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Feb 11, 2015

This is not a joke, but it is funny.

It's also practical. 

Argentina's National Institute for Agricultural Technology (INTA) has invented a way to convert cow flatulence into usable energy, and it involves putting a plastic backpack on a cow.

In other words, cow fartpacks are here. The reason this is not a joke is because it is actually happening, but also because cows are responsible for a remarkable amount of global methane emissions, which are a major cause of global warming. It's a real problem. 

According to the EPA, cow farting (and burping, actually a lot of it is burping) accounts for 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year in the United States — that's 20 percent of total US methane emissions.

Here's how the fartpacks work: tubes run from the backpack into the cows' rumen (or biggest digestive tract). They extract about 300 liters of methane a day, which is enough to run a car or a fridge for about 24 hours.

Pablo Soranda, INTA press officer, told FastCo.Exist that the project is more about making a point than it is converting people to a way of life. 

He doesn't think we're going to live in fart-powered cities come 2070, but he can "imagine a future farm with a couple of these cows used to provide energy to satisfy the farm’s needs."


Source: Global Post

Feb 11, 2015

The performance of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) remained the worst among leading African exchanges as investors delay their return to the Nigerian market.

The NSE All-Share Index had recorded one of worst performances in the world in 2014 by shedding 16.1 per cent compared to a positive performance in 2013. Market stakeholders had hoped that the opportunity presented by the highly discounted equities would attract investors to the market in 2015 and lead to positive growth. However, the uncertainties over the general elections and continuous decline in price of crude oil kept many investors away from the market. Consequently, the market fell by 14.7 per cent in the first month of 2015.

THSIDAY checks revealed that with a year-to-date decline of 15.2 per cent as at Monday, the NSE remained the worst performing among the African exchanges.

The second exchange that has recorded a negative performance is Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), which recorded a YTD decline of 4.6 per cent as at Monday. Other exchanges recorded positive performance led by Egypt with 10.7 per cent. Johannesburg Stock Exchange 4.4 per cent, while Mauritius and Kenya Exchanges boast of 4.04 per cent and 3.7 per cent growth respectively.

However, the negative performance of the NSE is not essentially due to poor market fundamentals of listed companies but the impact of the uncertain polity as investors are delaying their return and continue to monitor events leading to the general elections.

Analysts said the negative performance may continue until after the elections, contending that the postponement of the elections is not a good development for the market. For instance, analysts at WSTC Financial Services Limited, said the rescheduling of the elections was deferring both socio-political stability and reprieve for the financial markets.

"Summarily, we believe that the rescheduling of the general elections is tantamount to deferring both socio-political stability, and consequently, reprieve for the financial markets. We believe this does not in any way bode well for ailing investors' confidence and already lean capital inflows," they said.

According to them, although they expect market reaction to elevated political risks to create attractive entry points, they hold a cautious view on equities.

"Except for a significant reversal in the international prices of crude oil in the near term (which looks most unlikely), we expect the lull in the equities market to remain, at least, in the pre-election period, given a strong positive correlation between the performance of the Nigerian equities market and investors' perception of domestic risks. In addition, we reckon that expectations of depressed corporate earnings and low dividend pay-out (on account of regulatory headwinds in the banking sector) will further subdue prices in the equities market in the near term," they said.

However, the Managing Director of Crane Securities Limited, Mr. Mike Eze said discerning investors should use the opportunity of the low prices of equities to increase their stakes in the equities market.

"Not undermining the implication of the current political tension on the market, investors should scan through the market and invest in some of the stocks with good fundamentals but have been highly discounted due to the long bear run," Eze said.


Source: THISDAY Nigeria

Feb 11, 2015

Despite the challenges faced by the mining industry in Africa, mining continues to be the most important channel for foreign investment for several countries on the continent.

“Well-considered investment provides opportunities for real social gains. The ideal outcome is for mining to help countries become more resilient,” Rio Tinto diamonds and minerals CE Alan Davies told delegates at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

 “We have the opportunity to create immense value together. There is no good reason why Africa should not make this the African century – and mining can play its part as a catalyst in that transformation,” he added. He cited Rio Tinto’s multibillion-dollar Simandou project, in Guinea, as an example of how people could benefit from investment, with the project aimed at accessing one of the world’s largest untapped iron-ore resources.

