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Feb 03, 2015

Randgold Resources is looking at the development of a third underground mine at its Loulo-Gounkoto gold mining complex in Mali while at the same time expanding its footprint elsewhere in the region, chief executive Mark Bristow said inside the country on Monday.

According to the press release Bristow, who is leading a group of international investors on Randgold’s annual tour of its West and Central African operations, said a feasibility study on an underground mine at Gounkoto had been completed and the findings will be published alongside the company financial results later in February.

At the moment Loulo-Gounkoto boasts reserves of 8 million ounces of gold and Randgold targeted production of 640,000 ounces at the site. Randgold has been operating in Mali for almost 20 years.

The Senegal-Mali shear zone has the capacity to rival Ghana’s Obuasi

The complex, which already ranks among the largest and most mechanized of its kind in Africa according the the company, is targeting to increase gold production from its existing Yalea and Gara underground mines and the Gounkoto open pit mine this year. The underground operations represent some 60% of the ore feed to its mills.

"Regardless of the potential Gounkoto underground mine, subject to the gold price remaining at current levels, the complex is forecast to up its profitability from its existing mining activities through increased production and reduced unit costs on the back of higher grades, improved recoveries and the benefits of its ongoing capital projects," Bristow said.

“We believe the Senegal-Mali shear zone, which hosts Loulo-Gounkoto, is one of the most prolific gold regions in Africa, with the capacity to rival Ghana’s Obuasi, and we are continuing our hunt for more multi-million ounce gold deposits there. We’re also expanding our presence in the area through joint ventures with junior miners who have promising early-stage projects,” Bristow said.

Randgold Resources ADR's trading on the Nasdaq (LON:RSS, NASDAQ:GOLD) has gained 45.6% in just the last three months affording the company a $8 billion valuation.

Apart from expansion at Loulo-Gounkoto, big things are expected of Randgold's Kibali mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo which boasts reserves of 12 million ounces and a rapid ramp-up in production.

Development in West and Central Africa has turned Randgold into one of the fastest growing gold miners in the world, moving it up the ranks over the past couple of years to become the sixth most valuable gold counter.

Feb 03, 2015

State-owned development funds from Norway and Britain have teamed up to build more power plants in sub-Saharan Africa, the funds, Norfund and CDC, said on Tuesday.

Under the deal, Norfund will buy 30 percent of power company Globeleq Africa from minority shareholders, while CDC will take a direct 70 percent interest, which it has owned so far through the Actis Infrastructure 2 Fund. 

The deal is expected to closed by June. “Norfund and CDC aim to bring more projects to the construction phase... If successful, the new strategy will result in over 5,000 MW of new generating capacity,” the partners said in a statement.

CDC and Norfund said they will focus their activities in sub-Saharan Africa, where only about 32 percent of population have access to electricity. Globeleq Africa has eight power plants in Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania with a total gross capacity of 1,095 megawatts (MW). It has already secured deals to develop more power plants in Ivory Coast and Cameroon.

Norfund, which also has a partnership with Norwegian hydropower producer Statkraft, has invested about $700 million in power projects, including in Africa.

 

Source: Reuters

Feb 03, 2015

QNB has been confirmed as the most valuable banking brand in the Middle East and Africa, according to the annual survey carried out by Brand Finance and published by The Banker Magazine, an affiliate to the international acclaimed Financial Times newspaper.

Highlighting the extent of its top performance in 2015, QNB witnessed the value of its brand increase to QR9.476bn ($2.603bn). This represents a 44 percent increase on the 2014 levels and importantly saw QNB rise to 79th place globally in the rankings of the World’s Top 500 Banking Brands. This improvement of 22 places on the rankings is testament to the combination of continuing robust financial performance and successful international expansion of a brand that now operates in more than 26 countries across 3 continents.

Commenting on the achievement, Yousef Darwish, General Manager, Group Communication, said: “To be considered the most valuable banking brand in the Middle East and Africa is a significant geographical achievement. Over the course of the last 12 months, QNB has gained approximately QR2.9bn ($792m) to our brand value and this is more than any other bank in the industry.”

