No. 40: Three Things in African Markets You Need to Know This Week – October 14

Oil Discovered Off Senegal’s Coast – link

The wave of West African countries discovering oil continues with Cairn Energy, a Scottish Oil Company, striking oil about 100km off the coast of Senegal. The company is not yet sure about the size of the discovery – a first for Senegal. When Ghana discovered oil in 2010, many looked to the country to debunk the resource curse theory. While Ghana has avoided the security issues parts of Nigeria have dealt with for the past 50 years, it has faced serious fiscal challenges since the oil discovery. Perhaps Senegal will be the leading country to show that African countries can manage their resources effectively. I’ll be watching how Senegal markets its oil in the coming years, in the wake of Nigeria not exporting oil to the U.S. for the month of July – the first time that has happened since rcords were kept in 1973.

Abraaj Takes Majority Stake in Libstar – link

The Abraaj Group, one of the more prominent private equity firms focused on developing markets, announced a majority stake it took in Liberty Star Consumer Holdings (Libstar), a company previously owned by Métier, another private equity firm. The company is a leader in the private-label and own-branded fast moving consumer goods spaces supplying customers like KFC, Pick n Pay, and Tiger Brands. The company’s latest annual revenue as reported on Metier’s website was about $405M.

Equatorial Guinea’s Second Vice President Agrees to Relinquish $30M in Assets – link

The United States Governent and Equatorial Guinea’s Second Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue reached an agreement for Second Vice President Mangue to relinquish $30M in assets in wake of charges that he used his influence to embezzle funds from the Equatoguinean people. As part of the agreement, $20M will go to a charitable organization in the benefit of the Equatoguinean people, and another $10M will go to the U.S. Government, which will also use the money for the benefit of the country’s people. This agreement came in the lead up to Equatorial Guinea’s Independence Day, which was this past Sunday. The U.S. Government originally sought $70M from Second Vice President Nguema.

No. 39: Three Things in African Markets You Needed to Know Last Week – October 9

Here’s the rundown on last week’s episode of New Rules Africa. Check out the video for our deep dive into Africa’s stock exchanges: Link

Marriott Plans to Build 50 Hotels in Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt by 2020 – Link

Marriott is putting both feet in Africa, where it projects to have its highest revenue growth through 2020. The company plans to build 50 hotels in Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt – 10,000 hotel rooms apiece.

That isn’t the end. Within the next 14 months, the company is opening nine hotels in Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Africa – 1,300 hotel rooms.

The company bought Protea Hospitality Holdings for $200M in April as part of its expansion across Africa. It is interesting that the company is taking both an organic and acquisition approach to growth on the continent.

IMF Forecasts Ghana’s Outlook in Wake of Recent Meetings – Link

Ghana concluded those meetings last week, and walked away with a pretty grim outlook on the country. It may see its lowest growth levels in the past decade, with GDP growth dropping to 4.5 percent from its 7.1 percent growth for 2014. Compare this to the country’s double digit growth levels in the few years following the discovery of the Jubilee Oil Fields. The struggle the country is facing includes:

  • Low revenue
  • High government employee wages on aggregate
  • Rising cost of paying off debt
  • Struggling currency – dropped 30 percent to the dollar this year
  • High inflation – average of 15 percent for the year

It’s a tough situation and hopefully, the country will see it’s way out of this sooner rather than later. President Mahama spoke at a conference I attended a few weeks ago, and while he spoke relatively frankly about the country’s challenges, and the runway for improvement being a potentially long one, he remained hopeful in his comments. The two sides continue talks this week during the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings.

Mo Ibrahim Foundation Releases 2014 Governance Index – Link

Mo Ibrahim, since 2006, has taken on the task of ensuring that Africa’s governments operate for the people, by the people. The mobile phone pioneer’s Mo Ibrahim Foundation released its latest annual index that ranks the continent’s governments based on a comprehensive set of criteria covering participation and human rights, human development, sustainable economic opportunity, and safety and rule of law.

Here are the highlights:

  • Governance improved on the aggregate slightly over the last five years;
  • The primary drivers of improvements were in participation and human rights, and human development categories. Economic opportunity and human development used to drive the improvement;
  • These countries improved in all four categories: Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, São Tomé & Príncipe, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Liberia, Zambia, Congo, Chad and Gabon; and
  • Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger and Zimbabwe saw the biggest improvements.

No. 38: Sovereign Wealth, IPOs, Cool Jobs, and Cities

Cherae and I had a great time on New Rules Africa this week, covering:

  1. Zimbabwe established sovereign wealth fund
  2. Rocket Internet filed for IPO in Germany
  3. African Development Bank opened Young Professionals Program

Read the summary below to get up to speed on what we covered, and check out the show.

Zimbabwe Establishes Sovereign Wealth Fund

Last Tuesday, Zimbabwe’s Senate passed a bill that lays the groundwork for the country to establish a sovereign wealth fund – a tool used by countries around the world to maintain long term wealth and resist economic shocks. The African countries using the tool include Angola, Botswana, Senegal, Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, and Ghana. Countries like Uganda and Kenya are considering establishing their own funds with their new found oil resources. Let’s keep an eye on Zimbabwe’s fund as it is unclear what the structure of the fund will be and who will manage it. Countries like Nigeria and Senegal announced the managers of the funds pretty close to the establishment of the fund, and had a detailed governance structure.

Rocket Internet Files for IPO in Germany

Rocket Internet, the emerging market, uber-startup launcher is filing for an IPO on Germany’s stock exchange that would raise around $1.8B. For the past six years, Rocket Internet has launched emerging market copycats of some of the top internet brands in the US and Europe – Amazon, Paypal, and Zappos to name a few. In Africa, these include Jumia, Zando, HelloFood, and EasyTaxi among others. Rocket has absorbed a lot of criticism for just copying other business models, but is unapologetic about its business model and has raised more than $2B in venture capital since its founding in 2008. Jumia, Rocket’s flagship brand in Africa recently went under a management shift and has been relatively quiet after raising several millions in venture capital and building a 90,000 square foot warehouse in Lagos. Keep an eye out on the IPO and future Africa activity from the company.

African Development Bank Announces Young Professionals Program

The African Development Bank is recruiting young professionals, particularly women, to apply for its two or three-year rotational young professionals program. The bank will select 15-20 candidates who will be based in the bank’s headquarters in Cote d’Ivoire. The bank has been a critical part of the continent’s development, ensuring the contract negotiation skills of African countries, committing dollars to the combatting of threats like Ebola, setting up an infrastructure fund, among many other things. Apply. The folks that work there are talented and its a nice alternative to working at a place like the World Bank or IMF, if you are looking to work at an international development agency.

Preparing Cities for the Future

The Corporate Council on Africa is holding its annual infrastructure conference in the lead up to the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, and the focus is on building resilient cities on the continent as rapid urbanization continues to take place.

As cities continue their rise, Africa’s cities will increasingly have to figure out where these people will live, how to provide them with services, make sure they are able to move around, and the list goes on. Investors are paying more and more attention to the threat/opportunity in these cities. If these cities develop well, they could be hubs of consumerism, new ideas, innovation, you name it. If these cities do not develop well, we could see the failure of institutions, increased political unrest, and the list goes on here as well.

What else? What are some other interesting things that happened in business in Africa this past week?