Access to reliable and affordable electricity brings many benefits. It supports the growth of small businesses, allows students to study at night and protects health by offering an alternative cooking fuel to coal or wood.

Great efforts have been made to increase electrification in Africa, but rates remain low. In sub-Saharan Africa only 42% of urban areas have access to electricity, just 22% in rural areas.

This is mainly because there’s not enough sustained investment in electricity infrastructure, many systems can’t reliably support energy consumption or the price of electricity is too high.

Innovation is often seen as the way forward. For instance, cheaper and cleaner technologies, like solar storage systems deployed through mini grids, can offer a more affordable and reliable option. But, on their own, these solutions aren’t enough.

To design the best systems, planners must know where on- or off-grid systems should be placed, how big they need to be and what type of energy should be used for the most effective impact.

The problem is reliable data – like village size and energy demand – needed for rural energy planning is scarce or non-existent. Some can be estimated from records of human activities – like farming or access to schools and hospitals – which can show energy needs. But many developing countries have to rely on human activity data from incomplete and poorly maintained national census. This leads to inefficient planning.

In our research we found that data from mobile phones offer a solution. They provide a new source of information about what people are doing and where they’re located.

In sub-Saharan Africa, there are more people with mobile phones than access to electricity, as people are willing to commute to get a signal and/or charge their phones.

This means that there’s an abundance of data – that’s constantly updated and available even in areas that haven’t been electrified – that could be used to optimise electrification planning.

Senegal data

We were able to use mobile data to develop a countrywide electrification strategy for Senegal. Although Senegal has one of the highest access to electricity rates in sub-Saharan Africa, just 38% of people in rural areas have access.

By using mobile data we were able to identify the approximate size of rural villages and access to education and health facilities. This information was then used to size and cost different electrification options and select the most economic one for each zone – whether villages should be connected to the grids, or where off-grid systems – like solar battery systems – were a better option.

To collect the data we randomly selected mobile phone data from 450,000 users from Senegal’s main telecomms provider, Sonatel, to understand exactly how information from mobile phones could be used. This includes the location of user and the characteristics of the place they live.

Data was gathered on the number of texts and calls, duration of call, and the locations where the texts and calls were made. This was compared to electricity profiles and consumption in urban areas and available information about the location of villages, schools and hospitals from the World Bank.

We found that mobile phone data produces an accurate representation of electricity demand through distinct patterns. For instance, when there are schools or hospitals nearby, there’s a huge spike in the number of calls and texts in the evenings – when people are at home.

This information gives us vital information for electrification planning. It lets us know how many people there are, the area’s electricity demands and the distance to the closest electricity grid. This allows us to then cost different electrification options – for instance if the grid should be extended or solar energy used – and select the cheapest option.

There’s huge untapped potential in mobile phone data as a source of human activity data. It opens up new possibilities to improve infrastructure planning in general. It can help increase electrification rates, but can also be used to make the provision of water, food, education, health and other valuable services more effective.The Conversation

Eduardo Alejandro Martínez Ceseña, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group, University of Manchester; Joseph Mutale, Professor of Sustainable Energy and Electric Power Systems, University of Manchester; Mathaios Panteli, Lecturer School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Manchester, and Pierluigi Mancarella, Professor of Smart Energy Systems, University of Manchester

 

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The world is making remarkable progress in combating poverty. From 2000 to 2013, the portion of the world’s population living on less than the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day fell from 28.5 % to 10.7 %. That’s about one billion people lifted out of poverty.

In 2000 the United Nations launched the Millennium Development Goals, a coordinated international effort to eradicate poverty and raise living standards worldwide by 2030.

An even more ambitious global effort to eradicate poverty, called the Sustainable Development Goals was adopted in September 2015. This also seems to be producing significant results. An estimated 83 million people have escaped extreme poverty in the first three years after the goals were adopted – between January 2016 and July 2018.

At the same time, there’s been a dramatic shift in the geography of poverty around the world.

Today, extreme poverty is mostly around Africa, where 23 of the world’s 28 poorest countries are found. These countries have poverty rates above 30%.

Poverty projections up to the year 2030 (the end of the Sustainable Development Goals) suggest that even under the most optimistic scenario, over 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa will still be in extreme poverty. Thus success in poverty eradication under these goals will depend crucially on what happens in Africa.

