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Russia and Uganda Sign Major Nuclear Energy Deal

Comments (0) Africa

For several years now, Africa has been the new battleground of the world’s superpowers. But this has not been a war fought with guns, tanks, or fighter jets, but rather one fought with loans, supply contracts, and doing anything to be one up on your competitors. 

The latest salvo in this ongoing economic war has been fired by Russia, or to be more exact by Rosatom, the Russian state corporation founded by Vladimir Putin in 2007 and which specialises in nuclear energy. A quick look at some of their statistics show just how big a player this corporation has become in 12 short years: largest electricity generator in Russia, producing almost 20% of the country’s electricity in 2017, ranks first in regards to foreign projects; 33 nuclear plants in 12 countries, leading provider of global uranium enrichment services with 1/3 of the world market, $300 billion of portfolio orders as of January 2017.

Energy and mining are the two sectors where Russia is particularly active in Africa, with Rosatom, Alrosa (mining), and Gazprom (natural gas extraction) leading the way. 

3 African countries in the top 10 list of global uranium producers

With the formal signing of an agreement on September 18th of this year for Rosatom to build a nuclear reactor in Uganda (the Memorandum of Understanding having been signed in 2017), Russia and Rosatom have cemented their position on energy production even further. 

It’s no surprise that nuclear energy is spreading across Africa. Three African countries (Namibia, South Africa, and Niger) are in the top 10 list of global uranium producers. Surveys by the Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development estimate some 52,000 square kilometres of deposits across the country. 

Rosatom are slowly spreading their reach across the continent. They are currently building a $29 billion nuclear reactor in Egypt, though 85% of that cost is covered by loans from Russia, a fact that has some commentators worried about what possible defaults could mean. Rosatom have also signed a deal to build a reactor in Nigeria, as well as signing MOUs with Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Ethiopia. As well as infrastructure and supply contracts, Russia and Rosatom are also investing in human resources. They already have a scholarship programme running in Kenya and are training locals to work in the nuclear industry in several African countries with a view to establishing close and long term relationships. 

With only one nuclear reactor, in South Africa, currently operating on the continent, it is still early days for the industry. And while Russia and China may be the current leaders in signing nuclear deals, don’t count out the USA just yet. While their once mighty 90% share of the global market has dramatically shrunk to around 20%, there is a renewed interest from the US State, Energy, and Commerce departments who are seeking to establish early relationships with countries who have long term plans to build a nuclear reactor in the future. 

Nuclear the best option for Africa?

But for now, it is Russia and China leading the way, with Russia looking to have the edge across Africa. This new deal, while it may take many years to come to fruition, illustrates future paths for other African countries. And though there are currently no financial details available for the Ugandan deal, it would be no surprise if there were loans in place similar to the deal with Egypt. And with constant developments in the field of nuclear energy, deals and MOUs agreed now may see different technology being applied when the reactor plants actually come to be constructed. Rosatom has the RITM-200 series reactor, a small modular reactor which is currently installed on some ice-breaking ships and which are expected to be installed in land-based plants around 2027, the same approximate timeframe as when there will be a proper framework, both infrastructure and regulatory, in the sub-Saharan region. 

Russia and Rosatom are playing a long game here, but with an eye of the growth of Africa’s population and industry which will demand cheap energy sources. If any regulatory framework can guarantee safety levels, then nuclear seems the best option for the rapidly growing continent.

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Making a Mark in Africa: Global Brands Dominate

Comments (0) Africa, Business

With Africa being one of the fastest growing markets for consumer goods worldwide, global brands have increasingly focused their efforts on the continent’s vibrant economies. Two major factors are worth noting here; Household consumption in Africa has outpaced GDP growth, and GDP growth across Africa is consistently outperforming global averages.

Consumer expenditure in Africa has been growing at a compound rate of 3.9% since 2010, reaching a total of $1.4 trillion in 2015, with that figure expected to reach $2.5 trillion by 2030. (1)

The planned Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is also due to be implemented by 2030, and if successful, will offer a single continental market for consumer goods and services as well as free movement of investments and businesspeople. This opens the doors to a potential 1.7 billion customers (based on projected population by 2030). 

