Items filtered by date: Thursday, 03 August 2017

Dangote Cement ,Africa’s largest cement producer, has announced its unaudited results for the six months ended 30th June 2017, posting a 12.6 percent increase in sales volume across Africa.

In the financials released on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange indicated that the increase in sales volume showed a growing capture of Pan-African market as Dangote Cement continues to gain grounds.

Revenues from operations in Nigeria increased by 34.5 percent to ?291.4 billion while Pan-Africa revenue increased by 63.7 percent to ?124.4B from ?76.0B mainly as a result of increased volumes and foreign exchange gains when converting the sales from country local currency into Naira.

Analysis of the half year result revealed that sales volumes of African operations increased by 12.6 percent to 4.7 million metric tons with Sierra Leone making a 53 kt maiden contribution.

Record of sales from its operations scattered around the African continent revealed that a total of 1.1million ‘metric tons of cement was sold in Ethiopia, almost 0.7 million metric tons sold in Senegal, 0.6 million metric tons sold in Cameroon, and 0.5 million tons in Ghana.

Also, 0.4 million metric tons of cement was sold in Tanzania and 0.3 million tons in Zambia. Sales volumes from Nigerian operations fell from 8.8Mt to 6.9Mt, occasioned by the onset of rains which stalled many construction projects.

Reflecting on the half year results, Dangote Cement’s Chief Executive Officer, Onne van der Weijde expressed satisfaction that the company’s revenues have continued to grow despite low sales from the Nigerian operations noting that the revenues grew on the strength of sales from other African operations

Said he: “Our revenues have continued to grow despite the lower volumes seen in Nigeria, especially because of the recent heavy rains. Our margins have improved significantly, helped by improved efficiencies and a much better fuel mix in Nigeria.

“We are using much more gas and increasing our use of coal mined in Nigeria, thus reducing our need for foreign currency and supporting Nigerian jobs.

”Our Pan-African operations are growing well and increasing market share. We saw our the first sales from Sierra Leone in the first quarter and our new plant in the Republic of Congo will be in production at the end of July, further increasing our footprint across Africa and strengthening our position as its leading manufacturer of cement.”

The Company reports that it estimated that Nigeria’s total market for cement was 10.2 million tonnes (Mt), 23.2% lower than the estimated 13.3Mt sold in Nigeria in the first half of 2016. Of total market sales in the first half of 2017, just 0.1Mt was imported.

“As a result of the slower market, our Nigeria operation sold nearly 6.9Mt of cement, down 21.8% on the 8.8Mt sold in the first half of 2016. We estimate our market share to have been about 64.5% during the first six months of 2017.

Dangote Cement is a high-growth, low-debt, internationally diversified company that has just paid a dividend amounting to nearly 75% of 2016 net profits to shareholders. “The recent publication of our credit ratings highlights the financial strength we have achieved through our unwavering focus on the profitable expansion of the business, underpinned by our belief that we must remain prudent in our financial management.”, Mr. Weijde stated.

Published in Business

To be honest, I’m amazed to write this piece. I am not a wine enthusiast. In fact, my first experience with wine was at a five-star hotel in Accra and the least said about it, the better; considering the embarrassment I faced that day.

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting event organised by Wines of South Africa (WOSA) that changed my whole perspective about wines. Until then, I never knew there was anything as wine tasting.

Out of curiosity, I decided to go to this much publicised event. I had heard a lot about the wines from South Africa and how exceptionally good they were. I would later come to confirm this for myself.

For a wine novice as me, the obvious expectation was for me to get drunk, misbehave and worst case scenario, get a hangover. However, the exhibitors at the wine tasting event had the right attitude and attention for everyone.

From first time-attendants like me, to connoisseurs with experienced taste buds, to my utmost surprise, they had some interesting combinations with the wine samples they served as well, something I had no knowledge of red wine with chocolate chunks! O my! I love chocolates and I know most people do too. That was my ‘eureka’ moment. Wine and chocolate? Who even thought about that?