According to our research, the adoption of the goals in 2000 played a significant part in accelerating the process of poverty reduction in the world. The implementation of antipoverty programmes and poverty reduction strategies in individual countries became a routine part of national development plans. But, there was considerable disparity in how different countries responded to the development goals as well as in their capacity to implement these plans.

In the early 1990s, African countries such as Nigeria, Lesotho, Madagascar, and Zambia had similar poverty levels to those of China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Yet, this group has been successful in reducing poverty, while the African countries haven’t.

So, why this disparity and how can poverty reduction in Africa be accelerated?

Poverty trends

We looked at poverty trends in the developing world between 1990 and 2013. Using standard income poverty measures expressing the part of the population living on less than $1.25 and $1.90 a day, we found that poverty tended to fall faster in more poverty-ridden countries.

Good news? Yes, but such progress, although significant, doesn’t imply that the end of poverty is in sight everywhere. For example, if trends continue in a poverty-ridden country such as Mali, where 86.08% of people were living below $1.25 a day in 1990, it would take about 31 more years to eradicate extreme poverty altogether.

And, even a much less poor economy like Ecuador (where 6.79% people lived on less than $1.25 a day in 1990) is predicted to take about 10 more years to eradicate extreme poverty altogether.

State capacity

Our research identifies a crucial role for state capacity in differing levels of poverty reduction. Sub-Saharan African states often suffer from limited institutional capability to carry out policies that deliver benefits and services to citizens. In other words, they have limited state capacity.

Building state capacity depends on many variables. It is greater when ruling elites are subject to effective limits on the exercise of their power through institutionalised checks and balances. It’s also greater in countries with a longer history of statehood. For example, China, an experienced state which is centuries old, may have developed a greater ability to administer its territory - through learning by doing. It has thus become more effective at delivering on policies compared to less experienced African states.

And our own research suggests that countries with the most effective governments reduced income poverty at up to twice the speed than countries with the weakest states.

Fighting poverty in Africa

The weaknesses of a state affects the fight against poverty in a number of ways.

Firstly, fighting poverty requires direct policy interventions. Yet poorer African countries are less effective in reaching their poor. For example, governments in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have the data and administrative know-how necessary for reliably identifying their poor. This means they can’t target resources to them. Anti-poverty programmes in countries such as Malawi, Mali, Niger and Nigeria miss many of their poorest households.

The growing evidence on the gaps in state capacity and the importance of effective states for poverty reduction implies that, without significant improvement in governance, Africa may fall further behind in meeting the first sustainable development goal target of ending poverty.

To accelerate the end of poverty, African states should focus on developing enough capability for designing and delivering poverty reduction strategies. Implementing these reforms is vital. After all, improving the quality of government is not only important to accelerating poverty reduction. It’s also a development goal in itself.The Conversation

 

M Niaz Asadullah, Professor of Development Economics, University of Malaya and Antonio Savoia, Senior Lecturer in Development Economics, University of Manchester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

With 60% of arable land globally and a projected demographic dividend of more than one-quarter of the world’s total under-25 population by 2030, Africa is set to become the future bread basket of the world and the largest contributor to the global workforce.
 
Despite this, one thing that was clear at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos was that the continent had moved to the periphery in the face of rising concerns about advanced world economy issues, including climate change, data governance issues and geopolitical tension.
 
Climate change and its related effects were the major themes for this year’s WEF. Of the top five global risks outlined in this year’s Global Risk Report, released prior to the commencement of the forum, three related either to climate change or negative weather-related effects.
 
Although climate change has featured at previous Davos meetings, its severity and resulting effect was brought home by natural historian Sir David Attenborough. In his acceptance speech at the Crystal Awards Ceremony for individuals who have excelled in various fields, Attenborough related his personal experience of how nature had changed over the years, including more extreme weather patterns, increased pollution in the oceans and a dramatic decrease in biodiversity.
 
Technology was also a key theme, both as a risk to jobs and a source of progress to the business community, government and individuals.
 
Data governance, however, remained a critical issue, along with information security.
 
The adoption of three different and far-removed approaches to data management by Europe, the US and China highlighted the gap that had manifested as a result of the destruction of multilateralism.
 
Through highly regulated data protection laws that came into effect last year, Europe had taken a strict stance in terms of privacy laws.
 
By contrast, the business-led US approach was more practical and pragmatic, looking at what the data would be used for to determine how it would be protected and stored.
 
On the other hand, China’s approach was that data was a public good with no requirement for protection.
 
