Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Hardly a day goes by without a discussion on the migrants (including refugees) who have entered Europe in large numbers since 2015. Under the European Union Commission’s New Partnership Framework launched in 2016, one of the major short-term objectives is to ‘increase the rate of returns to countries of origin’, and last week, the president of the EU Commission announced a ‘more effective EU policy on return’. That said, return is tricky. It is unclear how effective it is in deterring future migration. And it may even have detrimental effects on the countries of origin. Take the Gambia for example.

Gambia became a symbol for democratic change earlier this year when former dictator Yahya Jammeh was peacefully ousted through the ballot box. However, more than two decades of dictatorship have left their mark on this tiny country in West Africa. The new government led by Adama Barrow has its work cut out to rebuild the country.

Gambians were among the top nationalities leaving West Africa for Italy in 2016. In total 11,929 Gambians arrived last year. But because they have a new democratically-elected government, European countries are now looking to increase the returns of Gambian migrants. A Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion has already met at the European Council to discuss a draft agreement on returns between the EU and the Gambia.

A key element of return to the Gambia is the role that returnees can play once they are back and how well accepted they will be. Without a thriving labour market such reintegration will be challenging and at worst could lead to conflict among a group of frustrated young men.

Difficulty of reintegrating economically

The first challenge for returnees is that their chances of employment once they’re back in The Gambia remains slim. General unemployment is at 29.8%, and for youth it is estimated to be 38.5%.

Efforts are being made to tackle the root causes of migration by creating jobs. For example, new development projects are being launched in the Gambia including a 13-million-dollar EU Emergency Trust Fund project. This is a good start, but the project has just been launched and will take time to implement. It has also been criticised for a lack of ownership, with the implementing agent, the International Trade Centre, based in Dakar.

A further EU-funded regional re-integration project is also in the pipeline. Initiatives like this are very much in line with the incentives policy contained in the European Partnership Framework.

But is the money being used wisely? Reintegrating also needs to be visible at a societal and political level.

Rumours that government ministers have signed repatriation agreements in return for development funds are rife. Even though the rumours have been consistently denied they point to the fact that economic redevelopment has been heavily politicised.

This doesn’t help individual migrants who still need viable opportunities to reestablish themselves. Otherwise there is little reason not to emigrate again. At worst the frustration of returnees could lead to conflict.

The potential for conflict

Large numbers of young men returning without prospects of employment could have security implications for the young democracy. Though voluntary returns will be prioritised, a considerable number of cases are likely to be involuntary.

The potentially explosive levels of frustration already hold true for returnees from Libya. Since March 2017, the International Organisation for Migration has sought to voluntarily return Gambians home from Libya. In August, it identified 1,979 Gambians living in Libya.

By September 2017, 1,119 Gambians had been returned. When a focus group of 15 were questioned in a recent study, they said that they returned because of the gravity of their situation in detention centres in Libya, and to a degree, by the hope that things would be different in the new Gambia.

But the returnees were increasingly frustrated. Firstly, they were angry at returning home empty-handed. When they agreed to return they were under the impression that they would get reintegration funds from the International Organisation for Migration. But only the most vulnerable returnees received any.

And returnees felt abandoned by the new government. Again, they were under the impression that government representatives would welcome them home in person and give them a chance to voice their concerns.

During the focus group, one discussant concluded:

if this happens to continue, then we can do something crazy.

Slow and well-managed returns

Despite the political pressure for returns, European countries need to make sure they allow for a slow and well-managed process. This includes skills-training prior to return - and not just for refugees. This would allow a country like Gambia to create more employment opportunities in order to successfully reintegrate those who come back.

Those who have already returned need to be given a constructive and peaceful outlet for their grievances. Ultimately, to ensure successful repatriation returnees need to be represented politically so that they can have a stake in the future development of their country. In that way, the shame in returning home empty-handed might be easier to deal with. Otherwise, there will only be further (re)migration at a great humanitarian cost.


Franzisca Zanker, Senior research fellow, Freiburg University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Despite Cote d’Ivoire still being dominated by a traditional trade retail base, the Nielsen Shopper World Conference held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire has found that the country’s Modern Trade arena has seen the greatest evolution in the last two years and therefore holds the most potential for growth.