African consumers tend to be loyal

With such ambitious plans and rapid growth, cementing a place as a major brand across the continent is a priority, not only for global corporations but also for African brands. 

Research has shown (2) that African consumers tend to be loyal to their chosen brands but also discerning in their choice of brand. While currently most consumer activity in Africa tends to still happen in informal market settings, there is, and will continue to be, a shift towards more modern shopping settings, including shopping malls and e-commerce, two sectors which will offer good growth potential at several levels. 

African brands have been declining year on year

However, the latest Brand Africa 100 ratings in May – published every year by African Business Magazine – show a continuing worrying trend, at least as far as African businesses are concerned. From a high of 25% of the list in 2013/14, African brands have been declining year on year and are now at a low of 14% from 17% in 2017/18. Asian brands have also suffered, falling 10% from the previous year. US brands saw the largest growth, up 17% to 28%, while the dominant European brands rose 2.5% to 41%. 

As you would perhaps expect, the leading brands are global household names, with Nike, Adidas, Samsung, and Coca Cola all retaining positions in the top 4 from 2017/18. The highest ranked African business is South Africa’s MTN Telecoms at 8th (down 2 positions from last year). The company operate in 21 African countries so far with more expansion planned, so their top 10 position should not only be safe but may improve again in future lists. 

Anbessa Shoe Share Company: the most impressive African performer

Ethiopia’s Anbessa Shoe Share Company, originally founded in the 1930s by an Italian expat, was the most impressive African performer. In the 2019 chart, it moved up 11 places to #12. As well as having around 65-70% of the Ethiopian shoe market, the company also exports to USA, EU, Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

There were only two new African names on this year’s list, South African retailer, Pick n Pay, who re-entered at #84, and Africa’s largest e-commerce firm. Jumia, who debuted at 74 after a successful launch on the New York Stock Market in April. 

With continued economic growth forecast as far ahead as 2030, African companies must now look at how they can compete with the global giants. 

(1) https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Africas-consumer-market-potential.pdf

(2) Spivey L. et al. (2013) “Ten Things to Know About African Consumers: Capturing the Emerging Consumer Class,” Bcg.perspectives.

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Adamant, the new african digital adventure

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Entertainment and Lifestyle, Featured

Adamant is a new digital medium aimed at connected African youth. The media promotes continental ambitions through a network of creative and offbeat influencers. Meeting with its founder Denis Cantin and its program manager Angélique Amougou.

  • Denis Cantin, you are the founder of Adamant Media, before talking about your new digital media, let’s talk about you and what led you to create Adamant?

Denis: I was heading the content sales over Europe-Middle East- Africa for A+E Networks (Disney / Hearst) for 5 years in London and I thought there was still a place in Africa for high level Entertainment media , gathering Africans and Diaspora, offering the best of comedy Series, sketches, Beauty, Sports and news. And that media should be digital, free and on mobile to reach everyone. I left my job last summer and we have launched Adamant on the 1st of April 2019.

  • Can you explain how Adamant works? 

Denis: We are settled like a proper Media group and we control the whole chain from Creation and Production to Broadcast and Advertising: 

First, adamant is the media of Continental Entertainment. Millions of people watch us and enjoy fresh high quality African content on a daily basis. 

adamant is also a studio, aggregating and supporting the best producers and talents from every corner of West and central Africa. 

Last but not least, adamant is an unique expertise in digital communication and marketing over the the whole Continent. Africa is experiencing massive growth you could compare it to a startup for that matter. Africa is as digital as you can get. We are in our element. Our logline is indeed “ Digital, Continental, adamant”. 

  • Angélique Amougou you are in charge of influencer relations at adamant, what drives the talents and influencers to join Adamant, according to you? 

Angélique: Quite honestly, there’s no better home than adamant for talented influencers. Our business model has been set up to allow comedy influencers, our A-Producers,  to grow without losing their soul and their business. We encourage creation, we finance the best talents. Not only, we are also sharing our experience in terms of storytelling , post editing, promotion and access to sponsors. 