More importantly, a significant takeaway from the conversations was that Africa’s data was stored outside the continent, raising pertinent questions about ownership, storage, right of access and privacy.
 
It became clear that there was no centralised architecture for governance over this data, which had accelerated and multiplied at a rate that had left the continent lagging behind on governance and the protocols on which all the protection mechanisms could be delivered.
 
The need to avert future data breach crises was real and the absence of global governance structures and institutions that were relied on in the past to lead the way in the creation of global governance standards was concerning.
 
There was great concern about decelerating global trade, with the business community particularly anxious about the US-China trade war and the self-inflicted Brexit quagmire.
 
Contestation of leading the next technological revolution was seen to be a factor that might prolong the spat between the two nations.
 
Closer to home, Africa continued to encounter challenges implementing the Continental Free Trade Area agreement signed last year, particularly on the creation of value and benefit for the signatories.
 
Although infrastructure remained a major obstacle to Pan-African trade, the focus had been on tariff barriers. Making our way into the fourth industrial revolution implied more interconnectedness and serious considerations about education, including introducing technology and being technologically savvy at a young age.
 
From an investment perspective, compliance burdens continued to plague South Africa and were a serious concern for investors, including crime and, to a lesser extent, black economic empowerment.
 
But, with the immediate challenges, there were upsides – including showing how South Africa was tackling various issues, such as Eskom, governance failures in state-owned enterprises; and serious efforts to tackle corruption. We did not convince anyone that we had a magic wand to transform the economic status quo and it was regarded that there remained a lot of work to be done, especially around regaining investor trust and confidence and where we saw economic growth coming from.
 
It could be argued that the WEF demonstrates a disconnection between the global elite and the general population. But it could be a good platform to take stock of what plagues the world, and to explore how business and government working together could tackle those issues and be a force for good.
 
 
Source: Business Insider

Much has been made about China’s role and profile in Africa and the factors underlying its activities on the continent. Less debated is the spread and depth of Russia’s contemporary presence and profile in Africa.

There was a strong Russian influence in Africa during the heyday of the Soviet Union. The post-independence governments of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Benin at some point all received diplomatic or military support from the Soviet Union.

But this began to change after the superpower started to collapse in December 1991. More than a quarter of a century later Russia’s President Vladimir Putin seems to have new aspirations in Africa. This is in line with his desire to restore Russia to great power status.

Putin places a high premium on geopolitical relations and the pursuit of Russian assertiveness in the global arena. This includes reestablishing Russia’s sphere of influence, which extends to the African continent.

Like Beijing, Moscow’s method of trade and investment in Africa is without the prescriptions or conditionalities of actors like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Russia is gradually increasing its influence in Africa through strategic investment in energy and minerals. It’s also using military muscle and soft power.

Increasingly, the pressing question is: is the relationship between China and Africa as good for Africa as it is for China? The same question applies to Russia-Africa relations.

Energy and minerals

Interaction between Russia and Africa has grown exponentially this century, with trade and investment growing by 185% between 2005 and 2015.

Economically, much of Russia’s focus in Africa centres on energy. Key Russian investments in Africa are in the oil, gas and nuclear power sectors.

The fact that 620 million people in Africa don’t have electricity provides Russia’s nuclear power industry with potential markets. Several Russian companies, such as Gazprom, Lukoil, Rostec and Rosatom are active in Africa. Most activity is in Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Nigeria and Uganda. In Egypt, negotiations have already been finalised with Moscow for the building of the country’s first nuclear plant .

These companies are mostly state-run, with investments often linked to military and diplomatic interests.

Moscow’s second area of interest is Africa’s mineral riches. This is particularly evident in Zimbabwe, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and the Central African Republic.

In Zimbabwe, Russia is developing one of the world’s largest deposits of platinum group metals.

Russia has also been reestablishing links with Angola, where Alrosa, the Russian giant, mines diamonds. Discussions between Russia and Angola have also focused on hydrocarbon production.Uranium in Namibia is another example.

Russia’s current controversial involvement in the Central African Republic (CAR) began in 2017, when a team of Russian military instructors and 170 “civilian advisers” were sent by Moscow to Bangui to train the country’s army and presidential guard. Shortly after that, nine weapons shipments arrived in the CAR.

Interest in the country has focused on exploring its natural resources on a concession basis. The murder of three Russian journalists in a remote area of the country last year focused the world’s attention on what looked like a Kremlin drive for influence and resources.

