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Monday, 20 January 2020

The launch of the Africa Scotland Business Network in November 2019 highlighted one thing – there’s a great deal of positivity about South Africa’s business prospects. The Scots certainly think so.

According to Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, 13 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects were recorded from South Africa to Scotland (in the period January 2003 and June 2019). These represented a total capex value of £40.40 million, and 529 Jobs.

Over the same period, there were 16 FDI projects recorded from Scotland to South Africa worth £164.96 million creating 1,024 jobs. The same period also saw 3 FDI projects being recorded into the Western Cape from Scotland, representing a total capex value of £66.62 million, creating 196 Jobs. One project worth £10.60 million was recorded from the Western Cape to Scotland creating 20 Jobs.

To support this burgeoning trade relationship, business partner duo Claire Alexander, a Scottish entrepreneur living in South Africa, and Nicola Probyn, a local South African, collaborated with the Scottish Government to launch the Africa Scotland Business Network (ASBN), to support, educate and provide opportunities for businesses from both nations.

Alexander and Probyn put together a board with a mix of dynamic Scottish and African business people and then pitched their idea to start an Africa Scottish business network to the Scottish government.

In July 2019, they were given the thumbs-up and all-important funding from Scotland, which they augmented with their own investment and a sponsorship secured from Craig International - a Scottish oil and gas service who recently set up their Africa Head Office head of Africa in Cape Town.

Steven Craig, director of Africa at Craig International, says that he is hoping to support Scottish companies looking to do more business in Africa, as well as South African companies wanting to invest in Scotland. “We’ve got expertise in a lot of different industries, so we’re confident that we can hopefully increase trade and employment.”

Stephanie McDonald, a Scottish global infrastructure lawyer, has come on board as a non-executive director. “There is so much opportunity here. The Scottish government is very focused on trade relations with Europe, China, India and the United States, but has little coverage in Africa.”

McDonald adds that, other than a focus on oil and gas in West Africa, there is a huge opportunity gap. “From a risk profile point of view, Africa can be a difficult place to do business. So, understandably, there has been limited attention and focus from Scotland.”

Having identified the gap, she says, the founders of ASBN came together in the hopes of fostering closer collaboration between business, networks and government organisations.

“As a network, we’ve started the wheel turning to attract investment into South Africa from Scotland, and vice versa.”

Since the network’s launch in Cape Town during Africa Oil and Gas Week in November, it has grown organically to a membership of 86 and counting.

In collaboration with the Scottish government, ASBN is assisting a Scottish-owned training business expand operations in Cape Town, to train and upskill a local labour force for the oil and gas industry. Currently, Africa is spending huge amounts on foreign expertise to service such industries.

Through direct engagement, ASBN is already facilitating a possible deal for a start-up food tech company; a Johannesburg based Veagent and the Pineapple Growers Association to export fruit to Scotland. In addition to business ventures, ASBN is liaising with a global Scottish charity, looking to increase its footprint in South Africa.

“This is all within two weeks of launching, which is extremely exciting and promising. Our aim is to have 200 businesses on board in our marketplace by the end of 2020,” says Alexander.

Wesgro is an enthusiastic supporter of the network. The organisation had already sought to bed down positive trade relations with Scotland, with a 2017 visit to Edinburgh with now Premier Alan Winde to discuss ongoing collaboration and opportunities between the two nations. Wesgro and ASBN are currently working on a possible trade delegation to Scotland in the first half of 2020.

Alexander believes that there is a great deal of synergy between the economies of Scotland and Africa, They are both strong in technology, renewable energy, agriculture and agri-tech, food and beverages, manufacturing and education.

As Scotland is a global leader in renewable energy, with targets to be carbon neutral by 2050, and is already a net producer of clean energy, many nations are turning to Scotland for expertise. This is one of the industries that Alexander believes is ripe for collaboration.

