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Feb 19, 2015

HARARE – At least 76 percent of Zimbabwe’s 7 million adult population is living on less than $200 a month, according to a consumer survey conducted by the country’s official statistics agency and a regional independent research house, showing worsening socio-economic conditions over the past four years.

The FinScope Consumer Survey 2014, commissioned by FinMak, a South Africa-based entity which seeks to improve financial inclusion, was conducted by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), which handled sampling, quality control and weighting of data, and Continental – Fonkom, which conducted 4,000 face-to-face interviews.

It is the second research after FinScope 2011, and was conducted between July and September 2014.

The meagre personal income numbers dovetail with recent World Bank figures which show that real per capita incomes in Zimbabwe are lower today than they were 55 years ago in 1960, further denting the country’s prospects as a viable investment destination due to lack of sizeable markets, among other factors deterring foreign direct investment.

Fisurvey also threw up a set of bleak poverty indicators – access to water has declined, with only 29 percent having piped running water, compared with 35 percent in 2011 and 36 percent being unable to send children to school due to lack of school fees, up from 25 percent in 2011.

The percentage of people who have had to skip a meal due to lack of money went up to 44 percent in 2014, from 29 percent four years ago, while 37 percent have gone without treatment or medicine because of lack of money, compared with 20 percent in 2011.

“Adults with no income have decreased, although the majority earn $100 or less,” said FinMark project manager, Obert Maposa on Monday.

The survey also found that 70 percent of adult Zimbabweans reside in the rural areas, a 5 percentage point increase from the 2011 figure, pointing to a decline in the urban population.

There were some positives – such improvements in education as shown by the decrease in the number of people no education from 7 percent in 2011 to 3 percent in 2014. Financial inclusion also increased by 17 percentage points, from 60 percent in 2011 to 77 percent in 2014 – largely driven by mobile money products by the telecommunications sector.

The number of Zimbabweans with an insurance policy remained static at 30 percent, with funeral cover and medical aid being the major products taken out to cover risk. The survey also found that 53 percent of Zimbabweans did not save in 2014, compared with only 37 percent in 2011.

At least 30 percent or 2.08 million of the population were operating bank accounts last year compared to 24 percent (1.45 million) in 2011 as many people shunned banks while others could not afford the charges.

“Despite these improvements, more hardships were experienced in 2014 compared to 2011 due to a lack of money in this regard,” said Finscope.

According to the study, more people were accessing banking services last year compared to 2011, although the figure is still way below intended levels.

“Banking in Zimbabwe is largely driven by the use of transactional products. A high percentage of the population (70 percent) is not banked with the majority of those indicating that they do not need a bank account (74 percent),” the firm said.

Other reasons cited by individuals for not having a bank account were that they cannot afford to maintain a minimum balance required; bank charges too high and many received income in the form of cash and therefore had an insufficient balance for a bank account.

Of those who have a bank account, 67 percent regarded safety as a main reason for banking while 39 percent used bank accounts as a means to either deposit or receive money from an employer. At least 20 percent of those who are banked said it was an easy way to obtain loans.

The survey further revealed that 53 percent of adult Zimbabweans do not save with the majority claiming not to have sufficient funds after paying for living expenses while others did not have an income.

“Of the 47 percent of adults who currently save, 35 percent save to cover living expenses while 21 percent do so for education and school fees. Only 19 percent save for non-medical emergencies.”

The study further showed that 58 percent of adults do not borrow for fear of debt while others were concerned about defaulting on credit.

At least 70 percent of adults did not have insurance with most respondents claiming that insurance was “too expensive.”Of those who have insurance, 77 percent was for funeral cover and 30 percent medical aid.

The study also revealed that many people were now using mobile money remittance services. At least 58 percent of those who remit, 83 percent said they used formal channels such as the bank, mobile money and cross-border channels like Mukuru, MoneyGram and Western Union. 

 

Credit - The Source

 

Feb 18, 2015

Lagos - The Tony Elumelu Foundation has announced the appointment of Professor Reid E. Whitlock as Chief Executive of the Foundation effective immediately.

Professor Whitlock’s appointment follows Dr Wiebe Boer, the inaugural Chief Executive of the Foundation, becoming Director of Strategy at Heirs Holdings, ‎Mr. Elumelu’s pan-African proprietary investment company.

Founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N., the Foundation is Africa’s leading advocate for entrepreneurship, responsible for programmes designed to ensure that entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship become the primary driver of Africa’s economic growth and social transformation.

