A Pan-African free trade deal just came into force

A Pan-African free trade deal just came into force

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]While US-China trade tensions continue to escalate, Africa is quietly putting together a free trade agreement that spans the continent. The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) came into force on Thursday after clearing a key procedural hurdle and being ratified by the parliaments of 24 countries. The commissioner of Trade and Industry for the African Union, Albert Muchanga, confirmed in a tweet that the agreement is now in force and that a unified market would be launched July 7. So far, 52 countries have signed the agreement. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has so far refused saying it needs to consult with domestic economic stakeholders before making a decision. President Muhammadu Buhari is now reviewing an impact assessment report that will determine whether or not Africa’s most populous nation will join its counterparts in signing the agreement. When fully implemented, the trade deal will create a single market for goods and services by removing existing trade barriers across Africa. The agreement is expected to boost regional trade by reducing tariffs and allowing companies to expand and enter new markets. Analysts remain worried, however, about a lengthy implementation process. Africa has a multitude of regional and national actors with sharply divergent interests on trade. Many legal details are still being finalized, and experts warn that enforcing the agreement will be a challenge. By Aisha Salaudeen Source: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/30/business/afcfta-african-trade-agreement/index.html[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Kenya: Nairobi Named Africa’s Business Destination as KICC Wins Conference Destination Award in WTA

Kenya: Nairobi Named Africa’s Business Destination as KICC Wins Conference Destination Award in WTA

Mauritius — Nairobi has been named Africa’s Leading Business Travel Destination as the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) scooped a top award as Africa’s Leading Meetings & Conference destination at this year’s 26th Annual World Travel Award (WTA).

“We are honoured to receive these awards. The awards truly attest to the fact that Nairobi and KICC offers the best MICE experience in the region,” said KICC Chief Executive Officer, Nana Gecaga, who was in Mauritius to receive the accolades.

“To win such a prestigious international award is a huge boost and motivation for Tourism sector. This award goes out to all of us in the Meetings industry who work tirelessly to ensure that we are at the top of our game,” said Gecaga who expressed her gratitude to everyone who voted for Kenyan brands in the various categories.

KICC beat various nominees in the category including Cairo Convention Centre in Egypt, Cape Town Convention Centre in South Africa, Durban Convention Centre in South Africa, Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda, Palais Des Congress Marrakech in Morocco, and Sandton Convention Centre in South Africa.

This is the first time KICC has participated in the awards, and took the award from Durban who have held it for the last nine years.

The award will spearhead Kenya’s marketing campaigns positioning the destination as attractive for Meetings, Incentives Travel, Conferences and Exhibitions even as the country is embarking on increasing Its Conventions and conference facilities.

This is the second time Nairobi has been named Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Destination having taken the award in 2016. The city beat other top African destinations including Durban, Cape Town and Kigali to win Africa’s Leading Business Travel Destination.

KICC, the parastatal mandated to market Kenya’s conference tourism globally has over the years worked greatly towards ensuring that Kenya retains its position as the most preferred destination for Business events in Africa.

Kenya has recently raised its profile owing to the high-end international conferences it has hosted in the recent past, thereby making its bid to host more international conferences much easier.

Kenya’s conference tourism is still going a notch higher with a number of conference bids the country is placing to host.

The Africa & Indian Ocean Gala ceremony, where the awards were presented, was held on 1st June 2019 in Mauritius.

WTA was established in 1993 to acknowledged, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

By: AllAfrica

Source: https://allafrica.com/stories/201906030014.html

Here’s why Coach and Kate Spade’s CEO ‘gets excited’ about Africa’s growth prospects

Here’s why Coach and Kate Spade’s CEO ‘gets excited’ about Africa’s growth prospects

The boss of Coach and Kate Spade’s parent company expects Africa, not China, to be the focus of his children’s careers over the next 20 to 40 years.

“I tell my own children that whereas China, in my career has been the center of my focus … you only have to look at the pure demographics and the numbers in the youth and birth rates for at least my 19- and 18-year-olds to think about Africa as probably what they’re going to be focused on for the next 20 to 40 years,” said Tapestry CEO Victor Luis at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference this week.

“I hope, at least, that’s what I’ve told them,” he added.