Military influence and diplomacy

Russia is the second largest exporter of arms globally, and a major supplier to African states. Over the past two decades it has pursued military ties with various African countries, such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Military ties are linked to bilateral military agreements as well as providing boots on the ground in UN peacekeeping operations. Combined, China and Russia outnumber the other permanent members of the UN Security Council in contributing troop to UN peacekeeping efforts.

Russia has also been actively supporting Zimbabwe. Shortly after it was reported in 2018 that China had placed new generation surface-to-air missiles in Zimbabwe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that his country was pursuing military cooperation.

Significantly, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that his country may need Russia’s help with the modernisation of its defence force during a recent visit to Moscow.

Russia, Africa and the future

Both Russia and China are keen to play a future role in Africa. The difference between these two major powers is that China forms part of the Asian regional economy. This will surpass North America and Europe combined, in terms of global power - based on GDP, population size, military spending and technological investment.

China and India have sustained impressive economic growth over many years. And, their enormous populations make them two world powers of extraordinary importance. Growth prospects for the Russian economy, on the other hand, remain modest - between 1.5% and 1.8% a year for 2018-2010, against the current global average rate of 3.5% a year.

Still, Russia remains a major power in global politics. For African leaders, the key word is agency and the question is how to play the renewed Russian attention to their countries’ advantage, and not to fall victim to the contemporary “geopolitical chess” game played by the major powers on the continent.The Conversation

 

Theo Neethling, Professor and Head: Political Studies and Governance in the Humanities Faculty, University of the Free State

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Sub-Saharan Africa is among regions in the world projected to record accelerated economic growth in 2019, amid a slowdown in global growth precipitated by heightened trade tensions and rising interest rates in the US.

The International Monetary Fund says that GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa will rise from 2.9 per cent posted last year to 3.5 per cent this year, and 3.6 per cent in 2020.

The projection is however a 0.3 percentage point lower, blamed partly on the declining crude oil prices, which have plummeted from a high of $85 a barrel and are expected to average $60 this year.

These have significantly impacted growth for oil-producers Angola and Nigeria.

One-third of sub-Saharan economies are expected to post growth above five per cent, raising optimism of impressive performance in a year when external shocks, including trade tensions, rising US interest rates, dollar appreciation, capital outflows and volatile oil prices are expected to continue.

More critically, the nagging challenges of ballooning debt, expanding recurrent expenditures and slowdown in revenue mobilisation will continue to curtail growth.

"Across all economies, measures to boost potential output growth, enhance inclusiveness and strengthen fiscal and financial buffers in an environment of high debt burdens and tighter financial conditions are imperatives," says the IMF in its World Economic Outlook 2019 report.

The Fund forecasts that 2019 will not be a good year for the global economy, whose growth is projected to decline to 3.5 per cent from 3.7 per cent last year, largely due to an escalation in trade wars between the US and China.

The US has imposed import taxes on steel, aluminium and hundreds of Chinese products, drawing retaliation from China and other US trading partners like Mexico and Canada.

Other factors include the messy Brexit process, Italy's financial struggles, volatile commodity prices and rising interest rates in the US, which are projected to impact heavily on the global economy

Growth in advanced economies will slow from an estimated 2.3 per cent in 2018 to 2.0 per cent in 2019 and 1.7 per cent in 2020.

Growth in the Euro region is set to moderate from 1.8 per cent in 2018 to 1.6 per cent in 2019, while in the US, it is forecast to remain flat at 2.5 per cent, and decline to 1.8 per cent in 2020.

Growth in Asia is expected to dip from 6.5 per cent in 2018 to 6.3 per cent this year, and 6.4 per cent in 2020, with China's declining from 6.6 per cent to 6.2 per cent due to the combined influence of financial regulatory tightening and trade tensions with the US.

India's growth on the other hand, is poised to pick up to 7.5 per cent from 7.3 per cent last year, benefiting from lower oil prices and a slower pace of monetary tightening, plus easing in inflationary pressures.

In Latin America, growth is projected to recover from 1.1 per cent in 2018 to 2.0 per cent this year, and 2.5 per cent in 2020.

 

Credit: East African

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday lamented that despite successes recorded by the Economic Community of West African State, ECOWAS, the body is still faced difficulties in the economic, governance, peace, security and humanitarian fields.
 