Professor Whitlock brings thirty years of experience as a business school rector, diplomat, entrepreneur, strategy consultant and advisor to leaders in Africa, Asia and the Middle East on economic development. He received his Ph.D. and law degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and is a cum laude graduate of Princeton University.

Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Tony Elumelu said: “ I welcome Professor Whitlock, who brings considerable global experience in the private, public, and academic sectors, which will significantly assist in realising the mission of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, in empowering Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs and driving the continent’s economic and social transformation.”

Speaking on his appointment, Professor Whitlock stated “I am honoured by the opportunity the Board of Trustees has given me. I am excited to join such a dynamic institution, with a truly pan-African focus and an ambitious agenda.  I look forward to leveraging my extensive experience and networks to further help the Foundation achieve its important goals.”

Dr. Whitlock will focus on supervising the Foundation’s four key projects and programmes:

• The $100 million pan-African Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme – Africa’s largest direct intervention in support of entrepreneurship.

• The Africapitalism Institute, the Foundation’s policy and research arm, which provides a rigorous programme of research and advocacy, in support of the Foundation’s goals.

• The Elumelu Nigeria Empowerment Fund, directly assisting, through private sector strategies, conflict affected and disadvantaged communities across Nigeria.

• The Tony & Awele Elumelu Prize, which champions academic excellence on the African continent.

Professor Whitlock will be supported by the Foundation’s senior leadership team, including:

• Parminder Vir, OBE, the Foundation’s Director of Entrepreneurship, responsible for implementing the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme.  Parminder has over thirty years of experience in the creative industries and is the former CEO of PVL Media, a specialist consultancy facilitating cross-border business development in emerging markets.

• Bob Wheeler, who recently joined as inaugural Dean to lead the establishment of the Tony Elumelu Business School.  Bob has decades of experience in business education, most recently establishing business schools in Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan.

• David Rice serves as the Director of the Africapitalism Institute.  David is an economist, who led the Milken Institute’s Africa programming, and was also a faculty member at New York University.

• Abimbola Adebakin, who will be joining as the Director of Operations after a successful career, including working as a consultant with Accenture, and heading the consulting arm of the Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC), Nigeria.  

 

Source: The Source

Feb 18, 2015

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s biggest labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) on Tuesday warned that it will soon wage protests against the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) recommendation for a wage freeze.

Central bank governor John Mangudya used his monetary policy statement last week to push for the freeze, saying pay increases would further strain the economy and stifle its recovery.

But workers, citing low salaries and high prices for goods and services, feel that it is within their right to push for wage increases.

The ZCTU described the central bank’s statement, which has been supported by government, as a reckless attack on the rights of employees.

“They made reckless statements without looking at the situation holistically and due to that employers have found a loophole and a finger to hide behind and are therefore not paying salaries and are averse to coming to the negotiating table to discuss conditions of service for employees,” the labour body said.

“The leadership of the ZCTU, having noted the bad and unethical stance set by the mentioned authorities, would like to inform all affiliates that they should ready themselves for demonstrations concerning these utterances by authorities mentioned above.”

The labour body said it would soon announce the dates for the demonstrations. Labour accuses management and executives in most firms in the economy of paying themselves hefty salaries and living lavish lifestyles at the expense of the workers. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe places the country’s poverty datum line at around $500 a month, a figure above what most ordinary employees earn.

A FinScope consumer survey for 2014, conducted by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) and Research Continental-Fonkom, found that 76 percent of adult Zimbabweans earn less than $200 month.

However, the central bank has made a case for a stand-still position on wages as it pushes for a general price reduction in the economy to boost consumer spending power. “Given the lack of competitiveness and its negative effects on the economy, we do not see any room for wage and salary increase within the national economy,” RBZ chief Mangudya said in his policy statement last week.

The central bank argued that the country’s minimum wage remained higher than most countries in the region and this contributed to lack of competitiveness of goods and services.

“We need to move away from the psychology or concept of money illusion, which states that people think in terms of the amount of money they have, rather than in terms of its value. We now need to think in terms of value,” Mangudya said. -

 

Source: The Source

 

Feb 18, 2015

THE International Monetary Fund has agreed to make loans of about $US700million available to Kenya.

The money will be used as an insurance policy to protect against any threats to the country's economy, considered a financial powerhouse in East Africa. The Kenyan Government requested the package as a precautionary measure, in case of an emergency such as a natural disaster or militant attack.

The funds will be available for the next 12 months.

The ministry of finance has told the IMF it doesn't intend to use the funds. Instead it will act as security against "economic shocks", the IMF said. An analysis by Ed Thomas of BBC News said the Kenyan economy did well last year, growing by 5 per cent. "The Kenyan Government would say it's being prudent, guarding against any natural or man-made disasters," he said.