Africa’s population is projected to grow by more than 40% to 1.7 billion between now and 2030, according to the Africa Growth Initiative at The Brookings Institution. More than 60% of Africans are less than 25-years-old, and sub-Saharan Africa’s under-25 population is forecast to grow by more than 500 million to make up a third of the global youth population by 2050, the non-profit wrote in its latest Foresight Africa report.

Annual spending by African consumers and businesses is on track to soar by two-thirds to $6.7 trillion between 2015 and 2030, according to the report. Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies last year were in Africa, and there will be nearly 90 African cities with at least one million inhabitants by 2030.

While Africa looks set to take off, China is showing signs of slowing down. Births in the Asian nation slumped to their lowest level in almost a half-century last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS). Its working-age population has fallen for seven consecutive years, according to Caixin Global, and could shrink by almost a quarter by 2050. Its economy grew 6.6% in 2018, according to the NBS, its slowest annual expansion in almost 30 years.

Mushrooming numbers of young, affluent, African urbanites could be the next generation of buyers of Coach clutches, Kate Spade backpacks and other luxury goods. However, they might hold off on splurging until their immediate needs are met. Many contend with shortages of goods and services, inadequate infrastructure, a dearth of well-paid jobs, and substantial poverty, according to the Foresight Africa report.

Still, Africa’s demographic and economic trends give it a good chance of becoming a luxury hotspot and playing an important role in Tapestry’s business, not to mention the careers of Luis’ teenagers.

“Goodness, if we ever get Africa growing, I get excited,” said Luis at the conference.


By: Theron Mohamed

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/coach-kate-spade-ceo-gets-excited-about-africa-growth-prospects-2019-5-1028246605

A new kind of company is revolutionising Africa’s gig economy

A new kind of company is revolutionising Africa’s gig economy

For more than 30 years, governments and international development organizations have followed the same recipe for formalising the world’s informal economy; enacting new legislation and regulations or abolishing those that get in the way of the process.

Yet despite their efforts, 93% of the world’s informal employment is still found in emerging and developing countries, with 85.8% of employment in Africa considered informal. In Kenya, sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth-largest economy, the informal sector – commonly referred to as Jua Kali – is the country’s main job creator. According to the 2019 Economic Survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Jua Kali was responsible for 762,100 of the 840,600 new jobs created last year. The ‘gig economy’, a new concept in developed markets, has been the norm in developing economies for decades.

By 2035, Africa will contribute more people to the workforce each year than the rest of the world combined. By 2050, the continent will be home to 1.25 billion people of working age. In order to absorb these new entrants, Africa needs to create more than 18 million new jobs each year. Given the urgent need to provide jobs and livelihoods to Africans, it is time to examine the conventional wisdom that informal markets must transition into formal markets. Development finance institutions (DFIs) and private investors in African markets can play a critical role in both advancing Africa’s gig economy and changing the narrative that growth in informal markets is incompatible with sustainable development.

Across African markets, companies are pioneering business models that bridge the formal and informal sectors; in these models, each company is a formal entity but can mobilise large numbers of informal actors in their supply chains or service delivery. While this has been done in dairies in Kenya and at coffee and cocoa outgrowers across the continent and in other sectors for nearly a century, the penetration of mobile phones has enabled a new breed of African companies to monetise their ability to organize and inject trust into fragmented informal markets. However, unlike Uber or Airbnb, which disrupted largely formal sectors, many of Africa’s new ‘gig economy’ firms are writing the rules for whole new industries in local markets.

Perhaps the most high-profile example is Safaricom’s M-PESA. Since its launch in 2007, M-PESA, a mobile payments system developed by Kenya’s largest telecoms operator, has enabled millions of informal sector workers to move money at lower cost, which has provided a significant boost to the Kenyan and Tanzanian economies. Another, more recent example, is Nigeria’s Cars45, operated by Frontier Car Group. Nigeria’s $12 billion used car industry is largely informal and characterised by distrust, a lack of standardisation and the absence of a structured dealer network. Cars45 facilitates the buying and selling of used cars by pricing and rating their condition transparently and conducting online auctions. Many sectors throughout the continent remain highly informal and would benefit from these types of bridges into formality. These ‘bridge companies’ are going to define the future of employment in African countries.