Some influencers are already big in their own country like the super popular duo the Pakgne (Murielle Blanche and Marcelle Kuetche) in Cameroon with already 1 million followers.  With us, they have become continental stars. Some are less known, and when the adamant team feels they’re good, we offer them an A class treatment and after a few weeks, it looks like they have always been famous.

“babatché à tout prix” was watched by a few thousands people before we got involved, it was promising but still limited. Now with adamant, each of their episodes is followed by between 300 000 and 2 million people! They are some genuinely International stars now. We did the same for the couple Thakai and many others. We have now the biggest team of influcencers in this part of the World. And we can tell you: each and every of them count. 

African talents are amazing and we are glad to share this with the rest of the world.

Les gos Babatche – adamant
  • What kind of audience Adamant is targeting ? 

Denis: Our audience is mostly between 18 and 44 years old. They are adults and parents. Social networks in Africa are usually male skewing but we are very balanced between male and female at 50/50. Our audience is connected and engaged. Our engagement rate is just tremendous: 34%!  Our audience is urban and strongly connected. Our first cities are Abidjan, Dakar, Douala and Paris but we do not only reach the big cities; adamant is followed in every corner of Francophone Africa and the world. You can’t imagine how global we are.

  • What new programs are you trying to put in place? 

Denis: adamant will remain pure entertainment and close to our audience’s everyday life. So we won’t explore genres like crime, sci-fi …Unless there is a twist, a good idea and lots of fun! 

 I will tell you that the quality will only go in one direction: up. And more and more content will be original and never seen on line. Stay tuned!

Angelique: Talent wise, we have wonderful talents in the key territories Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon now. We are about to contract with influencers in Burkina Faso, we are digging in Mali, Madagascar, Guinée. Be sure we won’t forget any territory.

  • So you are producing branded content, what do you bring to advertisers that is unique to adamant?

Denis: The affinity. adamant is close to our audience thanks to a very dedicated team and our influencers. We make people laugh on a daily basis. There is no better communication than a smile.

And with this smile, we provide the top notch values services of a digital agency with reflection, strategy, tactics, ads and even more important, high value video production. We invent formats and new series on demand. We clearly do our best to spoil our clients ad we are committed on our targets and KPIs.

  • What are your ambitions, your future plans or projects for Adamant?

Denis: adamant is fast and furious (smile). We are launching this week our free VOD site with all our videos. We will announce soon a business partnership with a leading Film production and talent agency in the heart of Nollywood. This allows us to produce both in French and English original with top influencers. We are post producing our first animation for pre-school children with our talent’s voices. We will of course expand out of the Francophone area soon, but first thing first, we have to make sure our clients are spoiled and that we remain the leaders.

Ah yes, maybe a last one;  the Studio veteran is now talking, my sincere dream would be to produce the Pan African comedy feature Film starring all our great influencers. And this will come true sooner than later!

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Russia’s Return to Africa

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

Once an important player on the African continent, Russia has renewed its aspirations for economic, military, and trade ties with several African nations. From Algeria to Zimbabwe, Russia is investing in energy and resource projects, lending military and diplomatic support to embattled African leaders, and once again positioning itself as an influential presence in the region.

Historical ties with Africa and shifting interests

During the height of the Soviet Union, newly independent African countries such as Mozambique, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Angola, Benin and Uganda all received valuable materials and ideological support from the Russian superpower, including training and education to many of these country’s leaders. The Soviet Union’s influence across African states was widespread until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the regime in 1991.

Fast-forward to 2018, and Russia appears set to return to its influential position over the continent – yet with a very different approach and goal in mind. As African nations are opening up to being courted by new strategic partners, the time is ripe for new foreign entrants to make their mark on the continent. Russia is thus in a good place to re-establish itself across the region – and indeed appears to be doing so – via strategic investments in energy and raw materials.

Investment in Energy and Minerals – new opportunities arise

According to ISS Africa, trade and investment between Russia and Africa grew by 185% from 2005 to 2015. Whilst in 2017 alone, Russia’s trade with Africa rose by 26% to $17.4 billion. Senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Paul Stronski says there are many advantages for Russia engaging with resource laden countries on the African continent. With a shortage of minerals such as chromium, bauxite, and manganese, all of which are important to industry, Russia is looking for rights to extract minerals, oil, and gas in less complicated or costly places than Siberia and the Arctic, Stronski says. With a strong presence on the national soil and a proven expertise in raw material extraction, no doubt that CEOs such as UMMC’s Iskander Makhmudov will be setting their eye on the continent sooner or later.