"For example, Kenya faces a terror threat from al-Shabab, the Islamist militants who killed murdered more than 100 people last year in raids across the country. This has already badly damaged the country's tourism trade.

"However, this insurance policy comes at a price. The Government has to commit to follow IMF rules."

 

Source: BBC News

Feb 18, 2015

Zimbabwe has looked at Namibian financial institutions for the expansion of the Kariba South Hydro Power Plant. Standard Bank Namibia was the successful financial institution that got to provide a loan facility of N$500 million to the Zimbabwe Power Corporation for the 300 MW extension of the Kariba South Hydro Power Plant.

The facility makes up 10 percent of the engineering, procurement and construction costs for the expansion with China Exim Bank providing the balance of 90 percent.

Sino-Hydro, a Chinese firm, was contracted to construct two additional units at Kariba with a capacity to generate 300MW at a cost of US$533 million (about N$6.2 billion). Work on the project has started with excavation works on batching plants, access roads and water tanks having been completed.

Sino-Hydro was also awarded US$1.1 billion (about N$12.8 billion) contract to expand the Hwange Thermal Power Station to add 600MW to the Zimbabwe national grid. The Head of Corporate Banking at Standard Bank Namibia, Amit Mohan, said the extension of loan facility to Zimbabwe Power Corporation (ZPC) "is significant in its contribution to increasing its power generation in southern and central Africa".

"The execution of this innovative finance structure was the result of Standard Bank's local presence in both jurisdictions and its strong relationships with key stakeholders," Mohan says.

The structure of the facility is cross-border, placing reliance for repayment on a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) between ZPC and NamPower. ZPC has a long track record of delivering power to NamPower. The PPA provides a long term and sustainable cash flow stream to ZPC, enabling the entity to raise further funding for new projects and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure.

Power is one of the core sectors that Standard Bank is focusing on. "It was an ideal opportunity for the bank to get involved. NamPower buys power from ZPC and therefore it was important for us to support our power sector through this loan facility," says Mohan. Last week the Zimbabwe's Minister of Energy and Power Development Dr Samuel Undenge, during a tour of the power station, said the power deficit being experienced countrywide should end by 2018.

"We need the project to be complete even before the due date but you have to supervise the contractor in ensuring quality standards are met throughout the project," he said. "Do not leave room for slip-ups. Significant progress has been made in terms of construction and I am sure we will be able to complete construction before 2017 although the set date is 2018," the minister said.

ZPC and Sino-Hydro, Dr Undenge said, should bear in mind that electricity was the cornerstone of economic development. "You are the foot soldiers on the ground responsible for the production of electricity and my vision is to see the insufficiency we are experiencing disappearing such that we enter an era of producing surplus power for export in the region," he said.

ZPC managing director, Engineer Noah Gwariro, said US$91 million had been disbursed so far for the Kariba project with China Exim Bank providing US$80 million and the remainder coming from ZPC.

"The first drawdown was made on October 31 last year and this paved way for the contractual commencement on November 10 last year," he said. "This means about US$260 million is yet to be disbursed and it is going to come in tranches."

To end the chronic power shortages, Zimbabwe is working on a raft of public and private expansion projects, chief among them Kariba and Hwange. The country generates about 1 300MW against a peak demand of 2 200MW.

 

Source: New Era Namibia

Feb 18, 2015

Ghana received in excess of 281 million dollars as total proceeds from liftings from crude oil for the second half of 2014.

According to figures from the bank of Ghana in the first schedule of oil lifted in the second half of 2014, Ghana received in excess of 104 million dollars on August 15, 2014, representing the 20th lifting.

Ghana again received more than 97 million dollars and 79 million dollars as proceeds for the 21st and 22nd liftings on October 14 and November 10, 2014 respectively. Proceeds for the 23rd lifting which was above 56Million dollars is expected to hit Ghana’s accounts in the course of the year 2015.

Three partners at the Jubilee fields paid more than 122 million dollars as corporate taxes between July and October 2014.They are Tullow Ghana, Kosmos and Anadarko. 

Meanwhile Ghana received more than 1Million dollars as Surface rental from 11 companies including Azonto Petroleum, Hess Ghana Exploration Ltd, AGM Petroleum, Amni International among others.

 

Source: Citifmonline.com

Feb 18, 2015

BANK OF AFRICA - GHANA as part of its activities to mark this year’s Valentine’s and Chocolate Day celebration, appreciated its valued customers and patrons of its banking halls with boxes of premium Ghanaian chocolate across the country.

