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Risk is an integral part of investing. Generally speaking, it is the counterbalance to return. Although we hear many money managers and advisors talk about “risk management,” it is a rather ambiguous phrase. Today, risk and volatility are often used interchangeably, which is an overly simplistic definition promoted by academia. However, a recent memo published by Howard Marks, the Chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, does a fantastic job at providing a more accurate description.
Marks may not be familiar to the average investor but he is highly respected among the world’s best money managers, including Warren Buffett. In short, risk carries many different forms and cannot be completely quantified. Here are a few key points I took from his memo, titled, “Risk Revisited.”
1. Volatility is not risk. Academia has defined risk as volatility because it can be measured. It is a foundational concept underlying the majority of financial models. Stocks are often assessed using their betas, or their fluctuations, in relationship to the market. In fact, beta has become perversely ubiquitous with risk.
This fallacy often lulls investors into a false sense of security and is usually coupled with a woeful lack of understanding of risk. For example, the utility sector’s beta is about half that of the Standard & Poor's 500 index (depending on the time frame measured). It would be a grave mistake to assume that by purchasing a utility, one is exposed to half of the risk of the market.
2. Risk is the potential to lose money permanently. Continuing with the utility company example, there are a plethora of risks associated with stocks. Volatility may provide a modicum of insight into the overall risks. However, it dupes the investor by failing to account for anything company specific. If the market were to drop 10 percent because of a geopolitical conflict, volatility or beta might do an admirable job of forecasting the utility company to decline roughly 5 percent.
Yet, it fails to predict the impact falling natural gas prices or a change in legislation may have on any particular company. Additionally, if the entire market declines from a global macro event, capital is not permanently lost. A patient investor can usually wait for a recovery. Only when you sell the investment do you realize an actual loss. When something fundamentally alters a company’s business, the risk has the potential to be permanent.
Think about what the iPhone did to BlackBerry or what the iPad has done to personal computers, or PCs. Beta, volatility and even crystal balls failed to predict these fundamental shifts.
3. Risk is necessary. Attempts to predict the future will most often lead to failure. However, an investor can understand how the risks relate to each company without necessarily predicting the exact outcome. Great investors are astute at thinking of a range of possible outcomes and selecting investments that have more ways to win than lose.
If I own a company that sells natural gas, I have to consider the range of outcomes if gas prices will rise, fall, or remain flat over coming years. Clearly, there is risk should prices fall or even stay flat. However, if I feel the stock is appropriately accounting for this risk, and I can envision a number of paths toward higher prices in the future, my downside could be limited and potential reward attractive. As the popular adage goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Smart investors take on a measured amount of risks, which cannot be captured by a stock’s historical volatility.
4. Nobody knows the unknown, but some investors don’t know this. If beta is a reasonable indication of market risk, then one can reasonably estimate performance given a forecast of the overall market. However, most investors realize this is a loser’s game, as nobody knows where the market will be in the near and long term. Unlike the earlier gas price example, there are an infinite number of interconnected and complex unknowns or “black swans” that could impact the market. These could be wars, terrorist attacks and disease epidemics, among other possibilities. None of these risks can be captured by historical volatility metrics like beta.
5. Prudent acceptance of risk is superior to shunning the unknown. Given the widespread reliance on beta as a measurement of risk, modern portfolio theorists have concluded that certain asset classes and subsets of asset classes offer higher returns, while others offer more safety. Eugene Fama and Kenneth French famously touted their three-factor model used to predict expected returns while they were both professors at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Small-cap stocks are considered risky and thought to offer long-term returns in excess of safer large-cap stocks. If this theory were accurate, though, shouldn’t every investor allocate a large portion of a portfolio to small caps?
Of course, the answer is "No." Return is not guaranteed. It is merely possible. A smaller company may face more risks than a larger company, none of which can be precisely known. If the smaller company successfully mitigates those risks while growing their business, the investor ought to be more handsomely rewarded. Regardless of the expected return, the risks remain immeasurable and the outcomes unknowable.
Some investors are highly conservative and often shun risk. However, this leaves an investor vulnerable to the risk of missed opportunities. Just as it would be imprudent to place all of one’s eggs in the proverbial small-cap basket, it would be a mistake to shun risk all together. A far more logical approach is to assess the returns needed by the individual and expose the portfolio to risks the investor can tolerate.
Risk must be taken or there will be no return. If an investor has a short time horizon, they should wish to avoid illiquidity risk, but they may be comfortable with leverage risk or credit risk. On the other hand, just because an investor has a high risk tolerance does not mean it is smart to take unnecessary risk. The ideal portfolio manager should have a ceaseless desire to understand the risks facing his or her investments, while simultaneously acknowledging he or she can only be sure the future is unknown.
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine what is appropriate for you, consult a qualified professional. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.
Brett Carson, CFA, is the director of research for Carson Institutional Alliance where, as portfolio manager, he is directly responsible for managing several strategies, including perennial growth, long-term trend and write income. Additionally, the Omaha-based research department conducts thorough analyses of companies to identify undervalued stocks that carry attractive upside potential.
Investment advice offered through CWM, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. LPL Financial is a separately owned entity from all other entities.
HONG KONG • Using a combination of word-of-mouth and advertising, Alibaba Group Holding is tapping the millions of Chinese outside its homeland to accelerate global expansion.
The e-commerce company, which is preparing for what could be the largest initial public offering in U.S. history, is attracting people of Chinese heritage drawn by hard-to-find items on its Taobao Marketplace such as pineapple cakes and motorbike brake pads, as well as bargain-basement prices.
“I buy everything on the platform because it’s so cheap,” said Sam Ng, 33, a Web designer in San Francisco who shops for car gadgets and Korean fashion clothes on the website and learned about Taobao from friends.
Alibaba’s success is built on its business in China, the country of 1.35 billion people where the company dominates the fast-growing e-commerce industry. Still, Chairman Jack Ma is looking beyond his base, betting that Chinese abroad will help him reach a wider array of customers in Asia, Europe and the home turf of Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc.
