond output tallying 12 million carats by end 2006, with a possible jump to 29 million by 2009.  Diamond production is expected to keep on advancing in Angola, with steady growth in the numbers of licenses to prospect, research, and explore for precious stones.  The diamond-cutting industry appears to be expanding, enabling the country to capture the high profit margin that has been going to buyers of the raw gem. Controlled 99% by ENDIAMA, SODIAM is responsible for marketing all diamonds produced in Angola.

Angola’s Education Ministry to Admit 50,000 Teachers

Approximately 50,000 new teachers will be admitted in Angola’s education sector, over the next three years, aiming at contributing to the placement of more children and staff into the public education system.  The admission of new teachers will be one of the big challenges for the education sector in 2007/2009.

Property Consortium to Invest Further in South Africa

The British- and Dubai-led consortium that bought Cape Town's landmark Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront has indicated that it will invest US$1 billion on the development of "Africa's Riviera" ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Istithmar, the private equity arm of government-owned Dubai World, partnered with UK-based London and Regional Properties and a local black empowerment grouping in a successful bid to buy the Waterfront in 2006. The V&A Waterfront, a world-class mixed-use development near the heart of Cape Town's central business district, attracts up to 22-million visitors a year.  The company cited South Africa as having a sophisticated economy backed by a sound legal system and a banking system comparable to that of the US or UK and offering excellent returns on investment.

US-Irish Joint Venture for Affordable Housing in South Africa

International Housing Solutions, a joint venture between MuniMae of the US and Irish property group Howard Eurocape, has opened its head office for Africa in Johannesburg with plans to invest in affordable housing development across South Africa. With extensive experience in financing affordable housing around the world, International Housing Solutions (IHS) aims to bring foreign capital and expertise to South Africa to boost the supply of quality, yet affordable, housing for low- and moderate-income households.

Banco Fomento Angola Plans to Open 100th Branch

The Angolan bank, Banco Fomento de Angola (BFA), plans to have 100 branches by the end of 2007, or 24 more than its current 66 branches. In 2006 BFA increased the speed at which it was expanding its network of branches and opened 23 new branches and also opened seven Company Centers and Investment Centers to provide personal services to customers. The bank’s 2006 expansion plan represented an investment of over US$40 million. BFA, owned by Portuguese banking group BPI, has 1,200 workers and around 300,000 customers.


African Development Bank will mobilize $1.6bn for Transport and Energy

The African Development Bank (ADB) has mobilised $1.6bn to finance various infrastructure improvement projects across Africa, mainly concentrated in rail, road and energy sectors. According to the Bank, it has already financed 33 different projects across Africa, totaling $800mon under Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa's Development) initiatives. The Bank has completed plans for the launching of the construction phase of the Kenya-Ethiopia highway, extending nearly 1,600km from the port of Mombasa to Addis Ababa, as a way of enhancing transport and communication in the Eastern Africa region. The Bank is also ready to rollout the construction of the Kenya-Uganda oil pipeline later this year. The bank has mobilised additional finances to bolster Africa's push for better railways, electricity and is currently working on the launch of a major financing initiative to dispense more financial resources to African countries under a G8 initiative. ADB offers concessional loans to African countries seeking to expand the road infrastructure in their countries

High rating for Africa’s Economic Status

African economies are continuing to sustain their growth momentum, which has built up in recent years, a United Nations official has told the African Union’s Executive Council. The UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said that the continent's overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2006 increased by 5.7 percent from 5.2 percent in 2005. The UN expert said despite this trend, evidence showed that the continent was unlikely to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015 unless new approaches were adopted.

Construction of Afrobasket 2007 Pavilions Begins in Angola

Estimated at US$32 million, the construction works of four pavilions for the African Basketball Championship (Afrobasket 2007) will begin in March and end in August of 2007. The cities that will benefit from the new multi-use pavilions are Benguela, Cabinda, Huambo and Lubango. The provinces of Luanda, Benguela, Huila, Cabinda and Huambo will be the hosts of the continental competition

‘The Private Sector in Development Initiative' Launches Formal Association


Entrepreneurs in emerging and developing countries face immense barriers to success, operating in risk-averse societies where financing and mentorship are scarce. This is particularly challenging for small and medium-sized ventures that are too large for micro-credit and have not reached scale to access larger investment funds or financing.  More than 25 organizations have agreed to work together to bring about a new phase of global development focused on giving private enterprise and entrepreneurs the tools to fight subsistence poverty. The group comprised of funds, non-profits, and advisors focused on entrepreneurship beyond microfinance, will launch a formal association that will invigorate private sector involvement in development. Organized by the Aspen Institute and the Global Development Advisors and sponsored by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, this group of practitioners aims to focus on job creation, building capital, and generating revenue while providing needed health, energy and other social services in emerging and developing countries. The group includes some of the most innovative professionals in the development field with a proven track record of building competitive businesses worldwide.

Ghana report says her people are generally happy with progress

In its annual progress report on the implementation of the APRM Programme of Action, Ghana’s national APRM Governing Council says the report findings were that Ghanaians generally are happy with their freedom of expression, and the safety and security of life and property. They also expressed satisfaction with the resilience of the economy in the face of increasing oil prices. Support to the private sector, especially micro and small enterprises, was also mentioned as noteworthy. Improving access to water and sanitation was also commended. The country continues to enjoy a B+ rating from both Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. The country ranks 82nd in the World Bank Study – Doing Business in 2006. The survey also found Ghana as the 9th easiest place to do business in Africa. In West Africa, Ghana ranks number 1 as the easiest place to do business.

South Africa Business Community gearing up for 2010

Seventy-five percent of medium to large privately held businesses surveyed in South Africa believe that the 2010 FIFA World Cup will benefit them financially, and are taking steps to capitalise on the country's hosting of the event, according to the latest International Business Report by consultants Grant Thornton. According to the survey, 60% of SA companies are considering diversifying their product or service in order to maximise their returns from the tournament, 53% are increasing their workforce, and 46% are making additional capital investments in their businesses. A third (33%) of the businesses surveyed said they were increasing their geographic spread in preparation for the event and its build-up, while a quarter (25%) said they would be importing more goods from abroad.

Kenya's Economy expected to continue Growth during Election Year

The Kenyan Government has expressed optimism that the economic growth witnessed since 2005 will continue upwards this election year. According to the country’s Finance Minister, the Kenyan economy grew by 6% in 2006, an improvement on the growth rate of 5.8% announced by the government in 2005. The Central Bank of Kenya stated, in its '2007 Economic Outlook' forecast, that growth was underpinned by macro-economic stability and improved investor confidence, citing a revitalised agricultural sector, tourism, telecommunication and finance (with revenue collection surpassing the $4.2bn threshold by over 20 percent).

Angolan President inaugurates New Bank

President José Eduardo dos Santos has inaugurated the Development Bank of Angola.  According to José Pedro de Morais, Minister of Finance, the bank will provide a sound basis for productive investments at reasonable costs, creating more jobs and involving the population in production.  The bank will provide long-term loans, guaranteeing immediate resources for areas defined as strategic and, subsequently, for other economic sectors where there is a clear need for goods and services.  The BDA is to be partly financed by oil and diamond revenues.

Biomass export plant for Coega

The Coega Industrial Development Zone outside Port Elizabeth has secured a R70-million investment into a biomass fuel project which will supply 10 000 tons of the product per month to European markets. According to the Coega Development Corporation, the plant will be one of the largest among the 285 operations of this product globally. Production is scheduled to commence in August, with the first product due for export in November. According to the company, about 100 jobs will be created during construction of the plant, which is currently under way, while an additional 60 direct jobs and about 3,000 indirect jobs will be created. Biomass is an environmentally friendly alternative source of energy.

Oil investments in Angola increased by 37% in 2006

Investment in oil exploration amounted to about US$10 billion in 2006, a 37% increase over the previous year, according to Oil Minister Desidério da Costa.  With the start of production in the Dalia oilfield in December and other projects to be implemented in 2007, oil production is expected to reach two million barrels a day.  Angola has seen a continued increase in output in 2006, rising to 1.4 million barrels a day, and by the end of third quarter of 2006 Angola, through Sonangol, the state oil company, had exported about 129 million barrels of crude oil at an average price of US$63 a barrel. Source: ANIP

Virtual Market for Farmers in Ghana

Farmers in Ghana will soon be introduced to an innovative agricultural market information service that will help them sell their produce across Africa. The new service known as TradeNet will enable farmers and traders across the continent to share and fix prices of various agricultural products through the use of mobile phone text messages. Farmers who sign up for the service will receive SMS alerts on whatever commodity they are interested in and where the product is available. Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

South Africa launches State-Owned Broadband Company

The South African Government has announced that it will launch a state-owned company that will provide long-distance telecommunications connectivity “on a cost basis” to the market. The state-owned company, Infraco, will provide such connectivity to Neotel, the second network operator, based on the telecommunications infrastructure originally built by Eskom and Transnet. Infraco is not intended to be a telecommunications company providing a whole host of services but will own the fibre optic cable that was previously held by Eskom and Transnet and it will provide only broadband capacity on fibre cabling across the country.  The South African Government considers broadband to be a key driver of economic growth and wealth generation, enabling South Africa to gain access to universally available, reliable and affordable broadband. According to the Minister of Communications, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, the costs of broadband will reduce given the government’s investment in providing the requisite infrastructure.

Kenya Ready to Adopt Cable

The Kenyan government has confirmed that it is ready to adopt three different under sea cables provided through various routes which should enable the cost of international broadband to be drastically reduced within 18 months. According to the country’s Ministry of Information and Communication, Kenya is taking a three-pronged approach calculated to reduce the cost of international connectivity. Priority will be given to the East African Marine System (Teams), the fiber optic cable link to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. Under the Teams agreement, the Kenya Government will have a 40% holding in the project, Etisalat of UAE will hold 20% and the remaining 40% will go to investors in the East African region. Kenya is also involved in the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) an initiative aimed at constructing and operating a submarine fiber optic cable along the East African Coast. EASSy will connect nine coastal countries and island nations and to the rest of the world. Source: Highway Africa News.

South Africa is to set up a State Diamond Trader

The government is to set up a new state-owned diamond trading company that will buy 10% of locally produced diamonds for resale on the South African market, helping to develop local diamond cutters and polishers. According to the Government, the initiative is in line with its National Industrial Policy Framework aimed at increasing mineral beneficiation in the country.  The policy also promotes strategic state intervention in the agriculture, agro-processing, pharmaceutical and white goods sectors, as well as in creative industries and community and social services.  De Beers, the South African diamond company, had agreed to assist with free management, technical skills and asset provision over the first three years. The company is set to spend R2.2-billion in capital investment in new mines and new exploration activities in South Africa.

Chevron to Build New Headquarters in Angola

The multinational Chevron, Cabinda Gulf Oil Company (Cabgoc), has announced the construction of a new headquarters in the Angolan capital, as a result of the investments made in the country in the fields of exploration, prospecting and production of oil and natural gas. The headquarters will be built in the Chicala zone, in the Ingombota district (Luanda).

South Africa to Build Second Nuclear Plant

South Africa is to build a second nuclear power station as part of a multi-billion rand plan to meet the surging demand for electricity fuelled by the country's economic growth. According to the Government, the state power utility Eskom, with government backing, has taken a decision to build a new conventional nuclear power plant in the southern part of the country to produce upwards of 1 000MW of base load power as an affordable, environmentally sound alternative to gas and coal-fired sources of energy. South Africa currently has one conventional nuclear station: Koeberg in the Western Cape, which contributes base load power of about 1 800MW to the national grid.

$15 Million invested in Kenyan Grain Handling Company

UK private equity investor in emerging markets, Actis, has announced a $15mn investment, through its Actis Africa Agribusiness Fund (AAAF), in Grain Bulk Handlers Limited (GBHL) at Kenya's Kilindini Port. GBHL is a state of the art integrated grain terminal at the port in Mombasa, Kenya's city on the Indian Ocean coast. This is the first investment for the fund in the agri-infrastructure sector in Kenya since it was launched in April 2006. Actis is a leading private equity investor in emerging markets and currently has US$3.3bn of funds under management. The firm said the investment in Mombasa makes Actis a significant minority equity investor in GBHL and, through its representation on the Board of Directors, Actis will participate in providing strategic leadership to the business in its next phase of growth.

Valco-Alcoa Foundation Youth Clinic Inaugurated in Ghana

Alcoa has announced the official opening of the Valco-Alcoa Foundation Youth Clinic in Ashaiman, in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. The new youth health and recreation center was created through a partnership between Alcoa Foundation, Ghana Health Services and Mercy Ships, a global charity. Alcoa Foundation provided $68,000 funding last August to Mercy Ships, who managed the construction project and provided necessary equipment for the center. The new center is staffed and managed by Ghana Health Services, the Ghana government health agency.  Alcoa’s presence in Ghana is through Volta Aluminum Company (Valco), a joint venture with the government of Ghana. Valco provides aluminum ingot from its smelter in Tema to Alcoa customers around the world.  Alcoa is the world's leading producer and manager of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina facilities and has been named one of the top most sustainable corporations in the world at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

South Africa Releases Codes of Good Practice

The South Africa Minister of Trade has published the final Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice in the Government Gazette and Industry which now have full legal standing. The Codes of Good Practice on Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment were published along with the sector charters for the Construction and Finance industries. Their publication in the Government Gazette follows cabinet’s approval of the codes in December last year. Qualifying businesses, all government institutions and State Owned Enterprises, must comply with the codes and be rated in terms of the Generic Scorecard or sector specific charters. The codes allocate 70 percent of their points to broad-based elements such as enterprise development, skills development, preferential procurement and socio-economic development, and smaller companies and start-ups in their first year of operations will be exempt from empowerment requirements, while multi-nationals will have flexibility in how they choose to structure their empowerment deals. The Generic Scorecard awards points amounting to a total of 100 on the seven elements of ownership (20 points), management control (10), employment equity (15), skills development (15), preferential procurement (20), enterprise development (15) and socio-economic development (5).

NEPAD and FARA sign up to boost development of agriculture in Africa

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between NEPAD and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).  FARA, based in Accra, Ghana, facilitates the coordination and exchange of information among the African Sub-Regional Agricultural Research Organisations (SROs), and their National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) stakeholders.FARA’s main activities in supporting the SROs range from strategic planning, strengthening and integrating NARS at the sub-regional level, and increasing collaboration between NARS, International Agricultural Research Centres, (IARCs) and Advanced Research Institutes, (ARIs).  In consultation with NEPAD and its members, FARA will identify priority projects and will work together to enhance the capacity of African scientists, development agencies and farmers to take advantage of new technologies and methodologies to improve African agricultural productivity.

Average Market Return in Africa Maintained @15%


The average year-to-date return chalked by markets across the African continent (excluding Zimbabwe) was 15%. The best performing markets as at the close of business on March 16 include Algeria (137%), Nigeria and Morocco (23 %), Zambia (15 %) and Mauritius (14%). The Tanzanian market led the pack of losers with a loss of 40 per cent by the end of the relevant period, followed by Swaziland (-6 per cent) and South Africa (-3 per cent).  Another significant development has been the approval of the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) of Kenya of plans to set up an over-the-counter trading board. This will allow institutional investors easier access to riskier investment options. The trading board is to be called the Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system (ASDAQ).  Source: Databank

Investment in Angola Totals over US$ 4 billion

Angola’s National Private Investment Agency (ANIP) has approved 1,124 investment projects, with an overall value of US$4 billion, over the last four years, according to the Chief Executive of the agency, Ari de Carvalho. In the last year alone, 463 investment projects have been approved, the highest number over the last three years, with a total value of US$794 million. The highest number of projects approved was in the construction sector with a total of 238, followed by industry with 173. The growth of investment projects approved since 2003 shows the growing interest investors have in doing business in the country, motivated in part by macro-economic stability and economic growth. Source: ANIP

Fidelity Bank Ghana Introduces New Lifestyle Account

Fidelity Bank Ghana has introduced the Fidelity Lifestyle Investment Plan (FLIP) Account as an investment product that enables an individual to switch over from a pro-expenditure lifestyle to a Wealth Creation Lifestyle. According to the company, its new FLIP Account has three unique characteristics; it guarantees 91-day Treasury bill yield, offers a Capital Accumulation Plan (CAP) which encourages accumulation of wealth through a consistent monthly payment of contributions as well as providing a credit facility that ensures instant liquidity at the time of need.  FLIP Account holders also qualify for a Flip Loan. The FLIP Account which targets both salaried employees and the self-employed was launched by the bank in March 2007. http://www.fidelitybank.com.gh/

South Africa to build a Second Nuclear Plant

South Africa is to build a second nuclear power station as part of a multi-billion rand plan to meet the surging demand for electricity fuelled by the country's economic growth. The state power utility Eskom, with government backing, plans to build a new conventional nuclear power plant in the southern part of the country to produce upwards of 1000 MW of baseload power. Eskom is committed to spending R97-billion over the next five years on building new coal-fired power stations and rehabilitating older stations to address South Africa's looming electricity shortage. The South African government announced that it would develop the local nuclear industry as an affordable, environmentally sound alternative to gas and coal-fired sources of energy. The country will also continue to explore other clean energy sources such as biofuels and liquid fuels. Source: Business Day

Nigeria to increase Oil Production to 4 Million Barrels by 2010

The Nigerian Government has announced plans to increase production from the current level of 2.6 million barrels per day to four million by 2010. Nigeria is the world's sixth-largest oil exporter and derives more than 95% of its foreign exchange earnings from oil.  In addition, the Government intends to increase the nation's oil refining capacity to two million barrels a day and has urged the major oil companies to work towards achieving these goals and to intensify offshore exploration.

China's Hangxiao Steel Structure wins Angolan Construction Contract

China's Hangxiao Steel Structure has won a $4.4bn contract to sell construction products and services for public housing projects in Angola. The contract was signed with China International Fund Ltd, a Hong Kong-based company with construction interests in Africa. In addition to the sale of construction products, estimated at 3.2 billion, the company will also be paid for construction services in 12 cities across Angola. China International Fund has also signed an Equipment, Procurement and Construction agreement with the Angolan government to build a series of public housing projects within five years.

BFA Bank Opens New Branch in Luanda

The Foment Bank of Angola (BFA) recently inaugurated a new branch in Luanda, increasing the number of agencies opened to 69. The recently opened BFA branch, located at Major Kanhangulo Street, offers three different solutions for providing service to its clients, in order to improve the quality of service rendered. The main goal of the bank is to expand its commercial network to 100 branches within the year.

South Africa Commits Further Investment into Education

South Africa has committed an additional R8.1 billion over the next three years to hire additional teachers, teaching assistants and support staff in schools and districts and to improve remuneration levels of teachers. In the country’s 2997 budget announced by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, the Government has also set aside R850 million for adult education and training while R700 million has been allocated for bursaries to encourage young people to train as teachers and to pursue careers in the public schooling system. The Minister announced a further R2,2 billion to support the university sector to meet its objectives of increasing enrolment and producing more science, engineering and technology graduates

Angola to Have First Visa Credit Cards

Angolans will shortly have access to Visa credit cards, according to the Chairman of Banco International de Crédito (BIC), Fernando Teles.  Angola is among the few countries in Africa that are yet to introduce a credit card system, which eases banking, business and other transactions.  Teles explained that at this introductory point, five banks have been given the green light by the Angolan government to use the Visa credit card system.  Source: ANIP

ENANA Invests US$400 Million in Airports Rehabilitation

The National Company of Airports Exploration and Air Navigation (ENANA) intends to rehabilitate around 32 airports and airfields, a move that will be carried out in partnership with the Public Works Ministry, by 2010. The Angola National Company of Exploration of Airports and Air Navigation (ENANA) will invest approximately US$400 million, in the 2007/2008 period, for the rehabilitation and recovery of airports and airfields in the country. In the next three years, ambitious infrastructure programs will be developed as, according to the Luanda airport administration, the airports need to be made operational to enable the company to reach all districts with airports, especially those under ENANA control. The company has announced that the first stage priority will be to reconstruct 25 of the mentioned infrastructures, with the remainder to be completed thereafter.

Africa Investment Climate Facility Appoints CEO

The Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa has appointed Omari Issa, formerly of Celtel, as its first CEO.  Launched at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town in 2006, the ICF is a private-public partnership structured on private sector principles and governed by an independent board. Its vision is to identify key challenges to doing business and to develop a core of large-scale investment programmes focused on demonstrable change. It has the support of the African Union, NEPAD, the Commission for Africa, the G8 and Business Action for Africa. The ICF's donor funding has increased by 50 percent since June last year from $80mn to $120mn and Standard Bank has announced that it is committing $2.5 million to the Facility to improve the investment climate as well as promote sound governance in Africa.  The ICF will provide both technical and financial assistance in support of the NEPAD strategy of ensuring good governance as the necessary condition for Africa's socio-economic transformation. The ICF says that investment climate reform will help promote economic growth and employment creation on the continent.  Source: I-Net Bridge

Russian-Angolan VTB Bank Opens

Banco VTB Africa SA, the first Angolan foreign-controlled bank, has opened in the capital, Luanda, with Russia's foreign trade bank Vneshtorgbank (VTB) holding 66% stock. The bank has authorized capital of US$10 million and is expected to initially focus on corporate and investment business. The main clients of the bank will be companies interested in developing their business in Angola, in such sectors as processing natural resources, energy, telecommunications, construction and trade.

Strate assesses the future of Settlements in South Africa

Strate Limited has embarked on a new initiative called the Security Services Enhancement Model (SSEM) that will ultimately determine the future of clearing and settlement for the South African securities markets. According to the company, Strate has dedicated much time and effort to the Alternate Settlement Model (ASM) project. The SSEM project is to investigate a new approach to securities settlement that will further increase efficiencies and manage risk while strategically aligning Strate’s business and the South African market with internationally accepted best practices. According to the company, the project represents a stepping stone in its ongoing quest to reduce risk and ensure operational excellence and is engaged in ongoing consultations with South African market players and Central Securities Depository Participants. Source: STRATE

Virgin Atlantic opens new route to Kenya

Virgin Atlantic will launch a new daily service in Kenya in June 2007 to be operated by a 240-seater Airbus A340-300 aircraft.  The new service will target a fifth of the 100,000-passenger market and, if successful, will aim to capture a quarter of the market currently dominated by British Airways and Kenyan Airways. Nairobi will become Virgin Atlantic's fourth African destination. The airline, which already flies to Cape Town, Lagos and Johannesburg, will also plans to launch a London-Mauritius flight in November.

