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Who are the three African champions highlighted in the BCG Tech Challengers report?

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Only three African technology companies have been identified in the Boston Consulting Group’s Tech Challengers report: the e-commerce giant Jumia, Kenyan mobile money star M-Pesa and South African e-commerce platform Takealot.

Who are the three African champions highlighted in the BCG Tech Challengers report?

Only three African technology companies have been identified in the Boston Consulting Group’s Tech Challengers report: the e-commerce giant Jumia, Kenyan mobile money star M-Pesa and South African e-commerce platform Takealot. This may not look flattering for the African continent, given the large market share taken by China and other Southeast Asian companies, but it should be noted that African challengers are growing at 11 times faster than S&P 500 companies. Most companies identified in the BCG report are growing at only 6 times faster. Technological companies are also being created in Africa at a rate of 2.5 times more than in the United States. The landscape is changing, and these three champions may only be the first of many African Tech Challengers.

Jumia – The ‘Amazon’ of Africa?

Launched in Lagos, Nigeria in 2012, Jumia has expanded from simply offering e-commerce, and has built Jumia Travel for hotel bookings, and Jumia Food for door to door food delivery. It is estimated that over 78% of online purchases in Africa have been placed through Jumia, making the company a truly successful enterprise. On top of e-commerce, Jumia acts as a logistics service, enabling shipments from seller to consumer. By partnering with over 300 couriers and using proprietary technology to track delivery routes they appear to have overcome the continent’s infrastructure issues, and have since opened the logistics to non-Jumia orders. To help facilitate the take-up of e-commerce in Africa, Jumia Pay was launched to process payments and this integrated approach has given the e-commerce giant a way of accessing markets outside of the major cities.

M-Pesa – Mobile Money from the East Coast

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Launched in 2007 by the multinational mobile company Vodafone in collaboration with local provider Safaricom, M-Pesa is an app-based mobile phone fintech service from Kenya. M-Pesa allows users to transfer money and pay for goods and services using just a mobile phone. A network of agents across the continent include airtime resellers and retail outlets acting as banking agents for cash withdrawals and deposits. M-Pesa currently has around 41.5 million users across the continent, with nearly 99% market share in Kenya. Offering microfinance and short-term loans, M-Pesa has offered easily accessible banking services to many in a continent with remarkably low access to traditional banking providers. Much has been written about how apps like M-Pesa can help lift people out of poverty while also making a profit.

Takealot.com – Black Friday sales come to Africa

As an e-commerce platform competing against Jumia and Amazon, Takealot offers a service that is not likely to be called unique. Nonetheless, with over 2,500 third-party businesses using the Takealot marketplace to sell to over 1.8 million shoppers in South Africa, their success is very real. While the core of the business is an e-commerce platform connecting shoppers and vendors, they have since expanded, acquiring multi-restaurant delivery service Mr. D Food and opening distribution centers across the Western Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng. Notably, they were the first African e-commerce platform to take part in the ‘Black Friday Sales’ that are notorious in other parts of the world. 

While tech companies from Africa have yet to reach the global scale that Amazon or Alibaba have managed, tech challengers on the continent prove that success in emerging markets is not due to the ability to copy existing technology, but to develop new products specifically designed to solve the unique problems found in the emerging African markets – from a lack of infrastructure to low access to banking services, to simply connecting buyers and vendors. These three companies are just the first African tech challengers we can expect to see get global recognition.

Photos : Teknolojia-news.com – bcg.com

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The Internet Economy in Africa – Key takeaways of a $180 Billion Industry

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

The e-Conomy Africa 2020 report, a unique collaboration between the IFC and Google, sheds light on the great potential of Africa’s Internet economy, the promising tech entrepreneurs driving innovation, and the growing tech talent across the continent.

The e-Conomy Africa 2020 report, a unique collaboration between the IFC and Google, sheds light on the great potential of Africa’s Internet economy, the promising tech entrepreneurs driving innovation, and the growing tech talent across the continent. Of the top 20 fastest-growing countries in the world, nineteen are located in Africa. Driven by greater access to the internet as well as having an increasingly young and well-educated workforce, the IFC and Google predict an internet economy on the African continent worth $180 billion by the year 2025. This could reach $712 billion by 2050 and despite the impact of Covid-19, this ‘e-conomy’ is expected to be more resilient to the pandemic. This offers several promising avenues for investment on the continent.