“If Alibaba’s strategy is to follow the Chinese diaspora, it’s a smart strategy because you don’t have to build a brand from scratch,” said Niraj Dawar, a professor of marketing at the Ivey Business School in Canada. “To be a global player they eventually have to serve markets that are non-Chinese.”
To reach those new markets, Alibaba, which gets more than 85 percent of its sales from China, is making acquisitions and developing its own platforms. AliExpress, the company’s market for customers outside of China, was founded in April 2010 and is available in English, Russian and Portuguese.
In the U.S., Alibaba has acquired stakes in Fanatics, a Web retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise, as well as ShopRunner, a membership-based shopping platform for brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Neiman Marcus.
To complement its word-of-mouth reach and tap into overseas Chinese, Alibaba uses advertising on taxis and big screen displays in Hong Kong to magazines in Taiwan and buses in Singapore.
Cui Lichuan, 30, who works for a financial firm in Tokyo, first discovered Taobao through Chinese friends. Cheaper prices and a broader selection of products, have won over Cui, who has lived in Japan for a decade.
There are nearly 50 million people of Chinese descent living outside the country, and more than 1 billion people who speak Mandarin.
“Alibaba seems to have strong connections with the immigrant population,” said David Lee, executive director of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee in San Francisco. “It makes sense to go after this market.”
Targeting this group is a strategy others are already using. Xiaomi Corp., which toppled Samsung Electronics last quarter to lead smartphone sales in China, is targeting overseas Chinese to lead its global expansion as it starts sales in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and India.
Hangzhou-based Alibaba said that part of its international strategy is focused on helping Chinese manufacturers and merchants to reach businesses and consumers across the world, according to its filing.Florence Shih, a spokeswoman for Alibaba, declined to comment on the company’s international plans citing restrictions ahead of its IPO.
Alibaba is seeking a valuation of as much as $162.7 billion, larger than 95 percent of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, based on its IPO filing. The company could raise as much as $21.1 billion, which would exceed Visa Inc.’s $19.7 billion IPO in 2008 as the biggest U.S. offering.
Founded in Ma’s Hangzhou apartment, Alibaba has ridden China’s economic liberalization to be the nation’s biggest e- commerce operator. It doesn’t sell merchandise itself, instead operating platforms including Taobao and Tmall to connect retail brands with consumers and getting most of its revenue from commissions and advertising.
Through its reach in China, where the company accounts for more than half the nation’s package deliveries, Alibaba can meet demand for products that can’t be bought elsewhere and provide direct access to manufacturers for lower costs.
Sales from outside China represent an unexploited opportunity for Alibaba, said Zia Daniell Wigder, a research director at Forrester Research that studies the e-commerce market.
“The cross-border e-commerce market is growing but many retailers have not tapped in to it yet,” she said. Alibaba “is not alone in looking to bringing in customers from around the world.”
As consumers become more comfortable buying from overseas websites, transactions are forecast to surge. Last year, eBay’s PayPal unit published a study that predicted cross-border shopping will nearly triple to $307 billion by 2018.
Despite its size, Alibaba will find taking on Amazon won’t be easy. Amazon also has set a road map to expand internationally to help U.S. retailers and Europe and Middle East suppliers sell outside of their home countries through its third-party marketplace.
For customers such as Si Shen, co-founder of application developer and marketing platform PapayaMobile, which has offices in Beijing, San Francisco and London, Alibaba still has some way to go to win over customers in the U.S. If it can, Alibaba can look forward to getting more sales.
“When I am in China I definitely use Alibaba’s Taobao to buy all kinds of things,” said Si. “When I am in the U.S., I tend to use Amazon or the commerce site of the product itself. I might start to use Alibaba’s service in the US in the future if its service and product coverage improve.”
(Reuters) - High stakes for high return, if you can stick it out for the long term - investors are buying into a boom in sub-Saharan African real estate.
Forecasts for 20 percent net annual returns from investing in shopping malls, office blocks or industrial complexes in countries from Zambia to Kenya is drawing in new investors, despite more immediate concerns in some countries about Ebola, terrorism or political stability.
Investors have already taken a liking to sub-Saharan African dollar debt, encouraging a record $10 billion in sovereign and corporate issuance last year and $5 billion so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
But when even bonds from Kenya and Senegal offer yields of only five or six percent, enthusiastic risk-takers may choose to invest on the ground in Africa.
Momentum Global Investment Management is launching a $250 million sub-Saharan real estate fund later this year, focusing initially on shopping malls and office buildings in countries such as Mozambique and Rwanda.
The fund has a life of up to eight years, so it won't be a fast way to make a buck - but Momentum expects it to be lucrative.
"The number one reason (to invest) is return - 18-20 percent on an annual basis, if you are in for the full eight years," said David Lashbrook, head of Africa investment strategies at Momentum. "The investors we are looking at targeting are institutions who can be locked up for the whole eight years."
As Africa's fast-growing population gains spending power and moves into the cities, demand for real estate will grow, fund managers say. Urbanization and population growth will boost the number of people in cities globally by 2.5 billion over the next three decades, with much of that growth in Africa and Asia, a recent United Nations study said.
"The desire of the increasingly middle class to meet, socialize, shop and spend their leisuretime in facilities or retail developments that are on a par with what you find around the world is not going to abate, it is going to continue," said David Morley, head of real estate at private equity firm Actis.
Actis has raised and invested nearly $500 million in two real estate funds, with marketsincluding Nigeria, Zambia and Mozambique. Morley is also targeting annual returns of 20 percent or more, around 5 to 10 percentage points more than returns seen in similar mainstream emerging or developed funds.
WHY REAL ESTATE?
Building costs in many African countries are high, real estate specialists say, partly because many materials have to be imported. But potential rents are also high - at a monthly $25-30 per square meter for high-end office blocks in cities like Rwanda's capital Kigali or Ghana's capital Accra, compared with below $20 in Johannesburg.
There are currently eight Africa-focused unlisted real estate funds targeting $1.25 billion in capital, according to data provider Preqin.