This year, the Grand Wine Tasting event was much more exclusive. You never miss the touch of class when it comes to WOSA. The people, the fashion, the venue, the lighting and yes, the wines of course. From fruity whites to chocolatey reds, there was plenty of wine to go around for sampling.

This year, about 18 different exhibitors from different wine-producing regions in South Africa served samples of their wines to guests. Their wines ranged from the Pinotage, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Other wines served included the fruitier Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. The exhibitors took their time to explain the wine making process to guests, advising on how each could be combined well with food and how to best enjoy them.

I got the opportunity to speak to Matome Mbatha, the Marketing Manager of WOSA, Africa Region, for a brief moment. In our conversation, he commended Ghanaians for embracing the wine industry.

“I think Ghanaians are very educated with wine. It’s not like a snobbish product to them. The quality of the people has improved. More interactive and more engaging. Knowing one brand from the other and giving you the preference of choice. People now have an opinion about wine which implies that what we put in educating people is paying off,” he said.

Also present was the South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Lulama Xingwana who was there to lend her support for the event. I spoke to her for a few seconds and we exchanged pleasantries.

This year’s event was in two parts: a morning and an evening session. The morning session involved a short-course in Discovering South African Wines.

It exposed participants to the wine making process, the different types of wines, how to tell the quality of wine and most importantly exposed them to the kind of meals suitable for pairing with wine. The evening session, the Grand Tasting Event was the real deal of ‘taste and see what South Africa has wines!’

During my interactive session with Matome Mbatha, he stated that there is ease of doing Business in Ghana. “The challenges we face are the normal challenges that come with engaging in business. It’s business as usual. We only need to sensitise businesses to know that we’re here for long term. It’s not a short-term thing. We’re here to build brands to grow. We want to tag alongdoing things similar to creating opportunities for the cocoa industry,” he explained

Mbatha is confident in the next three to four years, South Africa will become the leading exporter of wines to Ghana because they are doing things differently by innovatively creating what is easy for Ghanaians to receive.

He added: “we are not here to dump wine but to add value to each other’s lives because the spirit of patriotism within the African continent is growing very strongly.” For the past three years, WOSA has been very consistent in presenting Ghanaians with world class wines and the opportunity to meet and socialise with great personalities in the country.

In my utmost opinion, WOSA’s Grand Tasting Event is a very great one, one every wine enthusiasts, from individuals to companies alike, should explore and collaborate with, in order to promote job creation and increase education in the wine industry. I know I wet your appetite enough to join me next year. See you there!

Published in Travel & Tourism

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it has submitted a $274 million funding proposal to enable the southern African country to hold polls next year, a development seen loading more debt on the struggling economy.

“The responsibility of funding for the whole electoral process lies with the Government of Zimbabwe. A consolidated budget requirement has since been submitted to Treasury for funding in the sum of $274 million,” ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.

Makarau said ZEC is confident that Treasury would avail the funding as it has funded all the past by- elections. Latest available figures show that government overspent by $230 million in the first quarter of this year after gobbling $1,1 billion against revenue of $869 million, signalling accelerated expenditure ahead of the polls.

Treasury has projected a budget deficit of $400 million this year after overspending by $1,4 billion last year — from an initial projection of $150 million. President Robert Mugabe’s government is heavily borrowed on the local market to the tune of $4 billion and owes international lenders $7 billion, most of it in arrears.

Makarau also said Treasury had funded the acquisition of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits. The country is for the first time using BVR system and will establish a new voters’ roll ahead of the polls. The system uses of unique individual identification techniques such as fingerprints and iris to identify voters.

Previously, voters just used their national identification documents to register.

ZEC is expecting to register about seven million voters ahead of the elections. The ruling ZANU-PF party has already endorsed Mugabe, who will be 94 next year, as its candidate. Mugabe could face a packed field of opposition leaders, including his long-time nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party with whom he formed a coalition government disputed election in 2008.

Mugabe’s former deputy, Joice Mujuru, who was sacked from the party in 2014 for allegedly plotting to unseat the long-time ruler, former ministers Nkosana Moyo and Tendai Biti are also likely to contest the polls.