Sectors Driving the Growth of the Internet Economy in Africa

Thanks in large part to easier access to mobile internet, several key sectors have been able to flourish in recent years:

  • Fintech, or financial technology, enjoys an average of 120% growth in funding year-on-year, and is the most heavily funded sector in Africa. With large amounts of the population unbanked, startups allow people to leapfrog from physical retail banking to online banking by offering services like payment processing, personal finance, insurance and microloans. Companies like M-PESA in Kenya, Fawry in Egypt and Paystack-62 in Nigeria lead the way in, with some companies growing at more than 100% annually.
  • Healthtech received $189 million in 2019, and the healthcare market in Africa is expected to reach over $100 billion by 2030. Companies like Zipline have been operating medical supply drone deliveries to rural areas, while Helium Health has been providing technological solutions for healthcare providers.
  • Media and Entertainment has seen a rapid increase in demand, thanks in part due to lockdowns and social distancing measures put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Content specifically created in Africa can be found on globally-available streaming platforms, such as Netflix’s “Made in Africa” collection, and African-made content is expected to expand quickly.
  • E-Mobility and Food Delivery has been hard hit by the pandemic, as ride-hailing saw a decrease in demand due to work-from-home and lockdown measures. It is expected to rebound quickly however, as Africa has one of the lowest car to person ratios in the world. In some areas taxis and moto-taxis make up nearly 80% of motorized trips. Global ride-hailing companies like Uber and Bolt have entered the market in the past seven years, in addition to local startups, such as Little, Gokada, Gozem, MaxNG, Safeboda and Yassir. Startups within the e-mobility sector in Africa raised $62 million in 2019. Many of these startups have branched into food and grocery delivery to alleviate the impact of Covid-19.
  • E-Logistics platforms are helping informal retailers with companies such as Kobo360, Lori Systems, Sendy, and Truckr reducing the cost of cargo and local transportation.

Young Tech Talent in Africa Drives the Growth and Consumption of Online Services

Africa has the world’s youngest and fastest-growing workforce, one that is increasingly urbanized. Tech talent in Africa is at a historical high with nearly 700,000 professional developers across Africa, a number that is still rising. Women comprise one in five of the total developer population in Africa, higher than the United States, creating new opportunities for women, especially in Egypt, Morocco and South Africa. A skills gap still exists, with self-taught developers making up the same number of as those that are university-trained. Helping to bridge this gap will help encourage the growth of the internet economy in Africa.

With support and regulation from regional governments, the internet economy in Africa looks set to boom in the coming years, thanks to the hard work and entrepreneurship of local startups on the continent.

Photos : ifc.org – bp.blogspot.com – miro.medium.com

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Shaking up the African mobility arena

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

The micromobility tale

In order to adequately assess the micromobility situation in African countries, we have to note that transport alternatives vary tremendously depending on cultural beliefs, social status, geographic hindrances, availability, needs, demand as well as pricing. Most African households cannot afford to buy a car, or even rent one. But the government is yet to invest in bike-friendly infrastructures leaving people with no other choice than being heavily reliant on motorized vehicles to reach their destination. 

With a population of over 1 billion people and almost 75% of motorized trips, sustainable options should be provided to alleviate the demand of a growing population for a flexible, fast and clean microtransport system to commute in traffic-congested communities.

Bringing micromobility to Africa 

Bike sharing has started spreading like wildfire across the world. Unfortunately, this unique technology has known rather slow beginnings in most African cities and is yet to be embraced by the users at large due to the cultural misconception that a bike is a ‘poor man’s means of transportation’. Additionally, an evident lack of bike-specific infrastructure like dedicated cycling lanes, causes companies’ launch to lag behind. 