The Head of Marketing and Communications Mrs. Sharon Bansa said the , the activity is to show the love the bank has for its customers on a day like Valentine’s Day where individuals are supposed to show their love and appreciation to individuals in their lives.

“BANK OF AFRICA – GHANA’s chocolate day is to commemorate that special day dedicated to both love and Ghana’s cocoa. It is founded on our value of being customer focused and seeking every opportunity to delight our customers” she said

“The chocolate day is one of the ways in which we appreciate our cherished customers for their business” she added

Some customers who had received chocolates after their transactions in the Bank expressed their gratitude to the Bank for its thoughtfulness. “I am very happy about this. It is so nice and unexpected”. Another elated customer said she felt loved and appreciated, which was something that Banks hardly make you feel.

The event which took place on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th of February 2015 was aimed at rewarding the Bank’s clients with boxes of chocolates during and after their transactions in the banking hall. 

BANK OF AFRICA has been in operations in Ghana since 2011 and the BANK OF AFRICA Group has presence in 14 other African countries namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Feb 18, 2015

Samsung continues to struggle in the market due to stiff competition

Apple's iPhone 6 has been a hit in China, but according to one account, rival Xiaomi still reigns as the country's largest smartphone vendor. In last year's fourth quarter, Android handset maker Xiaomi had a 13.7 percent share, while second place Apple only had a 12.3 percent share, research firm IDC said Monday.

The rankings are, however, different from those of another research firm Canalys, which put Apple as the top vendor, and Xiaomi second. Apple achieved in the fourth quarter its highest quarterly market share in China over the past two years, and it came from strong demand for its newest iPhone, said Xiaohan Tay, an IDC analyst.

Chinese consumers have been hungry for bigger-screen smartphones, and so the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were expected to fare well in the market, despite their high price tags. In China, the iPhone 6 starts at 5288 yuan (US$862), when bought without carrier subsidies. But Chinese consumers are still flocking toward lower cost handsets. That is the reason local smartphone player Xiaomi, a maker of inexpensive Android phones, managed to hold on to the top spot.

During the fourth quarter, the company's low-priced Redmi handsets, which can start at 699 yuan, helped propel Xiaomi to the number one ranking, Tay said. As for Samsung, the Korean electronics maker struggled to regain its position in the Chinese market, due to the stiff competition. In the fourth quarter, it was placed fifth, with a 7.9 percent share, behind Huawei and Lenovo.

Apple is taking away market share from Samsung at the high-end, while local Chinese vendors are cutting its share at the low end, Tay said.

Its latest flagship products, the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4, are too similar to the previous generation, and gave consumers little new reason to buy them, she added.

Third place Huawei had an 11 percent share, while Lenovo had 9.5 percent of the market

Overall, China's smartphone market grew 19 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter. But the high demand is tapering off, given that the year-over-year growth was once over 60 percent back in 2013, Tay said. The country is the world's largest market for smartphones, but the market has been largely tapped. Instead, local smartphone makers such as Xiaomi and Lenovo are all looking outside the country to fuel further growth in their smartphone businesses.

Both IDC and Canalys are among the research firms that regularly track the Chinese smartphone market, but sometimes their market estimates can be significantly different. 

"Research houses rely on various sources within the supply chain of the smartphone industry, and different players may give a somewhat different picture depending on how much they know," said IDC analyst Kiranjeet Kaur. Canalys analyst Nicole Peng said, "We cannot comment on other research firms number as we cannot know their source of information and methodologies."

 

Source: ARN Australia

Feb 18, 2015

Unveils Johannesburg Point of Presence to act as "gateway" to Africa

Telstra has taken another step in its global expansion with the extension of its network reach across South Africa. The telco has launched a new Point of Presence in Johannesburg, which will act as a gateway for businesses to grow across Africa. The PoP in Johannesburg will increase Telstra's network footprint in South Africa and provide greater connectivity and redundancy options for businesses operating across the continent.

Launched in partnership with Internet Solutions – a Pan-African telecoms service provider to public and private sector organisations – the new Johannesburg PoP builds on Telstra’s existing Network-to-Network interconnection (NNI) across 16 African countries, including Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Telstra head of connectivity and platforms portfolio, global enterprise and services, Bernadette Noujaim Baldwin, said the enhanced services represented another step in Telstra’s international expansion. 

“Since its admission into the economic coalition of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICS), South Africa is an emerging power, with one of the fastest-growing internet economies in the world," she said. "With these economic conditions in mind, we’re seeing demand for data connectivity throughout South Africa grow as an increasing number of Asian, European and American headquartered businesses look here for long-term growth opportunities.