This has been spurred on by the expansion of brands such as Carrefour and Bonprix and a growing consumer appetite for more organised retail outlets, which offer a broader assortment of ranges as well as competitive pricing and enhanced promotional activities. This in comparison to small independent stores that utilise bargaining opportunities, as a form of promotional activity.

Speaking at the event Nielsen Francophone Africa Lead Yannick Nkembe commented; “Traditional trade is still very strong in the minds of shoppers in Cote d’Ivoire; who value the bargaining option they have in Open Markets and the availability of all the products they want in one place. However, the current development of modern trade and a growing middle class is creating a shift towards more formalised shopping experiences.

“In addition, the activities Supermarkets put in to align their offers with those found in Open Markets e.g. fresh products and convenience; is boosting the appeal of modern trade outlets. It’s therefore clear that to win, good execution is needed independent of store types.”

A Model Economy

Looking at the bigger picture, Cote d’Ivoire’s rapidly developing retail sector is no surprise, considering its ongoing strong performance in Nielsen’s Africa Prospects Indicator (APi) where it has retained consecutive top positions ahead of some of its larger peers. The conference also included a presentation on Shopper Trends in Cote d’Ivoire which found that this is due to its outstanding improvements in terms of ease of doing business. It has also recorded strong GDP growth, several new IPOs, a doubling of the banking sector, low inflation, stable currency and solid infrastructure.

These drivers now underpin a healthy retail sector that is seeing a rise in Modern Trade offerings. At present, Supermarkets account for only a small percentage of urban store numbers, but there is significant growth potential within this channel given that 35% of consumers shop in Supermarkets for weekly and monthly pantry restocking. This provides excellent opportunities for these outlets to offer a wide range of products at competitive prices, supported by sophisticated promotional activity.

Another reason for the growth of the Supermarket format that the Shopper Trends survey found is that supermarket shoppers are highly price aware. This is borne out by the fact that 42% know the price of most items and always notice when the price changes and 37% said they don’t know all the prices but generally notice when the price changes.  Ivorians are therefore the perfect audience for visible, clearly labelled prices on products, shelves and websites which are synonymous with the modern trade environment.

Shoppers are also store loyal, given that 46% stated that they seldom change stores but actively look for promotions at the stores they’re in. This bodes well for retailers who can leverage off existing shopper loyalty and offer enhanced promotions to drive incremental sales.

Traditional Tales

Despite the uptake in Modern Trade; the reality is that Independent Traditional Trade outlets like Kiosks, Open Markets and Convenience stores still dominate, with high penetration and frequent shopping trips. Currently the Convenience and Open Market stores, account for two thirds of consumer packaged goods sales and are shopped multiple times per week.  

Against this backdrop, the vital role that independent outlets continue to play in the day to day lives of Ivorian shoppers is clear and especially so, considering that 23% of respondents said they make a shopping trip for everyday needs and 21% for essential/emergency items.

Shopper mindset

Another interesting finding of the survey is that 82% of urban supermarket shoppers say they “enjoy doing the grocery shopping”. To capitalise on this mindset, retailers should look to optimising the shopping experience via organised store layouts, innovative merchandising and stand out promotional displays. In addition, shopper engagement is key complemented by personalised customer service.

Other insights into Ivorian consumers’ attitude to shopping, include the fact that they carefully consider their choices prior to purchase, with 88% saying they usually plan what to buy before they shop for groceries and 77% stating they work according to a strict budget. Despite this 63%, admit to buying additional items which shows they’re open to unplanned or impulse purchases.

Given the growing popularity of the Modern Trade format and retailers wanting to grow their share of spend from existing and new customers, Nkembe comments; “Focused promotions, linked with in-store advice and assistance are logical steps to help bring brands to life and thereby increase shopper engagement”.

Published in Business
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 08:43

TECNO Mobile Unveils New Phantom 8 in Africa

TECNO, a premier mobile phone brand under TRANSSION HOLDINGS, has launched its newest addition, the Phantom 8 in Middle East and Africa region. The regional launch took place in Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai in the presence of 200 guests.

The newly launched Android operated Phantom 8 features a revolutionary camera, attractive design and high-speed experience. According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, in the UAE and KSA, 73% and 70% of smart phone users access their mobiles to takes photos or videos. Phantom 8 caters to this local demand with its state-of-the-art dual camera, it has the power to achieve 10 times super zoom and auto refocus.