A fleet of electric scooters or bikes will drastically reduce long queues at bus stops due to an insufficient supply of public buses and will see a drop in household expenses as bikesharing is offered at a minimal fee compared to the high cost of taxis. Micromobility can also bargain on reduced gas-powered emissions, as there will be fewer cars on the streets and solve problems of dangerously high levels of pollution. Moreover, electric scooters are more likely to be a more viable mode of transport. According to “Wired”, a gasoline-powered car can travel 0.8 miles whereas an electric scooter covers 82.3 miles on an equivalent one-kilowatt hour of energy. It is also extremely convenient that electric bikes and scooters take up less space in a parking lot.

The Big Players

Micromobility solutions have been embraced by few operators such as Cycles (Nigeria), Baddel (Egypt), Guraride (Rwanda), Smoove (Morocco), Asambe (Zimbabwe), Lime (Cape Town), 

So far, the leading players in deploying microbility programs are Egypt and Morocco. In 2016, Marrakech (Morocco), was the very first to establish a bike-sharing startup across the city. Smoove, a French company, supplied the 300+ bikes available for public use through the Medinabike program run by the Ministry of Environment. 

Baddel, headquarted in Cairo, Egypt, was the first to set up such a venture in North Africa with 101 electric and 15 dock stations. A partnership with the UN Human Settlements program has also launched hundreds more vehicles throughout the capital since 2018.

Launched in 2017, Guraride, a Rwanda-based green e-mobility company, enables customers to choose their favourite ride by combining in an app the accessibility to electric scooters, bikesharing, and smart bikes. The charging stations are solar-powered and a bike can go up to 70km in a single charge. The government has supported the improvement of infrastructure to accommodate more cycling lanes in Kigali’s centre. Compared to other African countries, Rwanda has more easily implemented the concept of public bike share as cycling is a national pride. 

In 2018, the UN Environment Program partnered with Mobike to begin bike-sharing operations for the UN’s Nairobi compound and featured during the Africa Clean mobility Week, in an attempt to showcase the positive impact of such shifts on the environment. Nairobi has also seen an overhaul in its CBD setting in view of its vision for a green e-mobility by 2030.

Pan-African company Asambe offer for e-biking perfectly fits the demand for a fun, affordable mode of transport given the fact that Zimbabwe has the highest fuel cost and is very often afflicted by petrol shortages.

In communities where all the odds are against the startups, companies like Cycles are sometimes left with no choice than to cater for Universities and residential estates where appropriate framework already exists. Smoove also launched an armada of shared bicycles in Lagos, Nigeria in 2018 but it has not seen any surge in development due to a ban on bike-hailing services imposed by the government

What Lies Ahead

There has been a renewed focus on micromobility, especially following the Covid-19 pandemic need for social distancing, solo rides rather than sharing buses, taxis or trains. This will have in prospect more single riders, fewer points of shared contacts and open-air transit options as we transition out of lockdowns.

Micromobility obviously seems as the best way to reduce congestion and pollution but it is often not considered as a political priority. We can only hope for a switch in both users and the government and that hurdles such as theft, city bans and limited infrastructure will be resolved to ensure complete adoption and that mobility-as-a-service will become the future mode of transport. 

Forecast 

Based on market research insights, the micromobility market is reported to grow at a rate of 13.20% over the period of 2020 to 2027 given the factors anticipated to be prevalent in the coming years.

Photos : shared-micromobility.com and cbinsights.com

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Mashal Waqar: Beyond the Glass Ceiling

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Mashal Aqar is another female leader breaking the glass ceiling and showing the way for the next generation of female leaders. 

In the last two decades, we have seen a dramatic and heartening increase in the number of women breaking through the corporate glass ceiling to take up top executive positions within many of the world’s leading companies as well as female entrepreneurs building their own companies. 

Two sectors where we are seeing lots of strong women executives are the fields of technology and digital media. Within digital media, many of the sites and companies are not only women-led, but also women-focused, and one such company is The Tempest, an American company aimed at millennial and Gen Z women. And sitting close to the top of The Tempest’s corporate tree is Mashal Waqar, co-founder (with Laila Alawa) and COO. 