“We have come a long way from our brand value of approximately QR2.5bn ($703m) in 2010 but there is still a great deal of work to be done if we want to achieve our future vision of becoming a MEA Icon by 2017. The importance of our brand and how it is perceived by our diverse range of stakeholders is paramount across our domestic and international network of operations and this prestigious accolade from Brand Finance proves that we are making impressive progress”.

David High, Brand Finance CEO, said: “QNB’s vision to become an iconic brand across the Middle East and Africa is clearly bearing fruit. It is the most valuable bank brand in the region and is pulling ahead of the field, having added more brand value this year than any of its regional rivals. Now ranked 79th globally, the QNB brand is clearly gaining traction worldwide and in due course it could become an iconic bank brand not just in the Mideast and Africa but globally” 

 

Source: The Peninsula

Feb 02, 2015

Nigeria and Kenya frequently feature as the top investment destinations in Africa, with Nigeria being the clear front runner. Investors, however, are starting to view East Africa as a combined investment region that could rival the West African giant, using Kenya as a sturdy stepping stone to the wider East African region. 

While Nigeria dwarfs Kenya in terms of both population and GDP (see below), comparing the EAC (East African Community) as a whole tells a slightly different story.  

Having rebased its GDP for the first time in 2014, Nigeria’s GDP is now at US$521 billion, an increase of 89% over pre-basing estimates. The rebasing also revealed a more diversified economy than previously thought, with significant increases in the contribution of the services sector, manufacturing, construction, and water and electricity.  

While Kenya’s GDP is estimated at a much smaller US$44 billion, the EAC’s GDP is estimated at a healthy US$123 billion.  

GDP Growth

Nigeria’s real GDP grew by 7.4% in 2013, up from 6.5% the previous year and on top of strong growth for the past decade.  

The biggest contributors to GDP came from the non-oil sector with real GDP growth of 8.3% and 7.8% in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Agriculture, particularly crop production, trade and services continue to be the main drivers of the non-oil sector growth. On the other hand, the oil sector growth performance was not as impressive with -2.3% and 5.3% estimated growth rates in 2012 and 2013 respectively.  Poor growth in 2013 was a consequence of supply disruptions arising from oil theft and pipeline vandalism, and by weak investment in upstream activities. 

Looking at East Africa, most countries in the region are expected to achieve growth rates over 6% in the short term. Growth will be chiefly driven by the agricultural, mining, tourism and industrial sectors. Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) are forecast to maintain growth of around 7% in the next two years; while Burundi is forecast to grow between 5% and 6% over the same period. Major oil and gas discoveries have been made in Uganda and Tanzania with the potential of transforming those economies to middle-income status in the future.

Kenya, the largest economy in the region, achieved real GDP growth of 4.7% in 2013, an increase of its annual average growth of 3.7% between 2008 and 2012.  Its 2013 figure fell short of government’s estimate of 6% as tourism (the second-largest source of foreign exchange) slumped over security concerns amid deadly attacks by al-Shabaab militants at the West Gate mall in Nairobi. 

While agriculture still accounts for almost a third of Kenya’s GDP, the sector grew by a mere 0.6% while the industrial and services sectors posted growth rates of 4.0% and 4.5%, respectively.  Kenya’s short-term growth prospects are bright with GDP forecasts in the region of 5-6% per annum, with the primary drivers being private-sector investments and increased exports. Services, specifically finance, ICT and construction, will be at the core of GDP growth. In addition the recent discoveries of oil and gas in Kenya could boost Kenya’s economy even further over the coming decade.

Regional integration

Kenya has the edge over Nigeria when it comes to regional integration. Widely acknowledged as the most effective regional bloc in Africa, the EAC launched its own common market in 2010 for goods, labour and capital, with the goal of creating a common currency and eventually a full political federation. In 2013 a protocol was signed outlining plans for launching a monetary union. This signalled the beginning of a decade-long process that is expected to culminate in an EAC single currency and the East African Monetary Union (EMU) in 2023 if all goes according to plan. 

The East Africa region is, however, not new to conflict and security concerns which could hinder progress, thereby changing the economic trajectory of this region. The recent peace and security issues in Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan, and political tensions that have grown in Burundi due to the run-up to 2015 elections are just some of the challenges faced by the member states that could deter investments in the region.