Buhari, who is the current Chairman of ECOWAS spoke while declaring open the 54th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria.
 
According to him, the regional organisation was still confronted by several challenges that must be tackled, observing that the lofty ideals of ECOWAS, including the promotion of cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an Economic and Monetary Union in West Africa as well as the creation of a borderless peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region, would be unattainable without peace and security.
 
He said this was why he decided to make the issue of peace and security the major focus of his chairmanship.
 
Buhari noted that his efforts had started yielding dividends as the organisation had been able to douse tension and restore confidence in some potentially disruptive situations, particularly in Guinea Bissau, Togo and Mali.
On the forthcoming national elections in Nigeria and Senegal in 2019, the Nigerian leader said he had already pledged to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
 
“In the same vein, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and other political stakeholders, have expressed their unwavering commitment to the conduct of peaceful elections devoid of violence, rancour and acrimony, in the higher interest of the nation,’’ he added.
 
But he noted with concern that terrorism and violent extremism had continued to threaten peace and security in the sub-region.
 
The president said: “This threat calls for collective action on our part, if we are to effectively and definitively eliminate it.
“As we work on new strategies to combat and eradicate this menace, we require the support of our partners to ensure the achievement of our objectives.’’
 
Buhari, however, commended leaders of ECOWAS for their efforts in promoting peace, stability and development in the sub-region.
 
The president particularly paid special tribute to President Nana Akuffo-Addo of Ghana, President Alpha Conde of Republic of Guinea and ECOWAS facilitators in the resolution of the Togolese political crisis, for their tireless endeavours towards a peaceful settlement.
 
“I’m also glad for the significant progress made through our collective efforts towards the resolution of the political and institutional crisis in Guinea Bissau.
 
“Within the framework of our regional solidarity, we have assisted the governments of Togo and Mali in tackling political and security problems while also addressing food challenges in parts of the sub-region.
 
“We have also extended electoral support and assistance to several countries and acted pro-actively to neutralise some potential conflicts through preventive diplomacy before they exploded. In this connection, we welcome the successful elections held in Sierra Leone and Mali in 2018,’’ he said.
 
The Nigerian leader further stated that the organisation’s determination to create a safe and stable sub-region must be predicated on a strong and capable ECOWAS, adding that no institution can function effectively without adequate funding.
 
“This would require that all hands are on deck and that all Member States ensure the payment of the Statutory Community Levy as and as when due.
“By so doing, we will empower and enable the Commission to implement the Integration Agenda, as we march towards the year 2020, and actualise our vision of building an ECOWAS of Peoples and not of States,’’ he said.
 
He also stressed the need for member states to join forces to eliminate those factors that were militating against a secure, conducive and prosperous environment for the benefit of the people in the sub-region.
 
The president noted that such actions would enable them (Member States) address the continuing fragility of the sub-region’s economies linked closely to commodity prices, nascent democracies, negative effects of climate change on farming systems and the globalisation of crime and terrorism.
 
“These realities remind us of the need for even stronger intra-ECOWAS solidarity in order to address emerging challenges.
 
“This is indeed the very sense of our Union. To that end, important decisions are taken in the course of our meetings, with the goal of impacting transforming positively on the lives of our citizens,’’ he said.
 
Buhari disclosed that during today’s Ordinary Session, the regional leaders would be expected to take several decisions on a number of issues.
 
He said: “As is our custom, our Session would consider these matters from the reports on today’s agenda as follows: the 2018 Annual Report of ECOWAS ; the Report of the 81st Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers and the Report of the 41st Ordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council.’’
 
Other matters to be deliberated upon, he said, included the Reports on the Political and Security Situation of the Region, and the Report on the Process for the Establishment of the ECOWAS Single Currency.
 
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn-Chambas, noted that in the past months the sub-region had been witnessing the successful conduct of elections, contributing to the progress the sub-region was making in the consolidation of democracy.
 
Ibn-Chambas, who spoke in both English and French languages, however, stressed the need for more efforts to be made to address contentious issues related to conduct of elections to prevent and mitigate election-related violence, human rights abuses and promote respect for the rule of law.
 
“Upcoming elections in the sub region will present opportunities for further consolidating democracy.
 
“UNOWAS is coordinating efforts with the ECOWAS Commission to ensure appropriate support to these countries in their efforts to organise free, credible and peaceful elections,’’ he said.
 
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observed that Morocco is not on the agenda of the 54th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS of Heads of State and Government.
 