Background

Waqar was born in Saudi Arabia on 18th January, 1995. Her parents are Pakistani and she is the oldest of three children. She majored in computer security and international business at Rochester Institute of Technology and was awarded a BS (Bachelor of Science) degree.

While at Rochester, she founded the WRITERS magazine and acted as editor-in-chief for the duration of her time at the university. She was also the president of the student government and acted as a tutor and mentor to younger students. Waqar co-authored a research paper examining the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs. 

Her primary residential base is Washington D.C., but she also spends time in Dubai and Toronto. 

Career

Along with Laila Alawa, Waqar co-founded The Tempest in August 2016. They state that their purpose is to be: “…the destination for diverse women to share, inspire, and celebrate life through storytelling, experiences, and a global community.”

Their target audience is the female leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators of tomorrow. The team comprises more than 30 full time staff based around the world as well as a contributory team of more than 1,500 writers. The company has a presence in several major cities, including New York, Dubai, London, and Toronto. Waqar has served as COO since the company was founded. 

Since January 2018, she has served as a mentor for the Techstars Startup Weekend events, a 54-hour event held in many cities where everyone from developers to designers to marketers come together to network, discuss innovative ideas and products, and even form startups during the event. 

Since March 2018, she has also worked as a mentor for Sheraa, a civic organisation in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, aimed at creating the city’s next wave of entrepreneurs. 

Achievements

Waqar was named as ‘Young Leader of the Year’ at the 19th Global WIL (Women in Leadership) forum in 2017. In 2019, she was named in Forbes’ Middle East ’30 under 30’ list. She regularly gives talks on the cyberbullying and trolling women experience online and is also an active disability rights advocate. 

With women like Mashal Waqar not only breaking through the glass ceiling but guiding and mentoring the next generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs, the future’s looking bright. 

Photos : moose-jaguar-7xk3.squarespace.com and Facebook

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Controversy and Challenged for the African Development Bank

Comments (0) Featured, Politics

In recent years, many African countries and organizations have worked hard to move away from the veil of corruption that has shrouded the continent for decades. Exploitative systems left in place by former colonial governments have often been marked by nepotism and misuse of power. 

The most recent ‘scandal’ has just resulted in Dr Akinwumi Adesina being cleared of all allegations and also re-elected as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a new five-year term.

Who is Akinwumi Adesina?

Dr Akinwumi “Akin” Adesina is a 60-year-old Nigerian who previously served as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development from 2010 until 2015. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa).

From a farming family, Adesina was educated in Nigeria (where he was the first student at his university to be awarded a First Class Honours) and then at Purdue University in Indiana, USA, where he won an award for his PhD thesis. 

He then went on to work as a senior economist at WARDA (West African Rice Development Association) as well as continuing to work for the Rockefeller Foundation who he had joined in 1988. He served as the foundation’s representative for the southern African region from 1999 until 2003 and then as associate director for food security from 2003 to 2008. 

Adesina has been recognized for the work he has done in agriculture on several occasions. He was named Forbes’ African man of the Year in 2013 for his work in reforming the Nigerian agricultural sector. And in 2010, then UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed him as one of 17 leaders to spearhead the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

His record at the AfDB has been impressive. It is the only African financial institution with a Triple-A credit rating, and in October of 2019, they raised $115 billion in fresh capital, an achievement many ascribed to Adesina. 

Controversy

The corruption came from AfDB staff who alleged that Adesina had committed multiple breaches of trust and of abusing his position as well as breaching the bank’s own code of ethics. An initial 15-page report accused him of embezzlement, nepotism towards fellow Nigerians, awarding lucrative contracts to friends and families, and promoting people who were suspected of fraudulent activities. 

An internal inquiry cleared him of all allegations but this was rejected by the U.S.A., who are one of the AfDB’s 27 non-regional members as well as being the second largest shareholder in the bank behind Nigeria. 

This prompted the bank’s Bureau of Governors to set up a three-person review panel, headed by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland. They were given a short four-week window to investigate and deliver their findings so as not to interfere with the approaching election for President of AfDB, an election Adesina had been expected to win unopposed until these allegations surfaced.