South Africa’s Bonds Turnover Soars to over R11 Trillion

Turnover on the Bond Exchange of South Africa in 2006 amounted to R11.4 trillion, an increase of 40.6% over the 2005 figure of R8.1 trillion. The bond trades, cleared and settled through Strate Limited, translates to a total value of R21,9 trillion in trades being captured through the Strate bond system, pointing to a sharp rise in the average value of those trades.  The company has ascribed the remarkable growth in activity largely to increased trading in liquid government bonds with bigger individual trades, and supported by an increase in activity from foreign clients trading in the local market. The nominal value of bonds under management in Strate and the market has got off to a good start in 2007 with a turnover in January of R1.1 trillion that far exceeded expectations and is almost double the January 2006 figure. Source: STRATE

Tianli Group Creates Business Park in Mauritius

The Tianli Group of China has announced that it is to spend US$500 million to set up a business park in Mauritius. The Mauritian Government has approved a plan for the Group, which already has a weaving factory on the island, to house 40 Chinese businesses in an industrial zone north of the capital, a project that will create 5,000 jobs and lead to the creation of a further 2,500 among the local population as well as 8,000 jobs for Chinese contract workers.  The project will take five years to develop and is due to start later this year. The businesses destined for the new zone will cover a variety of sectors including light industrial, medicine production, textiles and the manufacture of electrical goods.  Source AFP

South Africa Steps up Support for Business Process Outsourcing

The South African Government has announced details of a comprehensive government assistance and support programme aimed at creating 100,000 jobs by the end of 2009.  Key elements include marketing, facilitating easy entry into South Africa for both new and expanding BPO operations, skills development, simplified administrative procedures and other investment incentives. In addition to raising South Africa’s profile as a global outsourcing destination, the measures includes targeted marketing for high-impact foreign investors and a talent development initiative, Monyetla, that will provide unemployed matriculants with work-readiness skills. A Training and Skills Support Grant will subsidise the cost of company specific skills training The BPO sector is expected to grow by 50% per annum for the next four to five years, resulting in a growth potential of US$50bn to $60bn.

Chinese Company Signs Contracts for Two Construction Projects in Angola

Hangxiao Steel Structure, a Chinese construction company, has signed two contracts to supply construction materials and carry out construction projects in Angola over five years. The contract for supplying construction materials includes products such as steel structures, flooring, doors and windows. The construction contract includes the installation of the steel structures, which will be produced in the company’s factory. Hangxiao Steel Structure, from Zhejiang province, was founded in December 1994. Source: ANIP

Ivory Coast launches New IT Technology Park

Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo has laid the foundation stone for a multi-million-dollar technology park which has been part-financed by China and India, which it is hoped will create 20 000 jobs. Targeted to create what the Government calls the biggest IT centre in Africa, the new venture, on a 500-hectare site will cost $402mn, two thirds of which will be financed by China and India. Source: Sapa-AFP

African Development Bank Launches Visa Card

The African Development Bank will launch three Visa credit cards, called BAI Classic, BAI Gold and BAI Platinum. This launch follows negotiations with the Visa network, dating back to 2006, which formally admitted BAI as a member authorized to issue and accept credit cards used in the world. The new cards enable BAI customers to join the world’s largest payment network, withdraw money from more than one million ATMs, and buy from 150 countries and approximately 30 million counters.

South Africa’s First National Bank Partners with China

The First National Bank (FNB) will be collaborating with China Union Pay, China's state-owned payment mechanism, to provide Chinese cardholders with the opportunity to transact with South Africa. As China seeks new markets throughout the world and with the easing of travel restrictions for the Chinese population, there is greater demand for Chinese business people and tourists to visit other countries. South Africa conducts significant trade with China and requires a banking system that supports this.  China Union Pay was set up to develop a single payment system for all Chinese people, cutting out the regional systems that used to apply. The deal with enable anyone from China to transact via the South African banking system.  China Union Pay has already signed deals with banks in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the USA, as well as with Eufiserv, a pan-European payment system. Source: I-Net Bridge

IFC Approves $50 Million Loan for Leading Nigerian bank

The Board of the IFC has approved a convertible loan of $150 million as part of a $75 million financing and advisory services package for the Nigerian bank, United Bank for Africa.  The agreement is also expected to include a partial credit guarantee for bonds and medium term notes that UBA plans to issue to finance mortgage lending and other strategic businesses.  United Bank for Africa (UBA), is Nigeria's largest bank in terms of commercial assets.  Nigeria became a member and a shareholder of IFC in 1961. Since then, IFC has invested more than one billion dollars in the country, including $113mn in syndicated loans, to finance over 68 projects across a variety of sectors.  The organisation’s committed portfolio in Nigeria currently stands at 719 million.

New Call Centre Planned for Coega in South Africa

The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is building a R125-million call centre that will feature 1 500 seats as well as office and recreational space to improve the global competitiveness of the Coega Industrial Development Zone. The facility, called Business Process Outsourcing Park (BPO) in the Coega IDZ, will be built on a 5-hectare piece of land and will be the first of its kind in South Africa. The centre is part of a plan to attract local and international investors and will be placed in the Business Service Precinct, replacing a 200-seater call centre currently in operation. Coega, he said, would be responsible for the overall management of the building that is designed to cater for various scenarios.

Development Bank approves $115 million for Swazi Projects

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) has approved $115mn in loan approvals for various development projects in Swaziland to support a diversified economic portfolio in Swaziland and promote broad-based economic participation of the local people.  Much of DBSA's previous investment in Swaziland has focused on the public sector, and specifically in water infrastructure.  Diversification into other sectors offers the country an economic advantage. The Bank has to date invested around R. 12 billion within the SADC region on a wide range of projects and programmes.  Source: I-Net Bridge

South Africa to Promote Maths and Science in High Schools

The South African Government has reaffirmed its commitment to promote Maths, Science and Technology in high schools and has announced a plan to deploy teachers qualified in those fields to the country's 6,000 schools. The Government aims to attract competent local and foreign teachers and to encourage new teachers into public education through a programme of incentives, including bursaries and rewards. Maths, science and technology are some of the critical skills identified as a key part of the Government’s Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgi-SA) that aims to increase economic growth to 6% per annum between 2010 and 2014, while also halving unemployment and poverty by 2014.

South Africa’s Telkom acquires Nigeria's Multi-links

South Africa’s Telkom has announced the finalization of a transaction with Nigerian-based Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited that will result in its holding company, Kenston Investments Limited, transferring 75% of its equity shareholding in Multi-Links to Telkom (TKG). The $280mn deal will give Telkom a strong footprint in Nigeria, Africa's largest market and fastest growing telecoms market, and provide the company with a springboard for further expansion into other countries in West Africa. Multi-Links is Nigeria's pioneer Private Telephone Operator (PTO) and the second largest PTO in the country in terms of its subscriber base of 162 000, including the highest number of subscribers in Lagos. Telkom's deal with Multi-Links follows February's acquisition of Africa Online, an Internet Service Provider on the African continent that affords Telkom a footprint into nine African states (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia). Source: I-Net Bridge

Angolan Government Approves US$200 Million Investment Project


The Angolan Government has approved a private investment project, Palanca Cimento, valued at US$200 million that will include the construction of an industrial complex for the production of clinker and cement. The industrial complex, to be built in the locality of Hanha in 24 months, will include commercial facilities, a loading quay, distribution centers, and electricity and water treatment stations. The primary project investors include the Angolan group, GEMA, S.A. and the US consortium BGGA Group Ventures 1, LLP.

Ghana - Most Significant Improvement in Economic Freedom

Economic Freedom of the World 2006 Annual Report, by Vancouver-based Fraser Institute ranks Ghana first in the world for having made the most significant improvement in economic freedom over the last few years. With 10 being the highest score, Ghana, for instance, has seen its rating moved up from 5.6 in 2001 to 6.3 in 2004, clocking the highest jump for the period, only matched by Barbados and Bulgaria, which moved up from 5.5 to 6.2 and 5.7 to 6.3, respectively, over the same period. Commenting on Ghana's superior showing, Finance Minister Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu said it only goes to confirm the World Bank survey that placed Ghana among the top ten improved countries in which to do business. Source: Databank

New Angolan Shopping Centre Offers 100 Shops and Eight Cinemas

Belas Shopping Center was recently inaugurated in the Talatona area and offers 100 stores and restaurants, as well as eight cinemas, with 2,400 seats. After an investment of US$ 35 million, the center was built over an area of 119,418,47 square meters, with the layout designed by Brazilian architects André Sá and Francisco Mota. An administrator of HO Investments Management (HOGI), one of the investors in the project, explained that the company is looking into building shopping centers in Huíla, Huambo and Benguela provinces. Belas Shopping will employ 950 people and create 2,500 jobs, indirectly.

MTN Nigeria Boosts Group's Revenue By N263bn

The MTN Group has increased its revenue by 49 per cent to over N912.918 billion for the year ended December 31, 2006 with MTN Nigeria correspondingly increasing its own revenue by 31% to N263.497 billion for the same year. A breakdown of the company’s figures show that South Africa is still the major earner, with the highest revenue of N439 billion, an increase of 22%. Ghana made N29 billion revenue for the group, while Sudan earned N10 billion. MTN Nigeria also increased its subscriber base by 47 per cent to add 3.9 million additional subscribers to the Group's over 40 million-subscriber base, bringing MTN's Nigerian subscriber platform to 12.3 million at the end of 2006. MTN Nigeria also recorded a market share of 46% and reduced churn levels from 35 to 30%. Source: Databank

Over US$33 Million Released for Social Projects

Approximately US$ 33 million was allocated for the implementation of a public investment program in the Kwanza-Norte province, aimed at improving and increasing the supply of basic goods and services to the population, in 2007/2008. The budget has recorded a 47 percent increase in relation to the previous biennium (2005/2006). Of the invested amount, 14.8 percent was allocated to the energy and water sectors and 12.3 percent to infrastructure and public works.

Zambian Bank sold in $8million Deal

The Zambian government has sold its largest state-run commercial bank to Rabobank of The Netherlands in a deal worth more than eight million dollars. Rabobank has taken over the management of the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZNCB). The Dutch firm will effectively take control of 45%of the shares with management rights while 25% of the shares will be floated on the Lusaka Stock Exchange, with the government retaining the minority shares. Rabobank has promised to maintain the rural branches, which service the poor communities throughout the country.

Commercial Banks Allocate US$400 Million for Public Works

The Angolan Commercial Banks will finance the construction and improvements of public infrastructures, estimated at approximately US$400 million. The contract between the Finance Ministry and the Union of Commercial Banks, led by the Foment Bank of Angola (BFA), covers financing for the construction of the Capanda/Lucala/Luanda electricity supply network and of the Luanda/Viana motorway.

Telkom Kenya Seeks New Investor

Telkom Kenya is to be privatised within the next seven months through the initial sale of a 26% stake to a strategic equity partner. The Government invited expressions of interest from companies interested in buying the stake in the State-owned landline company. In a newspaper advertisement, the Government said it also intended to sell off a further 34% of Telkom in an initial public offering once the strategic partner was on board. The date of the IPO is yet to be determined but it is to be executed in consultation and co-operation with the new shareholding partner. Source: Databank

Increase in Jobs Created in South Africa

According to Statistics SA, South Africa's economy is creating more jobs, and jobs of higher quality, than ever before. The labour force survey shows a modest decline in unemployment between 2005 and 2006 as well. The country’s official unemployment rate has decreased from 26.7% to 25.5% in September 2006, while 500,000 new jobs have been created. South Africa's formal sector (excluding agriculture) was the main driver, accounting for 1.4-million of the 1.6-million new jobs created in the five years to last September. The survey shows that despite an increase in the number of people in the market for jobs, the percentage of working-age South Africans with jobs improved from 41.1% to 42.7%. The country's trade industry (including the wholesale and retail sectors) accounted for 23.9% of the total increase in employment, the single largest contribution by any industry. The industry currently employs more than 3 million people.

Shell Plans Full Production from Nigeria

Petroleum giant Shell has announced that it expects to resume full production in its oil operations in Nigeria’s Niger Delta within the next few months. This follows a year of numerous closures when Shell lost about 500,000 barrels a day in production from its fields in the western part of the oil-rich delta after attacks by rebel groups. Violence in the region has curtailed up to a fifth of Nigeria’s total oil production. Shell, the biggest operator in Nigeria, still pumps about 500,000 barrels a day from the eastern delta region and from several large offshore platforms. Nearly half of Shell’s production in Nigeria has been interrupted since February 2006, after a critical loading platform linked to the Forcados export terminal was blown up. The attack created a chokepoint that forced Shell to shut most of its fields and interrupt production. Source: New York Times Online

Mauritius Exported $1.1bn in 2006

Mauritius exported products worth $1.1bn in 2006 against $963.3mn in 2005, according to the country’s central statistics bureau. It said the 16.4% increase in exports was led by the 13.4% increase in clothing items, 57.8%in sea products and 16.3%in fabrics. The statistics indicated that the United Kingdom, France and US remained the main export markets for the Mauritian duty-free zone, representing about 67 percent of the overall exports. The British market shot up by 24.2 percent and the French by 9.1 percent against 2005 figures, while the US market dropped by 14 percent, the bureau said. In trade with African countries, products worth $36.6mn were exported to South Africa and some $30mn to Madagascar, the Bureau reported.

Angolan Government Invests Luanda Roads Reconstruction

The Angolan Government plans to invest US$1 million over the next year in the reconstruction of Luanda’s road network. The funding is from the credit line made available by Brazil and Brazilian construction companies will carry out the projects. The road rehabilitation will increase traffic flow, make outskirts of the city more accessible, enhance regular circulation of vehicles and pedestrians, and improve the drainage of rainwater.

Chinese and Namibian Businesses Sign Agreements

Chinese and Namibian businesses have signed agreements regarding the purchase of marble blocks, seal oil, wet-blue cattle hides, manganese ore, marble slabs, fishmeal, tuna and blister copper. In addition, the two countries have agreed on the implementation of projects in the areas of trade, partnership and co-operation. The agreements were signed during the visit to Namibia of a Chinese business delegation. Source: African Resource Network

IFC Invests US$15 million in new Lonmin Shares

Further to the Lonmin IFC (International Finance Corporation) partnership signed in March 2007, the IFC has notified Lonmin that it is exercising the first tranche of its option to invest in new Lonmin shares with an initial investment of US$15 million. Lonmin will issue 245,020 shares to the IFC at 3103 pence per share, a discount of 5.0% to the closing mid market price of Lonmin shares on the London Stock Exchange on 2 April 2007. Lonmin has committed to use the US$15 million received from the IFC for this investment to fund projects to benefit the communities that host Lonmin's operations in South Africa.

Angolan Government Investments Estimated at US$ 7 Billion for 2007

The Angolan Government’s Public Investments Program for this year is estimated to total US$ 7 billion, according to the country’s Minister of Finance José Pedro de Morais during a ceremony at which a US$ 400 million loan contract was signed with Angolan commercial banks to build highways and improve the electric power infrastructure in the country’s capital city. José Pedro de Morais said the government has adopted a policy of replacing foreign loans with loans from internal sources, enabling the Government to obtain longer repayment terms, at interest rates more competitive than those prevailing abroad. Treasury Bonds will be issued that are redeemable between 8 and 12 years. Source: ANIP

South Africa’s Property Ranks High Globally

According to the Investment Property Databank, the South African commercial property market achieved returns of 26.7% in 2006, placing it among the top performing markets worldwide. This represents South Africa's second-highest annual return since the inception of the IPD Index in 1995 and, according to the index, the three-year annualised return for South African commercial property was 26.7%, equivalent to the total return of 2006. Property returns from other countries included Ireland (27.2%), Canada (18.6%), the UK (18.1%), Denmark (17.8%), Norway (17.6%), Sweden (16.2%), Netherlands (12.5%) and Portugal (12%).

United Nations Report Lauds Angola’s Growth

High oil export prices helped Angola reach the study's top position with 17.6% growth, the UN's Economic Commission for Africa said in a report published in Addis Ababa. Mauritania placed second with 14.1%, while mineral exports helped Mozambique reach third place at 7.9 percent. At the bottom of the ladder apart from Zimbabwe, the Comoros, Ivory Coast, the Seychelles and Swaziland exhibited the most dismal economic growth rates in Africa. The report projected a 5.8% growth rate on the continent this year, a slight improvement from last year's 5.6 % due to growing global demand for commodities such as oil, minerals and agricultural products.

Survey finds neglect of small businesses by African banks

A survey by global auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers of strategic and emerging banking issues in key African markets has reported that banking institutions neglect small businesses. The survey focused on a number of leading countries including South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Senegal and the Ivory Coast. The study also identified concerns in all markets about servicing the “un-banked” market, particularly for people living in rural areas. The development and growth of SMEs in the country has been identified as one of the key drivers for job creation and the fight against poverty.

Accesskenya Declares Its Value Ahead of IPO

Accesskenya Group, an ICT provider, has released extracts of its financial statements ahead of listing on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Figures covering the last three years indicate the firm's revenues have grown by an average 75% annually over the period to the current Sh578 million. The company's adjusted after-tax profit rose from Sh25 million to Sh94 million, showing an average growth of 90% annually. The ICT provider plans to raise Sh800 million, through floatation of 80 million shares at Sh10 each. Source: Databank

East Africa Set for Single Bourse

East African countries have taken a closer step towards integration of their stock markets after stock market chiefs agreed on a strategic plan for a common bourse. The Uganda Securities Exchange (USE), Nairobi Stock Exchange and Dar-Es-Salaam Stock Exchange agreed to hasten plans of cross listing companies on the three stock markets. The chiefs agreed to lobby their respective Governments to mandate such ventures. Under the new proposal, cross-listed companies will pay annual listing fees only to the market of primary listing. The chiefs, under East African Securities Exchanges Association, also agreed to lower the initial listing fees to $5,000 (about Shs8 million). Companies have previously paid a percentage of the company's market capitalization. Source: Databank

Ghana Targets US$2 Billion from One Million Tourists

Ghana expects some one million tourists in 2007 with an expected income of two billion dollars, according to the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations. 428,533 tourists were recorded to have visited Ghana in 2005 giving the nation about 836 million dollars. The number of arrivals increased by 16% in 2006. He said the expected increase in 2007 was because of "The Joseph Project", which would come to a climax between July and August 2007. The Joseph Project is aimed at reconciling and uniting Africans who have lost contact with their roots back home to contribute to the realization of African goals. According to the Ministry, the Ghanaian Government intends to convert James Fort in Accra, which kept the first slaves and prisoners, into a home of "African Excellence Experience" for all Africans from all walks of life who triumphed over slavery. Source: Databank

Angola Airline Starts Flights to London in April

Angolan airline, TAAG, is awaiting official documentation from the United Kingdom to launch a Luanda/London flight. The route to London will run once a week in its initial stage. The company is also preparing flights from Luanda to Dubai, which are expected to open in October, as well as Luanda to Frankfurt and Luanda to China.

South African Airways expands American Network

South African Airways (SAA) has expanded its presence in the United States, with travellers now offered the choice of flying to and from an additional 15 American cities. Through a code-sharing agreement with fellow Star Alliance member United Airlines, SAA now offers flights to Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham and St Louis. SAA is currently the only airline to offer non-stop flights from the US to South Africa, with daily departures from both Washington DC and New York. Through its membership of Star Alliance, SAA is able to offer its customers the choice of 852 destinations in 152 countries, with more than 15 000 daily flights.

BritishTelecom and UNICEF offer ICT Assistance to South African Schools

BT and UNICEF are working together on a three-year development partnership to invest £1.5-million (approximately R21-million) to bring education, technology and communications skills to children from poor backgrounds in South Africa, Brazil and China. Rural schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal will benefit from well-equipped computer centres. Apart from the installation of 250 computers, the sponsorship will help renovate schools, build additional classrooms and provide state-of-the-art computer laboratories. To make best use of the new facilities being provided, 150 head teachers and administrators will be trained in effective school management and leadership skills.

Investment Climate Facility Announces Tanzanian Headquarters

The Investment Climate Facility (ICF), a fund designed to help Africa create a more attractive business environment, has announced that its headquarters are to be based in Tanzania. The ICF is a partnership between African governments, the private sector, G8 countries, and donor agencies and has a mandate of improving Africa’s investment climate and remove barriers to growth. Since its launch at the World Economic Forum in 2006 in South Africa, the Facility has increased committed sponsor funding by 50% from $80 million to $120 million and significant additional commitments are expected in the coming months.

TAAG Re-opens Luanda/Luena Route

Angola Airlines (TAAG) re-opened their Luanda/Luena passenger and cargo flights, which had been out of service for the past four years, due to poor runway conditions. With five flights a week, TAAG is operating the Luena (eastern Moxico province) route with a boieng-727/100, everyday of the week except Sunday. The re-opening of TAAG flights in the region will help the local population facilitate their travels to other provinces of the country.

Great Lakes countries Reunite

Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have re-launched the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), an organisation that has been dormant for 13 years. Diplomatic heads from the three nations participated in the meeting, which will re-launch an organisation begun in 1976 but is inactive because of war and rebellion that has plagued the region. The re-launch program includes a budget for the first year of $970 000, financed primarily by Belgium and the European Union, and the creation of an interim executive secretary. The organisation will permit the free movement of people and goods within the region, and plans to create a regional bank and an institute for agricultural research.

Higher Institute Releases First Hotels and Tourism Graduates

The first graduates of the Hotels and Tourism course, from Angola’s Higher Private Institute (Ispra), were presented recently in Luanda. The group of 20 students will present their graduation works in the up coming months. At school, they tackled four-year course subjects that were related to tourism and hotel management, as well as investment appraisal and statistics. The conclusion of the training program represents a benefit to the national market, as the country is in need of highly qualified personnel in this sector. Ispra is Angola’s only institution that runs higher degrees in hotels and tourism, and there are currently around 150 students enrolled in the study.

Sub-Saharan Africa to grow 6.5%

Economic growth in sub-Saharan African countries over the past three years has been the best in more than three decades, driven by higher oil revenues, high commodity prices and debt relief. The International Monetary Fund's (IMF's) Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, released in early April, predicts that growth in the region will rise to about 6.5% in 2007, driven mainly by rising oil production in a number of countries. The report adds that even oil-importing countries will experience economic growth at about 5%. Inflation for the region is projected to remain unchanged at about 7%, with three-quarters of the countries expected to record single-digit inflation. According to the IMF report, African oil-exporting countries have taken advantage of large windfall profits in recent years and, in contrast to previous commodity price booms, have saved a significant part of this additional revenue. The region's economic growth is also being driven by Asian demand for its commodities, providing it with an opportunity to reverse the long-term decline in the region's share in world trade.

South Africa's Blue Train to go private

South Africa's luxury Blue Train is set to go private. State rail company Spoornet is to offer the Blue Train to investors on a long-term lease, as the operator focuses on its core business of bulk freight transportation. According to Business Day, Public Enterprises Director-General Portia Molefe told Parliament's portfolio committee on public enterprises last month that the department had received a disposal strategy from Spoornet's parent company, Transnet, with bidding to start by the end of April. According to the newspaper, bidding will be open to both local and international rail operators, with speculation that Chinese, Indian and British investors are interested in the sale.

Angolan Government Approves US$200 Million Investment Project


Kenya's Tea Output Increases by Over 100%

Kenya's tea production for the first quarter of 2007 increased by 119% to 108 million kg from 49 million kg registered during the same period last year. According to the Tea Board of Kenya, the improved output is due to well-distributed rainfall experienced in tea growing areas. It cited total export volume for the first three months of the year at 100 million kg, an increase of 32% from 75 million kg registered the same period last year. In 2005, Kenya was the fourth largest tea producer after India, China and Sri Lanka and contributed 10% of the global tea production. Alongside tourism and horticulture, tea is a leading foreign exchange earner for Kenya.