Around 69 percent of capital raised for African real estate funds between 2009 and 2013 was focused on sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa, up from 40 percent from 2006 to 2009.
Private equity funds look to attract institutional investors and traditionally do offer higher returns, due to the risks of investing in unlisted companies which may be less transparent.
But Ghana and Nigeria already have real estate investment trusts (REITs) - similar to mutual funds - which can be listed on stock markets and make it easier for retail investors to access the sector. Kenyan legislation to allow REITs is expected to go through this year.
The REIT market worldwide totals more than $1 trillion, according to consultancy EY, in more than 30 countries. The market is less well-established in emerging markets, but countries such as Mexico and Brazil have REITs.
Stanlib is among fund managers looking to set up a Kenyan REIT. It already has a fund listed in Johannesburg, which focuses on listed African real estate in countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mauritius, as well as South Africa.
Keillen Ndlovu, head of listed property funds at Stanlib, said the 200 million rand ($18.71 million) fund had trebled in size this year and was accessible to retail investors.
Investors are focusing on commercial properties rather than residential due to a limited supply of private housing and the lack of mortgage markets in Africa.
"We are not at that stage, we have been shown quite a few residential projects, there might be a chance - we have seen a few mixed developments," said Lashbrook at Momentum.
"If you are building residential, in a lot of these countries there is no mortgage market."
Returns of 20 percent or more don't come without significant risks. Africa has been hitting the headlines for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and attacks in investment favorites Nigeria and Kenya, including last year's attack by the al Shabaab Islamist group on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall.
But real estate specialists say that while Ebola may devastate countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia, it is a short-term issue, whereas they seek long-term gains from property.
Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea also do not rank among the main sub-Saharan markets targeted for real-estate investment.
Terrorism may add to the building costs of shopping malls, due to security and insurance costs.
"There is a concern, that's one of the first questions that come in - you do get more political risk," Ndlovu said.
But terrorism risk is not unique to Africa, investors point out. A bigger issue is land security, with documentation varying widely from country to country, and within countries.
That adds to the risk of investing in residential property, although Stephen Bailey-Smith, head of Africa research at Standard Bank in London, who recently built a beach house in Ghana, says the residential sector will eventually open up to investors.
"If you go into any city in Africa, you can see the need for decent housing is infinite," he said.
(Editing by Susan Fenton)
The Kenyan government is launching an online platform to allow Kenyans living outside of the country to access government services.
The Daily Nation reports the platform will be ready by the end of the year and will be a one-stop point for all government services for Kenyans in the diaspora.
“There are a number of things that the diaspora wants the government to do for them – things like access to passports, national IDs, KRA PIN numbers and certificates and certificates of good conduct, among other vital documents,” said Zachary Muburi, director of the Diaspora and Consular Affairs Directorate, who was speaking at the commissioning of the Kenyans Diaspora Expo to be held in New York, United States (US).
“We are putting in place structures to ensure easier accessibility of these services. This is being done through the soon-to-be-launched diaspora web portal.”
East Africa Bottling Share Company disclosed it is will make an investment greater than U.S $ 250 Million in Ethiopia during the next five years for the purpose of increasing the company’s capacity.
East Africa Bottling’s General Manager, Xavier Selga, noted “We are just finishing our strategic plan for the next five years and it has been approved, so we will spend more than 250 Million Dollars in Ethiopia during the next five years, which will allow us to increase our capacity and satisfy our customers across the country”.
New production line of East Africa will be launched in September 2014 and 2015, the General Manager note. In addition to this there will also be an additional investment on a new production plant.
He furthered, investments on trucks as well as coolers will take place to enable transport and supply the company’s products in different areas of the country.
The company is also working in collaboration with an Indian company, Caba Impact, for the purpose if recycling plastic bottles. Slega noted, “We are working to empower 2,000 women in the recycling industry. We want to make sure that the environment in Ethiopia is more sustainable and we can also help these women economically. “Right now we are training the women and explaining the routline and giving them the tools.”
In related news, Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) and World Vision announced a new Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) project to extend clean, sustainable water and sanitation to communities in the State of Tigray.
The Obama administration is pushing for greater U.S. investment in Africa. But the great African summit, held in Washington recently, was largely theater; necessary and important, but still a work of fiction.
If you knew nothing about the subject, you might think that U.S. business, in an extraordinary historical oversight, has overlooked opportunity-rich Africa. Actually, America's trade with Africa has been in free fall since 2008. China's trade with Africa is reaching new heights every year, including this one. It more than doubles ours now.
For a decade, Africa -- nearly all of its 54 countries -- has looked east, and China has seized the opening. Yet the Chinese presence in Africa hasn't helped its underlying problems. Instead, it has put money in the pockets of the ruling elites and has turned a blind eye to the excesses of those elites.
China's interest in Africa, brilliantly and cynically exploited, has been in raw materials. A theme at last week's Washington summit was that there was something wrong with exploiting raw materials, and that value-added manufacturing -- which creates real wealth and real jobs -- could just be wished into being with more investment dollars.
China has flooded the continent with its lowest-quality exports - goods that wouldn't make it onto the shelves of Walmart -- and has even cheated the Africans out of the best jobs that its raw materials-hungry policy has created by bringing in Chinese workers.
The Africans get even less out of the Chinese colonization, by another name, than it did out of the European version in the "scramble for Africa" in the last decades of the 19th century. But the elites are allowed a free hand with their kleptocracy, their human rights violations and their indifference to the condition of their own people. This sets up an asymmetrical competition with Western laws against bribery, fair trade practices and the fact that American and international companies cannot be directed to serve a political purpose by their home governments.
President Obama made a good, even a great start, before the summit when he called for an end to the bad old ways of Africa. But his words were not echoed by the delegates.
The long-term future of Africa lies in fundamental reforms within its social and political structures -- and one in particular: its attitude toward women. If you spend any time there, two things are apparent: women have a raw deal, yet they -- not the oil or the chrome or the copper, but the used and abused women of Africa -- are its future.
