Alphabet Inc's Google on Monday became the latest company to drop out of a business conference in Saudi Arabia.
Pressure has mounted on Saudi Arabia since prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi policies, went missing. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
Google said in a statement that Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene would not attend the Future Investment Initiative Summit scheduled to be held in Riyadh starting Oct. 23.
Google's Greene did not offer a reason for her action, and a spokesman declined to elaborate.
Other business leaders who have said they would not attend the conference, including Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, said they were concerned about Khashoggi's disappearance.
Earlier this year Google announced that it would work with a Saudi agency to open five innovation hubs in the country to train aspiring technologists.
British American Tobacco cut its full-year revenue target for cigarette alternatives such as vaping pens and tobacco heating devices, citing a flat market in Japan and a product recall in the United States.
The world's second-biggest international tobacco company by revenue is pinning its hopes for volume growth on next-generation products, as demand for traditional cigarettes wanes.
But regulators are closely watching the new products. Advocates say they can be used to wean lifelong smokers onto less harmful nicotine products, but critics warn they risk drawing a new generation to nicotine addiction.
The company said on Tuesday it expected revenue from next-generation products to reach 900 million pounds this year, down from a previous target of 1 billion pounds.
It said the cut was due to flat growth in Japan, the most developed market for tobacco-heating devices, and the recall in the United States of its Vuse Vibe e-cigarette.
BAT's Finance Chief Ben Stevens said that tobacco heating devices, such as its glo product and Philip Morris International IQOS, can still reach one-third of Japan's tobacco market, up from about a quarter now. The slowness, he said, is due to more conservative consumers taking longer to adopt the new product.
He said that many consumers are using both, conventional cigarettes and tobacco-heating devices - which heat tobacco enough to create a vapour, rather than burning it - whereas initial expectations were that once consumers started using the devices they would switch altogether.
The maker of Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes also warned that currency fluctuations would hurt its full-year adjusted earnings per share growth by 7 percent, assuming rates were unchanged for the rest of the year. Its previous guidance was for a 6 percent hit.
On a constant currency basis, BAT expects to exceed its target for high single-digit adjusted earnings per share growth. In cigarettes, BAT said it was gaining share in an overall market whose volume is expected to shrink about 3.5 percent this year, as more people quit smoking.
In the United States, industry volume is expected to fall 4 to 4.5 percent this year, with a slight improvement in the second half.
BAT's Stevens said the company had no plans to enter the cannabis market at this stage.
"We're making sure we understand the market, we're studying it in detail but we're not planning at the moment to sign any alliances or marketing arrangements," he said.
BAT shares were down 1.2 percent by 0823 GMT, underperforming a blue-chip index <.FTSE> down 0.2 percent.
East African economies have in the past 10 years borrowed $29.42 billion to grow their transport, communication, manufacturing and energy sectors.
The region's economies are now spending almost eight per cent of their revenues to service these loans, which analysts say are becoming a burden, especially given that their impact is yet to be seen on the growth.
The latest data from the China-Africa Research Initiative (Cari) at John Hopkins University shows that Ethiopia owes Beijing $13.73 billion, followed by Kenya at $9.8 billion. Uganda owes $2.96 billion and Tanzania $2.34 billion.
Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi owe China the least amounts -- $289 million, $182 million and $99 million respectively.
Cari director Deborah Brautigam said that the risk for the African borrowers relates to the projects' profitability.
"It is always important to look at whether these projects will generate enough economic activity to repay these loans, as opposed to being seen as merely ribbon-cutting opportunities," Ms Brautigam said.
The bulk of the monies, according to research by The EastAfrican, went into the transport sector, followed by power, communications and manufacturing.
Ethiopia's biggest intake of the Beijing loans was in 2013, coinciding with the launch of its joint standard gauge railway project with Djibouti. Addis took up more than $6.62 billion from Beijing for its mega projects, which also included the setting up of manufacturing zones.
The data also shows Kenya's new railways line accounted for the highest debt intake from Beijing at $3.7 billion in 2014.
China Exim Bank has been the go-to financier for the region's governments, giving out more than $16.3 billion. The China Development Bank advanced East African economies more than $6.9 billion, while other Chinese lenders are currently owed $6.1 billion, data shows. In terms of sector funding, Ethiopia invested the bulk of its funds in the transport sector ($4.37 billion), which was used for both the Addis Ababa light railway project and the Addis-Djibouti 700km railway. This was followed by communications at $3.16 billion and power projects at $2.54 billion.
Its manufacturing sector, which supports its fledging special industrial zones, including the Eastern Industry Zone and Huajian International Shoe City, received $2.02 billion.
"China gave priority to infrastructure and has promoted Africa's sustainable development through these loans, which have been used for infrastructure construction, energy and the manufacturing industry," said Liu Qinghai, a visiting researcher at Cari and head of the Centre for African Economic Studies at the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University.
Kenya's transport sector took in $5.55 billion, largely driven by the new railway line from Mombasa to Naivasha.
Nairobi also took a $597 million loan for its power projects, including the $135 million for the 55 MW solar power plant in Garissa funded by the China Exim Bank.
South Sudan has received $158 million for its transport sector to date, and a further $24 million for its energy projects.
Tanzania's energy sector remains the top financed sector funded by Chinese money, at $1.16 billion.
Dar es Salaam, which has not taken up any Chinese debt under President John Magufuli, has received $552 million for its communications sector.