Lonrho buys Stake in Mineral Water Company

Lonrho Africa, the pan African investment business, has acquired a 34% stake in Sociedade de Águas de Mocambique, a major mineral water company in Mozambique. Águas de Moçambique is an extractor, bottler and distributor of mineral water, whose principal brand, Água de Namaacha, currently has an overall share of approximately 30% in the Mozambique water market. Águas de Moçambique has achieved year on year growth of approximately 100 percent per annum between 2003 and 2005 and in 2007 water sales are expected to be in the region of 3 000 000 litres. Águas de Moçambique has recently invested $1.2mn in a new bottling plant and factory. This acquisition represents another step in Lonrho’s broader strategy to become a pan African company, focused on investing in growth businesses that will make a difference to Africa by enhancing basic infrastructure to facilitate the sustainable growth of the continent as a resources and business hub.

Namibia to Boost Trade with Malaysia

Namibia and Malaysia have agreed to strengthen economic ties and increase trade. As trade between the two countries grows, the intention is to deepen economic relations and encourage more investments from Malaysia in research, development and agriculture as well as mining, trade and information technologies. Malaysia is also interested in construction and housing projects in the southern African country. Malaysia's largest investment in Namibia is the 100-million-dollar textile and garment factory Ramatex, which initially employed 6,000 people. Malaysia imports processed marble, precious stones for jewellery production and textiles from Namibia. According to the Namibian Trade Minister, bilateral trade between the countries came to 30 million dollars last year.

SADC Forms Diamond Cartel

Diamond-producing member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have formalised the formation of an African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA). The SADC countries account for more than half of the world's diamonds and the ADPA is meant to increase the producers' influence on the global market for the gem. The countries concerned are Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Namibia and South Africa account for about 60% of the world's diamond output, whilst Zimbabwe has two nascent diamond mines, one operated by Rio Tinto and another one by River Ranch. The Association will work closely with such organisations as the Kimberly Process to clamp down on illicit trade in the precious stones.

SABMiller Sells Pepsi Operations in Costa Rica

Brewing giant SABMiller has sold its Pepsi bottling operations in Costa Rica to Cerveceria Costa Rica, a subsidiary of Florida Ice and Farm Company. The brewer acquired the Pepsi operation when it bought Bavaria for $7,8bn in 2005, which provided it with access to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Panama. According to the company, the group disposed of the Pepsi operation as part of a tidy-up campaign to sell non-core assets it inherited in 2005. The group was focusing on improving beer’s image and on entrenching its portfolio in the region. SABMiller, which posted revenue of $15,3bn in its past year, operates in more than 60 countries on six continents. Latin America is expected to contribute a quarter to SABMiller's earnings

Angolan Postal Service to Invest US$24 Million in Modernization

The Angolan National Post and Telecommunications Firm will invest US$24 million through the year 2012, in the rehabilitation and modernization of approximately 160 of its centers, throughout the country. This investment is part of the institution’s steering plan that has been implemented since 2004 and is aimed at improving their service to the public. Under this plan, nine provincial centers have been rehabilitated and equipped, including the set-up of Internet services. Two additional centers are to be inaugurated soon, in Malanje and Huambo provinces.

China and Ethiopia in $200mn Telecom Deal

China's ZTE announced a $200mn deal with Ethiopia's state-owned telecoms group. An agreement with Ethiopia Telecom Corp will build up the east African nation's fledgling telecommunications network. The agreement includes the first phase of fibre transmission backbone, expansion of mobile phone services and the expansion of wireless telephone operations. State-owned ZTE will install 1.2 million mobile telephone lines in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa and eight other towns.

Liberia Re-Launches Diamond Trade

Liberia has re-launched its diamond-mining sector following the United Nations lift of a four-year ban on trade in the precious gemstone. The Liberian government has pledged to abide by the conditions set by the UN to ensure that its diamonds remain within the tight international diamond control system. The UN lifted the block imposed in 2003 on Liberian raw diamond exports, stating that the country has made progress in ensuring international safeguards in diamond trade. Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf assured the UN that her country will strive to make sure the gem is not used again to fund conflicts and to avoid fresh sanctions being imposed on the resource-rich but war ravaged and impoverished country.

Billiton takes Guinea Bauxite Stake

Global resources giant BHP Billiton (BIL) has acquired a 33.3% interest in Global Alumina's Sangaredi Refinery Project in Guinea, West Africa, for US$140 million. The project comprises the design, construction and operation of a 3Mtpa alumina refinery, 9Mtpa bauxite mine, and associated infrastructure. The proposed refinery site is approximately 100km inland from Kamsar and has the benefit of access to existing rail infrastructure linking it to the Port of Kamsar, where dedicated facilities are already under construction. As part of the agreement, BHP Billiton will appoint the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the Joint Venture Company (JVC) and will enter into a services agreement with the JVC for the development, construction and operation of the project, which will be operated in accordance with BHP Billiton standards. Global Alumina will now hold a 33.3% equity interest in the Sangaredi Refinery Project. Source: I-Net Bridge

Luanda Business Incubator Inaugurated

The Angolan Minister of Public Administration, Employment and Social Security, Pitra Into, has inaugurated Luanda’s business incubator, established to create and strengthen new businesses and boost job generation and maintenance. Luanda enterprise incubators are organizations equipped with infrastructures and a set of services that support the creation of new businesses in the various sectors of the economy. The incubators stimulate and support the creation of small size enterprises, upgrade business operators with a view to operating in new segments of the market, as well as develop regionally or locally for the potential ability to create new goods and services. The incubators also seek to improve technologies in various sectors of economic activity and operate in the sectors of tourism and hotels, civil construction, oil and derivatives, and information and communication technologies.

Liberia Ratifies Steelmaker Mining Deal

The Liberian Senate has ratified an iron ore-mining contract sealed last year between the government and the world's largest steelmaker, Arcelor Mittal. Senate spokesperson Varney Gbaysay said this week that a majority of its members have approved the deal. Under the so-called Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed by the Liberian government and Mittal in December, the steelmaker has promised to pour more than a billion dollars in investment into the war-ravaged state. The agreement is a revised version of an August 2005 deal, reached by a transitional government, but rejected as unfair by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when she came into office five months later. The 25-year concession deal - which will generate more than 20 000 jobs once the mining operation is fully operational - gives Mittal access to a billion cubic metres of iron ore in the resource-rich West African country. It will have to make available three million dollars for the three counties for general development as part of the deal.

BAI Opens another Agency in Luanda

The Banco Africano de Investimento (BAI) has opened an additional branch in Luanda to fulfill their expansion strategy that has over 100,000 clients. The opening of the new agency aims at meeting the growing demands of BAI credits and the resulting presence of individuals and companies at its branches. BAI plans to open 15 new branches this year, covering all provincial capitals in its first phase. With capital of approximately US$ 2.3 billion, BAI is one of the banking institutions that approved the most credit to the Angolan economy.

GT Bank Headline Earnings Rocket

Guaranty Trust Bank Gambia announced strong results for the year ended 2006. The bank posted an 84% rise in net profits to D20.2m on top of a 61% growth in net revenues to D94.2m. The impressive results were underpinned by a 156% growth in investments to D231m and an 87% expansion in the loan book to D238m while deposits soared 85% to D577m. The strong outturn and changes in rules on dividend payments by the Central Bank has allowed the bank to declare its first ever dividend of 0.08 bututs per share. The results also lifted shareholders funds up by 24% to D75m.

Ecobank Releases Strong First Quarter Results

Ecobank group has announced a profit of US $24.7 for the first quarter 2007, up 20. According to a statement from the bank, it recorded positive results largely because of a significant increase in the performance of Ecobank Nigeria. Total assets of the Group improved significantly by 57% to US$4 billion, in comparison with the same period in 2006. Total deposits rose by 71 percent to US$3 billion largely resulting from the positive effect of branch expansion.

New Currency Launched in Ghana

The Bank of Ghana has unveiled five new bank notes and six coins to be circulated from 1st July 2007. The Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Paul Acquah, said the new currencies would allow the domestic currency to assume its role as the means of exchange and store of value for all. The introduction of the new currency has become necessary because of re-denomination of the Ghanaian currency the Cedi, which takes effect on July 1, 2007.

UNITEL Expands International Roaming Services in Angola

The mobile telephone company, UNITEL, recently began operating with the "Roaming" services, together with its counterparts from Finland (DNA), Pakistan (WARID) and South Korea (KTF).According to a source from UNITEL, last April they also joined the "Roaming" services with the Thai company (True Move) and another Dutch company, which facilitates communication between its clients. UNITEL started using “Roaming” services in the country in February 2003, with two Portuguese operators, TMN and Vodafone.

Brand South Africa Worth over R500bn

The South Africa brand, according to the South African government is today valued at over half a trillion rand (over R500 billion). Citing the work of the country’s International Marketing Council (IMC) in raising awareness of the country, South African Minister Pahad has reported the value of Brand South Africa R516.6 billion. The IMC has given South Africa a sharper international profile as a dynamic emerging market and created closer working relationship with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI )

Starbucks Strikes Ethiopia Deal

Starbucks and the Ethiopian government have reached an agreement that could help end a dispute over trademarks. The two sides have agreed in principle to sign a licensing and marketing deal that recognises the importance of Ethiopia's speciality coffee beans. Cultivation of the coffee bean first began in Ethiopia, and the country has been seeking to trademark its best-known coffee beans. However, US officials have argued that the plan is not economically viable. Ethiopia and UK charity Oxfam claimed Starbucks was attempting to block plans by the African nation to trademark its Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe coffee beans

IFC Plans African Healthcare Funds

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, is in discussions to create new equity and debt funds totalling up to $500m to finance commercial healthcare projects in Africa. The initiatives, which could be launched as soon as this autumn, include an equity fund with up to $100m in capital and a debt-finance facility worth up to $400m, as well as a programme of technical assistance grants for $50m. The agency would provide funding, but also work with other official agencies, philanthropic groups and private banks, and attempt to tap wealthy individuals willing to invest significant sums and balance financial with broader "social" returns.

South Africa to host African Arbitration Court

South Africa is to set up and host the Permanent Court of Arbitration for Africa, a branch of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, to help resolve inter-state and non-state disputes on the continent. The African PCA's mandate will mirror that of the international PCA, which was established in 1899 as the first global institution to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes between countries. South Africa became a member of the PCA when it signed the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes in 1997. The establishment of a regional facility for Africa will offer an alternative means of settling disputes from those offered by bodies such as the African Court of Justice and the International Court of Justice. The African PCA will also be more flexible and offer a greater degree of autonomy to the parties in dispute, as they will have the freedom to choose the arbitrators, rules and procedures to be applied in each case. Over the last decade, the PCA has experienced a considerable increase in its caseload, which now includes disputes over investments and contracts, maritime delimitation, international boundaries, banking and finance, international humanitarian law and environmental law.

IFC and Aureos Launch New Initiative to Promote SME Sustainability

IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, and Aureos Capital Limited, a private equity fund management company based in Mauritius, have launched an initiative to help small and medium enterprises in emerging markets improve their environmental and social performance. The SME Sustainable Opportunities Initiative will channel funding from IFC and other donors to support various environmental, social, and health and safety upgrades in small and medium enterprises in which Aureos-managed private equity funds have invested. The initiative will allow a number of SMEs to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy and water efficiency, reduce effluents, and develop HIV/AIDS awareness programs. At least half of the projects will be in Sub-Saharan Africa. The total cost of this initiative is $3 million, which will be funded by IFC and donor contributions.

Grameen Foundation Announces a $1 Million Landmark Financing for Nigerian MFI LAPO

Grameen Foundation has announced its first Growth Guarantee transaction in Sub-Saharan Africa: US$1 million for Lift above Poverty Organization (LAPO), a leading microfinance institution (MFI) in Nigeria. Citibank, acting through its subsidiary in the country, The Nigeria International Bank (NIB), structured the US$1mm Naira equivalent loan supported by a US$500,000 guarantee from Grameen Foundation. This marks the first transaction between a Nigerian MFI and NIB/Citibank, and it is LAPO’s first leveraged commercial bank transaction. This financing will support LAPO’s aggressive expansion plans to serve an increasing number of customers in Nigeria that currently lack access to formal financial products and services. It will also allow LAPO to tap new sources of funding, previously only available from donors or subsidized loans. Grameen Foundation is a global non-profit organization that combines microfinance, technology, and innovation to empower the world's poorest people to escape poverty.

South Africa Simplifies Its Tax system

The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has launched a new simpler, redesigned Income Tax Return and Filing Process that will make it easier for individual and business taxpayers to complete and file their returns. Individuals will now receive their returns by mid-July 2007 and will have until 31 October 2007 to submit them while companies will receive returns in September 2007and will have six to 12 months after the end of their financial year to submit the returns. Previously the deadline for the submission of completed tax returns was early July. The changes are also intended to ensure improved efficiency and faster turn-around times to SARS internal processes and capturing.

World Bank Funds Transparency in DRC

The World Bank has announced that it is providing $15mn in additional grant financing for extension of a transparency and governance capacity-building project in the Republic of Congo. Additional government finance of $5.6 million will also be provided in support of the project. According to the Bank, the first funding for the project - $7.665mn - was approved in 2002 and was initially scheduled to close on 31 December 2007. This additional funding extends the closing date June 2010. The aim of the project is to enhance governance, transparency and effectiveness in public sector financial management, including the oil sector. The project will also assist the Republic of Congo in putting in place the necessary systems and capacities to ensure the effective management of surplus budget resources generated by windfall oil revenues. Under the project, the Republic of Congo has also set up an Oil Sector Monitoring Unit in the Ministry of Finance, started implementation of reforms in the tax and customs administration and initiated reforms in the overall budget management system.

E-commerce offers a Way Forward for Africa

A new book, launched by the Economic Commission for Africa, seeks to underline the importance of the burgeoning electronic and mobile commerce industry for Africa's economic development. The book, 'African E-Markets: Information and Economic Development', is the second in a series issued by the Committee on Development Information (CODI) and is co-published by ECA, International Books and the Centre for African Studies in Copenhagen. The publication looks at the role of issues such as the enabling environment, e-economics, the stakeholders and data in assessing the implications for economic growth, meeting the Millennium Development Goals and poverty reduction. According to the book, the African e-commerce model differs significantly from that of the West and Asia, due to the continent's late entry into ICT, which means it has encountered a more advanced technology. The African model is essentially based on mobile telephony, a cash economy, marketplace culture and pre-paid accounts. The publication was written completely from an African perspective by African experts and is aimed at practitioners and teachers.

Barloworld in Joint Venture with Caterpillar Dealer

South African industrial brands management group Barloworld (BAW) has entered into, through its Barloworld Equipment division, a 50:50 joint venture transaction with its Caterpillar dealer counterpart in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tractafric Equipment. The joint venture, known as Congo Equipment, will service the earthmoving equipment needs of DRC's copper and cobalt rich Katanga Province. Congo Equipment has been formed based on an agreement between Caterpillar and the two dealers to provide equipment solutions to customers in the Katanga Province. Barloworld Equipment is the Caterpillar dealer for South Africa and neighbouring countries Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.

Econet orders Ericsson, ZTE equipment

Zimbabwean mobile phone giant Econet Wireless has awarded a $15mn contract to Ericsson and ZTE Corporation of China for the supply of equipment to extend its network. Econet says the expansion drive will see the number of its subscribers increase from 800 000 to 1.2 million by the end of this year. Under the deal, the Swedish firm will supply equipment for switches, intelligent network platforms, pre-paid systems as well as new base stations in Harare and the Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces. ZTE has been contracted to install base stations in a project that will see Econet extending coverage to Matabeleland provinces, Masvingo and the Midlands. The new expansion project follows a $20mn project launched by Econet in 2006 which increased its network capacity from 500 000 to 800 000.

South Africa to Build New Power Station

State-owned electricity company Eskom has received a licence to build the first new coal-fired power station in the country for more than 20 years. According to Eskom’s Chief Executive, Jacob Maroga, Roshcon, Eskom's in-house civil engineering unit, will begin site preparation for the R66 billion project in Lephalale in Limpopo province. The value of the project is likely to increase to above R80-billion, should Eskom be required to install stringing air-quality systems. The power station, Medupi, will be a greenfield, coal-fired power plant with six units of 4 500 megawatts of installed capacity. The first unit will be commissioned by early 2011, with the last unit scheduled for commissioning by January 2015

Demand for BAI Visa Cards in Angola Exceeds Expectations

The demand for visa credit cards, offered by Banco Africano de Investimento (BAI), has surpassed all initial expectations of 5,000 units from March 2007 through the end of the year. The bank has already received 3,000 applications and by December 2007, approximately 6,000 BAI customers will hold Visa BAI Classic, BAI Gold and BAI Platinum cards. The release of BAI Visa cards followed negotiations with the VISA network, which formalized the Angolan bank adhesion in 2006 as a member authorized to issue and accept the credit cards used worldwide. The authorization secures BAI full power to control the issuing of credit cards and all transactions affected under the VISA network throughout the world. The new (BAI Classic, BAI Gold and BAI Platinum) cards enable BAI customers to join the world’s biggest payment network and secure them access to ATMs and shopping from 150 countries and about 30 million outlets.

China Writes Off 40% of Cote D’Ivoire Debt

The government of Côte d'Ivoire has announced that China has written off 40% of the debt it was owed by the West African state, during a visit by the Ivorian foreign minister to the Asian economic giant. The cancelled debt amounted to €18-million and Beijing also extended a new €10-million gift to the country. Since the beginning of a political crisis in 2002, China has given tens of millions of euros for construction work in the political capital Yamoussoukro. Chinese firms built a large parliamentary complex there and funded 72% of the €33-million building, while Beijing is also financing a new presidential palace.

Angola Records High Economic Growth

Between 2002 and 2006, Angola’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has reached 89.6%, a General Programme Performance Report approved by the cabinet council reveals. The fourth extra-ordinary cabinet council meeting chaired by the Angolan President, José Eduardo dos Santos, approved the report and in a statement, the Council said agriculture, transforming industry and commercial services recorded greater growth than had been planned.

West African Stock Exchanges Meet on Harmonisation of Rules

The three Stock Exchanges in the West African sub-region have met to find ways to harmonise the trading platform, rules and regulations governing trading in shares on the respective markets to pave way for integration of the markets. Officials of the Ghana Stock Exchange, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Abidjan based Bourse, Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM) that serves the eight Francophone countries, said adoption of common rules and laws to govern operations within the exchanges was a necessary first step to full integration. The creation of a single stock market would allow the stock exchanges to grow and to become competitive on the global market as well as provide investors and companies a large market within which to raise capital, they said. The West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI) is already working on the integration of the Ghana and Nigeria Stock Exchanges as a first step to the integration of capital markets of member countries of the West Africa Monetary Zone, which is expected to adopt a single currency by 2009. Source: Databank

Ghana Eurobond to Open New Chapter for Africa

Ghana plans to tap the Eurobond market in July, underlining global appetite for emerging market debt but fanning a controversy over whether developing countries that have won debt relief should risk piling up new borrowings. The long-awaited issue, the first by a sub-Saharan sovereign outside South Africa since the 1970s, is likely to be followed later in the year by Nigeria, according to bankers attending the annual meeting of the African Development Bank. Ghana's Finance Minister, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, said that lead managers UBS and Citigroup had been mandated to raise between $500 million and $750 million for the West African country, which plans to use the money to develop its energy and telecommunications sectors and for housing and afforestation. Source: Databank

AccessKenya IPO Oversubscribed

Kenya's only to be listed ICT company, AccessKenya, has announced the successful completion of its initial public offering (IPO) with significant oversubscription of the offer. According to Jonathan Somen, managing director of Access Kenya Group, the company is delighted that the IPO has been fully subscribed.

South African Tourism Partners with Nigerian Company

South African Tourism (SAT) has announced that it had formed a partnership with Netcom Africa. Netcom Africa is one of Nigeria's leading communications infrastructure providers of satellite and wireless broadband in West Africa, to promote South Africa as a tourist destination to its database of subscribers. The Netcom/SAT partnership, a first of its kind for Netcom, means great rewards for the Netcom subscriber base in the form of promotions and easy access to travel information on South Africa as a tourist destination.

China launches Satellite for Nigeria

China has launched a communications satellite for Nigeria, marking the first time the emerging space power has carried out a commercial launch for Africa, the state press said. The Chinese-made satellite is expected to mean big changes for telecommunications, broadcast and Internet services in Africa, saving Nigerians millions of dollars in phone and Internet charges, Xinhua news agency said. The "super hybrid" geo-stationary satellite is expected to change positions in orbit until it is finally fixed over Nigeria, coming into operation later this year with a 15-year lifespan, the report said.

$20mn to Rehabilitate Maputo-SA Railway

Mozambique's publicly owned Ports and Railway Company, CFM, is fully rehabilitating the Maputo-South Africa railway, at a cost of $20 million. The work began in 2006, with the replacement of rails, sleepers, points and ballast, overhaul of the drainage system, and repairing stations. The rehabilitation will be complete in July and will immediately raise the line's capacity from 30 to 35 goods trains a week, with the figure expected to reach 60 trains a week by 2008.

Databank to Co-manage Ghana’s Sovereign Bond

Databank Financial Services has been appointed as one of the financial institutions to manage the first international sovereign bond issue of US$500m-US$1bn by the Government of Ghana. UBS and Citigroup are named as the lead managers. The bond is geared towards financing major infrastructural projects in the country.

UBA and FMB to Issue N100 Bond

UBA Global Markets and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria are set to issue N100 billion bonds as part of a N43 trillion mortgage financing package to ease the accommodation problem in the Nigeria and assist Nigerians to buy their own houses. Potential investors in the bond include UBA Plc, NIB, Stanbic, GTB, IBTC PFA, Intercontinental, Oceanic and First Bank.

NamPower to List on Namibia Stock Exchange

Power utility NamPower will list on the Namibia Stock Exchange (NSX) and the Bond Exchange of South Africa (BESA) in June. The power utility, which is battling the clock to raise capital to fund its major power generating projects, said it intends to raise about $430mn through listing. The bond listing initiative by NamPower is the first of its kind in Namibia and also for South Africa. Money raised through listing would be used to fund the Caprivi Link Interconnector, a 970km, 350kV High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) bipolar line which is expected to link Namibia to the Zambian and Zimbabwean electricity grids. Construction of the Caprivi Link is expected to start in June 2007.

CNBC Africa Launches 24-hour News Network

CNBC will launch the first 24-hour information network dedicated to coverage of news and business on the continent. CNBC Africa is to go on air from its main studios in Johannesburg and will also take feeds from bureaus in Lagos, Nairobi and London. The new channel will have a heavy business bias and will feature live broadcasts of the opening and closing of key African markets, including the stock exchanges in Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi. According to the network, the new channel is the first one of its kind that caters to the information needs of the average viewer as well as to business and investment communities, by providing meaningful analysis behind the headlines.

BP Returns to Libya in $900m Deal


Oil giant BP has announced that it has struck a deal to return to Libya after an absence of more than 30 years. Chief executive Tony Hayward said the $900m (£453m) joint venture with the Libya Investment Corporation was BP's "biggest exploration commitment". The group will explore about 54,000 square kilometres - at the onshore Ghadames and offshore Sirt basins. The announcement was made during Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to the Libyan capital, Tripoli. BP withdrew from Libya in 1974, when its oil industry was nationalised. "We are now beginning to develop an economic relationship with Libya," Mr. Blair's spokesman said. "That's why companies such as BP can begin to go back into the country today." Source: Databank

Brazilian Group Invests in Building Factory in Angola

The Brazilian group, Medabil, plans to invest approximately US$ 20.5 million in building a factory, in Angola, to produce and assemble metallic structures. This will be the first unit of the Brazilian group in a foreign country and it will be built in partnership with the Angolan group, Gema, which will have a 49 percent stake in the business. The decision to open an Angolan subsidiary follows two months after the signing of a contract with the Angolan government valued at US$ 15 million to carry out 88 different construction projects. The contract includes building a metallic structure for small supermarkets and industrial pavilions, said Attlio Bilibbio, chairman of Medabil, which has headquarters in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. The factory will be built on the outskirts of Luanda, and will have the capacity to process 12,000 tons of steel per year, based on raw materials imported from Brazil. The new units, which are due to begin operating in the second half of 2008, may also be the basis for operations in nearby countries such as Mozambique.