Women hold Africa together and suffer in silence. They are the ones bent over with primitive implements in the fields, inevitably with their latest infant strapped to their backs. They are the ones who must endure marriage during puberty, bear children before their bodies are fully formed and face the world's highest rates of death during childbirth.
In shiny office buildings in Accra or Lusaka, it is the women who are moving the work forward. If you need something done, from a permit to an airline reservation, seek out a woman in an office. However, very few women make it to those prized jobs.
On the farms in Africa, it is the women who have managed small cooperatives, mastered micro-credit and provide family life. But they still must bend over their budzas with their youngest child strapped to their backs. The budza is a kind of hoe used for weeding, tilling and sowing. In its way, it is also a symbol of female enslavement; light enough for a woman to use all day long.
The women of Africa need to be told often and in every way they are special. They need to know that they have value beyond sex and work; that they are not an inferior gender, that they are the future.
The summit touched, in passing, on the talent and the plight women, as the male leaders talked the talk of international good intentions. But the women of Africa need recognition. Give them the tools of education and opportunity and they will do the job.
The budza needs to be retired, as does the culture of female enslavement of which it is the symbol.
London has overtaken New York City and San Francisco to become the world capital of crowdfunding.
At an event held by The Crowdfunding Centre in London today, an interactive map showing crowdfunding’s spread and distribution was unveiled.
London is the top city, with local businesses and startups creating more campaigns during July than any other city.
Just over 250,000 crowdfunding campaigns have been launched internationally this year so far. The UK’s capital, London, is leading the charge in terms of cities, with 12 new crowdfunding projects launching on average each day. The average amount raised is $17,834, with an average fully-funded success rate of 32%.
“When we looked at the database, I was stunned to see that London sees the most crowdfunding activity on most days,” explains Barry James, founder and CEO of The Crowdfunding Centre.
James attributes London’s lead to the city’s startup community embracing crowdfunding as an alternative way to raise cash.
“It’s clear from the figures that the hyper-connectivity of the startup community in London is helping. There is also the fact that compared to the US, where centers of excellence are scattered around the East and West coasts, London has become a center of many specialisms.”
In particular, the data shows that London is a leader for crowdfunding projects in the business, technology, publishing and gaming industries – all fast-growth areas.
Discussing the findings, Dr Richard Swart, a crowdfunding and alternative finance expert from University of California, Berkeley, said the research findings come as no surprise: “London and the UK are continuing the growth documented in our research. It is becoming clear the UK is leading the market in many respects.”
The UK government is not ignoring this. Just last week, George Osborne, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that the UK is ready to challenge US dominance in crowdfunding:
“We stand at the dawn of a new era of innovative finance. Setting the objective of the UK leading the world, London has become the world capital of crowdfunding. The technologies being developed today will revolutionize the way we bank, the way we invest, the way companies raise money. It will lead to new products, new services, new lenders.”
Britain is embracing crowdfundingCrowdfunding has grown extremely quickly in the UK over the last few years, growing by more than 600% between 2012 and 2013, from just under £4m raised in 2012 to more than £28m in 2013. The industry is now on track to reach £1bn by the end of 2014.
This fast growth has caught the government’s attention, with the Financial Conduct Authority – the UK financial service regulator – releasing new rules to regulate both crowdfunding and peer-to-peer funding platforms.
Before the FCA’s rules, some crowdfunding activity had been unregulated, some regulated, and some of it exempt from regulation. These new rules were widely welcomed by crowdfunding platforms, making the model more accessible to everyday investors.
“[The UK] is the best jurisdiction for crowdfunding in the world,” says Jeff Lynn, the American-born founder of Seedrs. “The US and the rest of Europeare far behind the UK, which has a sensible regime that protects investors while still creating a commercial model in which to operate. Hats off to the government for their enthusiasm.”
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Stockport Exploration, a Canadian firm prospecting for gold in Western Kenya, will begin mining operations at a cost of Sh74 million, part of the cash raised from local investors.
The firm that is mining in Migori raised $1.15 million (Sh100 million) through a private share placement in October 2013 that saw TransCentury chairman Zeph Mbugua appointed to its board.
Kestrel Capital was the transaction adviser in the deal.
Stockport said that extraction would now begin after it completed analysis, which was the first phase of its mining programme.
“Based on results from Phase 1, a Phase 2 programme will be undertaken to meet the remaining requirements for establishing a small-scale mining operation,” said Stockport in a statement.
The miner said that the second phase would see it begin to look for companies to offer services.
“Phase 2 of the programme will include finalising the agreement with a service provider to procure equipment and provide managerial services, process tailings and quartz rubble, and use a sophisticated small-scale mining operation at the SPL 214 target (its site) to fund ongoing exploration expenditures,” said the firm.
Stockport expects that it will begin to make revenues from its operations by the end of this year.
Stockport joins other mining firms that have raised capital for expanding operations and improving working capital in the western part of the country.UK firm Red Rock Resources raised Sh71 million through a bond to fund operations for its sites also in Migori County. African Queen Mines of Canada also seeks to raise Sh8 million for its operations in Homa Bay and Siaya.
Stockport also joins Base Resources, the Australian firm mining titanium in Kwale County, as miners that have sold shares to local investors.
In June last year, Base Resources announced that local, large institutional investors that included pension and asset managers had bought a one per cent stake in the miner for Sh170 million.
Analysts say that local businesses stand to benefit as more mining firms increase their operations.
“The construction of new mines across the region to exploit the rich set of natural resources in a historically underexplored region requires local engineering and construction capacity where TransCentury fits into,” said a report on the infrastructure firm by Old Mutual Securities.
The World Bank committed a record $15.3 billion to sub-Saharan Africa’s development in its most recent financial year, which ran from July 2013 to June 2014.
The bank delivered $10.6 billion in new lending for 160 projects during the year, including a record $10.2 billion in zero-interest credits and grants from the International Development Association, its fund for the poorest countries.
Sub-Saharan Africa has huge potential hydropower resources that could generate a tremendous supply of electricity, but only 10% of that potential has been harnessed, the bank said on Monday.
“Boosting access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is a primary objective of the bank’s work in Africa,” it said.