“The network also has a mission to ensure skills transfer and is investigating opportunities for Scottish universities to provide bursaries for disadvantaged students from South Africa. At the same time, it is collaborating with the Scotland Africa Business Association in Edinburgh to help us match African businesses to commercial opportunities in Scotland,” she adds.

The union of Scotland and South Africa appears to have great potential, as early interest and deals are already indicating. It is likely that the organisation will go from strength to strength, creating international trade, as well as knowledge and skills sharing opportunities for both nations.

Published in Business
Monday, 20 January 2020 08:47

World leaders commit to peace in Libya

World leaders committed Sunday at a Berlin summit to ending all foreign meddling in Libya’s war and to uphold a weapons embargo, as part of a broader plan to end the spiralling conflict.

The presidents of Russia, Turkey and France were among global chiefs signing up to the plan to stop interfering in the war — be it through weapons, troops or financing.

But the talks failed to deliver “serious dialogue” between the warring parties — strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli’s UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj — or to get both sides to sign up to a permanent truce.

“We have a very disparate situation in Libya, where ensuring that a ceasefire is immediately respected is simply not easy to guarantee,” said summit host Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“But I hope that through today’s conference, we have a chance the truce will hold further.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that there are “still some questions on how well and effectively” the commitments can be monitored.

But he said he is “optimistic that there will be less violence and … an opportunity to begin the conversation that (UN special envoy) Ghassan Salame has been trying to get going between the Libyan parties”.

Libya has been torn by fighting between rival armed factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Most recently, Sarraj’s troops in Tripoli have been under attack since April from Haftar’s forces.

Clashes have killed more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters and displaced tens of thousands, until a fragile ceasefire backed by both Ankara and Moscow was put in place on January 12.

Although Sarraj’s government is recognised by the UN, powerful players have broken away to stand behind Haftar — turning a domestic conflict into what some have described as a proxy war in which international powers jostle to secure their own interests.

International alarm grew in recent weeks after Turkey ordered in troops to shore up Sarraj’s government.

Published in World

Pay TV will continue its growth in Africa with subscriber numbers set to increase to 47.26 million by 2025, according to recently revealed research.

The figure is up from 30.7 million at present, representing growth of 54%, with Nigeria set to be the largest individual market with 10 million subscribers by 2025. The country is estimated to overtake South Africa this year.

However, according to the Digital TV Research report, revenue growth will be more muted – at 31% – to reach US$7.2bn by 2025. This indicates that although more people will be paying for their TV, the competitive nature of the market among operators is set to remain.

Three operators currently dominate the sub-Saharan market – Mulitchoice’s DStv, StarTimes/StarSat and Vivendi’s Canal+ – accounting for 93% of subscribers. This stranglehold is set to weaken slightly by 2025, dropping down to 88%.

Multichoice will see numbers grow from 14.56 million to 18.05 million, while Canal+ will see a significant increase to 7.35 million from 4.73 million. The report says that StarTimes/StarSat will see the largest growth from 9.1 million subscribers to 16.39 million.

Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Despite the strong subscriber growth, competition is intense. Prices and ARPUs are falling as rivals fight to gain subscribers.”





Published in Telecoms

The world’s richest 2,153 people controlled more money than the poorest 4.6 billion combined in 2019, while unpaid or underpaid work by women and girls adds three times more to the global economy each year than the technology industry, Oxfam said on Monday.

The Nairobi-headquartered charity said in a report released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, that women around the world work 12.5 billion hours combined each day without pay or recognition.

In its “Time to Care” report, Oxfam said it estimated that unpaid care work by women added at least $10.8 trillion a year in value to the world economy – three times more than the tech industry.

“It is important for us to underscore that the hidden engine of the economy that we see is really the unpaid care work of women. And that needs to change,” Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India, told Reuters in an interview.

To highlight the level of inequality in the global economy, Behar cited the case of a woman called Buchu Devi in India who spends 16 to 17 hours a day doing work like fetching water after trekking 3km, cooking, preparing her children for school and working in a poorly paid job.