The government of Guinea had been working with Rio Tinto to develop the project, which would also include the development of the new 650 km Trans-Guinean multi-use railway line, which would link south-east Guinea with the coast along the Southern growth corridor. A new deep-water port in Moribaya would also be the first in the country to provide access to large cargo ships.

“The potential for benefits are enormous; to bring iron-ore to market, to build rail, roads and a transport route. Fertile but undeveloped farmlands will be developed. The port will offer Guinea greater opportunities to develop its economy,” stated Davies.

Meanwhile, at Richard Bay Minerals, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto in South Africa, a business development centre had been established, while a construction programme had provided training for 81 people during 2014 to help ensure “sustainability beyond the mine”.

Davies said Africa’s vast and predominantly young population was an enormous opportunity for the continent and that the children of today would be the continent’s future truck drivers, miners, operations managers, industry chief executives and political leaders.


Source: miningweekly.com 

Feb 11, 2015

MEA Risk LLC is pleased to announce the upcoming release of Shield & Alert (S&A).  S&A will leverage Critical Incidents Tracker and local, regional and remote Analysts to deliver security alerts and ratings of risk at the local level for clients traveling to or working in Africa. S&A is currently working to expand global coverage at the worldwide level.

Premium corporate security features are available for governments, companies and other organizations. Individuals will be able to download the app for non-Premium features.

Organizations (and their employees and customers) that would benefit from S&A include but are not limited to:

Governments (diplomats, embassy & consular staff)

Oil, gas and mining companies active in Africa



Airlines, travel agencies and hospitality industry

Multinational institutions

Academic institutions

International media

Individual travelers

The first regions covered upon app release will be the Maghreb, the Sahel, Egypt and East Africa. Southern, Central and Western Africa regions are being developed and tracking will be available shortly after first release. Worldwide S&A will be rolled out progressively starting in the second half of 2015.

Key Feature: S&A will feature 24-hour coverage to alert clients on incidents that are taking place within the city of their location or beyond. The use of GPS will enable S&A to identify user location, then push the relevant information, such as the location and the severity of the incidents that happened or happening around them. Tracking and alerting occurs on the continuous basis.

App clients will be able to set their coverage area to expand or reduced it from its default 200 miles radius. Alerts will be released the moment they are recorded into MEA Risk’s flagship Critical Incidents Tracker database. Users can tweak their settings so as to hear audio alerts for specific profiles, such as a being alerted for any terrorist act rated 2.5 or above within 50 mile radius of current location.

The incidents tracked and subject of alerts include but not limited to terrorism, riots and demonstrations, police and military interventions, disease outbreaks, political crises, and other categories that could constitute a risk to individuals and organizations.

In an effort to leverage crowd sourcing, S&A will feature reporting capabilities that anyone can use. The Reporter feature will allow users to record an event they are witnessing, and report it either for worldwide broadcasting or to the attention of their corporate managers or security department.

The app will also feature outgoing distress alerts. The S&A’s Travel Registry feature will enable users to alert specific contacts about a potential trouble they may be facing. S&A will send the user’s contacts the distress message, along with the exact GPS coordinates.

S&A is built for the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms. Most features will function only with GPS capabilities and Internet access enabled in mobile smartphones.

MEA Risk expects the Beta version to be available on iOS in mid-March 2015, with the Android app to be released shortly thereafter.

Feb 11, 2015

Standard Chartered remains committed to expanding its presence in Africa to tap the vast potential of the continent's high-growth economies, the firm's executive director told CNBC.

"Seven of the 10 fastest growing countries in the world are in Africa. It has huge consumer potential. Last year, the African consumer spent over a trillion dollars, which is more than consumers spent in India," V Shankar, who is also CEO of Standard Chartered Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas explained to CNBC's "Access: Middle East" on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

Last year, the London-based bank made revenues of $1.6 billion from the continent, a figure it's looking to double in the next five years. "We are planning to add a hundred new branches, we said by 2015,and we've already added 27 last year".