Morocco had made its request to be a member of ECOWAS while Tunisia requested to be an observer country.
NAN also reports that former Nigerian military Head of State, retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon, was among the dignitaries attending the summit.
 
 
Source: PmNews
With an estimated volume of trade between countries in Africa currently valued at about $1 trillion every year, Executive Vice President, African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Amr Kamel, says there were prospects for growth if identified barriers were removed.
 
Mr Kamel who is in charge of Business Development and Corporate Banking, was speaking on Friday at the opening of the AFREXIMBANK Annual Customer Due Diligence and Corporate Governance (ACDICOG) Forum in Casablanca, Morocco.
 
He identified key constraints to intra-African trade to include dearth of strong corporate governance and due diligence practices among operators.
 
Besides, he said the problem could be attributed to over-estimation of African risks, which tend to be much bigger than the actual.
 
To ignite intra-African trade and drive economic growth, Mr Kamel emphasised the need for structures to re-establish correspondent banking facilities to boost the continent’s risk profile.
 
Concerns about limited capacity to finance and sustain trade, he noted, has resulted in the exodus of large global banks and financial institutions with capacity to finance trade in Africa.
 
To redress Africa’s trade finance needs, Mr Kamel told participants in the forum AFREXIMBANK has undertaken a number initiatives that would enable it fill the existing gap.
 
“We (AFREXIMBANK) have a number of programmes and initiatives to bring together African financial institutions, corporate entities and regulators on customer due diligence and corporate governance to learn from best practices, reposition the continent and improve its risk profile,” he said.
 
The initiatives include the African correspondent banking initiative, to expand African banks’ access to correspondent banking facilities tailored to suit their needs.
 
The initiative, he added enables participants from across the continent to deliberate on the effectiveness of current measures and to assess whether these are adequately promoting good governance and due diligence practices.
 
It provides a platform for sharing ideas and for the implementation of best practices in addition to paving the way for a collaborative approach to de-risking issues affecting Africa.
 
The theme for this year’s forum was “Developing Capabilities to Minimise Negative Perception about Correspondent Banking in Africa: Enhancing Compliance, Governance and Financial Inclusion”.
 
 
Source: Premium Times

Taxify, a European-based rival to Uber and the leading app-based taxi-hailing platform in Africa, expects to grow its African business ten-fold over the next two years while it works to dethrone Uber in Europe, its chief executive told Reuters.

Markus Villig said his firm, which has 15 million customers and half a million drivers on its platform in more than 25 countries, was on track for its drivers to rake a combined 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) from rides this year.

The Estonian firm is looking to add more services and more countries in 2019, he said during this week’s Web Summit conference in Lisbon, without disclosing details. Taxify opened in Lisbon earlier this year.

“We see massive potential in Africa to grow at least ten times in the next two years,” Villig said. “We grew our number of rides ten times in 2017 and will be one of the fastest growing companies in the industry this year as well.”

In May, Taxify secured $175 million in funding from a group led by German automaker Daimler to help its battle against Uber.

As for Europe, where Taxify has sought to capitalise on mounting driver resistance to Uber over pay and other issues to get into new markets, including some abandoned by Uber such as Slovakia and Hungary, Villig is aiming to overtake Uber in both the number of users and rides.

“When you look at other regions in the world you have a local champion win in that place. We want to be that leader in Europe, that’s our focus,” he said.

San Francisco-based Uber is active in more than 80 countries and is the market leader in Europe. It takes around a 25-percent cut of fares from drivers using its app.

Taxify typically charges a 15 percent commission, arguing happier drivers provide a better service.

The company has been working with European regulators to try to amend strict public transport laws and rules, saying consumers benefit from the flexibility and competition brought by taxi-hailing platforms.

To increase flexibility, Taxify is working on different solutions for different types of trips, such as using smaller vehicles for city centres.

An attempt to enter the highly competitive London market ground to a halt last year when transport regulators there denied it a licence to operate. But Villig said the application was “in progress, and we’re working with Transport for London to show that we’re best-in-breed”.

- Reuters

Global markets fall once again on Tuesday after brief two-day relief rally.
A "poisonous brewing cauldron of geopolitical and economic issues" is to blame for the risk-off sentiment gripping investors.
Losses are led by Asia, which has seen virtually all major indexes drop more than 2% on Tuesday.
Europe is following suit, with Germany's DAX down more than 1.2%. US futures are also pointing to substantial losses.
The JSE fell almost 2%.
You can follow the latest developments in global markets at Markets Insider.
Global markets slumped once again on Tuesday as the continent's two-day-long relief rally came to an abrupt end, thanks to a cocktail of negative drivers.
 