The review panel agreed with the original internal inquiry’s findings, stating: “…concurs with the (Ethics) Committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the Committee.”

Moving Forward

On 27th August, 2020, Adesina was re-elected for another five –year term as president of AfDB with 100% of the votes from both regional and non-regional members. 

The challenge for Adesina now is to put this controversy behind him and focus on the challenges facing the AfDB, especially in the current uncertainty of Covid 19. His first term focused on what the bank called their ‘High 5s’ priorities: Powering Africa, Feeding Africa, Industrializing Africa, Integrating Africa, and Improving the lives of Africans. 

That first term saw a lot of success which included 18 million receiving electricity supplies, 141 million benefiting from better agricultural technology, and 60 million getting access to better water supplies and sanitation. The bank has also seen its general capital reach its highest level ever, growing to $208 billion from $93 billion. 

With the independent panel exonerating him, and with the unanimous vote for his re-election, Dr Adesina can hopefully put these allegations to bed and continue to improve the lives of millions of Africans, 

Photos : Foreignpolicy.com / Afdb.org / africanleadershipmagazine.co.uk/ ft.com

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Andrei Bokarev, the President of Transmashholding, is exerting his company’s influence on a new frontier: the African continent.

Comments (0) Featured, Non classé

Andrei Bokarev is one of the most important individuals in Russian business. As President of Transmashholding (TMH), he is head of the leading manufacturer of railway equipment in Russia as well as the leading supplier of equipment to the Russian rail transport operator RZD. The company is also present on the ground in Egypt and South Africa, where Bokarev has implemented a strategy of investment and expansion into the African continent.

Andrei Bokarev began his career following his graduation from the Moscow Institute of Finances in 1990. After holding various managerial positions, he began holding various positions within the companies of the UMMC group in 1998. His drive and abilities were quickly recognized; by 1999, Bokarev was Deputy Managing Director of Kuzbassrazrezugol, one of Russia’s largest coal mining companies. The same year, he became a member of the Board of Directors, where he has remained ever since.

In 2000, he joined the Board of Directors of the UMMC group, and then joined the boards of Rosterminalugol, a coal port company, and Transmashholding in 2004.

Andrei Bokarev and TMH: success on rails

Under Bokarev’s leadership, TMH has become the fourth-largest engineering company in the field of transportation technology in the world. As of 2017, it had operating revenues of $2.67 billion, and has contributed to transportation projects across Russia and Europe, including the metro systems of Saint Petersburg and Warsaw. The company manufactures and sells subway cars, passenger diesel locomotives, freight cars, diesel engines, flat cars, and diesel trains. TMH’s customers include major customers outside of Russia as well, notably in Bulgaria, Belarus, Ukraine and elsewhere. TMH also encourages active development of skills and employee potential, with continuous training and improvement of professional skills, modernization of production lines and work organization, and full-scale support for manufactured products throughout their life-cycles. TMH also aims to pay close attention to all health and safety standards while incorporating the newest technologies into their products and manufacturing lines.

TMH’s venture into Africa started in April 2019, launching a commitment of expansion and investment into the continent. The company’s first African factory was opened in Gauteng, South Africa, which capped off the first stage of TMH International’s planned African investments totalling over $32 million.

TMH’s African business ventures have also brought it to Egypt, where the company signed its first contract with Egyptian National Railways (ENR) in 2018, which was worth over 1 billion euros. Fast-forwarding to 2020, the company has produced 5 different train car models for ENR, with an expected operating life of 40 years. By the end of 2020, several passenger train batches will be delivered to the Egyptian government. This is yet another step towards further business development in the African continent for TMH.

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Legal Scandal in the Dem. Rep. of the Congo Surrounding Businessman-Politician Moïse Katumbi

Comments (0) Africa

While several French court rulings have dismissed all of his claims, Moïse Katumbi persists in his attempts to seize assets that he sold several years ago, citing local court decisions. Interventions by armed forces in the Katanga region on behalf of Moïse Katumbi may constitute a threat to the rule of law in the country.