In Nigeria, the bank is working on a plan to increase its installed generation capacity by about 1,000 megawatts while mobilizing nearly $1.7 billion of private-sector financing.
The bank also supported the 80-megawatt Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project in Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania, and provided a $100 million grant to Burundi for the Jiji-Mulembwe hydropower project.
As one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world – second only to North America – Africa has been placed firmly in the spotlight for those seeking new ventures for their money.
The Washington-based World Bank Group this fiscal year has approved and disbursed a historic record high funding to Ethiopia, The Reporter has learnt. According to the information obtained, this fiscal year alone the World Bank has approved USD 1.6 billion and disbursed some 1.3 billion for eight projects in the country.
As government regulators crack down on the financing of terrorists and drug traffickers, many big banks are abandoning the business of transferring money from the United States to other countries, moves that are expected to reverse years of declines in the cost of immigrants sending money home to their families.
While Mexico may be most affected — nearly half of the $51.1 billion in remittances sent from the United States in 2012 ended up in that country — the banks’ broad retreat over the last year is affecting other countries in Latin America and parts of Africa as well. The banks are being held accountable not only for the customers who directly use their money transfer services but also for their role in collecting remittances from money transmitting companies and wiring them abroad.
“This is transforming the business and may increase the costs of international money transfers,” said Manuel Orozco, a senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, a research group in Washington.
JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have scrapped low-cost services that allowed Mexican immigrants to send money to their families across the border. The Spanish bank BBVA is reportedly exploring the sale of its unit that wires money to Mexico and across Latin America. And in perhaps the deepest retrenchment by a bank,Citigroup’s Banamex USA unit has now closed many of its branches in Texas, California and Arizona that catered to Mexicans living in the United States and stopped most remittances to Mexico as it faces a federal investigation related to money laundering controls.
Regulators say the banking system was being exploited by terrorists and drug lords seeking to launder money. While they have not banned banks from engaging in higher-risk businesses like money transfers to certain countries, they acknowledge that banks must now invest significantly more to monitor the money moving through their systems or face substantial penalties.
But the government’s efforts to root out illicit activity have effectively put the banks into a law enforcement role, industry experts say. And the result is undercutting another public policy goal — helping immigrants, who are primarily low income, move into mainstream banking. Even with the current relatively low remittance fees, the costs can still add up. Some Latin American immigrants say they regularly send three remittances a week to pay for last-minute school supplies or rent.
Manuel Santiago, a 48-year-old Mexican living in Queens, said he sometimes pays $4 to send as little as $20 at a time to his son and daughter in Mexico. “I am supporting my family and things come up irregularly,” he said.
The pendulum has swung so far, participants in the industry say, that regulators are pushing banks out of some activities considered beneficial to the broader economy.
“The money transfer business has become the whipping boy of regulators who want to show how tough they are,” said Paul S. Dwyer Jr., chief executive of Viamericas, a money transfer company based in Maryland with a large focus on Mexico.PhotoThe government’s efforts to root out illicit activity have effectively put the banks into a law enforcement role, industry experts say.Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times
Shut out by many large banks, more of Mr. Dwyer’s customers are turning to large retailers in Mexico to pick up money sent from the United States, and some of those retailers charge money transfer companies as much as double the banks’ fees, he said. Mr. Dwyer’s company is recouping the additional costs by increasing the difference — or the spread — between what customers pay in dollars and what their family members receive in Mexican pesos.
A World Bank report on remittances found that the costs had been steadily falling over the last five years. But industry experts are expecting that trend to reverse.
A spokesman for Western Union, one of the largest remittance players, said the company was among those capturing business from the banks.
While immigrants say they have not noticed broad price increases from companies like Western Union, industry experts say higher costs are inevitable with fewer banks acting as middlemen for money transmitters.
“If you are the only game in town, you may be able to charge a premium,” said Daniel Ayala, head of global remittance services atWells Fargo, adding that the bank has not passed increased regulatory costs to customers, leading to a decline in profits.
Many banks had considered remittances an attractive business because they generated steady fees and required little capital. In some cases, remittances could satisfy Community Reinvestment Act requirements to serve a certain percentage of low-income customers.
But the regulatory pressures and increased costs of compliance have started to outweigh the potential profits.
JPMorgan stopped its Rapid Cash program in November, partly because the bank grew concerned about some of the risks, a spokeswoman said. As part of its program, JPMorgan had teamed up with the large Mexican bank Banorte. Many people picking up remittances in Mexico sent from Chase branches in the United States were not customers of Banorte, making it more difficult to monitor them.
Last year, Bank of America canceled its SafeSend product, regarded as one of the least expensive ways for immigrants to send money to Mexico. A spokeswoman said the bank canceled the product because of “limited demand” and would not elaborate. A BBVA spokesman declined to comment on the possible sale of its Bancomer Transfer Services unit.
Some banks still make certain wire transfers to Mexico, but the costs of such services can be five times as high as a typical remittance, making it prohibitive for many immigrants.
Even if banks invested in new software to screen for worrisome transactions, they would still have to manually investigate many suspicious activities and report them to regulators. Banks fear that a single mistake could lead to costly penalties like the $1.9 billion settlement that the British bank HSBC agreed to pay over money laundering issues in 2012. HSBC has stopped paying out remittances at its Mexican branches.
And the heightened diligence can slow, or even stop, vital payments.
Domingo Garcia, a 36-year-old limousine driver in Los Angeles, said he grew frustrated with Wells Fargo when one of his family’s remittances totaling roughly $1,500 failed to clear. In the same week, he said, family members had tried to send another large remittance. His mother needed the money to pay for her chemotherapy treatment in Mexico. “The hospital was saying it would not give her the medicine until they were paid,” Mr. Garcia said.
Wells Fargo declined to comment on a specific customer’s transaction, but said there could be a number of causes for delays, including efforts to screen for fraud and the bank’s limits on the amount of transfers allowed each month. While the bank remains committed to Mexico, it has slowed the expansion of its money transfer network to other high-risk countries.
