Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Christian Science Monitor: Wal-Mart could lead corporate America into Africa

Wal-Mart has announced that it is prepared to pay approximately $4.2 billion for Massmart Holdings. Massmart Holdings is a Johannesburg-headquartered chain of discount superstores with a grand total of 290 stores in 13 African countries under brand names such as Makro, Game, and Builders Warehouse. Massmart stores can be found as far away as Ghana and Nigeria and there are stores even in President Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

For quite some time, I have felt that corporate America was missing the Africa story. Like tourists frightened off by rumors of lions prowling the city streets of Nairobi or Lagos, America’s corporate sector has been bamboozled and bogged down in an old African landscape where the only opportunities are to be found in digging up raw materials, and the greatest challenges are with intractable or corrupt government bureaucrats. To be sure, that African landscape still exists, both in mind and in reality. Read More...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bloomberg Businessweek: For B-Schools, Opportunities Rise in Africa

Once content with distant partnerships in Africa, business schools in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. are now establishing more direct programs on the continent
"Business education is the fastest-growing single academic activity in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is immensely popular and very much in need, but the problem is that all but a few of the business schools are fly-by-night or not very good," says Pfefferman in an interview. "There is a huge, unmet demand for quality, so I suspect that more Western business schools may come in, since there is a market." read more...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

VOA: Increased China-Africa Trade Raises Questions

"What we have seen is that when there is a shock to the economies in these regions, Africa gets hit straight in its face," said Ndikumana. "And diversifying the destination of its exports and the origin of its foreign capital inflows is a good thing for African countries."
Some economists are worried that such trade could stifle the development of manufacturing sectors in Africa, while also increasing what often is called the resource curse. The phrase refers to the paradox that many African regions have highly sought after natural resources, but often experience repeated political violence and extreme poverty.

Jeffrey Sachs: China has left the west on the sidelines in Africa

One of the most riveting moments of the MDG summit came when a senior adviser of the China Development Bank set out some of today’s global realities. She explained on Tuesday that the Bank has $600bn of assets and plans to boost its Africa portfolio.

She noted China’s world-leading speed in building infrastructure, and its intention to help do so in Africa. And she expressed China’s intention to work not only with national governments but also with international institutions, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank, to get the job done.

The room was electrified, as it were, by the prospect of Africa being electrified so rapidly, with China’s investment, technology, and support. The World Bank, African Union, and African Development Bank had projected a series of maps on the screen indicating Africa’s needs for regional roads, rail, power, and fibre optic grids.

Suddenly, all of it seemed quite doable, in a new world economy in which China uses its vast reserves, talents, and economic interests to help get the job done. read more...

Ghana says signs $13 bln in Chinese loan deals

Ghana signed nearly $13 billion worth of loan deals with Chinese investors to fund energy, agriculture and transport development in the West African state, the government said on Wednesday.

The deals would together be one of China's largest financial commitments to Africa, but drew scepticism from analysts who said loans of that size could risk violating Ghana's commitments to the International Monetary Fund. read more...

Friday, September 17, 2010

I.B.M.: Africa Is the Next Growth Frontier

I.B.M. will supply the computing technology and services for an upgraded cellphone network across 16 nations in sub-Saharan Africa. Its customer is India’s largest cellphone operator, Bharti Airtel, which paid $9 billion a few months ago for most of the African assets of Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Company, or Zain. read more...

The Economist: Africa's banking boom - Scrambled in Africa

“Now everyone’s looking at Africa,” says Jacko Maree, Standard Bank’s boss. In January Bank of China, the country’s most international outfit, entered into a pact with Ecobank, which operates in 31 African countries. Chinese staff will drum up business from local branches. In August Brazil’s Bradesco and state-controlled Banco do Brasil announced a new African holding company with Banco Espirito Santo (BES), a Portuguese firm active in Angola. And HSBC is in talks to buy Nedbank, a South African bank. William Mills, who runs Citigroup in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, says the continent is becoming “more and more competitive”. read more...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CNN Opinion: Why Africa needs 'cheetahs,' not 'hippos'

Editor's note: George Ayittey is a Ghanaian economist and the author of several books on Africa, including "Africa Unchained" and the forthcoming "Defeating Dictators in Africa and Around The World." In 2008, Ayittey was listed by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" of our time. He writes for Africa 50, CNN's special coverage looking at 17 African nations marking 50 years of independence this year.
(CNN) -- Currently, Africa -- a continent immensely rich with mineral resources and yet mired in poverty -- suffers from a catastrophic leadership failure or monumental deficit of leadership.
Since 1960, there have been 210 African heads of state, but just try to find 10 -- just 10 -- good ones among them. Names like Mandela, Nkrumah, Nyerere easily come to mind but then rapidly fall off.
But there is hope in what I call the "Cheetah Generation." read more...

Nigeria embarks on vast free trade zone with China

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria is building a multi-billion dollar free trade zone with Chinese investors on the edge of its commercial capital Lagos to try to develop a local manufacturing base and help reduce its import dependence.

The $5 billion first phase of the Lekki Free Zone, a 3,000 hectare site on the eastern fringe of the city, is 60 percent held by Chinese investors and 40 percent by the Lagos state government, the deputy head of the project told Reuters. read more...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Harvard Business Review: Now's the Time to Invest in Africa

Over the years many misguided pronouncements have touted the improved economic prospects of Africa, home to a large proportion of the world’s billion poorest people. The late 1990s even saw a slight economic resurgence, dubbed an “African renaissance,” but it fizzled, and a gloomy view of the continent as too unstable for investment other than in mining and oil seemed to settle over corporate boardrooms. read more...