Economically, the focus of Russian investment is on energy. Russian power companies, such as Lukoil (oil), Gazprom (gas), and Rosatom (nuclear energy) are already active across the continent, with most activity being in Uganda, Nigeria, Egypt, Angola and Algeria. Others, such as Kuzbassrazrezugol (a coal mining organization, and also a company Iskander Makhmudov has stakes in), are already global exporters and could very well aim to penetrate the African market in the future. Others, such as Transmashholding (also a company Iskander Makhmudov has interests in), already trade with Egypt and South Africa – admittedly some of the most developed markets on the continent.

According to energy news site Power Technology, a deal between Rosatom and Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity to create the country’s first nuclear power plant has already been finalized. As most large Russian corporations are fully or partially state-owned, Russian interest takes the form of public/private partnerships.

Indeed, although Russia’s main arms exports are to Asia, according to the BBC, sales to Africa continue to rise, strengthening Russia’s position on the continent.

A growing geopolitical influence…

Another reason Russia may wish to gain a foothold on the continent is that diplomatically, Africa is a geopolitical strategic landmark. African states comprise of the largest voting bloc across diplomatic, security and economic institutions, such as the UN Security Council. Therefore, holding influence over Africa could have a global reach. Other emerging economies, such as China and India, have also expanded trade significantly across the African region. According to US research group the Brookings Institute, China provided some $60 billion in financial support to Africa in 2018.  

Although Russia lacks the financial muscle of China, through strategic investments, military might and soft power, the country will see a gradual increase in influence across the African continent, according to ISS Africa research analyst Stephanie Wolters. She believes that, amid a new ‘scramble for Africa,’ it will be up to African leaders to exploit the renewed attention from Russia by brokering favorable deals on good terms, rather than fall victim to previous exploitation by Europe and the West.

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Kilamba, a chance for the Angolans

Comments (0) Africa

Kilamba

During the post-war reconstruction process in Angola, China and some European businesses have been actively working to bring about a number of important building projects. Of these, the star project is the city of Kilamba, where efforts have transformed a rural zone into a undeniably modern city. Kilamba is the fruit of a collaboration between two companies: The Chinese company CITIC Construction, led by Chen Xiaojia, and the investment fund Pierson Capital, led by Pierre Falcone.

Improvement of the Quality of Life

The new residents are particularly satisfied by their new life in Kilamba. They confide to Meng Qingshang, journalist for a Chinese television channel: “The conditions in we were living before were not good. It was a house which did not belong to us, and it was far from the city. With the improvement of our revenues, we were able to move into this new city. We live much better.” Indeed, their apartment is more than 120 square meters, and is a spacious residence for a family of five.

The Santos family makes up some of the thousands whose prospects have improved thanks to the huge building project by CITIC Construction and Pierson Capital. For the children of this family, it is also the chance to meet new people, and to interact with their neighbors. The cadet, Eduane Santos, confided to the journalist that “My life here is very different. Here, it is modern. I have made many new friends here. Before this, I often played alone.”

Kilamba is ideally situated a few kilometers from Luanda. A portion of the city’s buildings have been reserved as social housing. Thanks to this project these Angolans live a better life, and indeed for many residents, it is the first time that they live in their own apartment. The group of apartments consist of residencies which represent a large split from their old homes. The apartments have running water and electricity 24 hours a day, which was formerly difficult to find due to the ravages of the war in Angola.

A four-year-old Construction Site

The buildings of Kilamba comprise one of the largest residential sectors in the world. The city consists of over 100,000 residents. But the construction has not been without its issues, when the project started in 2008, the artisans had  difficulty in finding quality building material on the local markets. They were then compelled to send more than 2 million tons of material directly from China. In total, it has took four years to complete the project.

A City-Sized Development

Today, the post-war construction continues to go forward, leaving in place new ambitions more important still. The Angolans continue to believe that the development of the city will continue, and will continue to bring them new professional and commercial opportunities.