“And on the one hand you see the billionaires who are all assembling at Davos with their personal planes, personal jets, super rich lifestyles,” he said.

“This Buchu Devi is not one person. I in India encounter these women on a daily basis, and this is the story across the world. We need to change this, and certainly end this billionaire boom.”

Behar said that to remedy this, governments should make sure above all that the rich pay their taxes, which should then be used to pay for amenities such as clean water, healthcare and better quality schools.

“If you just look around the world, more than 30 countries are seeing protests. People are on the street and what are they saying? – That they are not to accept this inequality, they are not going to live with these kind of conditions,” he said

Published in Bank & Finance

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call for deeper investment ties between Britain and Africa at a summit for leaders of 21 African countries on Monday that comes 11 days before his country will leave the European Union.

After securing Britain’s departure from the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc, on Jan. 31, Johnson is keen to develop business ties with countries outside Europe.

At the summit in London, Johnson will call for Britain to be the “investment partner of choice” for Africa.

He will highlight deals worth billions of pounds with countries on the continent, underlining the roles British companies are playing in providing anything from smart street lighting in Nigeria to environmentally friendly breweries in Kenya.

The prime minister will also announce an end to British support for thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas, according to a statement issued before the summit’s start.

Published in World
Monday, 20 January 2020 06:17

Court urged to wind up Med View Airlines

A Petroleum distribution company Asharami Synergy Plc has filed a winding up petition before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos Nigeria against Med-View Airline Plc, over its inability of to pay a debt of N43.5 million.

In particulars of indebtedness accompanying the petition, Asharami Synergy Plc company alleged that, it supplied Med-View Airline Aviation fuel between January 2018 till August 2018, totalling N43.5 million.

It said the debt became due for payment by 31 August 2018 following which the petitioner made various demands for payment, but the airline defaulted.

The parties held a meeting where it was agreed that by 28 February 2019 the Airline will pay the entire sum.

After the meeting Jenifer Ugorji the team lead- Retail Sales and marketing of the petitioner, sent an e-mail to the Airline’s Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director Alhaji Muneer Bankole on the resolution of the meeting, but he did not respond to the e-mail.

Jenifer Ugorji then sent another e-mail to Serifat Olajide, an accountant in the employment of the airline. She responded that the managing Director was out of the country and that the airline would pay on his return.

Thereafter Med View paid a paltry sum of N500,000.

Following the inability of the Airline to pay the debt, the petitioner briefed the law firm of Le Pestro Solicitors to demand for the payment of the debt due.

Despite the various express demands by e-mail and letters made by the petitioner the Airline still failed, refused and neglected to liquidate its outstanding indebtedness to the petitioner till date.

The petitioner said because the airline has demonstrated insolvency by being unable to pay its debt, it thus requested the court to wind it up.

However, in a counter affidavit by Serifat Olajide, the accountant of Med View, she denied all the depositions of the petitioner.

She averred that the Airline knew a company called SO Aviation Limited as supplier of Aviation fuel and the company subsequently changed to the petitioner.

The transaction between the petitioner and the respondent started as far back as December, 2015.and prior to August 2018.

It was a smooth and mutually beneficial relationship between the parties as payment were made regularly and supplies were based on mutual understanding.

Published in Business

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced his new government on Friday evening, and reappointed Carlos Agostinho do Rosario as Prime Minister.

Under the Mozambican system, the Prime Minister is not the head of the government, a position occupied by the President. He coordinates the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), and represents the government in its dealings with the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. Over the past five years, Rosario has been a steady hand on the tiller of government, and often stands in for Nyusi in the latter's absences.

Also reappointed is Adriano Maleiane, as Minister of Economy and Finance, even though, at the age of 70, he was the oldest member of the outgoing government. Maleiane has been handling the fallout from the scandal of Mozambique's "hidden debts" - the over two billion dollars in loans obtained by three fraudulent security-related companies from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia. Maleiane's team has been negotiating with the creditors, and no doubt Nyusi wanted to ensure continuity.