Lubumbashi, Katanga region, DRC: On Friday morning, 25 September 2020, at 7:30 am, dozens of armed police officers entered the premises of the company NB Mining Africa by force, accompanied by members of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, expelling the company’s staff. Minutes later, Katumbi’s men posted videos on Twitter strutting through the company’s corridors in scenes akin to a war grab. How did it come to this?

“The itinerary of a spoiled child”

Born to a Greek Jewish entrepreneur and a Congolese woman of Zambian origin, Moïse Katumbi is one of the richest men in Africa today. But success as a businessman was not enough for him: he was eager to get into politics and, as a young man in his forties, he was elected as a member of parliament before becoming governor of Katanga, the country’s richest region, from 2007 to 2015. 2015 is also the year when he ran the presidential race and decided to sell his company MCK to Necotrans, a company under French law, to allegedly finance his electoral campaign. The beneficiary of the transaction was Katumbi’s wife through her company Astalia—based not in the DRC but in Mauritius, for obvious tax reasons.

The story goes as follows: Necotrans went bankrupt and, during the judicial liquidation, the company NB Mining (formerly MCK) was bought, via its company Octavia, by the Frenchman of Corsican origin Pascal Beveraggi who developed it, employing over 2,000 people. Katumbi failed to get elected and returned to his first love: business.

Feeling that he had not been paid in full, the multi-millionaire took recourse to the French courts—the only competent courts in the case—where his claims were rejected definitively.

In an abnormal turn of events, the former governor may have used his networks to seize the Kolwezi court, which reinterprets the decisions of the highest French courts—the only relevant jurisdictions in the case. Pascal Beveraggi’s company must simply now revert to Moïse Katumbi, without further discussion.

The affair is extraordinary for its disregard for the rule of law: from the rights of the defendant and the principle of adversarial proceedings, without any convocation, to unfounded judgments that are not even made public.

Spoliation?

According to Edouard Tricaud, the lawyer representing Pascal Beveraggi and his company Octavia, all this is nothing but a scandalous and parodic decision (Radio France International). “These actions are machinations, a real judicial manipulation, my client has never been able to assert his rights. As a result, the judgment by the Kolwezi court is based solely on the fallacious arguments developed by Astalia”. Tricaud also deplores the fact that the courts did not respect Pascal Beveraggi’s appeal. According to RFI, these all are arguments that are being swept aside by Astalia’s lawyers, not wishing to express themselves publicly.

Bank accounts, premises and rolling stock: all seized. All apparently handed over to Moïse Katumbi who, nonetheless, tweets about his recent chat with the Canadian ambassador to the DRC, declaring that “in all sectors of national life, the end of impunity & a merciless fight against corruption are the best guarantees of the country’s recovery!”

In a press release, Pascal Beveraggi criticized the scandal and the mockery of justice: “From someone who has run for the highest position in the country, it is unworthy to use force in this way, using the judicial authorities of a region he once governed. No elementary principle of law has been respected. French justice has ruled on what was only a matter for French justice: Moïse Katumbi sold his company, wanting to reappropriate it is pure and simple theft.”

Photo :  Taylor Weidman © 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP

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Forbes Identifies the Best Businesses in the Arab World

Comments (0) Business, Featured, Middle East

2020 is not looking like a good year for most businesses. Covid-19 is affecting every stock market around the world and profits and forecasts are becoming major victims of the global pandemic. 20202’s Q1 results are what many people are looking at as indicators of how companies could perform once the current crisis is over. Forbes’ recent list of the Top 100 Companies in the Middle East is a good reflection of not only what companies have been doing well (and will do in the future), but is also a good indicator of how the region itself is performing.

Regional Financial Health

Generally speaking, it comes as no surprise that an oil-rich region does well financially. But in recent years, the oil-producing nations have sought to diversify interests and investments as they keep one eye on a finite and dwindling resource that has for so long provided a steady revenue stream.

Looking at the Top 100 Companies listed, they have total aggregate assets of $3.5 trillion and a value of around $2.3 trillion in terms of market cap over 2019/2020. The total sales amassed by the businesses was $670 billion which represented $148 billion of net profits.

Who and What?