She said, to effectively cater to the needs of local and multi-national businesses operating in South Africa, the company needed to partner with an expert local provider. "Which is why we are leveraging Internet Solutions’ network footprint to extend our service coverage and provide customers the same security, redundancy and quality of service offered on the Telstra network."

Internet Solutions, executive for connectivity, Greg Montjoie, said South Africa was one of continent's biggest economies, with one of the most advanced, broad-based industrial sectors. “We are delighted to be partnering with Telstra to extend their network reach into the continent and provide their customers with connectivity support for growth and investment here.

“Our position as a company founded in Africa, coupled with the fact we have more than 20 years’ experience in delivering connectivity services – including PoPs in 16 African countries – means we are well placed to provide international customers with best-in-class performance and coverage in South Africa, across the continent and around the world.”

 

Source: ARN Australia

Feb 18, 2015

Not long time ago, rice was perceived as a crop grown on a large scale in places like Kibimba [in Bugiri District]. But with introduction of a number of upland varieties, rice has been widely adopted by farmers. In some parts of the country, it has become a preferred cash crop.

Available data by Africa Rice, a pan-African research organisation, indicates that the introduction of New Rice for Africa (Nerica) variety challenged the traditional varieties. Farmers appreciate it for its hardiness, high yield and shorter maturity period.

Nerica includes a group of 18 upland rice varieties developed by the CGIAR Consortium with Africa Rice and various partners in different countries including National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) in Uganda.

In Uganda, several Nerica varieties were introduced in 2002. By 2009, the area planted with upland rice has increased from 1,500 to more than 50,000 hectares.

 

Triple production

Contrary to West Africa, where rice is grown as staple food, for farmers in East Africa it is more of a cash crop. Dr Ambrose Agona, director general, Naro, while explaining the status of rice production, said Ugandan farmers stand a chance to benefit in the global rice value chain. 

This was during the Africa Rice’s Council of Ministers meeting, held February 6 in Kampala. He noted that in Uganda the yields obtained are a third of the total demand. 

This is attributed to poor agronomic practices and factors such as pest and diseases. There is also fluctuation in rice production. Despite the fact that farmers use less fertiliser, they are harvesting significant quantities of rice. However, researchers advise them to use fertiliser to boost soil fertility for better output.

Also, Naro plans to form a task force to seek ways to promote mechanisation and processing. The National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Namulonge, has received germplasm from Africa Rice for improved varieties. But, in general, figures show African countries have tripled production. There is an increase of 40 per cent against a 20 per cent consumption rate. There is a 14 per cent decline in rice imports from leading rice growing countries such as Vietnam.

Tress Buchanayandi, minister of Agriculture, who currently chairs the Council of Ministers, observed that rice is an important food security crop in Africa. 

Therefore, there was the need for more farmers to engage in growing rice. The current global rice market potential is $5b (Shs14.37t). Thus, African countries are encouraged to favourably compete for this market in a bid to increase farmer incomes.

Thus, farmers are urged to use improved seed as well as fertiliser plus good agronomic practices to achieve higher yields. Dr Jimmy Lamo, who heads rice research at NaCRRI, said since 2002, his team released several upland varieties. These include Nerica 1, Nerica 2, Nerica 4 and Nerica 7. In 2013, varieties named Namche 1 to 4 were released. These varieties mature in 100-130 days depending on the variety.

 

Cooperation

Traditional rice varieties, which grow in wetlands, were grown by schemes such as Kibimba Rice Scheme. And many farmers were growing both upland and lowland rice therefore the need for these improved varieties. The team, which has been conducting research since 2010, were in position to release four varieties that grew in wetlands.

The main disease, which is a challenge to farmers around the globe is the rice yellow mottle. Farmers have been relying on Kibimba rice varieties, the K series, which has since succumbed to the disease. The varieties obtained from Africa were mainly WITA 9 rice varieties from West Africa, two varieties from Tanzania and others from the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) breeding centre in Mozambique.

These varieties were released with the following names, Irri 1, GSR007, Nerica 6, which is tolerant to yellow mottle disease, Irri 522 released in the brand name Comboka. 

Africa Rice has also given scholarship opportunities to scientists in Uganda. One of them got a PhD, three obtained Master’s degrees and several attained certificates in rice breeding related areas.

Incoming Africa Rice director general, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, said he will emulate his successor, Dr Papa Abdoulaye in promoting transparency, equity, scientific excellence, strengthening of National Agricultural Research Systems. Following this will call for repositioning Africa in the global rice industry to capture a substantial part of the market.

 

Source: Daily Monitor Uganda

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