Chen Xiaojia, president of CITIC Construction, has declared that “the project has improved local employment opportunities as well as the quality of life. […] The residencies are well equipped, and the city offers a large range of public infrastructure. We have built schools, sewer systems, as well as electric and water systems. I have learned that the residents of Luanda are proud to live in Kilamba New City. It’s because of this that we are proud.”

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Digital Finance needs to be a top priority for African Growth in 2018

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digital finance

In an annual report released by the Africa Growth Initiative, there is a call for African nations to embrace digital technology as one of the major priorities for 2018. The report, entitled “Foresight Africa: Top priorities for the continent in 2018”, identified six priorities for the continent to capitalize on new technologies that would have the potential to bring more economic prosperity at every level of civil society. Technology-based solutions to long-entrenched problems are believed to be the catalyst the continent needs in order to strengthen its institutions and improve its standing on the global stage.

The Africa Growth Initiative was created in 2011 by the American think-tank The Brookings Institution. The Foresight Africa project is a series of reports, commentaries and events that aim to help policymakers and Africa watchers stay ahead of the trends and developments impacting the continent. Since 2011, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative has used the occasion of the new year to assess Africa’s top priorities for the year.

Education and agriculture could develop more innovative solutions

This year, a particular focus was placed on “harnessing Africa’s digital potential.” By focusing on technology and digitization, countries are better able to shift their economic structures and transform both the labor market and public services. Entrepreneurs with sustainable business models would benefit from opportunities for financial inclusion, easier retail payments, and improvements in administrative services. Other sectors such as education and agriculture could develop more innovative solutions as a result of improved access to key information such as market feasibility.

One of the biggest areas of opportunity is in mobile payment technology. Given that an estimated 50% of the world’s population is considered “underbanked” or “unbanked”, the development of such technology in the early 2000s gave thousands of people access to a formal banking system in societies that were to-date highly cash-based. On the African continent, the success of the mobile phone-based money transfer system M-Pesa has helped African economies save billions of dollars. M-Pesa made it easy for its users to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money without needing to visit a bank or carry a large amount of cash. For low-income people, especially women, it became easier to borrow and save money.

Public and private investors attracted

Mobile payment technology in development has attracted both public and private investors who see its potential to improve the efficiency of government institutions and private operations, saving money while increasing the volume of business. It has allowed for innovation in other areas: M-Akiba allows for people to invest in bonds issued by the Kenyan government; M-KOPA makes it easy for people to acquire solar power; M-TIBA helps people set money aside for health expenses; and the One Acre Fund invests in small farmers and facilitates the acquisition of seed and fertilizer, training, and loans.

By moving towards digitization, some of Africa’s most intractable problems could be addressed, including corruption, administrative break-downs, and the diversion of public money that has choked the public sector. Rather, the Africa Growth Initiative pushes the public to move towards democratizing access to public services (taxes, commerce, transportation) by shifting the operations online.

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Tunisia Becomes the 21st Member Country of Arabsat

Comments (0) Africa

It was announced April 12, 2018 that Tunisia has been formally elected as a new member country of Arabsat (Arab Satellite Communications Organization) by the Tunisian Minister of Communication Technologies and Digital Economy, Anouar Maarouf. Now with 21 member countries, Tunisia enters with a 0.7% stake in the organization and acted as the host of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Arab Satellite Communications Organization in Gammarth.

While there have been issues in the past with member countries acting in a coordinated fashion, Arabsat’s unique coalition and organization structure is a boon to the technology field throughout the Arab world. The addition of Tunisia to Arabsat seems to be a massive win for the quality of services in the region.

Under the new agreement, Tunisian television and radio will now be broadcasting directly through Arabsat due to the creation of a new satellite station with the National Broadcasting Corporation (ONT). Thanks to this change, picture and sound quality will greatly improve to higher levels capable of taking much better advantage of high definition televisions. Arabsat already offers over 500 standard definition, 95 high definition (HD), and 200 radio stations for its user base. With this added footprint, it is very likely that there will be more and more HD programming coming shortly. Better programming will hopefully means more technology sales and a greater incentive to create more diverse programming across the Arabsat networks.