Mawuli Ababio Appointed as Managing Director of Africa Venture Capital Association

John Mawuli Ababio has been appointed Managing Director of the Africa Venture Capital Association (AVCA). Ababio has 20 years experience in the financial sector in Africa with a career that has included stints with SIFIDA Investment Company and the African Development Bank, where his Unit was involved in providing loan and equity financing to the African Private Sector. Ababio previously managed the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) sponsored Venture Capital Company (now part of Aureos West Africa) has also consulted on specialist investment funds in Africa. Mawuli Ababio will be based in Johannesburg.

Algeria to Increase Gas exports by 30% in 2010

Algeria plans to increase its annual gas exports by a third to 83 billion cubic metres of gas from 2010 according to its Energy Minister, Chakib Khelil. Half of the exports would comprise of liquefied natural gas and two liquefied natural gas projects, each with a capacity of 4.5 million tonnes, will be up and running between 2011 and 2012. Algeria’s national oil company Sonatrac that cut its debt by 500 million in 2006 and notched up annual revenues of 54 billion is bankrolling both projects.

China plans $100 billion in trade with Africa by 2010

The Chinese government has pledged to continue working with African governments in order to grow and sustain trade between individual African countries and itself. China hopes to increase trade with Africa to over $100 billion (approx R702 billion) by the year 2010. According to its officials, China is working on increasing imports from Africa in order to achieve sustainable balance of trade with the African continent and is set to zero-rate tariffs on 442 goods from Africa in order to increase trade potential and set up bilateral preferential trade arrangements and free trade areas in order to increase imports from the continent. China plans to establish a China-Africa development fund that will cater for Chinese companies wishing to invest in the continent and is exploring the possibility of venturing into banking, tourism, culture, science and technology as new areas of investment. China also committed itself to help train African professionals, build rural schools in Africa; and deploy agricultural experts and build special agricultural technology centres.

China and Angolan Trade Reached US$11 Million in 2006

Trade between Angola and the People’s Republic of China reached US$11 million in the 2006 economic year. In this period, Angola imported from China primarily industrial goods, electric appliance sets, construction equipment and materials, and exported oil. Due to the rise in business volume, Angola is currently China’s biggest trade partner in the Sub-Saharan Africa, a position that encourages authorities to maintain the privileged business relation with Chinese businesses, based on the principle of mutual advantages. Trade, financial, and business cooperation between both nations has been exemplar, and included exchange of business delegations and the holding of joint business exchanges. In 2006, BFA opened a US$100 million credit line to finance trade between Angolan importers and Chinese exporters.

Algeria Ranked as Italy’s Major Gas Supplier

Algeria has been ranked as the top supplier of gas to Italy in 2006, according to official figures, providing 33% of the European country’s gas needs. This shows an increase of 3.5% over the 2005 figures. As a major market for Algerian natural gas export, Italy imports 27 billion cubic meters per year from the country. Italy imports 30 percent of its natural gas from Russia. Algeria and Italy signed five agreements on the marketing of the North African country’s natural gas with Italian companies in November last year during a visit by the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, to Algeria. The agreements involved the building of a gas pipeline that links Algeria and Italy through Marseille. Algeria is also obliged to increase the exportation of gas to Italy by 8 billion cubic meters per year. Consequently, Italy raised its importation of hydrocarbon from Algeria by 30% in 2006. This amounted to over US $10 billion. The trade between the two countries has increased by 28% in 2006.

South Africa is Africa’s Most Important Source of FDI

South Africa has become in just a short period a most important - if not the most important - source of foreign direct investment for the rest of the continent, according to De Beer's chairman Nicky Oppenheimer. South African annual trade with Africa had increased fivefold to over seven billion dollars. The investment stake of South African firms in Africa had increased by an estimated one billion dollars per year since 1994. Despite unfulfilled promises of development assistance from the West, many African economies are growing, he said, because of what Africa was doing for itself and the emergence of China, India, Russia and Brazil.

Angola’s Hotel Occupation Rate Reaches 97%

The occupation rate of hotels in Angola has reached 97%, creating a need to build more hotels. The number of tourists in 2005 was 209,900 people, an increase of 132%, with revenues of approximately US$ 1.3 million. The country is preparing to host the African Nations Cup in 2010, which will open up the country for all game participants. This tournament is expected to boost the tourism in the country. Source: ANIP

African Development Bank to Boost Clean Water Fund

The African Development Bank has agreed to increase by 50% the amount of money it spends on improving access to clean water and sanitation in the continent. According to the Bank, its contribution in the water sector in 2007 will be about $490mn, an increase of 50% compared to 2006. The Bank has spent an average of $330mn each year over the last five years to help provide drinking water and proper sanitation in Africa, compared to an average of $70mn annually in the previous 30 years. The Bank manages the African Water Facility, which was created in 2006 and now finances 19 operations in the sector.

Divine Chocolate Announces First Dividend for Kuapa Kokoo Farmers

Divine Chocolate, the first farmer owned, Fair Trade chocolate company, has celebrated the announcement of its sister company’s first dividend distribution. This milestone achievement by Divine Chocolate in the UK advances the company's promise to the cocoa farmers of Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana and comes on the heels of the successful launch of Divine Chocolate in the U.S. Divine Chocolate Ltd's largest shareholder is Kuapa Kokoo, the Ghanaian farmers' cooperative from which it buys all its cocoa. Kuapa Kokoo owns 45% of the ordinary shares in Divine Chocolate Ltd and holds a further 283,605 preference shares earning interest at 7%. All of the cocoa in Divine Chocolate comes from the farmers of Kuapa Kokoo and is purchased on Fair Trade terms. Kuapa Kokoo invests a Fair Trade premium into schools, clean drinking water, mobile medical clinics, and women’s entrepreneurship projects for the significant percentage of women cocoa farmers that are Kuapa Kokoo members (60% of the national executive board of Kuapa Kokoo are women). As owners of Divine, the farmers have two seats on the Divine corporate board, a share in the profits, and a seat at the table of global trade.

South Africa and Slovakia Sign Ministerial Co-operation Pact

South Africa and Slovakia have signed a co-operation agreement to boost interaction between the countries at ministerial level. Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma signed the agreement with her Slovak counterpart Foreign Minister Jan Kubis in Bratislava. The Memorandum of Co-operation Agreement is intended to lay the basis for regulating Ministerial co-operation between Slovakia and South Africa and to create a mechanism for regular interaction and consultation between the two countries. Both countries also agreed on the need to increase co-operation between the two in various fields such as human resources development and encourage the private sectors to explore areas of co-operation in fields such as automotive sector, textiles and services.

Banco Fomento de Angola Finances Imports and Exports with Support of World Bank

Banco Fomento de Angola (BFA) became the first Angolan bank to be part of the International Financial Corporation’s (IFC) program to finance import/export operations. The IFC is a World Bank institution helping the private sector and helps banks finance transactions by risk sharing in emerging markets. The IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program totals US$ 1 billion; US$ 50 million will be made available to the BFA. The program fosters import/export operations in emerging markets around the world.

Russo-African Debt Write-Off Boosts Closer Trade Ties

In a bid to kick-start better trade relations with Africa, Russia has written off the majority of the continent's debt. Russia has written off African debt totaling 11.3 billion dollars with a further half billion dollars planned, of which 2.2 billion dollars is in the framework of the initiative to reduce the indebtedness of the poorest nations, according to the country’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The move signaled Russia's intention to fulfill its commitments made at recent Group of Eight (G8) meetings as well as paving the way to increased trade with the African continent. Russia decided to write off about 750 million dollars in additional debt from Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) owed by some 16 of the world's poorest countries, of which the majority are in Africa. Benin, Tanzania and Zambia were included in the 16, and this year Russia is continuing discussions on a full debt write-off to HPIC countries in Africa on a bilateral level. African countries owed nearly 20 billion dollars.

South Africa Outlines Successes

According to South Africa’s Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, South Africa's economy had grown at around 5% since 2004 and that over the past five years the country's gross national income per capita had risen from under US$3 000 (approx R21 000) to over US$5 000 (approx R35 000). Speaking at the 60th World Association of Newspapers Congress, the Deputy Premier described the country's first decade of democracy as having been focused on reconstruction and development and on bringing large numbers of historically excluded people into a net of the serviced population. Following the 1994 elections, the government has focused on providing access to basic services such as water, sanitation, energy, housing, healthcare, education and improving rural infrastructure. During this period, the Government has cut taxes, reduced the budget deficit to virtually zero, reduced government debt to one of the lowest levels in the world; reduced inflation to 3-6 percent; and reduced poverty through a system of social grants that now reaches 11-million beneficiaries. For three years in succession, over 500,000 additional jobs have been created in the economy.

Unitel and Ericsson Sign US$45 Million Agreement

Unitel and Ericsson have signed an agreement to install a third generation modern network, estimated at US$ 45 million. Ericsson has also agreed to help Unitel with the supply, equipping and assistance of the network. Unitel is a mobile telephone company with the largest number of clients in the Angolan market, estimated at two million. Ericsson is a multinational company that focuses on fabrication, distribution and installation of telecommunication equipment. Source: ANIP

Databank Wins Best Africa Research Award

Databank Group was awarded the prestigious prize of Best Africa Research Team by Africa Investor Magazine for the 2007 Ai Index Series Awards. The awards ceremony which was held at a cocktail reception at the London Stock Exchange on Friday 8th June 2007 was graced by representatives from the international investment community. Databank was nominated for this award alongside international investment banks including, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, African Alliance and EFG-Hermes. Databank was recognised for its wide quality coverage of all the capital markets on the continent. The firm’s research products include daily, weekly, fortnightly and annual reports on African financial markets in addition to research notes and recommendations on African companies. Databank, which is the leading investment bank in Ghana, has over the years transformed itself into a pan-African focused investment bank offering a wide range of services including pan-African fund management, pan-African stock brokerage services, pan-African corporate finance advisory services and a fledging Africa private equity fund management business.

Angolan Tourism Earns over US$ Six Billion in Three Years

The revenue for national tourism reached approximately US$ 6.7 billion between 2004 and 2006. The figures show the development of national tourism over the last three years, and are expected to represent an even greater contribution to the Angolan economy in the coming years. According to the Angolan Hotels and Tourism Ministry, revenue came from areas such as hotels, restaurants, and travel agents.

Africa Growth Forecast at 6.2%

Africa's continent-wide economy will grow faster this year, but structural changes are still needed if it is to catch up with the rest of the world. The continent is expected to achieve economic growth of 6.2% in 2007, an expansion on last year's 5.5%, said a report from the World Economic Forum. Despite this growth, the study said Africa was still being held back by factors such as poor infrastructure. It added that corruption and poor access to finance were other concerns. The Africa Competitiveness Report further said that much of the continent's current growth was being fuelled by external factors such as high commodity prices, debt relief and a upbeat international economic environment.

Africa Can Compete Globally

African businesses can become far more competitive, but African governments and their international partners will need to improve access to finance, rebuild infrastructure and strengthen institutions, according to the Africa Competitiveness Report 2007. The report, jointly compiled by the WEF, the African Development Bank and the World Bank, analyses many aspects of Africa's business environment and highlights the key issues that hinder improvements in Africa's competitiveness and job growth. The report includes the rankings of 29 African countries in the Global Competitiveness Index, detailed competitiveness and investment climate profiles, the effect of gender disparities on employment and competitiveness and the role of new technologies in fostering a more dynamic business environment. The study finds that a number of governments have significantly improved the business climate in their countries and that these changes in the business climate, together with greater access to finance and new investment in infrastructure, should come together to advance Africa’s drive to develop, create jobs and reduce poverty. The report points to the growing number of success stories in the region that show the steps countries can take to improve business conditions.

BDA Bank Grants over USD 50 Million for Pilot Operations

The Development Bank of Angola (BDA), founded in November 2006, has granted over US$ 50 million to finance pilot operations in the productive sector. The pilot operations aim at contributing to the restoration of productive chains, selected by the Angolan Government. The chains include all aspects of the productive complex, institutions of research, upgrading, financing of suppliers of equipment, technical assistance, transforming, transport, and trade. In the first year of activity, BDA will finance the production of maize, beans, cotton, textile sector, and of civil engineering materials. The provinces of Bengo, Benguela, Cabinda and Luanda were selected for the first phase of producing civil engineering materials. In the second phase, the financing of this chain will spread to all provinces of the country.

South African Government Launches 2010 Website

The South African government has launched a new website to provide information on the country's preparations for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The website - www.sa2010.gov.za - provides information about the country and the continent in the context of the first African World Cup. The site focuses in particular on providing comprehensive information on government 2010-related programmes, including those related to economic opportunities. It also acts as an entry point to other sources of information on the country - such as the South African Tourism and International Marketing Council portals, and provincial and host city websites. The site is complementary to the website of FIFA and the Local Organising Committee, and was designed in consultation with the game's governing body.

Record Participation at 2nd eLearning Africa Conference

The second eLearning Africa conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training saw a total number of 1403 participants, an increase of over 80% compared to the inaugural event in 2006. eLearning users, newcomers, providers, and experts from 88 countries spanning all continents gathered during the three-day conference at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference was attended by eLearning experts from universities, schools, companies, the health sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) engaged in capacity development and education, government representatives, as well as from major development bodies. The programme featured the input of 308 speakers from 55 countries, including presentations from major development organisations such as UNESCO, UNEVOC, the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), and the World Bank, as well as national and governmental institutions, mainly from Africa but also from Europe, Asia, and North America. eLearning Africa 2008 will take place in Accra, Ghana from May 28 - 30, 2008.

Ghana Finds Oil

Tulow Oil, which has been exploring for oil in Ghana has announced that it has found large commercial quantities of oil in the Mahogany well at Cape Three Points in the western region of the country. The company estimated the find at 600 million barrels, which is worth about $42bn at current prices and $24bn at historical average prices. It has also been suggested that further exploration of the area may enrich the find. The Ghana government has stated that it will put in place institutional structures to ensure that oil does not become a ‘curse’ to the country, as is the case in other oil rich countries. Empirical research indicates that countries tend to experience lower long-term growth after the discovery of oil because it tends to breed corruption, political instability, structural imbalance and overheats economies.

Government Invests USD 75 Million on Namibe Fishing Academy

The Angolan government will invest US$ 75 million in building a Fishing Academy, a higher education institution, in the province of Namibe. It will be located in a 30-hectare area and will be built in two stages by the Polish company, Navimor. The Academy will offer courses in fishing, fish processing and exploration of water resources. It will have the capacity to teach 1,000 students attending four-year courses.

16th Angolan Bank Opens in Luanda

A new bank, Banco Angolan de Negócios e Comércio (BANC), with a capital of US$ 5 million, has recently opened in Angola. The Bank aims to be a new strategic partner in countries such as Portugal, Brazil and Spain. The Bank plans to sell about 35 to 40 percent of its capital to an international partner. By 2008, BANC expects to open 10 more branches throughout Angola, covering the main urban areas, with particular focus on the Center, South and Luanda. BANC is headquartered in Luanda, where it plans to open three branches.

Libya to Supply Kenya with Cheaper Oil

Kenya is set to receive oil from Libya at preferential rates according to a bilateral agreement signed between the two countries. According to a memorandum of understanding between the two countries, Libya may supply up to 60 percent of the 1,6 million tons of crude oil that Kenya needs to make its refinery commercially viable. In total the country needs 2,8 million tons of both crude and refined oil. About 25 % of Kenya’s import bill and 11% of its gross domestic product goes towards the buying of oil. Libya is not only investing in the oil sector in Kenya, but will also invest in the construction of a luxury hotel in Nairobi and an exhibition centre in the coastal city of Mombassa. Kenya, on the other hand, is looking at Libya as a new market for its coffee and tea products. Source: IPS News

China launches $1b fund for African trade

As part of her efforts at nurturing commercial ties with Africa, China has launched a $1b fund to finance trade and investment by companies owned by her nationals in Africa. The fund, according to agency reports, is part of the country's aid and loans to Africa promised by President Hut Jintao at a meeting with some African leaders meeting in Beijing last November. China has been promoting itself as a partner for Africa's development as it tries to secure oil and other resources for its booming economy and new markets for its exports. The new fund is to be financed by the government's China Development Bank, which said the fund eventually would expand to $5 billion. It will "support Chinese enterprises in developing cooperation with Africa and in investing in Africa," the bank said in a statement. The fund will target projects in infrastructure, farming, basic industries and manufacturing.

Nokia Siemens Networks and Nokia Strengthen Commitment to the African Region

At the EU-Africa Business Forum held in Accra, Ghana Nokia Siemens Networks and Nokia reiterated the companies' commitment and strategic direction in the African region. With a vision to increase communications access to urban and rural areas, the two companies are set to connect the people of Africa. In the Forum, Nokia displayed a mobile health data survey tool that has been developed with the University of Nairobi and other partners. This type of application can have huge potential in addressing, for example, outbreaks of diseases, offering benefits to governments and aid agencies. Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks also present the Village Connection solution at the event. Village Connection offers an easy concept to build rural connectivity village by village, enabling an innovative franchise-based business model between an operator and local village entrepreneurs. The solution helps provide affordable telecommunications services in rural communities, thus boosting economic development.

Starbucks and Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) Partner to Promote Ethiopia’s Coffee

Representatives of the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and senior leaders from Starbucks Coffee Company have announced an agreement regarding distribution, marketing and licensing that recognizes the importance and integrity of Ethiopia’s specialty coffee designations. The agreement is an important step in the ongoing collaboration between the Government of Ethiopia and Starbucks to promote Ethiopia's specialty coffees. It provides a framework for cooperation to promote the recognition of the Harrar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe designations and to strengthen the Ethiopian coffee sector, and includes the license of certain trademarks. The agreement allows Starbucks to use and promote these designations in markets both where trademarks exist for the coffee designations as well as where they may not, in accordance with agreed terms and conditions.

South Africa's Population Increases to 47.9 Million

According to a report by StatsSA, South Africa’s population has increased to 47.9 million. Africans are in the majority (approx 38.1 million) and constitute about 80 percent of the total South African population. The white population is estimated at 4.4 million, the coloured population at 4.2 million and the Indian/Asian population at 1.2 million. The report also stated that 51 percent (approx 24.3 million) of the population was female. According to StatsSA, one third of the population is aged 0-14 years and approximately 8 percent of the population is 60 years and older. KwaZulu-Natal emerged as the province holding the largest portion of the population at 20.9 percent, followed by Gauteng at 20.2 percent and Eastern Cape came in at 14.4 percent. The population growth however, has slowed to 6.4 percent in the last five years since 2001 compared with 10.4 percent in the five years between 1996 and 2001.

South Africa to Spend R22bn on Gauteng Freeways

South Africa is to spend R22-billion over the next seven years on upgrading and expanding the freeways in its busiest province, Gauteng. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2008, following an environmental impact assessment. According to the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), growth in vehicle ownership in Gauteng has led to heavy congestion and new technology such as electronic toll collection systems will be used to allow for a smoother flow of traffic. The project also entails the construction of an interconnected network of inner and outer ring roads around the three metros, extending over 500 kilometres, which are to be completed in time for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

China to search for oil in Sudan

China's biggest oil company CNPC has reached a deal with Sudan to search for oil and gas in the north of the country on the coast of the Red Sea. The exploration will be carried out jointly with the Indonesian state oil and gas company PT Pertamina. China is Sudan's top foreign investor and supplies it with weapons. The agreement calls for six years of exploration and 20 years of shared production. The exploration rights cover about 3.8 square kilometres of shallow water on the Red Sea. The financial details of the deal have yet to be finalised, according to officials at the Chinese embassy in Sudan. Source: BBC

Uganda Telecom Sets up Regional Roaming Network

Uganda telecom will become the third local telecom company operator to go regional when it launches its regional roaming scheme next week. According to the company, the seamless network will initially be launched with Safaricom, Kenya and then with Vodacom, Tanzania before the end of the month. The collaboration will also be extended to Burundi, a frequent destination for Ugandans. Customers will be able to take their rates as they are to those countries, will receive phone calls free of charge and will be able to load airtime from those countries. The company has signed a $50m contract with Huawei Technology of China to ensure availability of the service and plans to take the network to 70% of the country, with plans to spend about US$90m this year to bring new coverage and improve existing coverage. Source: New Vision

Angola’s Unitel Invests US$150 Million in Equipment

Angolan mobile telecommunications operator, Unitel, has installed equipment and technical facilities, including buildings and alternative power supply systems, valued at US$ 150 million, in 18 of the country’s provinces. By setting up exchanges in the provincial capitals, Unitel will be able to direct calls being made within the same provincial capital instantly instead of routing calls through Luanda first. This process began in January 2006, with the acquisition of the equipment and installation beginning in June of 2006. It will contribute to the improvement in voice quality of calls, due to not having to use a satellite connection. Unitel expects to reach 90 municipal areas by the end of the year. Unitel is a mobile telecommunications company with the largest number of customers in the Angolan market, estimated at over 2 million.

Pan African Infrastructural Development Fund Launched

The Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) has been launched with initial seed money of US$625 million raised from eight investors within the continent. The initial investors included Ghana's Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) with seed money of US$10 million, South Africa's Public Investment Corporation, The African Development Bank (AfDB), The Development Bank of South Africa and the Barclays Bank/ABSA Group. The rest were Metropolitan, Old Mutual Group and Standard Bank Group all from the southern part of Africa, all of which were either from South Africa or based in the southern Africa region, for which reason the fund was largely managed by personnel from South Africa. The fund, the first of its kind, was a public/private sector initiative, conceived, put together and completely managed by Africans. It sets out to raise at least US$1.2 billion to serve as a financing platform for infrastructure development on the continent.

Ghana Introduces New Currency

New Ghana cedis and pesewas were put into circulation this week. The redenomination of the currency was inspired by the need to reduce transactions costs on the old ‘bulky’ notes, raise security and improve the payment system especially by reducing the burden on ATMs which have been experiencing frequent breakdowns because of the bulkiness of the old currency notes. One US Dollar is now worth about GH¢0.92, UK£1 =GH¢1.80 and €1 is equivalent to GH¢1.24. The ISO Code of the re-denominated Ghana cedi has changed to GHS, from GHC. The old currency will be in circulation alongside the new, until December, when it will only be exchanged in the banks and other financial institutions.

World Bank Provides US$5.7b Grants, Loans to Africa

The World Bank has announced that it provided a record US$5.7 billion in credits and grants to Sub-Saharan Africa in the fiscal year ending 30 June 2007, up from US$4.7 billion in fiscal 2006. A statement from the bank in Accra said the development arm of the bank – International Development Association (IDA) - provided the funding. It said 50% of IDA’s total credits and grants of US$161 billion since its inception has gone to Africa. Meanwhile, the bank has reiterated its commitment to maintaining the continent as its top priority under the leadership of its new President, Robert B. Zoellick, who recently succeeded Paul Wolfowitz.