Uganda, on the other hand, has seen its energy sector receive the highest funding from Beijing, at $1.92 billion, while its transport sector has absorbed $762 million.
Rwanda's China debt for transport amounts to $151 million.
But the region's countries seem to have slowed down bingeing on Chinese debt, with only Kenya and Ethiopia going to Beijing for loans.
Ethiopia borrowed $652 million last year, down from $926 million in 2016, while Kenya took $64 million, down from $1.09 billion in 2016.
In 2016, Kigali took $70 million and Kampala $85 million.
Debt roll over
Last month, Ethiopia became the first country to get its Chinese debt rolled over announcing that Beijing had agreed to restructure its $4 billion loan on the railway linking its capital Addis with neighbouring Djibouti.
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the country's loans will now receive a further 20-year extension, which will see its annual repayments narrow to an affordable level.
"In conversations with our Chinese partners, we had the opportunity to enact limited restructuring of some of our loans.
"In particular, the loan for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, which was meant to be paid over 10 years, has now been extended to 30 years. Its maturity period has also been extended," Dr Abiy said.
Kenya also sought to get a grant as part of the package for its $3.8 billion loan for its continuing railway projects, as it seeks to manage its debt burden.
"The Naivasha-Kisumu phase of the SGR will cost $3.8 billion. And owing to its regional significance, I would request that 50 per cent of its cost be provided as part of grant financing," President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in Beijing in August. This request was not granted.
Tim Jones, an economist at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said that the continent debt problem could worsen, especially given the opaque nature in which they are signed.
"Debt problems are worsening and many lenders bear responsibility, not just China. We need new rules to make all lenders publicly disclose loans to governments at the time they are given. We also need to see these lenders made to restructure and reduce debts," Mr Jones said.
Last month, China' s special envoy to Africa, Xu Jinghu, denied claims that Beijing was burdening Africa with debt, noting that China was Africa's main creditor.
Indeed, data shows that the continent owes more to private lenders than to China.
"It is baseless to shift the blame onto China for these African countries debt problems. Their debt position has 'been built over time even before we came in.
"We have to look at the fluctuations in the international economic situation vis-a-vis the price of minerals, their key exports. This is where the problem is, and not Chinese loans," Mr Xu said.
Credit: Daily Nation
African Philanthropy is entering a new era. A hotbed of innovation, it can make a decisive contribution to addressing the continent’s challenges, and also inspire work in other parts of the world.
Aligned with the general formalisation and greater impact orientation of philanthropy, African self-made entrepreneurs are now also engaging in structured giving and are promoting the discourse of “giving back” to the benefit of individuals, communities and countries.
While African Ultra High and High Net Worth Individuals ((U)HNWIs) have a deep desire to contribute towards socio-economic empowerment and many also want to leave a legacy, it should be noted that their giving is not on a similar level to their counterparts across several other markets. The African Grantmakers Network Sizing the Field Report suggests that HNWIs in Europe, for example, allocate 9% of their wealth towards philanthropic efforts while the estimated 145,000 African HNWIs holding wealth of approximately $800 billion1, give only 1% of their wealth.
Adapting philanthropic models to the local context
There is also a powerful, observable trend among African philanthropists to select elements of established models of philanthropy, and then adapt them to on-the-ground needs, structures and preferences, realising results in the local context. This mirrors what is happening in private sector projects too – a recognition that while global methodologies can offer best practices for incorporation, their assumptions do not always apply in Africa.
The co-joining of the two approaches is however, regularly at the root of commercial successes.
Therefore, it is no surprise that given the multi-faceted nature of African philanthropy, these efforts often co-exist with philanthropic action on the ground by foreign philanthropists, international organisations and national governments’ to fast-track socio-economic development. In turn, these all increasingly converge under the shared social impact framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.
All in all, this makes for an exciting environment for philanthropy, but also one that is challenging, requiring sound analysis, humility, and the expertise of the right partners to sustainably translate aspirations into action across the full spectrum of philanthropic opportunities.
Key trends and opportunities
African philanthropy is a powerful way to express African humanism. This spirit of Ubuntu and the universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity has all the potential to be instrumental in helping translate the tremendous opportunities associated with scientific progress and advances in technology to help solve many of the continent’s challenges and create opportunity for all.
Three key trends in particular can distinctly shape the trajectory of African philanthropy, and help it drive impact:
Driving development today and tomorrow
Philanthropy around the world is itself in the middle of an impact/ effectiveness revolution and in Africa, this is equally relevant. The Sustainable Development Goals are gradually becoming a new frame of reference and experimentation with new forms of financing is moving mainstream. As the rigour demanded of measurement methodologies increases, the process of incorporating the use of data to create transparency and accountability is becoming more sophisticated.
While much of what is highlighted within global philanthropy is consistent across the world, the African continent has a distinct identity and set of challenges. Illiteracy, poverty, poor sanitation and a myriad of other challenges persist, creating a strong need for philanthropy to be relevant on the ground now, while also making a strong contribution tomorrow in a continent that will undergo deep transformation.
This means that a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not meaningful in Africa. The combination of different perspectives and modes of intervention ultimately render African Philanthropy extraordinarily multi-faceted and innovative. Surely no one is better qualified to consider how to address these than the philanthropists who call Africa home?
- Dr Maximilian Martin, Global Head of Philanthropy at Lombard Odier