To increase the planetary footprint of Arabsat

With Tunisia on board, Arabsat Executive Chairman, Khaled Ben Ahmed Balkheyour mentioned the satellite telecom coalition is currently seeking to invest over $600 million (1440 dinars) in two brand new industrial satellites. One of the control stations will be located in the Edkhila region of Manouba in Tunisia while the second will be featured in Saudi Arabia. The goal of will be to increase the planetary footprint of Arabsat, and strengthen coverage in the rest of Africa and Europe. Not only allowing for better television broadcasting, but also better internet services, and better maritime and military communications. As of now, the expectation is that each of the new stations will be operational by the first quarter of 2019.

Like with any satellite venture, much of the costs are up front. It requires a great deal of capital to build and launch a satellite into geosynchronous orbit around the planet. Such an early sizeable investment explains the need for over 20 countries at its inception. Making satellite technology viable and profitable takes a great deal of time and effort and backing money. This is a major explanation for the fact that while it was started in 1976 (with much unofficial history before that), Arabsat did not have its first satellite in orbit until 1985. However, in the 21st century, Arabsat has more support than ever as well as the ability to bring in revenue on its own thanks to its robust content and internet offerings. Arabsat has become a major player in the telecom industry and experts say that its very existence is a powerful beacon of collaboration throughout the Arab world.

A new member country: the continued expansion of the organization

As one of the most massive telecom conglomerates in the world, this year’s conference saw the chairman speak highly of the host country, playing up Tunisia’s role in promoting the direction and connection of Arabsat. He also announced Arabsat’s profits in 2017 reaching $120 million (288 million dinars) and a strong hope for future growth in the industry. With Tunisia on board, Arabsat seems to believe the future looks very bright. A greater footprint, more satellite stations, and a new member country signal the continued expansion of the organization and its reach to citizens living and working all over the world.

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Activist Lina Ben Mhenni Continues to Fight for Tunisian Democracy

Comments (0) Africa

Activist and avid blogger, Lina Ben Mhenni is no stranger to both accolades and threats. Through her blog A Tunisian Girl, which is written in Arabic, French and English, Ben Mhenni has reported on the overthrow of the Tunisian government, behind the scenes of the Tunisian revolution and the continued threat of corruption in her country.

As one of the only sources of uncensored information during Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, Ben Mhenni has been awarded the Deutsche Wells International Blog Award, the El Mundo’s International Journalism Prize and received a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

The Jasmine Revolution

Born in 1983, Ben Mhenni was exposed to political activism from an early age. Her father, Sadok Ben Mhenni was a left-wing militant, who opposed the regime of former President Bourguiba, and was detained and tortured in prison. Her brother helped establish the Tunisian office of Amnesty International and she grew up hearing her family discussing politics, reading books and watching the news. She started writing a blog in 2007 and later launched A Tunisian Girl to cover issues surrounding freedom of expression, human rights and social problems facing women and students in Tunisia.

From 2008 to 2009 she studied in the United States and taught Arabic at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Upon her return she took a position as a teaching assistant in Linguistics at the University of Tunisia. In May 2010, Ben Mhenni and her friends organized a protest against the government’s censorship of the media via the internet, and by the time the protests against Ben Ali started in December, her blog had become an important source of information for both Tunisians and the international media.

International Fame

For many years Ben Ali had lead an oppressive regime in Tunisia, prohibiting any opposition and abusing human rights. Opponents to his regime were tortured and killed and journalists intimidated and silenced. During the protests, Ben Mhenni visited Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine and was one of the first to report on the atrocities committed there by Ben Ali’s security forces. She published video footage and photographs of police injuring and killing protestors and revealed the victim’s identities online. She also visited victims in hospitals and interviewed their families, publishing everything to her now infamous blog. Never hiding her name, Ben Mhenni put herself at risk to show the world the determination of the Tunisian people to overthrow Ben Ali.