West Africa as a whole is also moving towards integration, though more slowly, and Nigeria is a leading member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In 2013, ECOWAS agreed on a Common External Tariff (CET), effective early 2015, which will result in the most-favoured nation import tariff (MFN) being reduced from 12.0% to 11.5%. This is widely viewed as a milestone given the earlier controversies and disagreements amongst ECOWAS member states since negotiations began in 2004. Reducing the MFN import tariff should facilitate improved trade, and deepen economic co-operation and integration in the region.

 

Sources:

Malimu Museru, Senior Analyst, RisCura 

African economic outlook

The World Bank database

Doing business by the World Bank

 

 

Feb 02, 2015

Standard Bank Group Limited (SBG) announced today in a stock exchange release that it had signed the closing documents with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC) to cement the completion of the disposal of a 60% stake in Standard Bank Plc on 1 February 2015. 

Headquartered in London, Standard Bank Plc has operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Bank London Holdings Limited, which is in turn controlled by SBG. Post completion, the joint venture, with operations in London, New York, Singapore, Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai, will focus on the global markets business and provide trading services in commodities, foreign exchange, interest rates, credit and equities to clients worldwide. 

The transaction proceeds receivable by SBG will be finalised after a post completion audit of Standard Bank Plc, and total gross proceeds of approximately USD 690 million are expected.  SBG has ensured that the joint business has sufficient financial resources to support the growth inherent in its joint business plan by making a capital injection of USD 300 million in January 2015, after receiving necessary approvals, to address losses incurred by Standard Bank Plc in 2014, inter alia from aluminium exposures in China. 

It is the group’s intention that the proceeds of the transaction will be deployed in furthering the group’s growth strategy in South Africa, and across the African continent, subject to necessary approvals.

Ben Kruger, Chief Executive of SBG, stated: “ICBC is a long-standing strategic partner of SBG, and we are excited by the unique opportunity this transaction offers to our people and our clients. The new business unlocks the potential and capacity of our Global Markets business as part of China's leading banking group, while also recognizing the unique African focus and expertise of our investment banking and transaction platforms. The joint venture will continue to support all trading requirements of SBG’s existing customers with full and uninterrupted access to all distribution channels as they partner with SBG to finance growth and development on the African continent.”

David Munro, Chief Executive, SBG Corporate and Investment Banking, said: “This transaction further strengthens SBG’s powerful relationship with ICBC. China and Africa have an increasingly important shared role in the future of the global economy, and this partnership brings together ICBC’s financial and global reach, with SBG’s deep expertise in Africa, to the benefit of our mutual and prospective clients. SBG’s Africa strategy will create increased flows for the Global Markets business as African corporates increasingly demand access to international markets and international corporates demand access to African opportunities.

Feb 02, 2015

The past few years have seen several malls come up in suburbs in Nairobi, Kenya's capital as Kenyans' love for shopping soars.

Both low-income and high-ends suburbs have not been spared, with developers competing to construct the facilities that have taken the East African nation by storm. And as the malls take over Nairobi, the trend is slowly switching to the internet, where on-line malls are gaining space and currency.

According to operators of Kilimall, Kenya's premier on-line shopping mall, Kenyans are frequenting the virtual shop as much as they are going to the physical malls.

"We are a premier on-line shopping mall, not only in Kenya but across Africa. Through us, local merchants can distribute their products throughout the region. In this way, their businesses are able to grow exponentially because demand for their products rise due to a wide brand presence," Kilimall's marketing director Kariuki Maina said on Friday.

Through the platform which started in July 2014 and hosts hundreds of different goods from more than 50 merchants, added Maina, users are able to access the widest variety of products, both from local and international merchants, at fair prices.

He noted the on-line mall was started to offer Kenyans the benefits of e-commerce. "Prices of goods and commodities are rising. E-commerce greatly reduces the product chain, keeping prices competitive. Technology is advancing in Kenya at a high rate, and so Kenyans are looking for shopping convenience. We came in to offer this quality and convenience," said the director.

He said the on-line mall has a vision to empower 40 million Kenyans with high quality, affordable products and services, support 100,000 local businesses and provide employment opportunities to 500,000 Kenyans through their systems.