U.S News & World Report: 12 Reasons to Invest in Africa

'Ground-floor opportunity.' Seruma says many investors have already missed what he calls a "ground-floor opportunity" in Africa. For the decade ending Dec. 31, 2009, an African composite index made up of eight countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt, returned about 14 percent annualized. South Africa alone returned an average of 13 percent per year over that period. Compare that with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which returned about 7 percent annualized, or the S&P 500, which lost about 3 percent over the same time period. He compares the risk versus return ratio in Africa today with emerging markets like China, India, and Brazil in the late 1900s—meaning that investors who enter a new high-growth market first reap the highest returns over time because they're willing to take on more risk. read more...

FT: How Africa can become the next Bric

If you were to think about Africa collectively, and consider it in the same framework that informs our 2050 scenarios for the Bric, next 11 and other major economies, you would see an economy as big as some of the Brics. If you then look at the potential of the 11 largest African economies for the next 40 years (by studying their likely demographics, the resulting changes in their working population and their productivity) their combined GDP by 2050 would reach more than $13,000bn, making them bigger than either Brazil or Russia, although not China or India. Read more...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

China Railway in $30 Billion South Africa Train Talks

Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- China Railway Group Ltd., the world’s second-largest publicly traded heavy construction company, said it is in talks with South Africa’s government for a $30 billion high-speed rail project between Johannesburg and Durban.

Discussions are at an early stage and no funding is in place, China Railway Chairman Li Changjin said in an interview in Beijing today. China Railway has signed an agreement with Standard Bank Group, Ltd., Africa’s biggest lender, Li said, without elaborating. Read more...

Monday, August 23, 2010

HSBC Takes Important Step Into Africa With Nedbank Deal

It may not quite be a new scramble for Africa. But Nedbank, in which HSBC confirmed Monday it’s in talks to acquire a controlling stake, was certainly one of the last opportunities for international banks to buy a ready-made beach-head into the mostly untapped continent.
Beyond the broader fact of growing GDP and untapped consumers, international banks are attracted to Africa because the continent is itself attractive to Asia. As a hub for resources needed by commodity-hungry Chinese industry, the links between the continents continue to strengthen. South Africa, as the major economic power in the region which commands around 20% of Africa’s GDP, is the ideal springboard. Read more...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

India, Japan battle for Africa telemedicine market

The battle for the dominance of Africa's mobile market by Asian countries has moved to tele-education, e-commerce and telemedicine programs, with Japan and India now competing for supremacy in the supply of equipment to support related programs.

While the Indian project, dubbed e-Network, is equipped to support tele-education, e-governance, e-commerce, infotainment and resource mapping, the Japanese project is focused on tele-education and e-governance. Read more...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Liberia signs $1.6 bln palm oil investment: government

MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberia's government has signed a $1.6 billion deal with Golden Veroleum for a 500-acre palm oil plantation in the southeast of the West African nation, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

"When ratified by the legislature, it will create over 35,000 jobs for Liberians," presidential spokesman Cyrus Badio told Reuters by telephone.

Singapore's second-largest listed palm oil plantation firm Golden Agri-Resources said on Tuesday it was considering investing in Verdant to gain access to the project. read more...

Africa Unlikely to Follow China’s Goose

Can Chinese investment inject some Asian-tiger-like vigor into African economies? That’s certainly the hope of many – including World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who has urged Chinese companies to expand beyond infrastructure and resource-extraction projects and also invest in manufacturing in Africa.
Something like this seems to still be happening in Asia, where countries that are poorer than China — such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Cambodia — have in fact been picking up some of the textile and garment business in recent years as Chinese costs go up.

But a new short paper published by the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, at Columbia University, casts doubt on whether China’s low-end industries will actually shift to Africa in “flying geese” style. read more...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gabon Signs $4.5 Billion Accords on Infrastructure, Agriculture

Gabon signed accords with three Asian companies to build infrastructure and develop palm-oil and lumber projects that are expected to generate at least $4.5 billion of investment in the country, officials said.

The programs, which may create 50,000 jobs, are part of President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s plans to diversify the nation’s economy, the presidency said in an e-mailed statement today from the capital, Libreville.

“Our objective is to diversify the economy to prepare for the post-oil era using sustainable projects,” Christian Nkero Capito, an adviser to Economy Minister Magloire Ngambia, said in a phone interview today. read more

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Brazil's state bank, partners push into Africa

Brazil's biggest state-run bank and two other partners announced an expansion in Africa on Monday in the latest sign of growing financial links between emerging markets.

Banco do Brasil, Latin America's largest bank by assets, said in a regulatory filing it will team with local private-sector giant Banco Bradesco and Portugal's Banco Espirito Santo (BES) to tap Africa's growing appetite for consumer loans, credit cards and other products.
"The African continent is the future," Finance Minister Guido Mantega said. read more...

New literary series views Africa through African eyes

Tired of reading accounts of Africa through the eyes of outsiders, 14 African writers have set out to document the diversity of their content in a series of books and blogs partly inspired by the soccer World Cup.

The first World Cup to be held in Africa triggered a wave of pan-African solidarity as fans from Dakar to Dar Es Salaam threw their support behind African teams, hoping the home advantage would boost the continent's chances of success.
"For 400 years, Africa's history was hijacked by Europe. The great travel books were all written by Europeans. Africans didn't talk about Africa," said Alain Mabanckou, from Congo Republic, one of the writers taking part in the project.

Some of the authors have already blogged about their travels on the project's Website,
read more