Nyusi reappointed Max Tonela as Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. An economist by profession, Tonela is now a key figure in the development of Mozambique's massive reserves of natural gas. During the life span of the new government, the first project producing and exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) will come on stream. This is the floating LNG unit, currently under construction in a South Korean shipyard.

At the same time, a least two onshore LNG plants are expected to be built on the Afungi Peninsula, in Palma district, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

Joao Machatine stays on as Minister of Public Works. Trained as a civil engineer, Machatine has a reputation for dynamism, and has been criss-crossing the country, dealing with crises such as the collapse of a bridge over the Montepuez river, which cut off the northern districts of Cabo Delgado from the rest of the country.

Nyusi has split the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development (MITADER) in two. The Rural Development component now goes into the Agriculture Ministry, headed by former MITADER minister, Celso Correia. A key figure in Correia's team at MITADER, the former National Director of the Environment, Ivete Mabasso, becomes the Minister of Land and Environment.

Replacing Jose Pacheco at the Foreign Ministry is Veronica Macamo who for the past ten years has been chairperson (speaker) of the Assembly of the Republic.

Margarida Talapa, formerly head of the parliamentary group of the ruling Frelimo Party, takes over from Vitoria Diogo as Minister of Labour.

Carmelita Namashalua leaves the Ministry of State Administration, and takes over from Conceita Sortane as Minister of Education.

Carlos Mesquita is moved from Transport and Communication to Industry and Trade, where he replaces Ragendra de Sousa. The new Minister of Transport and Communications is Janfar Abdulai.

Nyusi has appointed an entirely new team to run defence and security. He has replaced a general, Atanasio M'tumuke, with a civilian, Jaime Bessa Neto, to run the Defence Ministry. Neto was a prominent Frelimo parliamentarian, and formerly the Party's First Secretary in the central province of Sofala.

Amade Miquidade, formerly the general secretary of the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS), an advisory body to the President, becomes the new Interior Minister, replacing Basilio Monteiro.

Neto and Miquidade are faced with two foci of armed violence. One is a hangover from the war of destabilisation waged by what is now the main opposition party, Renamo. A dissident group, calling itself the "Renamo Military Junta", has rejected the peace agreement signed last August between Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade, and has staged a series of deadly ambushes against vehicles on the main roads of Manica and Sofala provinces.

The second insurgency is in parts of Cabo Delgado, waged by terrorist groups that take inspiration from Islamic fundamentalism.

The former Deputy Minister of the Interior, Helena Kida, becomes the new Justice Minister, replacing Joaquim Verissimo.

One of the government's rising stars, Augusta Maita, takes over from Agostinho Mondlane as Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries. Maita came to prominence in 2018 when she was Frelimo candidate for mayor of Beira in the local elections of that year. She did not win, but she improved the Frelimo vote in what has traditionally been an opposition stronghold.

Since October 2018, she has been general director of the country's relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC).

The new Minister of Health, taking over from Nazira Abdula, is the endocrinologist Armindo Tiago, whose last position was Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administration and Resources of Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane University.

Gabriel Salimo, a university mathematics lecturer, replaces Jorge Nhambiu as Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education.

One completely unexpected appointment is that of the musician Edelvina Materula as Minister of Culture and Tourism, replacing the plastic artist Silva Dunduru. Known as "Kika", Materula is an accomplished oboist, who has performed in several European orchestras. She is the driving spirit behind the widely praised Xiquitsi youth orchestra, which is shaping up as the first classical music ensemble in Mozambique.

Several ministerial posts remain unfilled - notably the Minister of State Administration, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, the Minister of Veterans' Affairs, and the Minister of Youth and Sport. Since none of these ministries have been abolished, it is safe to assume that Nyusi intends to announce more new ministers in the near future.


Credit: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique

Published in Economy
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