Citigroup’s Banamex USA, which has been ensnared in a criminal investigation related to money laundering, is an example of how compliance problems at an obscure affiliate can have serious consequences for a global bank like Citigroup. The New York parent has removed many of the veteran managers at Banamex USA and installed a “cleanup team” of executives to improve its compliance systems, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Citigroup inherited the small California bank when it acquired Banamex, Mexico’s second-largest bank after BBVA Bancomer, in 2001. Because Banamex USA was overseen by executives at Banamex’s headquarters in Mexico, it did not come under the same compliance systems as Citigroup’s units in the United States, this person said. It also wired cash on behalf of money transfer companies in the United States to Banamex accounts in Mexico, people in the remittance industry say.
In reality, it may be nearly impossible to fully monitor money flowing through some parts of the world. Regulators worry, in particular, about remittances to Somalia, a haven for terrorist groups with no formal banking system. Banks in the United States have had to wire money to banks in Dubai. Much of the money is then moved into Somalia through a network of traders.
One of the few banks willing to take that risk is Merchants Bank of California. But in the face of scrutiny from regulators, the bank has told some money transfer companies in cities with large Somali enclaves like Minneapolis that it may no longer be able to provide them with banking services.
Merchants Bank’s exit could be a big blow to Somalia, where remittances are a major source of income for a country that has suffered from recent famine, according to the antipoverty group Oxfam.
“We’re looking for alternatives,” said Abdulaziz Sugule, president of the Olympic Financial Group, a money transfer company in Minneapolis that Merchants Bank may drop, “but it’s going to be tough.”
South Africa signed a partnership agreement with Russia’s state-owned nuclear company that may see Rosatom Corp. build reactors in Africa’s second-biggest economy.
“The agreement lays the foundation for the large-scale nuclear power plants procurement and development program” using Russian VVER reactors with installed capacity of about 9,600 megawatts, or as many as eight nuclear units, Rosatom and the South African government said in an e-mailed statement today. The country also has a draft nuclear cooperation pact with China.
South Africa’s integrated resources plan envisions 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy being added to the national grid to help reduce reliance on coal, which utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. uses to generate 80 percent of the country’s electricity. The state-owned company is struggling to meet power demand,
The National Treasury said in February 2013 that a 300 billion-rand ($27 billion) nuclear program was in the final stages of study.
Areva SA (AREVA), EDF SA (EDF), Toshiba Corp. (6502)’s Westinghouse Electric Corp., China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp., Rosatom and Korea Electric Power Corp. (015760)have expressed interest in building the plants.Local Procurement
“This agreement opens up the door for South Africa to access Russian technologies, funding, infrastructure, and provides a proper and solid platform for future extensive collaboration,” South African Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in the statement. It will allow the country to implement its plan to create more nuclear capacity by 2030, she said.
The collaboration will result in orders worth at least $10 billion to local industrial companies, Rosatom Director General Sergei Kirienko said in the statement.
In addition to building the nuclear units, the agreement provides for partnerships including the construction of a Russian technology-based research reactor, assistance in the development of South African nuclear infrastructure and education of specialists at Russian universities, the parties said in the statement.
Rosatom currently holds projects for the construction of 29 nuclear power plants, including 19 foreign commissions in countries including India, China, Turkey, Vietnam, Finland and Hungary.Financial Implications
Eskom operates a 1,800-megawatt nuclear facility at Koeberg, near Cape Town. In December, the Energy Ministry published a revised 20-year energy plan, which projected that new nuclear power won’t be required until at least 2025.
If finalized, the deal may have significant financial risks and implications for electricity prices in South Africa, said Anne Fruhauf, an analyst at New York-based consultants Teneo Intelligence.
South Africa’s energy regulator last month approved a power-tariff increase that could amount to 5 percentage points on top of the above-inflation 8 percent previously agreed, and prices may have to rise even further for Eskom, which supplies 95 percent of the country’s electricity needs, to plug a 225 billion-rand funding gap.
“The million-dollar question will be the financing details and equity ownership,” Fruhauf said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We don’t have the details yet but it could be one of the biggest public procurement programs on which South Africa has ever embarked.”
EU launches new programme to support Africa's continental integration
The European Commission has launched the first phase of a new programme that will foster Africa's integration process at continental level - the first ever EU programme in development and cooperation that covers Africa as a whole. The so-called Pan-African Programme will fund activities in a broad range of areas and offer new possibilities for the EU and Africa to work together. Today’s decision will launch projects for the period 2014-2017, with a total allocation of €415 million.
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said: "The challenges with which we are faced can no longer be tackled within national borders. This is as true in Europe as it is in Africa or elsewhere. This is why I have proposed to create a Pan-African programme to find solutions at regional and continental scale and support the process of African integration, where the African Union plays a critical role. The alliance between Africa and Europe is indispensable, today more than ever. This programme will make it even stronger”.
EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs commented: "The major innovation of this programme is that it allows the EU to link up the cooperation it has with Northern Africa, South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. It will also help us to achieve better policy coherence for development by building synergies between development cooperation and other EU policies."
The Pan-African Programme, which was announced by President Barroso at the 4th Africa-EU summit in Brussels in April 2014, will amount to €845 million from 2014 to 2020. It will contribute, amongst others, to increased mobility on the African continent, better trade relations across regions and also better equip both continents for addressing trans-national and global challenges, such as migration and mobility, climate change or security. The first phase that was launched today will include projects ranging from sustainable agriculture, environment, and higher education to governance, infrastructure, migration, information and communication technology, as well as research and innovation.
Concrete projects will, for example, support election observation missions operated by the African Union in its member states or improve the governance of migration and mobility within Africa and between Africa and the EU. Some initiatives will benefit citizens directly, such as a student’s academic exchange programme or the harmonisation of academic curricula across a range of African universities facilitating the mobility of African students and academics.
Africa's continental integration has become a key priority for both the African Union and the EU. The Pan-African Programme will provide a major contribution to the EU-Africa Partnership, which the two continents established in 2007 to put their relations on a new footing and to establish a strategic partnership, responding to mutual interests and based upon a strong political relationship and close cooperation in key areas. The programme, which is financed from the EU budget will be a key instrument for the European Commission to implement, in close cooperation with African partners, the joint political priorities of the roadmap which was adopted by African and EU Heads of State and Government during the 4th EU-Africa summit in April this year.