All major Asian indexes lost ground during Tuesday's session, with the FTSE China A50 the biggest casualty, down more than 3%. Other mainland Chinese indexes lost more than 2%, with the Shanghai and Shenzhen Composite indexes both down around 2.2%.
 
Losses were not contained to China, however, with Japan's Nikkei losing 2.7%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropping close to 3% after a sharp fall into the close.
 
There was no single catalyst for the losses, with growing geopolitical tensions between Saudi Arabia and the West over the death of journalist Jamal Khashosggi, resurfaced fears about President Trump's trade war, and generally waning confidence in the Chinese economy all partially to blame.
 
"Big swings in the Chinese markets continued, with the previous two-day rally moving sharply into reverse. After mulling over Chinese stimulus plans the market is seeing these stimulus measures as cushioning a fall rather than boosting the economy," Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group said in a morning briefing.
 
"It was all too much for the markets on Tuesday. The poisonous brewing cauldron of geopolitical and economic issues led to one of those opens as nuance-less as it was red," Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex added.
 
Fears abound that the sell-off in China could get worse as a wave of forced share selling kicks in for Chinese companies who use their shares as colleteral for loans.
 
According to Bloomberg, about 4.18 trillion yuan (R8.7 trillion) worth of shares have been put up by company founders and other major investors as collateral for loans, accounting for about 11% of the country's stock market capitalization, based on calculations using China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation data.
 
The South China Morning Post, citing a report by Tianfeng Securities, said earlier in the week tha tmore than 600 company stocks have fallen to levels where forced sales may kick in.
 
"It's a vicious cycle: share drops lead to liquidation and liquidation leads to further share drops," Wang Zheng, chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management told the South China Morning Post last week.
 
The JSE's all share index was down 1.7% by midday, but the rand was marginally stronger at R14.35/$.
 
Naspers, down 3% to R2,725.58, and Nedcor, which lost 3.7% to R225.03 were some of the worst hit among large companies. 
 
Gold stocks are booming again, with Sibanye up 11% to R11.64. Nervous investors are buying gold, which jumped a percent to $1,234/oz this morning.
 
European stocks have also witnessed losses in the first hour of trading, although not as severe as those in Asia. By midday, Germany's DAX has dropped 1.2%, while the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index is around 0.7% lower. The Euro Stoxx 50 broad index is down 0.8%.
 
"Sentiment continues to take a hit from a combination of geopolitical tensions including the growing isolation of Saudi Arabia, Italy's defiant stance towards the ECB and Brexit," Lawler said.
 
US futures are also pointing to big losses when markets open stateside, with the Nasdaq pointing to an opening loss of 1.1%, while both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones look to fall around 0.9%
 
 
Source: Bloomberg news
The total value of bilateral trade between Nigeria and European Union Member States stood at £25.3 billion, an equivalence of about N8.9 trillion, in 2017.
 
The Deputy Head of Delegation, European Union (EU) to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Richard Young, disclosed this while addressing newsmen at the 7th EU-Nigerian Business Forum on Thursday in Lagos.
 
Young said the EU Delegation, EU member States and European companies active in Nigeria have established a European Business Organisation (EBO) aimed at strengthening the relationship with EU companies in Nigeria.
 
He said the organisation would represent the voice of European companies across various sectors of the Nigerian economy.
 
“The EBO Nigeria will also ensure a high-level policy dialogue with Nigerian authorities and organised private with the objective of improving the business and investment and fostering business and trade relations between the EU and Nigeria,” Young said.
 
The envoy noted that EU has also launched an External Investment Plan (EIP) to encourage investment in partner countries, including Nigeria, adding that the plan would strengthen its partnerships by promoting inclusive growth, job creation and also tackle some of the root causes of irregular job migration.
 
According to him, “The EIP is a new approach to supporting sustainable development through investment. It will improve the way in which scare public funds are used and how public authorities and private investors cooperate on investment projects.
 
“Through a new guarantee mechanism, the EIP will increase private investment in higher risk environments, facilitate private sector investments that otherwise would not be available.”
 
 
Source: The Ripples
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