South African Government Unites with Business against Crime

Business against Crime South Africa, backed by over 250 CEOs through its association with the Industry Alignment Forum, has intensified its partnership with the South African government to fight against crime in the country. The partnership is beginning to impact on violent organised crime, with the business coalition claiming successes in the priority areas of house robberies, vehicle hijacking and business robberies. Through its partnership with the government, South Africa's business sector has also completed and adopted minimum standards to regulate the cash-in-transit industry, while developing innovative crime prevention initiatives in the retail environment, particularly at shopping centres. Other support initiatives mooted by business include a more effective exchange of intelligence between business and the police, micro-dotting of business vehicles for easier identification, and more effective cooperation between the country's private security firms and police.

Port of Luanda Management Firm to Invest US$105 Million

The Port of Luanda Management Company will invest US$105 million by 2010 to upgrade its infrastructures, including the acquisition of modern equipment. The money will be invested in 3 ways: US$19 million in a cargo terminal, US$ 55 million in a container terminal and US$31 million in a multi-use terminal.  The application of the modernization and development program is aimed at making the Port of Luanda one of the best in Africa. The port handles 85% of Angola’s imported and exported goods.

Africa, Asia’s population to double in size by 2030

The population of African and Asian cities is set to double by 2030 according to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report.  The UNFPA has called for rising urbanisation to be addressed after the release of the “State of World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth” report revealed that by 2030, the urban population will rise to 5 billion, or 60 percent of world population.  As of 2008, more than half the world’s 6.7 billion people will live in cities, according to the report. The report further stated that humanity will have to undergo a “revolution in thinking” to deal with the rising urbanisation.  The report recommends city authorities and urban planners make it a priority to provide for the shelter needs of the urban poor by offering secure tenure on land that is outfitted with power, water and sanitation services.

South African Government to Promote Economic Growth through BPO

Incentive programmes have been established by the South African Government to attract local and foreign investment in BPO. BPO involves relocating business processes that are usually performed in-house by a company, to a third party service provider, such as customer care or call centres, to carry out the services on behalf of the concerned company.  Incentives are offered to local and foreign investors establishing projects that aimed primarily to serve offshore clients, and comprises a grant towards approved qualifying expenditure for start-ups and expanding BPO operations.  The BPO sector in South Africa has a strong potential to contribute to economic growth and employment, however, the cost of telecommunications has been a harmful factor in attracting global BPO investors. The BPO sector is considered a key priority under the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA), which seeks to achieve an annual economic growth rate of 6 percent by 2010 to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014. The sector has the potential to create up to 100 000 new jobs in the country and contribute about R7.95 billion to the national economy by 2009.

Angolan President Appoints Diamond Protection Commission

Angolan head of State, José Eduardo dos Santos, has appointed an Inter-ministerial Commission for the Protection of Diamond Resources (Cipred). The Commission will assist in promoting defense and conservation of natural resources, and guiding in its exploration and development.  Cipred will be responsible for identifying and characterizing all areas of informal prospecting of diamonds, metallic minerals and rocks. In addition, Cipred will draft an integrated program for the protection of miner al resources.  The commission will also be in charge of drafting plans for illegal prospectors of diamonds and repatriation of illegal foreigners, controlling the borders, and managing cooperatives of farmers and arts and trade, in order to absorb former illegal prospectors.  Source: ANIP

Worldwide Governance Indicators Document Gains in Sub-Saharan Africa

Countries around the world, including some of the poorest in Africa, have made “significant progress” in improving governance and fighting corruption over the decade, the new “Worldwide Governance Indicators” (WGI) study by the World Bank Institute and World Bank Development Economics Vice-presidency shows. Significant improvements in governance over the past decade occurred in countries as diverse as Indonesia, Tajikistan, Serbia, and Slovakia.  And in Africa in particular, countries such as Niger, Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Tanzania, and Rwanda showed significant improvements in some dimensions of governance since 1998.  Even over the relatively short period since 2002, there have been big improvements in some aspects of governance in countries such as Liberia, Angola, Argentina, and Georgia.  some countries, including some of the poorest ones in Africa, are deciding to move forward, and are showing to the world that it is possible to make substantial inroads in improving governance over a relatively short period of time. WBI says research has shown the importance of good governance for aid effectiveness in general, and for the success or failure of World Bank projects in particular. The new 2007 volume and study, as well as the revamped and interactive website, showcases the full WGI dataset, covering 212 countries and territories from 1996 to 2006. Worldwide Indicators 2007 (pdf)  Source: World Bank

Angolan Government to Invest US$150 Million in Electricity Sector

The central Huambo Government will invest US$ 150 million in the rehabilitation of the electrical energy and public lighting systems in the districts of Longonjo, Ukuma, Ekunha and Tchinjenje.  The project will consist of the acquisition of generators, the rehabilitation of electric posts and transportation and distribution networks. The investment will be managed by Interservice-Ltd Company.

Chinese Funded Car Plant to Open

An Angolan company plans to begin producing cars later this year through a venture funded by a Chinese firm and based on technology from Japan's Nissan Motor Company. CSG Automovel-Angola, will begin producing pick-ups, SUVs, compact cars and other vehicles in October, at a factory on the outskirts of Luanda. Initial annual capacity will be 5,000 vehicles, but is expected to eventually rise to 30,000. A gasoline-based Paladin will be among the Nissan-style models produced.

TAAG Resumes Charter Flights to Lisbon and Paris

Angolan airline, TAAG, recently announced that the airline will resume their flights to Lisbon and Paris. The airline will be making direct flights via Air Bus 330 charter planes. The airplanes offer two seating classes (economy and executive) and have a capacity to carry 250 passengers, 50 in executive seating and 200 in economy class.

World Bank Approves Landmark Assistance Strategy for Ghana

The World Bank is to support Ghana in implementing the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II) to achieve a middle income status and ensure that the benefits of the growth are shared. A statement from the Bank said the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank discussed its new Country Program for Ghana, representing US$1.3 billion for new operations based on the Ghana Joint Assistance Strategy (G-JAS) signed by 16 partners.  The Board also approved two projects, an Urban Transport Project financed by an IDA Credit of US$45 million and a Global Environment Facility (GEF) grant of US$7 million, and an additional financing of the International Development Association (IDA) to the tune of US$10 million for the Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Project. Under the previous Country Assistance Strategy, Ghana exceeded its two overarching objectives, raising its GDP from an average five per cent over the past two decades to an average six per cent during 2004-06.  According to a recent Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) report released by the Ghana Statistical Service, poverty indicators also show a remarkable improvement, down to 28.5 per cent in 2005/2006, from 39.5 per cent in 1998 and 51.7 per cent in 1991. The three overarching objectives of the World Bank Program with Ghana are to sustain economic growth of at least six per cent per year, surpass the millennium development goal of halving poverty to 26 per cent and start to reduce inequalities. During the four-year implementation period of G-JAS (2007-10),
development partners expect to provide about US$5.7 billion to support Ghana’s efforts, while the Government of Ghana is planning to provide roughly the same amount for priority development programmes over the first three years.Source: Africa News

SABC Launches New East African Bureau

The South African Broadcasting Corporation has recently opened a new East Africa Bureau which was launched in Nairobi, Kenya by the Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.  Speaking at the launch, Mlambo-Ngcuka said the new bureau would help the SABC play an important role in providing a platform to generate news stories that promote the interests of the region. The Bureau would help to build bridges for countries in the region to understand each other, she said, and that it would go a long way in recasting how Africa and her people are seen.  According to the Deputy President, the political stability and economic prosperity in East Africa will help the SABC meet its corporate goal to produce compelling, professional, authoritative news and programming on current affairs and would create employment and generate wealth for the local economy.

BNA Bonds Reach US$ 2.7 Billion

Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA) has received a total of US 2.7 billion in bonds for the first semester of 2007, compared to US$ 1.6 billion last year, representing a growth of 83%. This increase reflects both a reduction in economic liquidity, aimed at holding price levels steady, as well as higher interest rates, aimed at attracting the market. There were three types of bonds first issued in Angola in 1997, Central Bank bonds (TBC), Treasury notes (BT), and Treasury bonds (OT). BNA bonds and T-notes mature anywhere from 28 to 364 days, while treasury bonds mature from 1 to 30 years. They can only be issued 8 times a year with the minimum purchase of 10 bonds, at any commercial bank.

UCT Hosts Doing Business in Africa Conference

The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) in South Africa is hosting a high level conference in South Africa, themed “Connecting Two Continents”, which is aimed at growing trade and investment between Africa and India.  The 2007 UCT GSB Doing Business in Africa Conference has been endorsed by the Department of Trade and Industry, Indian High Commission, Nepad Business Foundation, Business Unity South Africa, Industrial Development Corporation, Wesgro, Cape Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Cape Town Routes Unlimited.   It will bring together nearly 250 African and Indian participants – panelists and delegates – from commerce and industry, the government sector, academia, civil society and the media. 

IFC to Launch Initiative to Protect Biodiversity in Agricultural Commodities Production

The expansion of agriculture is the leading cause of habitat loss around the world and one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity. IFC and the Global Environment Facility, with other donors and partners, will launch an initiative in the third quarter of 2007 to promote best environmental and social practices in the production and overall supply chain of four commodities: palm oil, cocoa, soybeans, and sugarcane. The initiative, the Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program, recently obtained final approvals from IFC and the Global Environment Facility. The program will offer advisory services for projects involving the private sector that support adoption of better management practices at the production level, increase the demand for biodiversity-friendly products, and improve financial institutions' ability to support adoption of biodiversity-friendly practices. The program will also support multi-stakeholder initiatives that create sustainable markets for agricultural commodities.  The program management unit will send out requests for project proposals in September/October 2007.

Aid Organizations, World Cocoa Foundation Partner to Improve Cocoa Farmer Incomes

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) has announced that it has joined with two leading international development organizations to help improve cocoa farmer incomes in Cameroon, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Liberia and Nigeria.  The new program, supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the United States Agency for International Development and the WCF, will help organize cocoa farmers into group sales organizations, often referred to as co-operatives. The new effort will also help farmers develop financing options, marketing techniques and multiple buyer options – all to enhance their ability to sell cocoa at the best price possible.  The program is part of the Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP), and builds upon the STCP’s efforts to address the challenges facing cocoa farming families in West Africa.  The new program will begin immediately, and will coincide with the five-year timeline for the Healthy Communities initiative.  Established in 2000, the World Cocoa Foundation plays a leading role in strengthening the partnership between industry and cocoa farmers.

Cape Film industry adds R3.5 Billion to South Africa’s Economy

The Western Cape film industry has contributed at least R3.5bn to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the 2006 financial year. This was one of the key findings of a baseline study commissioned by the Cape Film Commission (CFC) and conducted by Barry Standish, Economist at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) and Antony Boting, a consultant at Strategic Economic Solutions and MBA graduate of the UCT GSB. This is the first in its type of research in the film industry in South Africa and it will assist in monitoring the size and growth of the industry, and strengthening its competitive advantages and skills.  In addition to contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), it is estimated that the film industry created at least 6058 full year job equivalents in the Western Cape, while a further minimum 2501 indirect jobs were also created in the province.

Private Foreign Investment into Angola Exceeds US$1 Billion

Private foreign investment in Angola reached 1.4 billion dollars during the 2005/2006 period, representing an increase of 33%, according to the Chairman of the Administrative Council of the National Private Investment Agency (ANIP), Carlos Fernandes. According to Fernandes, this investment is a result of the country's macroeconomic and political stabilization since 2002. During 2005/2006, Portugal was the country with the most investments in Angola (57%), with US$ 200 million invested in the country.  In terms of future perspectives, Fernandes has said that it is possible for the country to achieve growth of 32% or 34%, which would be one of the highest rates in the world. Private foreign investment is expected to increase with the improvement of infrastructure, including power supply, roads, telecommunications and water.

Cape Town Is Ranked Best City in Africa and the Middle East

Travel and Leisure Magazine in the United States has ranked Cape Town as the number one city in Africa and the Middle East region.  Cape Town beat a host of cities to be ranked tenth in the "Best City in the World" category at the Travel and Leisure World's Best Awards 2007. Cape Town is famed for its renowned flat-topped Table Mountain, which rises to 1,086 metres at its highest point, and the area's rich mix of biodiversity and Fauna and Flora including some 8 500 endemic flowering plant species.  The city, which was evaluated according to criteria such as natural beauty and cultural diversity, cuisine and value for money, has been ranked as number one on the Africa and Middle East region and in the top ten best tourist destinations since 2004.

BPC Bank to Create Mobile Service in Luanda

The Savings and Credit Bank (BPC) has set up mobile counters in the country’s capital city, Luanda, to improve its service to customers.  The counters will be set up in high traffic areas, such as in urban zones and surrounding areas, military barracks, business firms, police stations and public institutions, to provide a rapid, dynamic and quality service. The mobile service will only be available in Luanda, as it has about five million inhabitants.

Credit Card Margin Trading Begins in Nairobi

Stockbrokers in Kenya can now accept credit card payments from retail investors. This was announced by the Nairobi Stock Exchange over the week. The Kenya Stockbrokers Association Chairman, Mr. Jos Konzolo says the move is expected to increase access to the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) by overseas retail investors. A partnership between Barclays Bank and NSE members will see stockbrokers and investment banks signed up as Barclaycard merchants, authorised to run cards on point-of-sale terminals. Source: Databank

Standard Bank Nigeria to Merge with IBTC

The SEC of Nigeria has given approval for the proposed merger between Stanbic Nigeria and IBTC Chartered Bank. The conclusion of the merger will transform the Standard Bank Group which owns Stanbic into the biggest pan-African bank and the 6th biggest bank in Nigeria.  Source: Databank

African Development Bank Group Tops Billion Dollar Mark in Annual Private Sector Investments in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has made over a billion dollars in annual private sector investments in Africa for the first time since its founding in 1964.  The Bank’s Board of Directors has approved two new financing transactions:  a Euro 6 million loan to establish the Sahanivotry micro-hydro power station in Madagascar and a Euro 0.6 million equity investment in the micro enterprise-oriented Access Bank of Tanzania.  With both approvals, the AfDB’s total investments without sovereign guarantees thus far in 2007 amount to $1.01 billion. The AfDB provides a range of financial products without sovereign guarantees to complement its traditional lending operations to governments with sovereign guarantees. Private sector operations of the Bank Group promote strong environmental, social, and corporate governance standards as well as help African companies achieve international best practices, making them more competitive at home and in the international marketplace.  For future non-sovereign guaranteed investments in Africa, the AfDB will focus on public-private partnerships in the financial sector including microfinance, infrastructure, extractive industries, manufacturing, agribusiness and services, with special emphasis on projects that promote regional integration. The AfDB works in close collaboration with other development partners and its private sector operations are presently benefiting from special financial assistance from the government of Japan, which has joined the AfDB to establish the Enhanced Private Sector for Africa (EPSA) Initiative

Total Gabon’s Convention of Establishment Renewed

Total Gabon and the Republic of Gabon have signed an agreement to renew for 25 years the convention of establishment, which expired on June 30, 2007. The convention of establishment defines, among other things, the legal and tax system governing Total Gabon’s concessions, operating licenses and crude transportation installations. It covers 17 concessions and operating licenses representing an area of nearly 1,500 square kilometres and more than 60% of Total’s share of output in Gabon (more than 50,000 barrels per day in 2006).  Total is considering additional development of the Anguille field, wholly owned by Total Gabon, which came on stream in 1966. A final investment decision could be made at the end of 2007. This project would add more than 100 million barrels of proved and probable reserves and 30,000 barrels of oil per day in first half of next decade. The renewal of the convention of establishment between Total and the Republic of Gabon demonstrates their renewed trust in developing the country’s natural resources. Total Gabon is Gabon’s top-ranked oil operator, with total operated crude oil production of around 36% of the country’s output. Total’s equity production averaged 87,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2006.  Total Gabon is a Gabonese company whose shares are listed on Eurolist by Euronext Paris. Total holds 58%, the Republic of Gabon 25% and the public float is 17%.

Omnia introduces Black Empowerment Shareholding

Omnia, the diversified, specialist chemical services company providing customised solutions in the chemicals, mining and agriculture markets, today reinforced its commitment to BEE and employee ownership by implementing a transaction that has resulted in the introduction of a 10% equity participation by employees in the group’s businesses.  In order to facilitate the BEE Transaction, Omnia has undertaken an internal restructuring, which has effectively resulted in the sale of the Group’s assets, essentially on loan account, to a new 100% owned company (“NewCo”). NewCo thus holds all the assets of the previous operating subsidiaries of Omnia.  The main beneficiaries will be Omnia’s full time black employees (including Indian and coloured employees) working for Omnia in South Africa, and all other full time employees working for Omnia in South Africa who do not participate in the Partnership with Management 3 Incentive Scheme will own shares in Sakhile, irrespective of length of service.

Moscow and Gauteng Pledge Trade and Investment Ties

Moscow’s businesses have shown a strong interest in establishing direct trade and economic ties with the Gauteng government and the private sector.  During a visit to Moscow with a government delegation from South Africa, Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa and the Governor of the Regional Government of Moscow, BV Gromov, signed a protocol of intention on cooperation.  The cooperation will focus on issues such as trade promotion, tourism, small business development, e-governance, science and technology, mineral beneficiation and sport development. Visual arts, creative industries, education exchange programmes and information communication technology in schools are also areas they will focus on. Gauteng is not just South Africa's economic engine but it also presents foreign investors with the opportunity to move into the rest of the African market.

Angola Introduces New National Minimum Wage

With effect from April 1, 2007, Angola’s national minimum wage has been changed to approximately US$ 99 (Kz. 7,420). The new statute also amended minimum wages by industry sector. The minimum wage applied to the transport, service, and manufacturing sectors was set at approximately US$ 124 (Kz. 9,275), and the minimum wage for the mining industry was set at approximately US$ 148 (Kz. 11,130). Source: ANIP

Spain and South Africa Agree on Trade

South Africa and Spain have agreed to explore ways of ensuring a trade balance between them following bilateral talks. The two governments have agreed to investigate ways of increasing two-way trade to address the trade imbalance currently in South Africa's favour, according to the South African Department of Foreign Affairs.  The department said some Spanish business federations are already participating in business ventures in South Africa, including in water, sanitation, mobile clinics, toll road management and infrastructure projects.  Multi-lateral co-operation will also be facilitated through the European Union - SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to be finalised in 2007.

New Civil Aviation Law Expected in Angola

The Angolan parliament is scheduled to approve new civil aviation legislation this year, to regulate operators in the sector and bring the country in line with international standards. The new law, a revision of 2000 legislation, has already been presented to the government, beginning the process of approval.

Iran and South Africa Plan to Co-operate in Agri-sector

Iran and South Africa have held discussions on increasing agricultural co-operation between the two countries.  In the past two years, Iran has imported a great deal of corn, grapes and oranges from South Africa and had exported summer crops and fruits there.  South Africa has a similar co-operative relationship with Italy, which is one of the country's top ten trading partners. 

Unitel Presents GPRS Service

Under an agreement with the Angolan banking service agency, Empresa Interbancária de Serviços (Emis), Unitel will now use GPRS service. This service will offer greater security to payment operations. Unitel also signed a contract with Powertrack, under which GPRS technology will be used for fleet management. By offering the Angolan market a new range of services and products based on data transmission, Unitel intends to boost efficiency and productivity.

Angola, Namibia, and Botswana to be linked by Fiber Optics

Technical discussions are underway regarding the first stretch to link three countries, from Luanda to Namibia, by extending the Angolan line now linking Cabinda to Namibia. A second link with two other countries will start in Santa Clara and a third, along the Caprivi Strip. Other links will be made with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, and Zambia, so that those without international access can make use of Angola’s SAT 3 link.

Guaranty Trust Lists on London Stock Exchange

Guaranty Trust Bank of Nigeria listed on the London Stock Exchange main market yesterday. The bank is the first Nigerian company to list on the exchange following the floatation of US$750m of Global Depository Receipts with one GDR representing 50 ordinary shares. The offer price per GDR at admission was set at US$11.20; these will be traded on the Exchange’s International Order Book (IOB). The proceeds of the offer will be used to fund the expansion and refurbishment of its branch network, strategic business development including ATM rollout, enhancing call centres and other e-banking services, increasing equity investment in existing branches including GTBank’s insurance subsidiary as well as increasing working capital, the expansion and upgrading of IT infrastructure and further regional expansion into West Africa.  Source: Databank

Angola’s Agriculture Ministry Invests US$ 335,000 in Plants Cultivation

A total of US$ 335,000 will be invested for the training of agriculture staff and for the production of flowers in Angola as part of a project signed by the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the Unite d Nations (FAO). The project exists under the technical bilateral cooperation between Angola and FAO, an organization to which the country is a member. The agreement will allow Angolan peasants to benefit from local seeds for their cultural activities.

Ghana Cedi Goes Online

Ghana.com, operators of the Network Computer Systems, the pioneer internet provider in Ghana, has established an eCommerce platform known as eCash to serve Ghanaians online to enable them to use the Ghana Cedi online. Known also as eSika, the platform, according to Dr Nii Narko Quaynor, Chief Executive of Ghana Dot Com, is an online payment processor that makes it possible for online merchants or websites to accept payment instruments and develop business to consumer applications. For the first time in Ghana, consumers can use their debit cards to shop online locally. Ecobank Ghana recently launched Ghana’s first credit cards.

South Africa on Course to Halve Poverty in 7 Years

There was a sharp decline in unemployment and poverty in South Africa, an annual report from the national statistics bureau has confirmed. Economists therefore believe that the country will be on course to halve unemployment and poverty within seven years if the present economic growth of 5% continues.  The report said between 2002 and 2006, the ratio of households in which a child went to bed hungry fell from 6.7% to 2.4%. Equally, during the same period the proportion of households with access to electricity, water, toilets and waste removals increased significantly. The percentage of households that had access to electricity rose from 75.6% to 81.3%, while piped water grew by 5.2%. Though unemployment rates in South African stand at 25%, officials say that 1.5 million jobs have been created during the last three years. However, with rapid growth of social grants now up to 20%, has been seen as playing a key factor in the general improvement of the situation in South Africa. Last year, the South African Government spent over a billion Euro on grants for old age, disability, foster care and child support. Going by the current 5% economic growth, it is believed that South Africa should be on course to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014.  Source: Afrol News

South Africa-Angola Trade worth Over US$ 300 Million p.a.

Two-way commercial exchanges between Angola and South Africa have surpassed USD 300 million annually. This number is expected to grow as South African companies are looking to expand investments in Angola, particularly in areas such as iron and nickel mining. Approximately 22 South African companies exhibited products at the Luanda International Fair, ranging from construction material and hospital equipment, to electronic security equipment and
agro-cattle products. Bilateral trade has been gaining momentum as more action programs are being implemented at the level of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The time is opportune for boosted trade and investment between the two states. South Africa is not interested in just exporting to Angola; most firms want to start businesses in Angola.