Saudi Arabia dominates the Top 100, with 33 of the 100 companies listed there. Behind them is the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) with 21 companies, and Qatar in third place with 18. So those three countries alone have 72% of the list.

As far as business sectors are concerned, the burgeouning financial sector dominates the list with 46 entries. Far behind them in second place is industrial companies with nine entries, then real estate/construction and telecoms companies with eight each.

Top Spot

Despite the increasing diversification happening across the region, it is an oil giant that holds the No. 1 spot and they would hold that spot in most lists whether regional or global. Saudi Aramco is not only the world’s most profitable company, but also the world’s most valuable listed company. It produced the biggest IPO in history and on it first day of trading in December, its market value soared to $1.9 trillion. $0.7 trillion above Apple’s market value on the same day.

To put Aramco in a global context, they pump more than 10% of the world’s crude oil supplies and produce more than twice the oil of all of Canada. Of course, being (prior to the IPO) a government-owned entity and the only oil producer in Saudi Arabia has given it a unique advantage.

Aramco covers several areas of the energy sector, including exploration, transportation, and sales of not only crude oil but also natural gas and chemicals. While other companies may focus on diversification, Aramco focuses on innovation. In 2017 alone, they were granted 230 patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

As far as the Top 100 List is concerned, Aramco accounted for 59.6% of the net profits, 11.4% of assets, 69.6% of market cap, and 49% of aggregate sales.

The Other Contenders

While dominating the list, Aramco is surprisingly the only energy company in the Top 10. The other nine companies represent banking and financial, with six out of the ten positions, two telecommunications companies, and one industrial company. The gap between first and second is telling, however. Aramco had profits of $88.2 billion, while the second-placed company – QNB of Qatar – had profits of only $4 billion.

However long the Covid-19 situation lasts, some business sectors may take considerable time to completely recover. But there will be a constant need for most of the sectors covered in the Top 100 list. While oil prices may fluctuate, the sheer size and diversity of a company like Aramco will ensure that they will not suffer too much. And for businesses such as financial and telecoms, the need for their services may grow if anything. One thing is for sure; the Middle East continues to see many companies continue to thrive and grow at both regional and global levels.

Photos :

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Vivo Activewear – a Kenyan Success Story Trying to Survive a Pandemic

Comments (0) Business, Featured

As 2020 started, the coronavirus was a small footnote to some news broadcast and no-one had any idea of the impact it would have on every aspect of our lives. Words and phrases such as lockdown or social distancing meant nothing to any of us and we planned the year ahead as normal. 

So it was for Wandia Gichuru, who was looking forward to a bumper year for Her Vivo Activewear business and a projected 40% growth rate over 2019 figures. Fast forward 6 months and she is doubtful that the company can even match the previous year’s sales and revenue figures and her focus now is ensuring that they can keep their 175 staff employed.

Viva la Vivo

Gichuru’s success story is one that is becoming more and more common across Africa. A bright young entrepreneur with a vision that recognises the potential of the continent’s massive spending power, a market that has over 1 billion consumers and a total GDP in excess of US$3 trillion. 

Gichuru founded Vivo in 2011 with her business partner, Anne Marie Burugu. Since its founding, Vivo has grown to be one of the leading fashion labels in Kenya with 14 stores across the country and a reputation for stylish and affordable clothing. It has built a reputation for bright and colourful designs that often have an edgy feel to them. The company also owns the ShopZetu e-commerce platform, selling not only its own designs but also items from 3rd party retailers and manufacturers. 

Covid 19 

The global pandemic has forced the company to circle the wagons and rethink their growth projections for 2020. While Kenya has not suffered badly from Covid 19, the company decided to close all their physical stores in mid-March. They reopened around a month later but with some precautions in place such as not allowing customers to try items on. 

But rather than sit idle for that period, Vivo switched some of their production capabilities to reusable cloth face masks. They have made more than 200,000 units to date, and these are sold through their stores, at pop-up stalls, and through their online platform. They also received bulk orders from farms, banks, and other large-scale employers. That decision was a good one, as mask sales accounted for around 65% of the company’s revenue in April. 