Makarau said Laxton Group of Companies, which operates out of China, South Africa and the United States, has been awarded the tender to procure biometric voter registration kits (BVR), which will be delivered to the commission in the next three months.

 

- The Source

Published in Economy

The High Court of Zimbabwe on Tuesday ordered the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) to stop diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa with immediate effect until it has been granted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate.

The High Court order comes after ZCDC was dragged to court by community lobby group, Marange Development Trust (MDT), supported by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA).

MDT filed a court application in February this year seeking a court interdict to stop ZCDC from operating without an EIA as prescribed by law.

In terms of section 97 of the Environmental Management Act, as read with the First Schedule of the Act, all mining activities cannot commence without the issuance of an approved EIA certificate. ZCDC had argued in its notice of opposition papers that it should be allowed to continue mining operations in Marange pending the approval of the EIA report submitted to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) in 2016.

However, Justice David Mangota said ZCDC had approached the court with dirty hands because it was fully aware of the legislative provisions.

“The first respondent is hereby interdicted and ordered to desist from conducting any mining operations in Marange District until it has conducted an environmental impact assessment process in accordance with the law and obtained an environmental impact assessment certificate from the second respondent,” Justice Mangota said in his ruling.

ZCDC was also ordered to pay costs of the suit. Deputy Mines minister, Fred Moyo told The Source he was not aware of the judgement. “I am surprised, the management of ZCDC should have known and abided by the law,” he said.

ZCDC was formed after President Robert Mugabe kicked out eight mining firms operating in the Marange fields last year, consolidating their assets and operations into a single firm.

At least two of the closed mines, China’s Anjin and Mbada Diamonds, which government wanted to take up 50 percent shareholding in ZCDC, are contesting the asset seizure in the Constitutional Court while a third, Jinan, pulled out of the country in April this year.

The miner expects to produce 2,5 million carats of diamonds this year after acquiring equipment for its state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company. Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said last month that ZCDC had produced 1, 039, 925 carats in the five and a half months to June 18 this year, against 961, 000 carats produced in the whole of 2016.

 

- The Source

Published in Economy

There are eight candidates for the presidency in Kenya’s 2017 election. Of these, two are the main contenders; Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and Raila Amolo Odinga. This is a replica of the 2013 polls where the two presidential candidates were the dominant opponents.

The running mate configuration has not changed either, with both retaining their previous partners. William Ruto for Kenyatta and Kalonzo Musyoka for Odinga. The only thing that has changed is their party identities.

Kenyatta’s 2013 Jubilee coalition is now the Jubilee Party, comprising most of the constituent parties that had been part of the coalition. The 2013 Jubilee formation was an alliance between parties loyal to the president, and his deputy William Ruto.

For its part Odinga’s camp underwent a coalition overhaul, morphing from the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy to the National Super Alliance. The coalition brings together several parties, both old and new, led by the Orange Democratic Movement, Odinga’s longtime party.

Latest polls have indicated that the two candidates are neck-and-neck. Both have factors working for and against them.

Uhuru Kenyatta

A few things are in Kenyatta’s favour. At 55 years of age, he is a young president who represents generational change. Kenyatta also comes from one of the wealthiest families in Kenya. Forbes Magazine ranks him as the 26th richest person in Africa, with an estimated fortune of $500m. This means that he’s been able to contribute financially to a vibrant campaign.

As the incumbent some would also argue that he has had access to state resources and agencies to facilitate his re-election. Incumbency has also allowed him to drive his campaign on the steam of his development record and flagship projects in infrastructure, the energy sector and public service delivery.

In terms of voting blocs, Kenyatta has the support of Kenya’s two most populous ethnic groupings: the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru (GEMA) and the Kalenjin. The registered voters in the GEMA grouping are approximately 5,588,389, in the Kalenjin are 2,324,559.

Combined, that’s 7,912,948 votes, which is equivalent to 40% of the electorate. That’s a formidable start when you consider that presidential strongholds have historically recorded a higher voter turnout during elections.