New Wireless Internet Service for Tanzania

Tanzania will shortly have one of the world's fastest, cheapest and most reliable communication technologies. This comes after the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) granted an International and National Application Services license to a newly registered firm (wireless phone and internet Service Company) known as WBS (iBurst) Tanzania. Granting the license to the new operators, Prof. John Nkoma, the Director General the TCRA said TCRA was determined to ensure that Tanzanians have a wider choice of mobile phone and internet services. He said TCRA would ensure that operators provided quality services at affordable charges for the phone calls and internet services provided. Iburst employs 4th Generation technology known as G4, the most current and of highest capacity. Tanzanians will now be able to view various events like world cup broadcast on TVs on their cell-phones and laptops. Source: East African Business Week.

Angola-Brazil Trade Reached US$ 1.4 Billion Last Year

In 2006 Angola’s share of Brazilian exports was at US$ 530 million. Brazil’s exports to Angola accounted for US$ 870 million, a 60% rise over the previous year, reflecting an increase in Brazilian business interest in the Angolan market. Imports include industrial equipment, tractors, construction material, cattle, furniture, clothing, food goods, and other consumer goods. Total Angola-Brazil trade reached US$ 1.4 billion.  Source: ANIP

Brazil’s Odebrecht to Finish Luxury Condominiums by 2008


Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht, is expected to conclude two luxury residential condominium projects in Luanda by 2008, each with an area of 209,000 square meters. The Atlântico Sul and the Riviera Atlântico condominiums are locate in the Angolan capital, Luanda. Atlantico Sul, which is Odebrecht’s first real estate project in Angola, launched in the 1990s, has 100 lots, one less than the Riviera Atlantico, which was launched in 2004. The Brazilian company’s real estate projects saw greater dynamics as of 2004, with projects such as Angola’s first shopping mall, Belas Shopping and Belas Business Park, which is still under construction.
Odebrecht has 26 projects underway and ten concluded in Angola. According to the company’s Chairman, Emílio Odebrecht, the company plans to double investment in Angola over the next two years.

R70 Billion for South Africa’s Transport

According to South African Transport Minister, Jeff Radebe, the transport department will be investing more than R70-billion in the country's public transport system and road infrastructure. According to the Minister, investment on public transport, from roads to public transport and transport infrastructure is more than R70-billion, equivalent to a sizeable percentage of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). By 2020, passenger movements in the cities would be more than double and traffic would grow tremendously.

World Bank commits US$5.7 billion to Africa

The World Bank has committed a record US$5.7 billion, under the International Development Association (IDA) to Sub-Saharan Africa in the last financial year. The World Bank said the amount exceeded the development funds of the previous year by $1 billion. The IDA is the concessionary affiliate of the World Bank, which gives interest-free loans to the world's poorest countries. The International Finance Corporation, which is the Bank's private sector arm, provided $1.38 billion in financing for its own account and mobilised an additional $261 million in financing through syndications. The Bank said Africa, which it calls its "first priority," is in its third year of economic growth at levels above 5 percent. A significant factor in the Bank's increased commitment is its expanding investment in infrastructure, particularly electricity generation. In the year up to 30 June 2007, the Bank committed $2.4 billion of IDA funds to infrastructure projects, $660 million of which was lent to the energy and mining sectors and $870 million to the transport sector.

South Africa Performs Well on Governance

South Africa performed steadily in the World Bank's latest Worldwide Governance Indicators report, showing improvements in all but one of the categories. The 2007 report, the sixth of its kind, covers 212 countries and territories, building on research on the importance of governance and its impact on development from 1996 to 2006. The indicators measure voice and accountability, political stability and absence of major violence and terror, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption. The lowest reading on South Africa's report is that of 44% for political stability, though it has been steadily rising from a low of 13% in 1996. The highest score is almost 77% in the effective governance category, just shy of the 78% high set in 1998. The best performer for South Africa over the decade has been the regulatory quality category, which has risen from 51% in 1996 to 70% in 2006. It has also risen by almost 4% over the past year.

Angolan Government Approves Modernization Project for National Breweries

The Angolan Cabinet Council recently approved projects for the expansion and modernization of the Angolan breweries EKA and CUCA. This is part of the Angolan government’s commitment to promoting investment projects in the socio-economic field, and enhancing entrepreneurship. The projects will cost approximately US$ 42.02 million and US 92.6 million for EKA and CUCA, respectively. Source: ANIP

United Nations Summit to address Africa' Digital Gap

Africa's need for infrastructure and communication technology to develop and bridge the digital divide is to be addressed at a United Nation's (UN) summit in October. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have endorsed the "Connect Africa Summit", to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 29 to 30 October. The summit will bring together the private sector, governments and international organisations to seek ways to address the "digital divide" across the continent and to promote the use of information technology to achieve development goals. According to the Secretary General, the Summit represents an important step not only in overcoming the digital divide but also to help countries achieve the set of global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While investment in ICT infrastructure in Africa has improved dramatically in recent years, representing a total of $8 billion in 2005, up from $3.5 billion in 2000, and growth in mobile phones has increased 400 percent, Africa has fallen back in overall connectivity, according to the ITU. The Connect Africa Summit will be organised by the ITU, the World Bank and the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID), in partnership with the African Development Bank, the African Telecommunication Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

Reliance makes a strategic acquisition in East Africa

Reliance has acquired a Majority stake and Management control of Gulf Africa Petroleum Corporation (GAPCO), a company which has a significant presence in East Africa in the petroleum downstream sector. The acquisition has been made through a wholly owned subsidiary, Reliance Industries Middle East, Dmcc (RIME) registered in United Arab Emirates. GAPCO, an entity based in East and Central Africa with headquarters in Mauritius, owns and operates large storage terminal facilities and a retail distribution network in several countries – including Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya. It also owns and operates large storage terminals in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda and other depots in East and Central Africa. Reliance owns and operates the world’s largest green field refinery in India. Acquisition of GAPCO by Reliance is a strategic step towards achieving its global vision in the petroleum downstream sector by integrating the entire value chain consisting of Refining, Shipping, Trading, Terminalling and Marketing through retail and wholesale segments. Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is India’s largest private sector company and ranks amongst the world’s Top 200 companies in terms of profits.

Angolan Airlines to Launch Electronic Ticket

Angolan Airlines (TAAG) will launch electronic ticketing this year, in replacement of the current paper ticket system. The issuing of the electronic ticket is one of the International Air Transportation Network (IATA) recommendations, and integrates the company into the advanced technological world. The electronic ticket also has the advantage of reducing costs, and enables the passenger to purchase their ticket online from anywhere.

New Head for NEPAD Nigeria

Dr Tunji Olagunju, a former Ambassador to South Africa, has been appointed Chief Executive of NEPAD Nigeria and special advisor on NEPAD to Nigeria's President Umaru Yar’Adua. In addition four offices dealing with various aspects of NEPAD have been merged into a single office as NEPAD Nigeria. Source: NEPAD

Angola to Have 39 More Hotels by 2010

Angola will receive 39 new hotels of various categories in the coming months involving estimated investments of US$ 500 million. The investment is just in time for a number of upcoming sporting events being staged in Angola, such as the African Nations Cup in 2010, Afrobasket, and the African Women’s Handball Championships. Angola’s hotel sector is set to grow by about 8% annually over the next few years, with a parallel expansion in restaurants and overall improvement in quality of services.

Neotel’s Neolink Receives a Good Response in South Africa

Neotel launched their Neolink leased line services earlier this year, and the initial market response has been positive the company says. Neotel launched its National Private Leased Line services – called Neolink - in May this year. NeoLink provides companies with dedicated leased line services offering point-to-point connectivity. NeoLink give symmetrical capacity with transmission speeds of 2, 34, 45 or 155 Mbit/s, and Neotel points out that clients have a choice of interfaces tailored to their needs. According to the company, the response from businesses has been very positive, with Neotel following a ‘targeted approach’ with their Neolink products, engaging mainly with large businesses. Neotel currently has next-generation DWDM and SDH-based optical fibre network links in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. Source: MyBroadband

BFA and CLUSA to Finance Agricultural Projects in Angola

Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA) and Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA) have signed an agreement to provide financing for agricultural projects and select production chains. The agreement includes joint monitoring of project implementation and development and the training of CLUSA personnel in services and financial markets. CLUSA is responsible for the implementation of the 5-year ProAgro Angola program (Agricultural and Financial Development Program), financed by Chevron and USAID. BFA’s strategy includes partnerships with specialized institutions, the creation of a unit to analyze projects and set up financing operations, and the comprising of a team of highly skilled Angolan and international experts. In June of 2007, BFA signed its first agricultural cooperation agreement with the Southern Angolan Cattle-Raisers Cooperative (CCGSA) and CLUSA. BFA will soon set up its first branch in Ganda municipality located in the Benguela Province.

Ghana Hits Oil Again

Tullow Oil has made another significant oil discovery in Ghana estimated at 800million barrels, in a block adjacent to the one where it made a big discovery in June, supporting investor hopes that the country will become a major profit centre for the firm. London-based Tullow said in a statement on Wednesday that the Hyedua-1 well discovered "a significant light oil accumulation", in the Deepwater Tano block, which Tullow operates and in which it has a 50 percent stake. U.S.-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp and private-equity backed Kosmos Energy own 18 percent each. Drilling may start as early as 2011. Source: Databank

Angola Revises State Budget for 2007

The Angolan Government has recently revised the General State Budget for 2007. There will be greater amounts of money allocated to Angola’s economic and social sectors with increases of 10.2 and 3.3 percentage points, respectively. Currently the economic sector receives 24.2% and the social sector receives a 31.6% share of the overall budget. New projects include the rehabilitation of major roads in Luanda city (US$ 412 million), a resettlement program (US$ 100 million), the Cambambe dam modernization (US$ 25 million), and a programme to upgrade the national hospitals’ response ability (US$ 30 million).

South African Tourism Continues to Boom

The number of tourists visiting South Africa between January and May 2007 grew by 10% compared to the same period last year, driven by increasing numbers of visitors from Nigeria, Kenya and France, according to the country’s Tourism Minister. Speaking at the launch of Tourism Month, the Minister added that South Africa was benefiting from its new airlift strategy which has increased access by foreign air carriers to South Africa. He noted the growth from African air markets in the first five months of the year, led by Nigeria with a 22% increase in arrivals and Kenya at just over 12%. South Africa has also attracted visitors from North and South America, with over 140,000 arrivals from the United States, Canada and Brazil, a 5% increase over last year. The contribution made by tourism to South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP) also rose from 4.6% in 1993 to 8.3% in 2006. Over 8 million tourists visited South Africa in 2006 and the sector employed almost one million people in 2006, an increase of 9.6% over 2005.

Dana Gas makes Oil discovery in Southern Egypt

Dana Gas has made the first ever oil discovery in Southern Egypt from its El Baraka-1 exploration well drilled in Komombo Concession in Upper Egypt. The El Baraka-1 well was drilled by Dana Gas' Upstream Division, Centurion Petroleum Corporation, to a Total Depth of 8712 feet and the well penetrated several oil bearing zones. Dana Gas is currently the 6th highest natural gas producer in Egypt, a country whose gas reserves have doubled in the past 5 years to over 70 trillion cubic feet. Dana Gas aims to drill 12 wells by the end of 2007.

Banco Keve’s Capital Stock Rises to US$ 50 Million

The Angolan bank, Banco Keve, will increase their capital stock by 20% (USD 40 million to USD 50 million) by October of 2007.The increase in stock will position Banco Keve for major advances and successfully fulfill its business plan for the next 3 years. In the first quarter of 2007, Banco Keve had an above average performance within the banking sector, with a deposit growth of 46% (31% growth over 2006).For the first half of 2007, investments in financial products surpassed USD 50.2 million. Over the past three years, shareholders recouped their investments and doubled the value of their initial investment, which motivated a boost in the bank’s capital stock. By the end of 2006, the bank was managing over USD 150 million in third-party funds and made loans over USD 100 million.

South Africa Accelerates 'e-skills' Programme

The South African government is to establish a council to oversee the development of "e-skills" in the country, while a number of leading local and international IT companies are to set up new training centres in the country. The new e-skills council, comprising members of government, business and academia, is intended to rapidly drive the process of improving ICT skills in the country, according to South African President Thabo Mbeki. Hewlett Packard has announced a R150-million initiative, dubbed the HP Business Institute, designed to provide subsidised training to small black-owned ICT companies. Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle have also announced proposals for the launch of centres to provide ICT training and job placement.

308,000 Jobs Created in Angola in 2006

Approximately 308,000 new jobs were created in 2006 in diverse sectors of the economy. Agriculture created the most jobs in 2006, followed by the social and construction sectors. While agriculture is the biggest employer, it received only 0.82% of investments. The non-oil economy grew 25.70%, well above the 14.7% for 2005. Among the best performing sectors in 2006, the transformation industry grew 44.7% and the construction industry grew 30%. Total economic growth in Angola for 2006 was 18.6%. As a direct result of the economic growth rate, per capita GDP rose from USD 1,985 in 2005 to USD 2,565 in 2006. According to government officials, the budget management policy was accountable for a majority of the fine economic performance in 2006. The result was a GDP surplus of 16.7% in 2006, compared to 8.5% in 2005. The positive cash balance was 11.5%.

BP Spends US$ 40 Million on New Offices in Luanda

The Angolan subsidiary of the British multinational company BP invested a total of US$ 40 million, from 2005 to 2007, in the construction of new offices in Luanda. The office space has an area of 45,000 square meters and will assist in the development plans for Block 18 and the continued exploration of Block 31. Over the past 10 years, BP has accumulated a work force of approximately 120 people in Angola.

Ghana Oil Company Goes Public

Ghana Oil Company, a wholly owned government oil marketing company, is going public following final regulatory approval by the Securities Exchange Commission. The company is offering 89,815,187 (43%) shares to the public, private individuals and corporate investors. The share offer is pegged at 20 Ghana pesewas and opens for a minimum of 300 ordinary shares. GOIL Management confirmed the approval in a statement issued in Accra this week. It named Merban Stockbrokers Limited, SDC Brokerage Services Limited and Gold Coast Securities powered by MMRS Ogilvy as the sponsoring brokers. GOIL enjoys a current market share of 18%, dominating the lubricant and LP Gas trade and is major player in the general retail business. Source: Databank

Nigeria Scraps State Oil Company

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua is to scrap the state-owned oil corporation and restructure the industry. A national energy council will instead be established to oversee the notoriously corrupt oil sector. The council, headed by the president, has six months to create five new organisations out of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Nigeria is the world's eighth-largest exporter of crude oil but relies on imports for its fuel needs. There are often fuel scarcities and the subsidised price of fuel is regularly flouted. The country loses millions of dollars of oil through illegal sell-offs, and reform of the oil sector is one of the newly-elected government's key aims. Source: Databank

Minister says Ghana Telecom Privatisation on Course

The Ghanaian Government says it is on course to privatize Ghana Telecom by the end of the year. According to the country’s Minister of Communication, the transaction advisers have been working assiduously to ensure that final bidders are chosen on time. The Ghanaian Government last May selected Ecobank Development Corporation (EDC) and Societe Generale (S-G) as transaction advisors for the valuation of the company. Though France Telecom has expressed interest in buying a stake in Ghana Telecom when the privatization process is complete, it is not known whether it will succeed. About 51% of GT’s shares are expected to be off-loaded to a strategic investor, while the remainder will be listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE). The Government is expected to retain about 20 percent stake in Ghana Telecom. Source: Daily Guide

Subsea 7 Awarded US$ 80 Million Contract in Angola

Norwegian offshore contractor, Subsea 7, has been awarded a three-year deal, valued at over USD 80 million, by BP Angola, with an option to extend for another two years. The contract, which will begin immediately, includes support services in the B lock 18 Greater Plutonio development. Subsea 7 and its subsidiary, Sevenseas Angola, will provide project management and engineering for the maintenance, repair and light construction work that is required in this deepwater field.

AccessKenya to buy Openview Business Systems

AccessKenya Group, Kenya’s only publicly listed ICT company, has an agreement with the owners of Openview Business Systems, one of Kenya’s leading IT services providers, to purchase 70% of the issued share capital of that company. The completion of the transaction will be subject to the customary required approvals. Openview Business Systems is one of the market leading companies in offering IT solutions to enterprises and corporate customers in Kenya, with a number of blue chip customers including most of the leading banks, Insurance companies and parastatals. The Company won the CSK “IT Solution Provider of the Year” awards in both 2005 and 2006, and is also an IBM Premier Business partner, an Oracle certified partner, a NetApp Gold partner and a CISCO certified partner among other certifications. The consideration for the 70% share purchase is a combination of cash and approximately 4 million AccessKenya Group shares, together with some deferred consideration based on the performance of the business for the rest of 2007.

Telkom South Africa to Invest US$1bn in Nigeria’s Multi-Links

Telkom South Africa is to invest around US$1 billion in the expansion of the network of Multi-Links, its new Nigerian subsidiary, over the next five years. Telkom acquired Multi-Links Nigeria, the National Unified Access operator, in March 2007 in a deal worth U.S. $280 million. According to Chief Executive Officer of Multi Links, Justina Ramayia, the investment is expected to take a bouquet of telecommunication services to most parts of the country by the time it is concluded. Multi-Links have embarked on an aggressive rollout program to increase capacity and coverage of all 36 states of the Federation in the next 5 years. Currently, Multi-Links has a network that covers six states including Lagos and the Federal Capital, Abuja and most of the towns and cities in between. With the new investment planned, the firm will have network coverage of around 80% of the population. Source: Biz-Community .

ILO Report Highlights Link between Poverty and Productivity


A new report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has highlighted the linkage between poverty and labour productivity.  According to the report, entitled “Key Indicators of the Labour Market,” limited investment in training and skills is diminishing opportunities to lift people out of poverty.  Although productivity in East Asia has doubled in the last 10 years, the United States remains the global leader by a considerable amount in terms of labour productivity per person employed in 2006, the report noted.  In South and East Asia, the ILO has seen a marked decrease in the “working poor,” individuals working but unable to earn at least $2 a day.  However, the situation is different in sub-Saharan Africa, where there has been only “moderate” growth in productivity.  The agency stated that an increase in productivity is largely due to firms better utilising capital, labour and technology, and thus limited investment in training and skills, equipment and technology could lead to an underutilisation of the world’s labour potential.  Raising the productivity levels of workers on the lowest incomes in the poorest countries is the key to reducing the enormous decent work deficits in the world, according to the organization.

Three Dams to be Built on Kwanza River in Angola

 Economic feasibility studies are underway for the construction of three dams along the Kwanza River. The projects are expected to be complete between 2013 and 2014, contributing to increased energy production in Angola. The project studies will be completed within 9 to 12 months and will be the basis for an economic analysis that will enable the construction of the dams. Based on preliminary studies, each of the three dams will have the capacity to generate more energy than the Capanda hydroelectric complex, which has a capacity of 520 megawatts. The mid-Kwanza region has an estimated potential of 6,700 megawatts. The river is already the site of both the Cambabe and Capanda dams.

FDI Has Made Positive Impact on South Africa’s Economy

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has had a positive impact in South Africa, especially in key sectors such as automobiles, telecommunications, banking and mining and has played a key role in boosting exports and facilitating growth and employment.  These were among the findings in the recently launched ‘World Investment Prospects to 2011’ report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit. According to the report, FDI inflows have been boosted by the country’s status as the most advanced economy in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as South Africa’s privatization programme and the relatively large domestic and regional market, bolstered by the emergence of a black middle class.  The report also cites the 2010 World Cup as serving to spur FDI in the country in addition to recent measures to ease employment of expatriate works and to tone down the provisions of BEE charters for multinational firms.  The report highlights South Africa’s considerable potential in its export industries, tourism, minerals, agriculture and IT.

Sharp Divide Persists in Perceived Corruption in Rich and Poor Countries

The divide in perceived levels of corruption in rich and poor countries remains as sharp as ever, according to the 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI),released by Transparency International, the global coalition against corruption. Developed and developing countries must share responsibility for reducing corruption, in tackling both the supply and demand sides. The 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index looks at perceptions of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories - the greatest country coverage of any CPI to date – and is a composite index that draws on 14 expert opinion surveys. It scores countries on a scale from zero to ten, with zero indicating high levels of perceived corruption and ten indicating low levels of perceived corruption. A strong correlation between corruption and poverty continues to be evident. Forty percent of those scoring below three, indicating that corruption is perceived as rampant, are classified by the World Bank as low income countries. Somalia and Myanmar share the lowest score of 1.4, while Denmark has edged up to share the top score of 9.4 with perennial high-flyers Finland and New Zealand. Scores are significantly higher in several African countries in the 2007 CPI. These include Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Swaziland. These results reflect the positive progress of anti-corruption efforts in Africa and show that genuine political will and reform can lower perceived levels of corruption.

EUREPGAP Approves the Kenya GAP Standards

Kenya GAP is the Good Agricultural Practice standard which was developed by the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) for fruit, vegetables and flowers. KenyaGAP was developed to enable Kenyan exporters access the lucrative European Union (EU) market and is equivalent to EUREPGAP, while taking into consideration farming techniques employed by small-scale farmers in the country. The launch of the EUREPGAP benchmarked Kenyan equivalent standard Kenya GAP is imbedded in the celebration of FPEAK`s 30th Anniversary. The industry reflects on the milestones achieved in the last three decades and a time to reposition the industry for the competitive phase ahead. Horticultural exports accounted for Ksh 49 billion–over US$ 700 million in 2006, making it the second highest income earner after tourism and registering the highest growth 14% in the agricultural sector. There are about 500,000 producers nationally, 80% being small and medium scale, and the sector employs over 4 million people directly and indirectly.

South Africa Pledges Support for Major Projects in the DRC

South Africa has agreed to help finance several major infrastructure projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including the construction of a new terminal at Kinshasa's N'Djili International Airport and a deep sea port at Banana on the Atlantic coast. South Africa has also agreed to provide funds for the rehabilitation and modernization of the Inga Hydro-electric Dam, one of the biggest projects to be implemented under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad). According to the DRC's foreign ministry, Mbeki and Kabila conducted a review of existing co-operation agreements between the two countries, and signed new agreements in the fields of health and transport. Areas covered by the existing SA-DRC agreements include telecommunications, mining and energy, infrastructure development and tourism. South Africa has been heavily involved in post-conflict reconstruction and development in the DRC.

Tourism to contribute 12% of South Africa’s GDP by 2010

The tourism industry is to make up about 12 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the time the 2010 FIFA World Cup comes around, according to the Chief Executive Officer of SA Tourism.  According to Mr. Mosola, the industry currently contributes about 8.2% of the national GDP, which is a R79 billion contribution. On media reports of fears that South Africa would not be able to handle the influx of people in 2010, the CEO said that on a monthly basis the country already deals with 650,000 travellers. Organisers are expecting some 450,000 international travellers in the space of six weeks. In 2006, 8.3 million people passed through the country and SA Tourism expects the industry to contribute about 12% to national GDP by 2010.

Global Employment Services firm in BEE Deal

Manpower SA (Pty) Ltd, the South African subsidiary of Manpower Incorporated, the global employment services giant with over 4,400 offices in 74 countries, has sold a 30% equity stake to MG & Associates, a 100% black owned Executive Search and Strategic Selection agency, specialising in the ICT sector. Manpower Incorporated is a global leader, with 98% of Fortune 500 companies using Manpower as their staffing partner, according to the company. The ownership deal is the first step in Manpower SA’s commitment to Black Economic Empowerment, with further transformation towards broad based BEE being addressed over the next year.