Following the revolution, Ben Mhenni was involved in the interim government’s reforms to media and information laws, but resigned shortly after. However, she continued to track the progress of press freedom and human rights in Tunisia, and attempted to boycott the Constituent Assembly elections due to the fear the leading party, Al-Nahda would buy votes and not be moderate. In 2011 she published a book ‘Get Connected’ and won the Duetsche Welles Best Blog award and was nominated for the Nobel Prize.

The Reach for Democracy VS Clicktivism

Ben Mhenni continues to observe and critique the development of human rights in Tunisia, but says the country still has a long way to go. A new constitution has been written and organized elections have been transparent and democratic, but the regressions are still alarming says Ben Mhenni. Children are still being forced to drop out of school to work, women are dying during child birth due to lack of equipment in hospitals, and people still do not have enough electricity of running water in Tunisia. Ben Mhenni says Tunisia still lacks honest politicians and people who see being a citizen implies rights, but also duties.  

Although Ben Mhenni maintains she has never been an activist, she says people today think they can change the world by clicking the ‘Like’ button. “It is not enough to publish a status, or a video, or share a Hashtag,” she told Huffington Post. “You have to work in the field, meet people, and be present during the demonstrations.” Ben Mhenni continues to act on her words, she and her father have started an initiative to create libraries in prisons to promote culture and thwart terrorism, and she aims to teach the importance of organ donation after receiving a kidney transplant from her mother.

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2017 Top African Finance Ministers

Comments (0) Africa, Economy, Politics

finance

Economic and finance ministries from West and East African have set the standard for 2017’s API. Ten countries from the region have mastered macroeconomic balance with growth rates above 5% that outpace their demographic growth. Burkina Faso topped the list with 53%, followed by Senegal with 52%, Tanzania with 48%, Ethiopia with 47%, Kenya with 46%, Rwanda with 45%, Niger and Guinea with 43%, Cote d’Ivoire with a 42% growth rate, and Togo with 41%.

The API was extended in 2017 to include all African countries, instead of only those in the CFA zone, or the central and west regions, as was the case in previous editions. API 2017 also saw the inclusion of a new category for evaluation: the digital financial infrastructure worth 40% of a country’s mark, along with endogenous factors 30%, and institutional and fiscal frames, worth 30%. Although growth was substantial last year, financial website Financial Afrik warns that unless African countries can maintain growth of over 10% for over a decade there will not be any major development in the country.

Leading the pack

Topping the list of Africa’s best finance ministers is Burkina Faso’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Development Rosine Sori-Coulibaly. In office since January 2016, Sori-Coulibaly has been working to reduce the weight of current expenditure in the state budget, and has also allowed the public greater access to small business loans. She is joined by Senegal’s Amadou Ba, who brought about an increased cycle of growth garnered by the country since 2014. Third on the list is Philip Mpango, the appointed minister of finance in Tanzania since 2015. Mpango continues to create structural reforms in the country to finance free education and complete the nationalization of precious stones.

Other ministers of note include Ethiopia’s Abraham Tekeste, who is in charge of the implementation of a five-year-plan in the country to display a GDP growth of 11% per year. Over this period, industrial growth is set at 24% per year. Minister of Finance in Kenya Henry K. Rotich is at the root of several in-depth reforms in the East African country. Advocating for diversification, Rotich faces the challenge of financing Kenya’s public external debt. Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gatete has distinguished himself in the rationalization of current expenditures, the implementation of innovative policies and the facilitation of procedures for economic operators.

Implementing policies

Rounding out the top ten is Niger’s Hassoumi Masaoudou, who has been minister of finance since 2016 and has the challenge of financing the Economic and Social Development Plan for Niger from 2017 to 2021. In a tense security environment Financial Afrik reports the first year of the plan has been quite successful. Guinea’s Malado Kaba has inherited several major infrastructure projects and is the first Guinean appointed minister of finance to obtain satisfactory results in regard to funding. Former head of the Ivorian Treasury, Cote d’Ivoire’s Adama Kone has reconciled the imperative of controlling the budget with the need for growth. The current cocoa crisis has not broken this balance and Ivorian fundamentals remain strong. Minister of Economy and Finance in Togo since 2015, Sani Yaya’s great challenge remains to restructure the country’s debt and to mobilize funds for development programs. In the two years as finance minister, Yaya’s results have awarded him respect.