Strong Foundations

Gichuru has a solid business background that has helped nurture Vivo. Before founding the company, she worked as an international business advisor and was employed by the UK government, the UN, and the World Bank. And as well as the day to day demands of running a successful fashion chain, she finds time to be a life coach, a regular investor on Kenya’s version of Dragon’s Den – Lion’s Den – and is also a trustee for the Mbugua Rosemary and Charles & Rita Field-Marsham Foundations. 

She has a strong belief in the power of African commerce and that women are an integral part of the potential the continent has. As part of that belief, she looks to transform lives by training and employing women as well as supporting small independent businesses operated by women. 

While Vivo may not see the growth in 2020 they expected, there is little doubt that they will survive and continue to grow in the future.

Photos : Youtube.com and destinafrica.co.ke and nairobifashionhub.co.ke

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African women making strides in technology

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In recent years, there has been a notable resurgence in the matriarchal influence of African women. This resurgence is not only breaking down the former barriers of gender disparity but also helping to influence a new generation of African girls. While this new wave of strong African women crosses several business sectors, it is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the field of technology. These ‘TechWomen’ are not only making their mark in their chosen field, but are helping ensure there are training and work opportunities for other women and girls. There is also now a junior version – TechGirls – aimed at introducing African girls aged 15-17 to STEM. 

African Women’s Day.

Many of these women will be recognized this coming July 31st as part of African Women’s Day. This date was chosen at the first congress of PAWO (the Pan African Women’s Organisation) on 31st July, 1974. It was chosen in recognition of the first ever Pan-African meeting of women (Conference of African Women – CFA) held on that same date in Tanzania in 1962. 

TechWomen

TechWomen is not just a name given to these African women succeeding in the technology sector. It comes from the organisation of the same name, set up by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in 2011. It targets women from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia who show potential in the fields of science and technology or who need support with innovative ideas. Each year, 100 women are chosen and flown to California and then Washington. In those cities, they are welcomed by more than 50 of the world’s leading companies including Microsoft, Google, Twitter, etc. 

Objectives 

The primary objective of the TechWomen scheme is to support the next generation of female innovators and leaders in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and to offer them access to the leading global companies for mentoring and employment opportunities. Over 200 volunteer mentors and ‘teachers’ from some of the world’s leading corporations give their time to help each year’s winners. There are training courses, lectures, workshops, as well as one on one session to assist the women with any current solo or group projects. 

Moroccan Laureate

One of 2019’s Moroccan laureates was Lamia Fikrat, the winner of her local ‘edition’. She holds an initial degree in engineering from Paris’s Ecole Centrale as well as a Masters in Management from London’s ESCP graduate school. Her fields of interest include the circular economy and also sustainable development (the latter being a huge focus across Africa). As part of their time in the U.S., participants spend a short period in a mentorship placement. For Fikrat, that was with San Francisco’s Environment Department, SF Environment. Fikrat was enthusiast about her experience and the opportunities it affords her fellow countrywomen: “Participating in the program has been an incredible networking opportunity in Silicon Valley. I strongly encourage Moroccan women to apply for it.”

From Tunisia

Tunisia has been involved with TechWomen since 2012. One of their 2016 laureates was Raouhda Lagha, an engineer who works for Sofrecom Tunisia. Sofrecom promote diversity, multiculturalism, and gender equality, so the inclusion of Lagha was a source of immense pride for the company. 

Lagha is also a team leader at Sofrecom, part of their policy of encouraging women to not only pursue scientific and technical careers, but also to seek leadership positions and to move up the management ladder. 

Lagha said of her Techwomen experience: “”Cultural mentorship is particularly useful for people like me working in an international company. It’s important to fully understand the cultural codes and behaviors of contacts and avoid offending people who might have different viewpoints.”

To the Future

As the battle to break down the barriers of gender disparity in Africa continues, programs such as TechWomen and other schemes that offer mentorship and investment are crucial. Equality in the workplace, and in education, are crucial components in the progress of the continent as a whole. Hopefully, TechWomen will continue for many years to come and will recognize the many outstanding women in STEM fields. 

Photos : europeansting.com – sofrecom.com – htxt.co.za – leconomiste.com

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