Sub-Saharan markets are attracting interest from bankers around the globe, inspired by lackluster economic growth and saturation in many developed economies. Other heavyweights of the likes of JPMorgan and China's ICBC have been bolstering their presence. For Standard Chartered, new business is being discovered in both wholesale as well as consumer banking.

A recent report by the European Investment Bank (EIB) underscored the nascent state of the industry in Sub-Saharan Africa, describing banking systems as "still underdeveloped, with low and inefficient intermediation and limited competition".

Shankar is aware that political risks remain in many of the markets the bank operates in. But recent strides by the likes of Sierra Leone and Kenya are keeping him positive that Africa's time has arrived. Setbacks, as currently evident in Mali, were to be expected. "Now here's the good story about Africa. Governance is improving and the political stability is increasing".

Dubai a 'Remarkable Story of Turnaround'

StanChart had a front-row seat to the Dubai bubble that burst spectacularly in 2009 by being one of the lenders to the now infamous Dubai World. Economic indicators have recovered since, in part due to more tourist arrivals as the Arab Spring rages in neighboring countries

"Dubai has been a remarkable story of turnaround. It's benefited from the Arab Spring, and the three levers that drive Dubai's economy are in very robust shape: travel, tourism and transportation, and logistics and trade"

Shankar showed little concern about outstanding debts. The bank's own estimates identified $48 billion in debt maturities between 2014 and 2016.

"I'm optimistic for (the) following reason: a large chunk of that debt is actually owed to Abu Dhabi. One should hope that that will be renewed and refinanced, and there is also fantastic demand for Dubai debt in the bond markets"

Meanwhile, tightening sanctions on Iran, historically an important trade partner for Dubai, have hit trade and forced several banks to closely examine dealings with Iranian clients. In 2012, the US government accused StanChart of violating US sanctions on Iran by hiding some $250 billion in transactions. The suit was eventually settled with Standard Chartered paying out $667 million to the US government.

"Look, the reality of the situation is, we got it wrong, then unequivocally apologized, we learned a lesson. It is time to move forward. We as bankers must up our game, that is the reality."

The bank stopped business with Iran in 2007, and what remained would not last for long. "To the extent that we have anything left it is very minuscule and is remnants of business done pre-2007 and it will be phased out very shortly…as and when we get repaid".


Source: CNBC Africa

Feb 11, 2015

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, or the PTA Bank on Tuesday launched a 160 million-euro lending program to support investment across eastern and southern Africa.

Under the deal inked in Kenya's capital Nairobi, agribusiness, energy, manufacturing and service sector industries will access a seven-year loan in local currency, or a 15-year loan in US dollars or euros from PTA Bank.

EIB Vice-President Pim Van Ballekom said the new program reflects a shared commitment to support private sector in Africa. "The new lending program is the largest ever engagement to support business investment in Africa by the EIB. This will help firms in 12 countries to create new jobs and explore new business opportunities in key sectors," Ballekom said, adding that it will support investment by larger companies for the first time.

The program is being managed in the region by the PTA Bank.

"We are delighted to join forces with the EIB to give a much needed boost to increased investment in the real economies of eastern and southern Africa, which is key to job creation and economic transformation. The program is a strong addition to other lending programs we have launched with other funding partners," said PTA President Admassu Tadesse.

EIB is the world's largest multilateral finance institution. Last year, it provided 1.1 billion euros for investment in sub- Saharan Africa.


Source: Xinhua

Feb 11, 2015

East Africa’s first utility-scale solar energy project is now online at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda.

The completion of Gigawatt Global’s 8.5 gigawatt (GW) solar project has boosted the country’s total grid capacity by 6 percent and represents the first completed project under the Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative.

The $23.7 million solar energy project was officially brought online at a ceremony on February 5th attended by Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. James Musoni, and the Chief of Staff of the US Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation, John Morton, amongst others.

“Top quality developers like Gigawatt Global are the keys to success for President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative,” stated Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO of OPIC. “After OPIC provided critical early-stage support through the ACEF program, Gigawatt smoothly and swiftly brought the project online to give Rwanda enough grid-connected power to supply 15,000 homes. Gigawatt Global in Rwanda is a clear demonstration that solar will be a key part of Africa’s energy solution.”