DFIs are ideally placed to invest in bridge companies in African markets, given their long presence and in-depth engagement with local financing environments. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the UK’s CDC Group already invest in technology-enabled start-ups, and others, including OPIC, are adapting their strategies to be able to do so. Many of the continent’s most promising technology-enabled bridge companies are starting to raise funding large enough to attract the attention of DFIs. Frontier Car Group recently raised $89 million, Kenya’s Twiga Foods raised $10 million, and Nigeria’s Kobo365 has raised $6 million. Overcoming a dearth of funding remains one of the highest barriers for African entrepreneurs, and the development impact of investing in those that improve employment is enormous.

The gig economy comes with limitations. Lack of legal rights, limited career progression, stagnant pay and a lack of benefits are just some of the issues that will need to be addressed in an ‘Uberised’ world. These challenges, plus the day-to-day economic uncertainty, make the informal sector far worse in amny ways than the formal. Bridge companies – because they are registered, and have a public brand and centralised management – can be pressured into addressing issues around workers’ wellbeing. Studies into the financial behaviors and needs of low-income families by BFA, a consulting firm specialising in financial inclusion policies, found that workers often aspired to ‘gig economy’ jobs but hated casual labour (such as waiting on a corner to be hired for the day) because of the lack of reliability and predictability.

The future of work is changing and the mass job creators of today will not be able to meet the needs of tomorrow’s workforce in the same way. Bridge companies are pioneering new ways of injecting efficiency and higher productivity into traditional informal markets. Investing in this trend is critical to solving Africa’s pressing job creation need.

By Aubrey Hruby

Source: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/05/new-kind-of-company-revolutionising-africa-gig-economy/

Why Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are investing in Africa

Why Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are investing in Africa

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What if you could tell what was wrong with your plant by simply hovering your smartphone over it?

Well, farmers in Africa now can.
Thanks to one of Google’s many products, TensorFlow, rural farmers on the continent can diagnose diseased plants by taking a photo of it.
TensorFlow came with the launch of Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) center in Accra, Ghana’s capital city earlier this year.

The center, one of the multinational tech company’s many investments in Africa, is comprised of researchersand engineers from around the continent building resources to solve various African problems through AI.

Just as Google is using technology to create tools that address Africa’s growing needs, Microsoft continues to invest in growing tech talents on the continent.
This week, the company launched its Africa Development Centre (ADC) with two initial sites in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria.

Microsoft’s development center

More than 100 local engineers and developers will be hired to work in the new Microsoft facilities in both countries across artificial intelligence, machine learning and mixed reality innovation, according to Microsoft. The plan is to grow this pool of workers to 500 by 2023.

“Our desire is to recruit exceptional engineering talent across the continent that will build innovative solutions for global impact,”said Michael Fortin, Microsoft’s corporate vice president in a statement.

Fortin said Microsoft was hoping to create opportunities for engineers to work from their home countries while also being a part of the larger global engineering organization.

Africa tech analyst, Bankole Oluwafemi, believes that the initial focus on Nigeria and Kenya is because both countries have large developer communities.
Kenya and Nigeria in the past decade have earned reputations as technology havens for their major tech startups, funding and mobile access.

And according to a report from Disrupt Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa raised the highest funds for technology startups in Africa last year, emerging as the top investment destinations for early-stage technology firms on the continent.

Technology giants in Africa

Now approaching 226 million, the number of smartphone connections across Africa has doubled over the last two years, according to a report published by GSMA on Africa’s mobile economy.

This leap coupled with the growing number of technology hubs and companies in major African cities is a boon for tech investors. It’s why Microsoft and Google are not the only international technology companies staking their claims on the continent.

Technology company, Andela, famous for identifying and training software developers currently has three technology campuses in Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda. The company has created tech talent factories on the continent over the past years.

And in March, Chinese telecom giant Huawei joined the league, too – announcing the launch of two data centers in South Africa.
Aside from employment, the presence of international tech hubs on the continent gives African developers and engineers the chance to work on global projects at a large scale, Africa tech entrepreneur and Andela Co-founder, Iyin Aboyeji says.
“Prior to now African developers had to leave their countries to get global opportunities. Now those opportunities are meeting them on the continent,” he told CNN.
For Aboyeji, the development affirms the competence and talents of tech developers in Africa.
“My hope is that these opportunities are not concentrated in just the large cities but extend to other places,” he added.
By Aisha Salaudeen, CNN
Source: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/17/africa/tech-giants-in-africa-intl/index.html[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]