Digital Financial Infrastructure

The API identifies four determinants that favor the construction of digital financial infrastructure in African countries. Innovation centers, the organization of public dialogues on financial and regulatory technologies, a national tool for digital verification of identity and the creation of a digital environment secure enough to experiment with the offer of innovative financial services. Both Kenya and Senegal scored highly in this area with both countries developing incubators of technological innovation, such as, spaces for co-creation between entrepreneurs and accelerators of enterprise. Also standing out in this area are Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Tanzania and Togo, thanks to the organization of public dialogues on the future of finance, financial regulation and inclusion.

According to Financial Afrik, Africa is improving in terms of economic and political governance, however in terms of transparency and institutional communication efforts must be made. Ministries of Economy and Finance are responsible for strengthening competitiveness between domestic and foreign companies, but at the same time, they need to ensure consumers are protected.    

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TV5Monde Afrique Launches Digital Offer for 25th Anniversary

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tv5monde afrique

As part of the network’s 25th anniversary, TV5Monde Afrique has launched a free digital offer on online and mobile programs, specifically for African users. With 1.2 billion inhabitants, 362 million internet users, 150 million social network users and 220 million Africans aged between 15 to 24, the region is becoming a hot spot for telecom investors and TV5Monde is keen to take advantage.

TV5Monde’s digital director Helene Zemmour said the growing mobile market in the African continent meant the network had to find a way to move with user habits and rethink their offer for mobile. Consisting of a new website, mobile app and offline content, TV5Monde will broadcast programs based on the centralised theme of Africa, such as, the daily Africa Journal, as well as, movies, series, game shows, sport, documentaries, and magazines. Officially launched in Kigali, Rwanda in October, it will launch from Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire on November 27th, Dakar in Senegal on December 5th, and Paris, France on December 11th. TV5Monde’s move to mobile, aims to confirm the network’s position on the continent and stay in touch with Africa’s increasing mobile consumption.

Mobile Consumption in Africa

According to the London research and consulting firm Ovum, over a billion Africans will be connected online by 2020, and this is due to the growth and influx of affordable smartphones. According to Ovum’s statistics, there are currently 419 million people online in the region, which is set to more than double over the coming five years to 1.07 billion people, by 2022. Ovum’s research shows Africa to be the fastest growing mobile market in the world and mobile data will be the main driver of growth. Researchers suggest this increase in data connectivity will also bring rising data revenue for operators, and create new platforms for digital services.

According to Bloomberg’s Matthew A. Winkler, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, hand-held phones are driving economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa as much as the railroad did in the United States of America in the 19th century. Mobile phones are letting people be their own ATMs, Winkler said, increasing economic activity by enabling payments for food, travel, school and business. This transformation is reflected in the more than 1,300 publicly traded companies that make up corporate Africa. According to data collected by Bloomberg, communications firms have increased in the last five years by 25% of the total market capitalization of African companies, up from 16%. Materials and energy, the natural resources the region is known for, diminished to a combined 18%, from 27%, for the same period. With a mere 43% mobile penetration, compared to 65% for the world, it will not be surprising if Sub-Saharan Africa will be most highly favoured region for telecom investors.    

SES-5 Satellite

Taking advantage of the high digital growth forecasts for the region, TV5Monde has also signed a long-term distribution contact with SES to broadcast three channels to French speaking viewers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The SES-5 satellite, which covers Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Atlantic Ocean, will distribute TV5Monde Afrique, the youth channel, TiVi5Monde, as well as, the lifestyle channel, TV5Monde Style HD.

The move to join SES, is also a move to strengthen the use of the French language across Africa. TVMonde’s CEO, Yves Bigot said the agreement would broaden the reach of the French language, which was becoming all the more decisive in a digital world where language is increasingly important, and the CEO of SES Video said the company would be delighted to contribute to the spread of the French language. SES-5 currently distributes over 500 local and international channels to Sub-Saharan Africa, 65 of which, are in French.

Dedicated to the audiences of the African continent and to the diaspora and fans of Africa, TV5Monde’s digital offer hopes to tap into the expanding internet audience, as well as, maintain and possibly grow the French language in the region.

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