“The MEA region is very dynamic and one that appreciates intelligent innovation coupled with aesthetically pleasing design. The all-new Phantom 8 embraces the region’s requirements and is more powerful than ever in both speed and photo quality,” said Arif Chowdhury, Vice President of TRANSSION HOLDINGS.“We are pleased to continue our successful journey in the Middle East and Africa to bring about an enhanced mobile experience to those in the region,” he concluded.

TECNO Mobile’s Phantom 8 comes with a front facing camera at 20 megapixels alongside a smart dual selfie flash. Moreover, the double front ring flash ensures taking photos even in a low light environment. With 150 minutes of talk time with only 10 minutes of battery charge, it’s priced at 1399 AED.

Phantom 8’s diamond style design comes with a 3D Lighting, unibody metal edge and a 2.5 D Drip Screen-curved battery cover. It also possesses a 6 GB RAM plus 2.6 GHz CPU ultra-fast experience that supports 4G+ and download speed up to 300Mbps.

The new Phantom 8 is compatible with Micro SIM or Nano SIM Card and supports up to 2TB (Terra Bytes) TF (Trans Flash) Card, and it holds 4 modules, 20 bands and covers more than 200 countries and zones.

Published in Telecoms

Business temporarily screeched to a halt in Victoria Falls town yesterday afternoon, as residents jostled to catch a glimpse of a huge luxurious houseboat which passed through the tourist resort town en route to Botswana.

Some residents braved the scorching heat as they escorted the boat from Lupinyu shopping centre along Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway to Kazungula Road, a distance of approximately 30km.

Schoolchildren in the resort town had to dismiss early to catch a glimpse of the majestic boat, while players in the tourism industry took the opportunity to familiarise with the 157-tonne boat, which was manufactured by a Bulawayo firm, GDI.

The company's engineer Forbes Chimoga said they were likely to arrive in Botswana tomorrow, where they would immediately launch the boat to serve the four neighbouring countries.

"The houseboat will operate as a floating luxury hotel between Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe along Chobe and Zambezi River," he said. "For the technical-minded, the 'ship' will measure an impressive 33,4m (109") in length, with an eight-metre beam (26") - wider than the entire road - boasting three spacious decks, of which the uppermost deck is loaded in another haulage for the journey. It pulls with two Volvo 600-horsepower pumps and that is quite huge."

The houseboat has a carrying capacity of 360 people and can be hired for special occasions like weddings. It also comprises 20 bedrooms, two of them with fitted en suite bathrooms. Chimoga added the houseboat also has a spacious bar and 300 000-litre swimming pool.

It has been on the road for almost a month and is moving at 30km/hr. It is being accompanied by a police escort and a variety of technicians and engineers. The company has manufactured 126 houseboats, most of which have been sold locally and regionally.


Source - Newsday

Published in Travel & Tourism

Standard Chartered Private Equity has sold its stake in a Botswana retail and consumer goods company Kamoso Distribution to a consortium led by Investec Asset Management Private Equity, RMB Ventures, local partners and senior management.

Kamoso was mostly a supplier to Botswana’s largest budget retail chain, Choppies Enterprises, before StanChart PE and New York investment firm Development Capital Partners (DCP) bought a 72 percent stake in 2015 and expanded operations.

Both Stanchart PE and DCP have now sold their shareholdings, Investec Asset Management and RMB Ventures said in a statement on Monday.

“Over the last few years, Kamoso has expanded from its roots in Botswana to supply retailers across Southern Africa,” the companies said.

“The company has also invested heavily in new capital equipment to expand its consumer product offerings, which range from paper products to pharmaceuticals, and from bottled water to milled grains as well as imported consumer brands,” Investec Asset Management and RMB Ventures added. Stanchart PE and DCP bought the stake in Kamoso in a deal that was reported to be worth 452 million pula ($43.35 million)from Choppies’ biggest shareholders, Ramachandran Ottapathu and Farouk Ismail.

Ottapathu, who is the CEO of Choppies, told Reuters on Oct. 9, that Stanchart PE still held a 13 percent shareholding in Choppies, which was bought at a price reported to be around $60 million in 2014.

“Stanchart PE still hold the stake although they have brought in new partners to the Special Purpose vehicle holding the shareholding,” Ottapathu said.


- Reuters

Published in Bank & Finance
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