Luanda Seafront Gets US$ 2 Billion Makeover

Private investors will invest approximately US£ 2 billion in a 15-year project to revamp the Luanda seafront and bay. New hotels, offices and houses will be built as part of the effort to improve the area stretching from the Port of Luanda to the Ilha Peninsula, which is home to some of the city's most fashionable restaurants and clubs. The private component of the project will be launched in parallel with the conclusion of the re-development of the bay. The re-development of the bay is estimated to cost USD 135 million and is being financed by the Portuguese bank Millennium BCP. The construction project is being managed by the Belgian company Dredging International. The project will help alleviate heavy traffic in the area, by allowing the Luanda costal road to be widened to 3 lanes in each direction. This area is a popular meeting place and activity center, and home to the city's growing financial district.

Ghana Goes for Offshore Banking

Ghana's focus to become a major player in the global financial markets has taken off with the opening of the first offshore banking operation. Barclays Bank Ghana Limited has been granted a General Banking License by the Bank of Ghana to operate the first banking business under the International Banking Component of the International Financial Services Centre. The International Financial Services Centre will have a full range of non-bank financial services and it is part of a comprehensive financial sector development programme.

South Africa’s Aerospace Industry Gets a Boost

The South African Government has endorsed three initiatives aimed at boosting South Africa's aerospace industry.  They include building a multi-million rand component supplier park outside Pretoria; expanding an existing support programme for suppliers; and tackling the shortage of skills in the industry. The supplier park, the Centurion Aerospace Village, will be built with R29-million provided by the European Union, which has also pledged a further R40-million for the project over the next two years. The second initiative involves expansion of the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative, which aims to develop an industry supplier base through a supply-chain improvement programme and a supplier development programme.  The third initiative involves work done by the National Aerospace Centre of Excellence (NACoE) to address the scarcity of skills and capacity in the local aerospace industry. The South African government aims to increase the country's exports and to exploit the growth in commercial air traffic, and the consequent need for aircraft maintenance and modification, around the continent.

Orascom to Invest in South Africa

Egyptian multinational company Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) has announced plans to build a cement plant worth around US$440-million (R3.2-billion) in Mafikeng in South Africa's North West province, in partnership with local black economic empowerment groups. The Cairo-based multinational will begin production by 2010, with a planned capacity of 2-million tons per year. South Africa is currently going through a construction boom, with major projects such as the government's R410-billion capital infrastructure upgrade, 2010 World Cup related infrastructure and the Gautrain leading to increased demand for cement. OCI will own 67.5% of the new cement company, with the rest being owned by broad-based black empowerment groups, including traditional councils and trusts representing local communities.

Microfinance Milestone: ACCION Reaches 2.5m Poor Entrepreneurs

ACCION International, a pioneer and leader in microfinance, has announced that the number of active clients it reaches through its partner network with small loans and other financial services has surpassed 2.5 million, and that the organization is on track to increase that number to over 3 million individuals by year-end. Since it first began making small loans - often as low as $100 - to the poor in Brazil in 1973, ACCION has been building an alliance of global partners to reach microentrepreneurs around the world.  In 2006, ACCION helped deliver a total of $3.72 billion in small loans to microentrepreneurs through its international network of 35 partners, working with an operating budget of only $18.6 million. Additional highlights for ACCION within the last year have included a major new partnership with AIG to help expand microfinance beyond credit; the establishment of new microfinance operations in Nigeria, Ghana and China; expansion in India; and the creation of a new equity fund to finance innovative microfinance technology and infrastructure. The Boston-based nonprofit operates in 25 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and also in the United States through its sister organization, ACCION USA.

US Firm to build New Power Plants in South Africa

A consortium led by US power producer AES has been selected as the preferred bidder to build, own and operate two new power plants in South Africa, representing an investment of over R5-billion during the construction phase, a significant portion of which will constitute foreign direct investment in the country. The AES consortium will build two open cycle gas turbine peaking power plants, a 760MW plant in Durban and a 342MW plant in Port Elizabeth. The plants will contribute to state electricity company Eskom's efforts to improve the reserve margin of SA's power system. At least 200 permanent and 6,000 temporary jobs are expected to be created during construction of the plants, which is set to begin at the end of the year, once the contract with the consortium has been finalised. The Eastern Cape plant will be built in the Coega Industrial Development Zone near Port Elizabeth, while the KwaZulu-Natal plant will be built at the Avon sub-station on the coast north of Durban.

NEPAD welcomes Britain’s $20m contribution to New Africa Fund

Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) has announced the contribution of $20-million to the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) set up to support innovative business ventures in Africa’s agriculture and finance sectors.  The AECF, which will provide match-funding for business innovations that improve the economic prospects of the most excluded in Africa, as employees, entrepreneurs or consumers, will become operational in early 2008.  It will offer grants of up to $1.5 million to businesses that provide innovative proposals for improving people's chances to take part in economic activity, particularly in the areas of finance and agriculture. Seventy per cent of Africans work in agriculture.  Other donors who have already committed to support the fund include the African Development Bank, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also a part of the Donor Steering Group.

Etisalat Acquires 40% of Mubadala

Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (Etisalat) said it had bought a 40% stake in a new Nigerian telephone operator, Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development Company. Etisalat, the third-largest Gulf Arab telecoms firm by market value, did not say how much it paid for the stake in the firm that will provide fixed line, mobile phone, international calling and data services to Nigeria’s 140 million people. Reuters reports that Mubadala would retain a 30% stake in the operator, set to start services in March 2008, with the other 30% held by local Nigerian investors, the companies said in a joint statement. Etisalat would be the third fixed-line service provider and fifth mobile operator in Nigeria, it said. Existing operators serve 34 million mobile phone customers, for a penetration rate of around 23%, it said. Source: Databank

Oil Discovered in Onshore Cabinda Field Five Times Greater than Predicted

The Massambala-1 oil field has a total reserve of 170 million barrels of oil, which is five times the initial forecast of 33 million barrels. The oil is heavy, viscous crude rather than the light petroleum usually found in Angola and Western Africa. The oil field is maintained by Operator Roc Oil, which holds 60% of the block, Sonangol at 20% and Force Petroleum at 20%.  Exploration of onshore Cabinda requires investments of US$ 54 million. The Cabinda region accounts for over half of Angolan oil production.

MTN to Build Fibre-Optic Network in South Africa

South African cellular operator MTN has announced plans to build a 5,000km fibre-optic network covering the country's major centres within the next two years in order to cope with the increasing demand for bandwidth from its customers. The decision to build a national backbone follows a successful two-month pilot project during which fibre-optic cables were laid between the Johannesburg suburbs of Sandton, Illovo and Rosebank, with companies such as SABMiller and the JSE taking part. Under its mobile license, MTN may self-provide the telecommunication facilities used to build its mobile converged telecommunications services, while also leasing out excess capacity on its fixed infrastructure. The company already has experience in building and running fixed-line networks in Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda.

Mozambique Receives US$6.2 Million Grant for Market Led Smallholder Development Project

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a US$6.2 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to Mozambique in support of the Market Led Smallholder Development Project in Zambezi Valley. The GEF funds are in addition to the earlier International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$20 million approved by the Board. The main objective of the new GEF contribution is to support activities that limit land degradation, provide predictive capacity for assessing vulnerabilities to climate change, and improve the ecosystems’ resilience towards climate change in the Central Zambezi Valley.  The Market Led Smallholder Development Project aims to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers in selected districts of the Zambezi Valley Region in central Mozambique. This will be achieved by direct support to smallholder groups and other supply chain participants, and also through the strengthening of local level capacity to undertake and manage agricultural services within the context of the Government’s decentralization policy.

World Bank and U.N. to Help Poor Nations Recover Stolen Assets

The World Bank and the United Nations have announced that they are setting up a system to help developing nations recover assets stolen and sent abroad by corrupt leaders that amount to an estimated $40 billion a year.  Robert B. Zoellick, the bank’s President has estimated that the overall cross-border flow of global proceeds from criminal activities, corruption and tax evasion was $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion annually, and said that even a small portion of that could provide financing for much-needed social programs.  He said that every $100 million recovered could pay for immunizations for four million children, or provide water connections for 250,000 households, or finance treatment for a year for more than 600,000 people with H.I.V. and AIDS.  The problem of stolen assets is most acute in Africa, where an estimated 25 percent of the gross national product of states is lost to corruption, he said.  The new system will work to build the capacity of developing countries to track stolen money going overseas and to emphasize ways that financial centers can better detect and deter money laundering. The Bank intends to assist countries in devoting recovered money to proper development use “to make sure it is not stolen twice”. The programme is being developed in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.  Source: New York Times

NEPAD and Mozambique agree on Joint Plan on Fisheries and Aquaculture

NEPAD FISH and NEPAD Science and Technology agreed on a joint fisheries and aquaculture with the Ministry of Fisheries in Mozambique. The program aims at deepen awareness and understanding of opportunities and constraints in the context of NEPAD Fish, SANBio and national policy implementation.  A number of priorities have been agreed upon as requiring joint implementation and follow-up, including a review of on-going NEPAD Science and Technology programmes to encompass marine fisheries and biodiversity and the need to deepen involvement of the Ministry of Fisheries in regional fisheries and aquaculture development programmes.  Mozambique’s University of Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) requested NEPAD to support a project to establish the Rural Planning and Development College which will be situated in Inhambane.  The goal of this College is to provide students with rural development and entrepreneurial skills. It will deliver its materials predominantly in English in line with the SADC guidelines on education reforms.

South Africa and Mozambique Solidify Economic and Trade Relations

South Africa and Mozambique are set to solidify an already stable bilateral trade and economic relationship with 41.4% of Mozambique’s imports coming from South Africa in 2005. South Africa and neighbouring Mozambique share an economic relationship which is the strongest in the Southern Africa region.  Statistics show that in 2005, over 40% of Mozambique’s imports emanated from South Africa, and about 12% of Mozambique exports were destined for the South African market.  Mozambique remains South Africa’s second largest export market in Southern Africa. Total exports by South Africa to Mozambique amounted to over R6.2 billion in 2006. Imports from Mozambique were valued at close to R318 590 million for the same year.  The Industrial Development Corporation has been utilised by South Africa as the primary catalyst for South African investment in Mozambique and has to date approved funding for 10 projects geographically spread throughout Mozambique and is currently investigating six additional projects in the country in sectors including mining and mineral beneficiation, agriculture, tourism, chemicals, forestry, transport infrastructure and energy.

Ericsson to Set up Fiber Optic Network in Angola

State owned company Angola Telecom has chosen the Ericsson Group to supply and assemble an undersea fiber optic network linking six coastal provinces of Angola. The contract is worth USD 70 million and will include the supply and assembly of equipment, as well as associated services. The network called ADONES (Angola Domestic Network System), will cover the entire 1,600 kilometer stretch of the Angolan coast, from Cabinda Province to Namibe.  The network is due to be in operation at the end of 2008.

East Africa Bourses to Integrate

The three stock exchanges in East Africa have resolved to concentrate on capital market integration instead of the current policy of pursuing mass cross-listings. The East African Securities Exchanges Association made the decision as the emergence of a harmonious trading system in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania is a strong factor in opting for capital market integration over cross listings. But the failure to register massive cross listings in the region is apparently the biggest cause of the change in harmonisation strategy. Integration of capital markets will use a single provider for the operating system and enable people from all over the region to trade shares wherever they are. Therefore, it is hoped that the integration through a harmonious Central Depository System can achieve more effective results than waiting for cross-listings that move slowly. Over the past six years, only three companies - Kenya Airways, East African Breweries Ltd and Jubilee Holdings Ltd - have managed to cross-list in the region.  Source: Databank

Nigerian Stock Exchange to Phase out Share Certificates

Following the difficulties and complaints associated with the dispatch of share certificates to investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has given December 31st, 2008 as the deadline for the total phase out of the issuance of share certificates to the investing public. This decision which was reached at a stakeholders meeting between SEC, NSE, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other capital market operators in Lagos on Thursday seek to replace the old share certificates with electronic system of share holding in the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), the central depository of the NSE. Shareholders were advised to begin the demobilisation of the share certificates into the CSCS system before the end of the deadline.

British Oil Company BP Invests in Production Ship for Angola

British Petroleum (BP) has invested US% 5 billion in the construction of an oil production, storage and transport ship to operate in the area offshore Angola.
The factory ship will operate in developing the Plutónio, Paládio, Gálio, Cobalto and Crómio oil fields, located in Block 18. The ship has a storage capacity of 1.77 million barrels of oil and a maximum daily production of 240,000 barrels of oil.

China Loans DR Congo US$5bn

China has signed a deal to loan the Democratic Republic of Congo $5bn to develop infrastructure and mining. According to the Government, the money will be spent on building roads, hospitals, health centres, housing and universities. In exchange, China will get rights to DR Congo's extensive natural resources, including timber, cobalt and copper. A recent study concluded that China's main interest in Africa is to guarantee supplies of raw materials. This is the largest single loan to any African country of the $20bn that China has pledged to finance trade and investment in the continent over the next few years.

NEPAD Cities Programme Moves Ahead

Phase 2 of the NEPAD Cities Programme has been launched in Durban, South Africa and aims to address urbanisation and its consequences in order to make African cities more attractive for economic investment. Seven cities were selected to kick-start the programme in July 2003 -- Durban, Bamako, Lagos, Lusaka, Nairobi, Rabat and Douala. The profiles of these cities were prepared by their municipalities with technical assistance from the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT). Phase 1 of the programme was aimed at intensifying efforts to continue building constituencies towards an effective ownership of the NEPAD objectives and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the regional and local levels. Proposed Phase II activity is to raise awareness and sensitise local authorities and local communities to NEPAD objectives. It will also enhance the capacity of local authorities to assist national governments in addressing the NEPAD objectives and managing the delivery of basic services to reduce poverty and promote socio-economic cohesion in Africa.

World Bank and IFC Launch Lighting Africa

The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation have launched Lighting Africa, an initiative designed to provide lighting to 250 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030. It aims to help rural and urban areas not connected to the electricity grid.

Job Creation Improves in Quality and Quantity in South Africa

South Africa gained almost 200,000 jobs in the year to March 2007, according to Statistics SA's labour force survey, as the recovery in job creation that started in 2003, and the shift to formal sector employment that began in 2001, both continued. The survey shows that the number of employed South Africans rose from 12 451 000 in March 2006 to 12 648 000 in March 2007, pushing the percentage of working-age South Africans with jobs up slightly, from 41.7% to 41.9%. While South Africa's official unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged at 25.5%, compared with 25.6% in March 2006, this was due to the increase in the number of people in the market for jobs. South Africa's working age population rose from 29.8-million in March 2006 to almost 30.2-million in March 2007. The trade industry (including the wholesale and retail sectors) remained South Africa's biggest employer, accounting for 23.4% of total employment in March 2007, followed by the community and personal services industry (18.3%) and manufacturing (13.9%). The industries with the biggest employment gains in the year to March 2007 were community and personal services, including domestic, shop and sales workers (127 000 new jobs), finance (126 000 new jobs), and construction (102 000 new jobs). In March 2007, formal sector jobs accounted for 66.6% of South Africa's total employment, whereas the informal sector (also excluding agriculture) accounted for 16.9% and domestic work for 7.4% of all jobs.

Sasol Announces £1 Billion BEE Deal

South African Petrochemicals group Sasol has announced plans to transfer 10% of the group to employees and black investors. At the current share price the deal is worth more than £1.25 billion. It is the biggest Black Economic Empowerment deal in the country to date. Shareholders still need to approve the plan, which will be finalised in the first half of 2008. One analyst said the deal would see Sasol’s net asset value per share drop 14.6% to £6.

Ghana Issues Sovereign Bond

Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country outside South Africa to issue a sovereign bond on the international capital markets. It is also the first time a post-HIPC country has successfully borrowed from the international capital markets. The government raised US$750m at a coupon rate of 8.5% bond with a term of 10 years. The funds are targeted at financing infrastructural projects in the transportation and energy sectors. The bond has been listed on the London Stock Exchange and was lead managed by Citibank and UBS. Databank acted as a co-manager for the issue. The issue was oversubscribed by 580%.

MTN Raises US$2bn for Nigeria Expansion

MTN has negotiated one of Africa’s largest-ever loans of $2bn to expand its network in Nigeria. The loans arranged by Standard Bank will be used to improve a network of 14 million customers. The five-year medium-term debt facility will give MTN Nigeria the capital to grow market share and improve coverage, the companies said. MTN originally aimed to raise debts of $1,2bn, with $840m coming from Nigerian lenders and $360m from foreigners. But the syndication was subscribed by more than 200% as commercial banks showed an appetite to get involved. The new amount of $2bn is made up of $1,6bn in local cash and $400m in foreign currencies.

Lonrho Acquires Two Zimbabwe Companies

Lonrho plc has acquired an international company with majority stakes in two strategic businesses in the country. Lonrho acquired an 80% stake in Blueberry International Services Ltd (Blueberry), an offshore holding company which owns Celsys Ltd and Peak Mine. Lonrho paid US$5,45 million for the stake. Blueberry owns Peak Mine which in turn holds 60% of Celsys Ltd a communications company listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. Celsys wholly owns Gardoserve, a private industrial chemical manufacturer and distributor which trades as Millpal. Lonrho's acquisition of Celsys and Millpal is its first investment in Zimbabwe following the announcement by LonZim Plc that it would set aside £50 million for investment in Africa. LonZim is a separate and specific fund that Lonrho is establishing to build a portfolio of investments in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries.

Image Cisco Systems to Invest £10 million in Africa

Cisco Systems is to invest $10 million to develop its network infrastructure on the continent. According to the report, five African countries who stand to benefit from the initiative are Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya. Cisco, a global leader in networking is known to have transformed the way people connect, communicate and collaborate using Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies.

According to the company, the investment will empower Africans by deploying Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for development via the networking academies.The academies are currently available in 168 countries globally.The Cisco Networking Academy is an innovative global education initiative that delivers ICT skills to help meet the growing demand of ICTs, while improving career and educational opportunities for students around the world.

South Africa Experiencing 'Listings boom'

The number of companies seeking to list publicly on South Africa's stock exchanges increased from two to 17 in the third quarter of 2007 as compared to the same period last year, in what professional services firm Ernst & Young has described as a "listings boom". This rise in local initial public offerings (IPO) is in sharp contract to the global picture, where listings declined by 22% in the third quarter as compared with the second quarter of 2007, mainly as a result of the sub-prime crisis fallout in the United States. South Africa saw 17 IPOs, with R1.6-billion of capital raised during the third quarter of 2007, according to Ernst & Young Transaction Advisory Services.This represents a significant increase when compared to the six IPOs of the previous quarter (with R1.0-billion raised) and the two IPOs in the third quarter of 2006 (R50-million raised).Thirteen of the IPOs during the third quarter of 2007 were on the JSE's alternative exchange board, the AltX, taking its number of listings to more than 60 since inception.

Johannesburg Exchange Celebrates 120 Years

South Africa's stock exchange, ranked among the top 20 exchanges worldwide in terms of market capitalisation, has celebrated its 120th birthday.The JSE Limited - originally the Johannesburg Stock Exchange - was established in 1887 to raise capital for mining operations. Today the JSE's total market capitalisation is over R6-trillion, with approximately 400 companies listed. Seventeen of these companies listed between July and September, raising R1.6-billion in capital - in sharp contrast to a 22% decline in listings worldwide in the third quarter. Recent years have seen investors extending their interest beyond the equity market and derivatives trading now accounts for more than 20% of the JSE's revenue. This year, the JSE overtook its Indian counterpart as operating the largest single stock futures (SSF) market in the world in terms of volume of contracts traded. The JSE's other markets, all created in the last decade to meet the needs of specific investors, include Africa's most active agricultural products market, and an interest rate exchange. The JSE also launched a currency futures market this year, allowing individuals to trade in the currency futures market through a regulated exchange for the first time in South Africa.

ACCION Backs Microfinance Equity Funds in India and Africa

ACCION International, a pioneer and leader in global microfinance, has announced that its Gateway Microfinance Investment Vehicles Fund (GMIV) has invested in Lok Capital, LLC and has participated in the recapitalization of AfriCap Microfinance Investment Company, Ltd., both Mauritius-based investment companies. ACCION's GMIV participates in investment vehicles in order to support the global microfinance industry and to promote the development of world-class microfinance investment managers. ACCION has also recently participated in the recapitalization of the AfriCap Microfinance Investment Company, an investment fund founded by ACCION, Canadian microfinance organization Calmeadow, and others. AfriCap, the first African private equity fund dedicated to the microfinance industry, has established a solid track record, including two exits with an average internal rate of return in excess of 30%; participation in the listing of Equity Bank Limited, the first IPO of a MFI in Africa; transformation into a permanent capital investment company; and an increase in capital to $50M in its second round of investment. AfriCap Microfinance Fund was established in 2001 as the first African private equity fund dedicated to the microfinance industry. ACCION International's partner microfinance institutions today are providing loans as low as $100 to poor men and women entrepreneurs in 25 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, and in the U.S.

Bank of Portugal Authorizes First Angolan-Owned Bank

Angolan-owned bank, Banco BIC Portugal, has received authorization from the Bank of Portugal to start operating in the market. The new bank will be operated by former Portuguese minister Luís Mira Amaral, and will have an identical shareholder structure to Banco BIC Angola. Banco BIC Angola began its activities in May 2005 and has now become one of the largest banks in Angola. The majority shareholders of BIC Portugal are Portuguese businessman Américo Amorim, with 25 percent, and Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos, with 25 percent. Fernando Teles, the chairman of BIC, will have a 20 percent share in BIC Portugal, which will also have Brazil’s José Ruas as a shareholder with 10 percent. The remaining capital will be split between several Angolan shareholders, each with a 5 percent, including Sebastião Lavrador, a former head of the National Bank of Angola.

KPMG Study on the Banking Industry

A research study on the banking industry in Angola has been completed by the consulting firm KPMG. The document will be launched at a conference on Project Finance and Public-Private Partnerships. The third edition of the study includes an analysis of accounts published by all banking institutions operating in Angola in 2006. This makes it possible to compare banks in terms of such indicators as financial soundness, size, and economic and financial performance.

The Angolan banking industry is presently undergoing a phase of strong growth, during a period of major transformation.

South Africa’s Coega created over 3000 jobs in 2007

A total of 3,198 construction jobs have already been created in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) since April 2007. Within a period of six months, the figure is already close to 2006’s annual achievement of 3,880, against a target of 2,962. Such numbers were last seen in late 2003 to early 2004. There was more economic activity in the Coega IDZ in 2007 as investors are commissioning their plants. The CDC is also continuing to build infrastructure for signed investors and those who are close to signing. Meanwhile, the monthly employment report for October showed that the total number of people working in the Coega IDZ and Deepwater Port of Ngqura had reached 4,874. This was an increase of 470 people from September. The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is the operator of the (IDZ) outside Port Elizabeth. Established in 1999 the CDC is wholly-owned by the South African Government and is South Africa’s premier location for new industrial investments.

African Cities to be Connected with Broadband

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the African Development Bank have agreed to collaborate on interconnecting all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012. The announcement comes after Dr. Hamadoun Touré the Secretary-General of the ITU announced that one of the summit goals was to interconnect all African capitals with ICT broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012 as well as interconnect major African cities by 2015.