For more information:
Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2017 of the Pan-African Programme:
For more information on the Africa-EU Partnership:
For more information on the EU-Africa Summit:
Chile’s mining industry is heating up. According to a new report by the state copper commission Cochilco, investments in the country’s mining sector are expected to reach $105 billion between 2014 and 2023.
Of the total investment, it’s reported $81 billion will go towards the copper industry while $23 billion will be used for gold, silver, iron ore another industrial mineral projects.
The massive investment will also include $28 billion in allocated funds for Codelco, the state-owned copper mining company, for new mines and the expansion of one of its major projects.
"Certain projects are currently facing delays," Cochilco executive VP Sergio Hernández said.
According to Hernández, some projects may be running behind schedule as a result of delays in securing permits or meeting new environmental and social standards, but nothing has been terminated.
"There are no trust issues here; mining investors are confident. No project has fallen through.”
Mining investments in Chile will feature 14 companies that are looking to implement medium or large-scale mining projects in the country for the first time, according to the report by Cochilco.
The planned investment will also include nine new mining projects with an estimated investment of $8.9 billion, including seven for copper.
Cochilco said once all projects are completed, the country’s copper production will exceed six million tons by 2015 and eight million tons by 2025. Gold production is expected to rise as well, increasing by 191 percent to 149,480kg a year.
Chile, the world’s top copper producer, has been battling sliding prices, rising costs and falling ore grades.
The South Africa stationed Standard Bank study this week named 11 African nations topping in middle-class status in Africa, with Ethiopia included among the well-performing states.
According to the Standard Bank's latest study, Ethiopia, together with ten other African nations, is said to be home to millions of middle-class households and that the trend will keep increasing in the next 15 years. Simon Freemantle, the author of the report, told the African Press Organization (APO) that the report has been conducted on the basis of the South African Living Standards Measure (LSM). Previously, 300 million people were said to constitute the middle-income societies of Africa. That number has dwindled to 22 million.
In its "Understanding Africa's Middle Class," the Standard Bank listed Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia as prospective countries that would have millions of households as middle-income earning societies in Africa. Previously, the African Development Bank (AfDB) reported in its "middle of the pyramid: Dynamics of the middle class in Africa" in 2011 that the middle class were those individuals who could earn USD 4 to 20 a day. In addition, those individuals earning USD 2 to USD 4 are also counted in the middle-income earners category. The Standard Bank, however, scrutinized such categorizations of one-third of the African population, precisely over 300 million, as a mere aggregation where such individuals remain vulnerable to "economic shocks and prone to lose their middle-income status," Freemantle said.
The previous estimates of middle-income Africa were argued to be a reflection of the "knowledge gap" and hence, based on the LSM methodology, 11 states were labeled home to 14 million additional middle-income households. That said, the author cautions that out of the 110 million people of the 11 states, 86 percent are under-achievers of the middle class. "Though there has been a meaningful individual lift in income, it is clear that a substantial majority of individuals in most countries we looked at still live on or below the poverty line (measured as those with a daily income of USD 2 or less)." Hence, individual-based analysis is a non-quantifiable measurement. Either way, the middle class in Africa has been rising since 1900, the report stated.
Yet, these countries were able to swell in Gross Domestic Products (GDP) tenfold increase since 2000. In a related case, the FDI report 2014 dubbed The Global Greenfield Investment Trends, issued by the FDI Intelligence magazine, named Ethiopia as one of the top ten foreign direct investment destination countries in the Middle East and Africa in 2013. Ethiopia amassed USD 4.5 billion in the stated year and stood eighth before Algeria and Kenya.
The Standard Bank is one of the oldest financial institutions in the continent, some 150 years old and currently employs some 49 thousand people across the region. In the 2013 fiscal year, Standard Bank registered revenue of USD 1.8 billion.
Saudi Arabia’s regulator on Thursday issued a set of draft rules for foreigners ahead of the long-awaited opening of its $580 billion stock market to international investors next year.
The Capital Markets Authority said a qualified foreign investor must be a bank, brokerage, fund manager or insurance company with at least $5 billion in assets under management, a requirement aimed at attracting more stable and experienced institutional investors.
The draft rules set a 5% ownership limit for any individual investor in a single listed company and a collective 20% ceiling for qualified foreign investors.
“The maximum proportion of the issued share of any particular issuer whose shares are listed that may be owned by all foreign investors (in all categories, whether residents or non-residents) in aggregate is 49%, including interests under swaps,” the CMA said.
A final version of the rules is expected to be published after a three-month consultation period with banks, government officials and other market participants.
Saudi Arabia, the biggest economy in the Arab world, is one of the last large international markets to remain largely off-limits to foreign investors. In 2008, the kingdom began allowing foreign investors indirect access to the market through swaps, but it has hesitated to open the market fully.
But last month, the regulator said it was working on rules to lift those restrictions, potentially paving the way to draw in hundreds of millions of dollars.
Foreign investors have been waiting eagerly for more access to the region’s biggest and most liquid market, especially after two much smaller peers, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, were upgraded to emerging-markets status by index compiler MSCI in May. Inclusion of a country’s stocks in MSCI’s indexes automatically draws in funds from investors who track the benchmarks.
Saudi Arabia’s stocks are worth more than the other three open regional emerging markets—Egypt, Qatar and the U.A.E.—put together.
KIGALI—Rwanda has made major strides over the last decade in boosting growth, reducing poverty, and tackling gender inequality. From 2001-2012, its real GDP growth averaged 8.1 percent while the poverty rate fell from 59 percent in 2001 to 45 percent in 2011. It also has the highest number of female parliamentarians in the world, with 63.8 percent of seats in the lower house occupied by women.
But numerous challenges remain, particularly for young women in this youthful, densely populated country in Africa’s Great Lakes region.