Source: Clean Technica

Feb 10, 2015

Investors in industrial commodities may need to batten down the hatches in the year ahead, while precious metals could show improved signs of growth over the next three years, says the Head of International Mining & Metals at Standard Bank, Rajat Kohli. 

“It is going to be challenging for industrial commodities, as it is not an easy environment. Patience will be needed,” he says.

While copper recently recovered from five-and-a-half year lows after a vicious sell-off, prices remain well below $6,000 a tonne and still remain under pressure.

Although there is sustained evidence supply is coming under control as companies cut production levels to manage supply better, Mr Kohli does not foresee a short-term recovery. “It depends on how deep we are into the price curve relative to what producers are producing. There will be more pain,” says Mr Kohli, who is based in London.

While precious metals are in for a “pretty challenging year”, Standard Bank prefers them over base and bulk metals.  “I sense there will be greater relative price strength over the next three years,” says Mr Kohli.

According to the World Bank’s latest commodity research, the precious metals price index declined 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and fell to a four-year low in November, with platinum, gold and silver down 7, 10, and 20 percent for the year, respectively.

After finding some price support in the first half of 2014 due to receding geopolitical risks, fundamental weakness of the markets contributed to the declines in the second half of the year as physical demand for precious metals by traditional buyers, notably China and India, is off compared to the previous year, when a large drop in prices induced buying, says the World Bank.

Factors that could prove critical to prices and prospects for mining companies will be Chinese demand, oil prices, the impact of currency price movements, US interest rates, and quantitative easing in Europe.

While costs for some miners and producers will decline due to lower oil and gas prices, this does not necessarily translate into improved bottom lines. “It also puts downward pressure on commodity prices,” says Mr Kohli. 

Oil prices went into freefall from June last year to lose 55% in value amid a plunge to their lowest levels in five years. According to the World Bank, this was the third-largest seven-month decline of the past three decades for oil, only the 67% drop from November 1985 to March 1986 and the 75% drop from July to December 2008 were larger.

But just as important as the future of oil prices, is the outlook for China’s economy. According to the World Bank, strong and sustained economic growth in emerging economies, notably China, has been the most frequently discussed driver of commodity prices, not only as a cyclical factor but also as a key cause of the post-2000 super cycle. This cycle is a primarily demand-driven price cycle that lasts several decades instead of the few years typically associated with the cyclicality of economic activity.

By 2012, China consumed almost half of the 91 million tons of metals produced globally, up from only 4% of global supplies of 43 million tons in 1990. In contrast, OECD economies consumed as much metals in 2012 as they did in 1990.

Mr Kohli says any slowdown in China and global growth levels is negative for the commodity sector. “We have seen a significant correction in prices and it is a concern if there is a further slowdown in growth,” he says.

Mr Kohli points to concerning new statistics around growth for both China and the world economy.

China’s GDP growth print was 7.3% during the last quarter of 2014, while growth momentum slowed in the quarter. The IMF, meanwhile, cut its global growth forecast to 3.5% for 2015. It also cut South Africa’s growth forecast to 2.1%. “Nonetheless, it should be noted that slower growth is off a larger GDP platform.”

Mr Kohli says a strong dollar translates into weaker local currencies. This provides relief for producers whose inputs are largely priced in their home currency, but also places pressure on commodity prices because they are priced in dollars. 

Looking ahead, aside from price volatility arising from geopolitical events, there is a focus on US interest rate strategy and the success (or otherwise) of the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme for the Eurozone.  “These events, together with the impact on currencies, need to be balanced against each other,” he says.


Source: Standard Bank


Feb 10, 2015

While most regions in Africa are recording significant uptake of mobile money, the West African region is lagging behind, according to a new report.

East Africa in particular has recorded a significant growth of mobile money services, largely because of the expanding usage in Tanzania and Kenya, while West Africa is not experiencing any growth at all, according to “Mobile Money in the Ebola Crisis,” by Mondato, a mobile financial services industry research and advisory company.

In the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia less than three out of every five people have mobile phones. This situation is limiting the utilization of mobile money services in these countries, the report said. People who do have mobile phones seem to use mobile money. In Sierra Leone, the report said, more than 16, 000 Ebola response workers received their payment via mobile money.