On the other hand, Kenyatta’s four-year tenure has been riddled with corruption allegations, including the Eurobond and National Youth Service scandals.

His admitted inability to rein in corruption in his government has worked against him. Additionally, his government is also accused of ethnic exclusion.

The Jubilee presidency is seen as a two-man show. This has contributed to the perception that Jubilee is not ethnically representative.

Raila Odinga

Odinga has many things going for him. High up on the list are his charisma and strong political mobilisation skills. Historically, Odinga has always been a formidable opposition politician; not being an incumbent has enabled him to galvanise effectively.

Odinga enjoys wider ethnic support compared to President Kenyatta, comprising among others the Kamba, Luhya, Luo and Maasai tribes. These communities comprise over a third of the voting population. But the disadvantage is their historically lower record of voter turnout.

At 72 years of age, Odinga represents the older generation of Kenyan leaders who joined politics in the 1970s and 80s. And this being his fourth attempt at the presidency, there’s lethargy among some of his supporters.

He’s viewed by some as power hungry and untrustworthy, especially because of his alleged association with Kenya’s 1982 coup. His calls for mass action after the contentious 2007 election, during a period that saw the displacement and death of thousands of Kenyans, also contributed to this perception.

Also to his disadvantage is an association with past corruption scandals during his term as prime minister, including the maize and Kazi Kwa Vijana youth programme scandals.

The main political formations

There are two main formations in the 2017 election - the Jubilee Party and the National Super Alliance.

The Jubilee Party, formed in September 2016, followed a merger between The National Alliance and the United Republican Party representing two ethnic communities - the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin. The Jubilee Party also has the support of other political parties including the Kenya African National Union, NARC Kenya, the Labour Party and the Democratic Party amongst others.

The National Super Alliance is a coalition of political parties formed in April 2017. Its leading lights are Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, the Wiper Democratic Movement led by Kalonzo Musyoka, the Amani National Congress led by Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya led by Moses Wetangula and Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani. The coalition brings together the Luo, Kamba and Luhya ethnic groups, and a section of the Kalenjin community.

In this election cycle party manifestos have become increasingly important. This explains the Jubilee administration’s scramble to complete promises outlined in its 2013 document.

The Jubilee Party has made even more promises in its recently launched manifesto. Three that have caught the public attention include the creation of 1.3 million jobs a year, free public secondary education and the expansion of Kenya’s food production capacity.

The National Super Alliance’s promises are more political. They include a constitutional amendment to provide for a hybrid executive system to foster national cohesion. Two other notable promises are to lower the cost of rent by enforcing the Rent Restriction Act and to implement free secondary education.

Strengths and weaknesses

The strengths of the Jubilee Party lie mainly in its incumbency and its development track record over the last four-and-a-half years. But the party has been weakened by divisions within its ranks. These were amplified during the campaign as disagreements broke out over the leadership of campaign teams. The ruling party is also handicapped to the extent that it’s not as ethnically diverse as its competitor.

The National Super Alliance’s main strength lies in its ethnic diversity. Its five principals represent different ethnic communities.

The super alliance also creatively captures the zeitgeist of a section of the electorate, with some of its campaign slogans such as vindu vichenjanga (‘things are a-changing’ in the Luhya dialect) making their way into popular use. It is riding on the euphoric wave that usually accompanies the hope of regime change.

One of its weaknesses, however, includes a perceived predilection to violence because the opposition has previously resorted to mass action. In 2016 for example, it organised a series of protests to mobilise for the removal of key members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission, the body responsible for organising the general election.

Another weakness is its close association with allegedly corrupt financiers.

Key concerns

There is a perception that historically, the presidency has been the preserve of two ethnic groups – the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin. This feeling of disenfranchisement has become a key campaign issue.

There are however, some non-tribal issues that have taken the foreground. These include corruption, economic and social stability, lower cost of living and improved security.

 

Daisy Maritim Maina, PhD Candidate in Political Economy, SMC University

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

Published in Opinion & Analysis

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