"Other e-commerce players are basically retailers, that is, they source for products from traders then sell at a profit. We're a platform that gives traders professional service where they can manage their shops. Each merchant has his own unique back-end where they can be able to track their shops' activities in real- time." said Maina on the difference of Kilimall from other e- commerce platforms in the country.

"The other key difference is that we have a series of off-line locations where customers can interact with our team and our products," he added. To shop at the mall, one visits the site then chooses what he or she needs from an array of different products displayed. They include dryers, kitchen appliances, spectacles and electronic items like mobile phones and tablets.

"Each merchant ensures we have some of their stock on our site. Once a customer makes an order, our support team verifies it and the preferred drop-off location. Then the product is picked by our logistics team from the warehouse and delivered to customer drop- off location. The standard delivery time is from 15 minutes to a maximum of 48 hours anywhere in Kenya," explained Titus Kisangau, Kilimall's public relations and communications manager.

Kisangau said Kenya remains green as far as e-commerce is concerned. "A lot remains to be exploited though there are dozens of e-commerce players presently. However, in around two years, the industry will reach the competitive point. We are ready for the growth because we have a unique business model. We're a platform that supports an ecosystem."

Maina and Kisangau noted with many Kenyans turning to the internet to perform various functions, on-line shopping will soon become the way to shop.

"One day on-line shopping will overtake the conventional shopping in Kenya. In the developed countries, we have seen traditional retailers being brought down by e-commerce based companies. The trend won't be any different in Kenya and Africa. Traditional shopping is still fun but it's getting more and more uncomfortable with longer working hours, traffic jams and insecurity,"said Maina.

There are over 15 million internet subscriptions in the East African nation, according to the Communication Authority of Kenya, with the number rising by about 5 percent every quarter. Some of the companies in Kenya selling their products on Kilimall are Baus Optical, Panasonic, LG, Mobile World, Techno, Solar-way, Clarins Barbershop and Spa, among others.

Kilimall is working on a system that will see customers' goods and services delivered almost in real-time. According to Collins Okatch, Kilimall's Platform and IT Director, the mall will soon introduce an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Quadcopter to serve customers.

"The project is a research on how we can use the gadgets to respond to emergency, deliver products and do security surveillance. We've already developed prototypes capable of delivering 3 kg packages to up to 10 km," said Maina. "Legislation on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles is, however, still a bit vague, but we're working closely with all stakeholders to ensure our project operates within the law," he added.

 

Source: China Economic Net

Feb 02, 2015

The United Steelworkers Union has launched the biggest walkout in the US since 1980, shortly after the USW failed to reach an agreement on a labor contract with major oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, the BBC reports.

USW International President Leo Gerard said that his union "had no choice but to give notice of a work stoppage."

He was echoed by USW International Vice President of Administration Tom Conway, who said that "this industry is the richest in the world and can afford to make the changes we offered in bargaining."

"The problem is that oil companies are too greedy to make a positive change in the workplace and they continue to value production and profit over health and safety, workers and the community," he added.

Royal Dutch Shell, for its part, said that it "hopes to resume negotiations as early as possible".

Also taking part in the talks were Marathon Petroleum and LyondellBasell.

The UNW, which represents employees at more than 200 US oil refineries, terminals, pipelines and chemical plants, had been in talks to discuss the new contract since January 21.

Union leaders are seeking to boost healthcare coverage, double their annual pay increases from the previous agreement and cut the use of non-union contract workers.

 

 

Source: Sputnik News

Feb 02, 2015

African companies and government officials transfer at least $50 billion out of Africa illegally each year, the Tax Justice Network Africa has revealed citing a joint United Nations and African Union panel report. The group promotes "socially just, democratic, accountable and progressive taxation systems in Africa," according to its Facebook page.

"This is an extraordinarily important report which could shift the global debate on tax, financial transparency and corruption," Joseph Stead, Senior Economic Justice Adviser at Christian Aid, a London-based charity organization, said Sunday as quoted by the Tax Justice Network Africa.

The 10-member High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, said in its Sunday report that African countries need to take specific measures in order to stop the outflow of money, which comes from many areas, including the oil sector.

According to the report, Africa is losing the money through crimes such as tax dodging and corruption and the amount of illicit financial flows is expected to go up unless preventive measures are adopted.