Kenyan Project to Boost Biofuels in East Africa

A new project to develop an integrated sugarcane facility in Kenya could be a boost for biofuels production in east Africa. The Ngima Project at Homa Bay on the shores of Lake Victoria (‘‘ngima’’ is the word for ‘‘life’’ in the local Luo language) is looking to foster a dual export and domestic system of sugarcane production,
concentrating on both white sugar and biofuel production.

Syngenta and The Royal Society of Chemistry Launch African Science Initiative

Syngenta and the Royal Society of Chemistry have announced the creation of the Pan Africa Chemistry Network to help promote the economic and social development of the continent. The Network, which will eventually span the whole continent, is being established initially in Kenya. Its purpose is to connect African chemists more effectively and to enable them to achieve greater levels of innovation and scientific development.Syngenta is supporting the launch with a GBP 1 million grant. A prime focus of the Network will be agricultural development including food security and sustainability, clean water and disease prevention.Academics will meet through a program of seminars, conferences and workshops. Fellowships and grants will be awarded to enable active participation in these events and to further enhance networking, technology transfer and skills development by facilitating international mobility of key scientists.

US Technology Group Acquires South African Nuclear Firm

United States-based nuclear technology group Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation, has announced the acquisition of South African firm IST Nuclear. Westinghouse has launched its newly acquired South African operation under the name Westinghouse Electric South Africa. IST Nuclear is a leading provider of services and systems for South Africa's Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) project. Westinghouse views South Africa as a promising market for its particular brand of nuclear power plant, a third-generation pressurised water reactor system known as the AP1000. Eskom has set 30 June 2015 as the date by which it wants to have its first new nuclear reactor up and running by. The state supplier has indicated that it is looking to build as many as five new nuclear power stations by 2025. IST Nuclear was instrumental in the early development of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, working with Eskom and US-based investors including Westinghouse. Westinghouse supplies nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities around the world. According to the company, its technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants, including 60% of those in the US.

Zimbabwe Pioneers Commercial Biodiesel Processing

Zimbabwe has launched the first commercial biodiesel processing plant in southern Africa, underlining the region’s resolve to move to cleaner and renewable sources of energy. This comes amid concerns about the impact of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas) on global warming as well as depletion of the world’s petroleum reserves. The biodiesel processing plant, which can produce biodiesel from any vegetable oil-bearing seed, has a capacity to produce between 90 - 100 million litres of diesel annually making it the largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. At full capacity the plant will meet 10 percent of Zimbabwe’s annual diesel requirements, which translates to foreign currency savings of US$80 million annually. Another spin-off from the biodiesel plant is the production of several high-value chemical by-products which are essential in the production of industrial lubricants. Source: sardc.net

Cell phone Banking on the Rise in South Africa

The penetration of cellphone banking in South Africa has more than doubled in one year while usage will climb even more sharply in the coming year, according to the Mobility 2007 study by technology research firm World Wide Worx. World Wide Worx's latest study of mobile technology and commerce in South Africa was undertaken in partnership with South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB). 17% of urban cell phone respondents said they had used their cellphones for banking services, compared to only 8% of urban respondents in 2006. The numbers were even more dramatic when cellphone users were asked about their intentions for next year, with an additional 24% expected to begin using cellphone banking. With FNB Cellphone Banking now recording one million transactions per month, the bank believes the secret to success in the industry lies in strategy development. An unexpected finding of the research was that the likelihood of using cellphones for banking services increases with age, in contrast to the usage of most advanced cellphone functions going down as users get older. The study showed that urban cellphone users aged from 46 to 55 years are twice as likely to use cellphones for banking as those in the 19 to 24 age group.

Rio Tinto Alcan Partners to Support Guinea's Efforts in Achieving Millennium Development Goals

Rio Tinto Alcan has announced that it will support Guinea's efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through a Partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and Guinea's National Ministry of the Interior and Security. The Partnership will fund a project to strengthen the planning capacity of elected officials and civil servants in the Boké region, where Rio Tinto Alcan holds an interest in Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) and is studying development of an alumina refinery. The Partnership has engaged the Association des volontaires pour le développement en Guinée — an NGO whose main areas of focus include rural development and decentralization in upper and central Guinea — to train approximately 150 elected officials and civil servants to produce five-year development plans in support of the Government’s efforts to achieve the MDGs. In addition to the Partnership, Rio Tinto Alcan will help elected officials identify financial partners that can provide rural communities with assistance in implementing their plans in areas such as health, education and income-generating activities. The number of people expected to benefit directly and indirectly from this Partnership is approximately 500,000.

Nissan Opens Car Plant in Angola

Nissan will open a plant in Angola to produce CSG cars, with Japan’s Nissan technology. CSG Automóvel-Angola was founded using investments provided by the China International Fund (CIF). With a production capacity of 30,000 vehicles per year, the plant will produce pick-ups, SUVs, MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles), automobiles, and special models. The SUVs, pick-ups, and automobiles will use Nissan technology.

Bayer Foundation Awards $1.5 Million in Grants to Support Science and Environmental Education, Sustainability

The Bayer Foundation has announced that it will award a total of $1.5 million in grants over the next few years to a number of nonprofit organizations and universities for programs that foster sustainable development, science and environmental education, workforce development, diversity and the arts. From "green" chemistry and sustainable boating and energy technologies to initiatives designed to bolster diversity and reverse under representation by women and minorities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, recent Bayer Foundation grant recipients represent eight national and regional organizations and universities working in these and other areas.

New Leadership Programme Tailored for Women

The UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) will launch an innovative programme in 2008 specifically designed to develop women leaders in South Africa. According to Dr Marjolijn Dijksterhuis, director of the new Women in Leadership Programme, it is designed for women with proven leadership capacity who want to develop to their full professional potential and realise opportunities for their organisations and themselves. The Women in Leadership Programme, being offered by the UCT GSB’s top ranking Executive Education unit, consists of two modules. The course runs at the UCT GSB campus in Cape Town from 10 - 14 March 2008 (module 1) and 7 - 11 April 2008

African Diaspora must share knowledge says Mbeki

President Thabo Mbeki has outlined the pressing need for Africa and Africans in the Diaspora to share knowledge and economic cooperation, in order to boost development.Addressing the African Diaspora Ministerial Conference, President Mbeki stated that there is an urgent need for knowledge sharing and economic cooperation between Africa and the Diaspora. Sharing knowledge with the aim of boosting development could be taken forward in areas such as telecommunication, saying, “at the same, if we were able to work better together with the Africans in the Diaspora, utilising the skills and expertise that many of them have, many of these programmes and projects will be implemented faster and I am certain more efficiently.” President Mbeki fully endorsed the identification by the regional consultative conferences of the need for collaboration between the private sectors in Africa and the Diaspora to increase access to capital, to business expertise and markets to accelerate development both on the Continent and the African Diaspora.

Connect Africa launched to boost ICT projects backed by $55 billion

Connect Africa, which aims to complement and accelerate existing public and private sector ICT projects and investments, has been launched with investment commitments from various stakeholders amounting to over US $55-billion to the development of ICT on the continent.

This collaborative effort seeks to involve various stakeholders active in the region, including China, India, the European Commission, G8, OECD and Arab countries, major ICT companies, the United Nations Development Programme and other international organisations to help implement a number of ICT projects of significant, catalysing impact on the development of ICT infrastructure in Africa. In doing so, partners will build on the progress of countries which have established an attractive ICT policy and regulatory environment to accommodate the private sector investment required for sustainable network build-out. These projects will in turn trigger a cycle of further investment and development.Connect Africa seeks to mobilise resources and enhance coordination between stakeholders in support of national and regional activities and priorities.The African Development Bank committed funds to support the implementation of regional ICT infrastructure projects including NEPAD’s EASSy submarine cable – a key NEPAD ICT infrastructure project.

Angola Signs US$ 45 Million Loan Accord

A US$ 45 million credit agreement was recently signed in Rome, by representatives of the Angolan ministries of Finance, Agriculture, the Reserve Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). IFAD will contribute USD 8 million, the World Bank USD 30 million, the Japanese Government US$ 4 million, and the Angolan Government US$ 3 million. The project will last for six months and comprise of reinforcement capacities, agricultural investment support and project management. It is designed to benefit approximately 200,000 families.

South African Distell Wins Distiller Award

South African spirits company Distell has won the prestigious V&S Distiller of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) held in the UK, beating rivals such as Diageo, Beam Global and William Grant & Sons. According to the organisers, the award is based on the company's achievements in the competition, as well as on the range of high-quality spirits in their portfolio. The Stellenbosch-based Distell Group states that it is South Africa's leading producer and marketer of fine wines, spirits, ciders and ready-to-drinks. The company is listed on the JSE, employs over 4 000 people and has an annual turnover in excess of R6.7-billion.

NEPAD Nigeria Working on Numerous Projects

NEPAD Nigeria has been established with a mandate to identify and work with partners in the public and private sectors including civil society and international organisations, to develop, implement and promote NEPAD programmes at the country level. Dr. Tunji Olagunju, a former Ambassador to South Africa, has been appointed chief executive of NEPAD Nigeria and special advisor on NEPAD to Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua. It is structured into four departments and three NEPAD state coordinators have been appointed to assist in setting up NEPAD frameworks in the 36 states and so far six states have successfully launched their frameworks. The remaining states are currently making plans to officially launch their NEPAD offices. In both chambers of the National Assembly -- the Senate and the House of Representatives -- a Committee on NEPAD has been established to act as liaison between NEPAD and the legislature. In addition, five lead research organisations were commissioned during the third and fourth quarters of 2006 to assess the perceptions of Nigerians on the quality of governance in the country. They produced reports on each of the APRM four thematic areas.

France Telecom Wins Ghana Telecom Bid

A few days after Singapore Telecom withdrew from the race to take over 51% stake in Ghana Telecom (GT), the Government of Ghana has selected France Telecom as the winner of the bidding process for GT. France Telecom beat Vodacom and Portugal Telecom. In all, twenty foreign investors expressed interest in Ghana Telecom when the Government of Ghana announced early in 2007 that 51% of GT would be sold to a strategic investor in a bid to enhance efficiency and quality of service. The rest of the shares would then be floated on the Ghana stock exchange. Source: Databank

New Business Outsourcing Facility for Cape Town

The decision by TeleTech, a multi-national business processing outsourcing (BPO) giant, to establish a facility in South Africa proves the success of the country’s marketing campaign to attract new foreign investment.According to the International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMC), a body that is responsible for promoting South Africa as a preferred trade and investment destination, TeleTech’s decision will further stimulate global interest in the country’s advantages in the fields of BPO and call centres.The new facility will be built in Salt River, Cape Town.TeleTech is the first multinational company to benefit from a new incentive plan launched by the Department of Trade and Industry which has identified the business process outsourcing sector as a major future source of employment. The Colorado-based TeleTech Holdings Inc is one of the largest global providers of BPO solutions. TeleTech has already announced that it plans a number of new facilities in South Africa which will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs in the BPO industry. The company already employs more than 50 000 people in 18 countries and Cape Town is its first base on the African continent.

$100m German support for Ghanaian Telecom Operator

The German Investment Development Corporation has announced a US$100milion credit facility to Millicom Company limited, operators of Tigo mobile network to expand their operations across Ghana. Under the long term funding agreement, Millicom would be provided with US$80milion off-shore funding and a further $ 20milion from local German banks to finance Tigo's expansion and quality service delivery projects.

Spain Loans Angola US$ 600 Million

The Spanish Government has granted Angola a credit line of approximately USD 600 million to aid with modernization. Two cooperation agreements were signed recently in Luanda, one aimed at the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments and the other laying the ground work for a financial cooperation agreement. The financial arrangement will encourage the flow of capital between the two countries by providing a stable, favorable investment climate.

South Africa Plans More Universities

South Africa plans to increase the number of tertiary institutions in the country in a bid to ensure that 20% of people aged between 18 and 25 are enrolled in the higher education system by 2015. According to the South African Education Minister Naledi Pandor the system would have to take on more than 100 000 extra students between 2010 and 2015 if the government was to reach its target. She also highlighted the need to address the capacity constraints in the higher education system, as the current establishment cannot handle a planned increase in the number of students. She pointed out that there are presently 740 000 students enrolled at tertiary institutions in the country, with 820 000 expected by 2010. Higher Education South Africa (Hesa) chairperson Barney Pityana, who is also the principal and vice chancellor of the University of South Africa, said the government had accepted a proposal by the body which would see undergraduate degrees being completed in four years instead of the current three.

Angolan Banks Create Over 2,000 New Jobs

According to a study on the banking industry conducted by KPMG, the banks operating in Angola in 2006 created over 2,000 jobs, opened over 100 branches, and nearly doubled the available credit. The KPMG Study revealed 17 banks were operating in Angola in 2006; Angolan banks will soon be among 1,000 largest in world; total bank assets rose 53% from 2005 to 2006, reaching approximately US$ 11 billion (Led by Banco Africano de Investimento (BAI), Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA), Bando de Poupança e Crédito (BPC), and Banco BIC, which began operations in 2005).Deposits are up 61%, reaching approximately US$ 8 billion; credits are up 92%, reaching approximately US$ 3 billion. 45% of deposits were transformed into credit, indicating that much of the money is not routed to investments (2005 figure was 37%). The most profitable and productive banks on market were: BESA, Banco BIC, and BFA.

World Bank to Stimulate Diaspora Development Efforts

The World Bank has announced plans to collaborate with the African Union in exploring the possibilities for the development of a Diaspora Remittances Investment Fund.The World Bank statement said the establishment of the Fund would be based on global experiences that exploited the benefits of and leverage remittances to finance Diaspora-led development activities, in a manner similar to existing mechanisms in Latin America.According to a 2005 World Bank report, remittances flows from the African Diaspora are in excess of US$4-6 billion per year and a significant number of professionals from the continent are currently living outside of Africa.The World Bank said it was also exploring multiple approaches for working with the African Diaspora, including through engagement of the Diaspora—in collaboration with African member countries— in the design and implementation of the ongoing portfolio of World Bank-assisted projects (338 projects for about US$22 billion).African Diaspora, defined as peoples of African descent/origin living outside the continent, play an increasingly important role in the continent’s development,

both through the financial resources they send back to their home countries and through their professional expertise. "The World Bank is in a very strategic position to assist in the mobilization of the African Diaspora in support of economic development on the ground in Africa,” the statement quoted Melvin P. Foote, President of the Constituency for Africa (CFA), as saying. “Engaging the Diaspora in providing technical assistance in Africa may well create the necessary synergy to transform how development will be pursued on the continent in the future,” he added. CFA is a 16 year-old Washington, D.C. based network of organizations, groups and individuals committed to the progress and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide.According to World Bank information, more than a third of Africa’s highly qualified human resources are presently in the Diaspora.

Studies show that the most educated Africans increasingly opt not to return to the continent and stay in their host country after completion of their studies. A survey of African PhD students in the U.S. and Canada in 1986-96 showed that about 44 per cent decided to stay. The impact of the non-return has been debilitating on Africa’s public and private sector, in some cases forcing countries to rely on high rates of international consultants to tackle development work. The World Bank said a partnership with the African Diaspora for the continent’s development was thus essential to enable Africa to increase its capacity to use and apply knowledge and increase its access to financial resources. "With support from African governments, the World Bank hopes to use its engagement with the African Diaspora to strengthen the performance of its extensive port f olio of investment and development policy loans in the region (about US$22 billion) by better engaging the African Diaspora with government support, in the over U S$6 billion of technical assistance which is financed by this portfolio," the Bank said. Source: Africa News

Call for Research Fellow, UNRISD

As part of a new UNRISD Fellowship Programme for Researchers from developing Countries, UNRISD invites applications from African social science scholars, based at an African research institution. The visiting fellows would spend 9 to 12 months working at UNRISD in Geneva. Successful applicants should be engaged in innovative research in the field of Social Policy in Africa. At UNRISD they will continue research in this area, prepare a paper for publication under the UNRISD Programme Paper series and develop ideas for future research. The closing date is 1 February 2008.  http://www.unrisd.org/80256B3C005BF3C2/search/

Building 20 Centres for South Africa 2010

Fifa President Sepp Blatter has launched the official social upliftment campaign of the 2010 Fifa World Cup - 20 Centres for 2010 - in Durban, setting the ball rolling for positive social change in Africa. According to Fifa.com, the campaign aims to raise US$10-million to fund the construction of 20 Football for Hope centres across Africa. Five centres will be located in South Africa, including one in Alexandra township in Johannesburg, and a further 15 across the continent. Each will feature a mini-pitch along with classrooms and health care facilities, providing youngster with a place to play as well as access to counselling, health and educational services. The campaign follows on the success of social upliftment campaigns associated with previous World Cups - Say Yes For Children (2002) and 6 Villages for 2006 - while marking "the first time that the world's largest football event will harness the power of the game itself to inspire positive social change," Fifa said on its website. 20 Centres for 2010 will be conducted within the framework of the Football for Hope Movement, a key element of the strategic alliance between Fifa and streetfootballworld. Football for Hope partners, all successfully established local non-governmental organisations, will provide the education and health care services for the 20 centres, while also encouraging "the social integration of minorities and disadvantaged populations in their respective communities".

IFC and Mercer Launch First Sustainability Survey in Emerging Markets

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has appointed Mercer to undertake the first in-depth research on how prevalent environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors are in emerging market investments. Specifically, Mercer will survey fund managers operating in emerging markets to identify and highlight those that integrate ESG factors in their investment processes. The research aims to facilitate investments in sustainability-conscious emerging market funds and to signal to fund managers the growing worldwide demand for sustainable investment products. The survey will include a list of identified fund managers, with information on their capacity to integrate ESG factors. The results will be made publicly available and communicated to investment communities throughout major developed and emerging markets.The project will run for about 12 months and has three major components. First, Mercer will undertake a global survey of equity managers operating in emerging markets, including those based in developed countries, to review their approaches to ESG factors. Second, there will be an in-depth review of mainstream equity managers in Brazil, China, India, and South Korea to assess the extent to which they are assessing ESG risks or opportunities. Third, the project will assess the range of "sustainable investment" branded funds that are offering emerging market products and their total assets to date.

NEPAD-Spanish Fund for the Empowerment of Women calls for Proposals

The NEPAD Secretariat has made a second announcement for proposals under the NEPAD-Spanish Fund for Empowerment of Women, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Spanish Government in support of the empowerment of African women. The NEPAD Secretariat will receive this support through the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI). On behalf of the NEPAD/AECI Steering Committee, the NEPAD Secretariat is inviting proposals, for the implementation of this project from institutions involved in implementing programmes that have the potential to unlock women’s economic potential, fight poverty, close gender gaps, empower women, are contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the attainment of sustainable development. The prescribed application format should contain characteristics such as the purpose, beneficiaries, duration of the projects to be financed (up to 6 months), proposed budget, geographical location and thematic priority. All applications should be addressed to the Steering Committee and be submitted electronically to the NEPAD Secretariat by 1 pm on 15 January 2008. Full details are now available on both the NEPAD website at (www.nepad.org) and the Spanish and African Women’s Network website (www.mujeresporunmundomejor.org). The detailed format in which the concept identification notes should be submitted is available on both websites in English, French and Portuguese.

US$13 Million Grant to Boost Women in Agriculture

A US$13 million pan-African initiative to increase the role of women scientists in agriculture has been launched in Kenya. The Nairobi-based African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) intends to increase the number of women scientists on the continent. It also seeks to provide role models and address the institutional biases that have limited women in agricultural research.

Nigeria to Write-off $13 million Loan to Liberia

President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has sought the Senate's approval to write off $13 million out of a total $48 million debt that Liberia owes Nigeria. According to the President, the Liberian Government has made several pleas to Nigeria to write off the debts owed to the Nigeria Trust Fund as well as help canvass support for debt relief from other creditors. Liberia's debt burden currently constitutes an impediment to the country's economic recovery and reconstitution efforts, which are needed to secure durable peace. The outstanding arrears owed to multilateral financial institutions are standing in the way of the country accessing grants and concessional loans as well as benefiting from debt relief under the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. President Yar'Adua stated that the proposed partial debt write-off was "part of a broader initiative by the international community to assist Liberia clear its huge debt arrears owed to the World Bank, IMF and the African Development Bank (ADB)." The president said in the letter that the debt owed to the African Development Bank (ADB) amounts to $249 million. Out of this, $48 million "represents loans refinanced through the Nigeria Trust Fund window, which was set up by Nigeria in 1976 under ADB management, to assist poor African countries with soft loans towards meeting their developmental needs." President Yar'Adua said the Federal Executive Council considered the proposal to write off $13 million out of $48 million outstanding debt owed to Nigeria as the nation's contribution towards Liberia's debt arrears clearance process. "This amount covers Nigeria's existing commitment (estimated at $10.6 million) under a three-way burden sharing arrangement worked out by Liberia's development partners and provides an additional amount sufficient enough to bridge the financing gap," he said. The president said that approval of the proposal was motivated by the need to consolidate Nigeria's previous efforts in securing peace, which involved tremendous sacrifice in terms of human lives and huge investment in financial resources.

Rural Connectivity Project for Africa

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO)is to embark on a project for African rural inclusion known as 'Commonwealth African Rural Connectivity Initiative'(COMARCI). The Chief Executive of the CTO, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah said the project has been structured to promote faster telephone and internet connectivity for rural communities in the 18 Commonwealth African countries.

Start/PACOM Call for Proposals for 2008 Environmental Change in Africa

A call for research proposals related to environmental change tendered to the African global change research community. The objectives of this call are: 1) to contribute directly to global change science in Africa 2) to enhance the understanding of the impacts and consequences of global changes in Africa, 3) to create long-term, collaborative research partnerships between African scientists and those in developed countries, 4) to foster the integration of African researchers into the international global change research programmes and 5) to contribute to regionally integrated efforts on GEC projects. Priority will be assigned to proposals that focus on the following three themes: Climate Variability & Climate Change; Impacts/Adaptations/Vulnerability to Climate Change; Land Use Change/ Ecosystems/Biogeochemical Change/ Biodiversity.

Lola Kenya Screen 2008 Call for Film Submission

The film submission period for Lola Kenya Screen—eastern Africa’s first and only audiovisual media festival, production workshop and market exclusively designed for children and youth—opens on December 1, 2007.Lola Kenya Screen, therefore, is calling for film entries in all genres, lengths, and formats from all over the world for the 3rd Lola Kenya Screen that runs August 4-9, 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya. Eligible films are those made by children and youth, made with children and youth, and those made for children and youth. In other words, Lola Kenya Screen accepts films made by professionals and amateurs that focus on children and youth. Lola Kenya Screen also accepts family films. Lola Kenya Screen caters to children (6-13 years), youth (14-25 years), and family. Lola Kenya Screen receives films by students, films by children and youth, films with children and youth, experimental films, television series, internet games and even creatively packaged music videos. Lola Kenya Screen serves films of all lengths, formats and in all conceivable genres. The DEADLINE for film entries is April 15, 2008. Please check submission details and entry form at http://lolakenyascreen.org/index.php

Kids for Kids Africa Call for Film Entries Kids for Kids Africa festival is calling for new films made by children in any part of Africa for the 2nd Kids for Kids Africa festival in Nairobi, Kenya (August 4-9, 2008).

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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