Meanwhile, Nigeria, Africa’s largest telecom market, has a huge addressable population and a large number of mobile phone deployments, but has low levels of adoption and usage, the report said.

“Ghana is the regional star pupil but up to now the ecosystem was confounded by a quixotic regulatory environment,” the report said.

Outside West Africa, governments in other regions of the continent have crafted favorable regulatory policies that have promoted usage of mobile money services. This has resulted in stiff competition between banks and mobile phone companies. The competition also, however, has resulted in partnerships between banks and mobile phone operators as they try to attract the so-called unbanked population.

Orange Telecom and pan-African banking group Ecobank, for example, last week announced a partnership to roll out a service that will enable Orange money subscribers who also have bank accounts with Ecobank to transfer money between their accounts using mobile phones.

The service has been launched in Mali and will be rolled out in several other African countries including Cameron, Nigeria, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


Source: PC World

Feb 10, 2015

Across the world, football teams have become increasingly lucrative entities given the passionate support fans across the world have for the sport. As such, associations with these entities have become an avenue for brands to connect as well as deepen relationships with supporting fans across the world.

The model for striking partnerships with football teams has become well practiced across the world as sponsorship now account for around 30% of global sports revenue which is expected to hit $145 billion this year. Supporting the model of striking partnerships with football teams, Director of the Centre for Sports Business at Salford University, Professor Chris Brady has alluded to the size of the sport globally as validation for the investment by brands saying ‘the brand awareness of football is like no other.”

In Africa, brands are increasingly exploring opportunities to strike partnerships with football teams but given the lack of development in a majority of the local leagues, national football teams are ultimately a more attractive proposition from a simple strategic point of view: Africans are passionate about their national teams but less so about various local clubs as a majority of the fans on the continent lend to support to Europe’s leading clubs.

Given this factor, sports kit companies are more interested in reaching sponsorship deals with national teams who ultimately provide these brands with a bigger base of supporters which they can leverage via sales of replica shirts and general gear.

In this regard, it appears that German sports kit manufacturer PUMA are leading the race to be leading sports kit company on the continent as they have steadily grown over the years in terms of operation and popularity.

Perhaps the biggest indication of PUMA’s careful selection strategy was on evidence at Estadio de Bata, venue of the 2015 African Cup of Nations as the two teams on display, Ghana and Ivory Coast, were both kitted by PUMA. Similarly, PUMA were kit sponsors of four of the five teams at the FIFA World Cup with the Super Eagles of Nigeria being the exception as they were, at the time, contractually bound to Adidas.

PUMA’s operations in Africa could see them becoming the most dominant sports kit company over the next decade as the market in Africa continues to open up. The company are also beginning to explore personal endorsement deals for individuals having signed up household names in South Africa such as Oupa Manyisa, Lehlohonolo Majoro, and Willie le Roux since the turn of the year in addition to deals with continental stars like Yaya Toure.


The company is also a supply partner of the Kenyan Premier League and looks set to continue to widen operations on the continent. Given Ivory Coast’s recent triumph as champions of the African Cup of Nations, the sports kit company will fancy their chances of leveraging the newly found success in retail sales of branded items as this constitutes the biggest revenue stream from football team kit sponsors. The company also has significant initiatives as it actively works with stars like Yaya Toure to distribute kits to young promising footballers as well as encouraging talent development on many levels.

Even though the possibility of recording millions of revenue in replica sales is less plausible, in addition PUMA could explore the cross-over appeal of African stars in other regions. A prime example could be Yaya Toure who remains a well-respected footballer in Europe and Asamoah Gyan who is revered in Qatar.

While, last year, Adidas was overtaken by Nike for the first time as market leader since 2010 and PUMA trails the big two globally- in Europe’s top five leagues, Nike supplies shirts for 26 clubs, Adidas supplies 18 clubs while PUMA supplies just nine-, Africa may well turn out to be the German company’s stronghold as they anticipate an economic boom which could inadvertently result in the ability of more Africans to spend more on their passion; football. Should this time come, PUMA will reap the most rewards as while others focused on other regions, PUMA have steadily built a strong base here and whatever success they enjoy in the near future cannot be begrudged.


Source: Ventures Africa


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