"The Mbeki report removes any excuse for not taking immediate and effective action against the multinationals draining billions from developing countries, the shell companies holding looted money and the financial secrecy which protects everyone with dirty money to hide," Stead said.

According to the justice adviser, Christian Aid is certain that solutions to the problem of illegal money outflow from Africa "lie in reforms including public country-by-country reporting for multinationals, public registers of the real owners of companies and a new system of automatic sharing of financial information between governments".

Africa lost in excess of $50 billion annually between 2000 and 2008, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa. The level of illicit financial outflows from Africa exceeds the official development assistance to the continent, which, according to the commission, stood at $46.1 billion in 2012.

 

 

Source: Sputnik News

Feb 01, 2015

There's a new Barbie in town. She's a queen, she's black, she wears traditional African costumes — and she's not actually a Barbie.

Created by a Nigerian man, Taofick Okoya, seven years ago after he couldn't find a black doll for his niece, the Queens of Africa have since beaten Barbie to become one of the best-selling toys in Africa's most populous country.

The 43-year-old Okoya sells between 6,000 and 9,000 'Queens of Africa' and 'Naijia Princesses' a month in Nigeria, and claims to have up to 15 per cent of the country's toy market.

The dolls, which sell for equivalent to £4.50, resemble Barbie dolls insomuch as they are thin - earlier big bodied editions weren't as popular - but their African outfits and darker skin stands them apart.

Nigerian children see themselves in these increasingly popular dolls, with one customer - five-year-old Ifunanya Odiah - proudly proclaiming at a Lagos shopping mall: "I like it. It's black, like me."

Earlier this month, Okoya told ELLE: "I spent about two years campaigning on the importance and benefits of dolls in the African likeness."During that process, I realized greater social issues such as low self esteem, which led to the passion to make a change in the coming generation. It's been a tough journey but one I have enjoyed."

American manufacturer Mattel, which does sell black Barbies, is not a large presence in the region and told Reuters it has no any plans for expansion.

Mattel yesterday announced global Barbie sales fell by 12 per cent last quarter.

The success of the Queens of Africa is another example of the emergence of a middle class in Nigeria, which along with Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey is thought to be one of the world's awakening economic giants.

Toy sales in emerging markets such as Nigeria are growing at a rate of 13 per cent, as opposed to just 1 per cent in the developed world, suggesting that Okoya's Queens, Princesses and their to-be successors may have a successful stint on the shelf.

 

Source: The Independent UK

Feb 01, 2015

Deloitte has released its Technology, Media and Telecommunications predictions report for 2015, detailing what is foresees taking place in the media industry in the year to come.

According to the TMT report, print is not dead, and Deloitte predicts that print books will continue to dominate the publishing industry. “Print books will… account for 80 percent of all book sales by dollars and units. Millennial readers prefer print to digital, helping 2015 sales to be five times higher than ebook,” the report stated.

Deloitte said UK research showed that 62% of 16 to 24-year-olds preferred buying print books over ebooks because they liked to collect, “liked the smell”, and “wanted full bookshelves”. The annual Deloitte Global TMT predictions report provides a 12-18 month outlook on key trends in the technology, media and telecommunications industry worldwide.

The highlights of the media section of Deloitte’s TMT report are detailed below.

Print is not dead, at least for print books – sales from print books will be five times the sales of eBooks. eBooks have not substituted print books in the same way that sales of CDs, print newspapers and magazines have declined.

Young people (age 18-34) are as attached to print books as their elders and read at about the same rate than older demographics, and they are willing to pay for them.

Short form video: a future, but not the future, of television – the total time spent watching online short-form video clips and other programming of less than 20 minutes in length will represent less than 3 percent of all video seen in the year globally.

Deloitte Global does not expect short-form online content to usurp long-form traditional television. It is a future, but not the future, of screen-based entertainment; and Deloitte Global predicts it is unlikely ever to be the predominant video format, as measured by hours watched or revenues.

The ‘generation that won’t spend’ is spending on TMT – North American Millennials will lead the way in 2015 and spend an average of $750 per person for content, both traditional and digital.

What are Millennials spending on? Pay TV, music, computer games, books, live sports, streaming video, and even print newspapers.

 

Source: MyBroadband Online

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