The country’s large youth cohort—some 19 percent of the population is aged 15-24—faces major obstacles in entering the work force. Adolescent girls face the added burdens of widespread early childbearing, high fertility, and gender-based violence. Young women are also less likely than their male peers to complete secondary education, limiting their opportunities and ability to work their way out of poverty.
To tackle these challenges, the Rwanda Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) launched a pilot program in 2012 to boost job skills and incomes among disadvantaged adolescent girls and young women, aged 15-24, in two urban and two rural districts of Rwanda.
Young women get six months of skills training in areas such as food processing, culinary arts, arts and crafts, and agri-business—complemented by life skills courses, social support, and mentoring. Participants also receive support to form cooperatives and connect with the private sector, including exporters: One public-private partnership is helping participants break into high-end US and Japanese markets.
Three cohorts of young women—2,007 in all—will have completed training in September 2014. While the project is still in the pilot stage, anecdotal evidence suggests it is having a positive impact on the lives of participants.
For example, 23 girls who studied food processing at the Gaculiro Training Center in Kigali have been placed in two-month internships with local industries.
Chantal Uwamariya, 20, was forced to leave school in 2008 when her single mother could no longer afford tuition: "I believe I will become an important businesswoman and change my family’s situation for the better. Then I shall be sure that I can get married and set up my own family."Sarah Haddock/World Bank
Maria Nyiraminani, 20, the youngest of eight children, had to leave school to help her mother at home after her father died in 2009: "Now I am sure I can get a job and help my mother… I hope one day I will be able to help young girls in poor settings."Sarah Haddock/World Bank
Graduates from the first cohort have formed 60 cooperatives, typically comprising 18-20 members, and several businesses. Several cooperatives have ventured into non-traditional farming such as mushrooms and beekeeping. In Bushoki, a rural village north of the capital, 22 girls have established a restaurant that is quickly becoming popular in the area.
Life skills—social and behavioral skills that enable trainees to deal effectively with the demands of everyday life—is an important part of the Rwanda AGI. In addition, through a partnership with Girl Hub Rwanda, participants are provided with a designated space that is safe and supportive, aimed at helping girls make healthy choices.
“I thought my pain and sadness were mine alone but when I came to this program, I realized that there are many girls in similar situations,” said Chantal Uwamariya, 20, an AGI participant forced to leave school in 2008 when her mother could no longer afford tuition.
“We have been trained how to live with other people and how to handle difficult situations. This… keeps me going.”
Maria Nyiraminani, 20 and the youngest of eight children, had to leave school to help her mother at home after her father died in 2009. With AGI training, she said, “Now I am sure I can get a job and help my mother… I hope one day I will be able to help young girls in poor settings.”
The Government of Rwanda plans to maintain designated training centers for young women after the AGI pilot ends later this year, while similar AGI programs appear to have impact in other countries.
In Liberia, participants in a similar program, Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women, reported a 47 percent increase in employment and 80 percent jump in average weekly earnings compared with a control group.
In Nepal, the Adolescent Girls Employment Initiative is helping young women find jobs in lucrative, non-traditional fields for women such as gadget repair and aluminum working.
Ensuring equal opportunities for girls and women and tackling gender-based discrimination are vital to unleashing women’s productive capacity—and tackling poverty.
The AGI, launched in 2008, is a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank Group. Its donors include the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the Nike Foundation.
Cameroon has registered timber, banana, cocoa, rubber and cotton as top five exported products in 2013, according to the National Port Authority (APN) statistics published on Friday.Cameron exported 1,746 million tons of timber; representing 66.2 percent of the country’s exports in 2013.
Banana accounted for 10.6 percent of export in the same year with 279,506 tons, representing the country’s second exported products.
Cocoa with 182,829 tons (6.9 percent of export), timber with 47 665 tons (5.8 percent of export) and cotton with 133 063 tons ( 5 percent of export) came third, fourth and fifth respectively among the top five exported products in 2013.
Total volume of exports at the port of Douala reached 2,639 million tons in 2013, up from 2,598 million tons in 2012.
Like exports, imports also increased slightly from 6,958 million tons in 2012 to 7,864 million tons in 2013, an increase of 906 tons, reprsenting 13 percent in relative value.
Africa has a particularly rich heritage. It is fondly remembered as the cradle of civilization because of the influence Egypt exerted over the rest of the world in ancient times. In more recent times, Africa has become an “economic mega block‐buster” offering some of the highest returns on Foreign Direct Investment in the world today.
A lot of studies, research and analysis have been conducted on the African continent and rightfully so. Investors continue to be wooed by the potentials embedded therein as more and more reports on Africa are reveal a steady upward trend in investment inflow. The continent, despite its well-publicized challenges, is being touted as the World’s top destination for investment flow.
Africa’s countries, however, do not offer the exact same potential returns for all categories of investment. A way of segmenting the countries would be to divide them into “high risk, high rewards” and “low risk, high rewards.” Both categories bear enormous potential, but differing levels of risks and economic stability.
Some characteristics of the Low Risk, High Rewards economy include Diversified economies, relative macroeconomic and political stability, relatively low incidents of insurgency.These countries are South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Kenya, and Ghana.
The risk of operating in these geographies is relatively low and the returns continue to be high. These are the most attractive spots on the continent, but the question of sustainability should be asked especially as other regions continue to develop economically.
High Risk economics hold traits such as they are mostly oil producers or have relatively non‐diversified economies, lower levels of macroeconomic and political stability than their counterparts in the low risk, high rewards category and higher levels of insurgency with the potential to cripple economic potential.
In this category you can find countries like Nigeria, Egypt, Angola, Uganda, and Tanzania.
These countries, surprisingly, do not attract significantly lesser investment than their more stable counterparts. In fact, over a four year period from 2007‐2011, these countries have received similar attention in terms of investment. For instance, Angola and Tunisia received similar investments over the four year window, the same hold for Morocco and Egypt.
Nigeria also is said to be the top gainer of foreign investment despite the heightened insecurity challenge it faces. This has been largely attributed to the country’s huge consumer space, with population exceeding 170 million people.
With more cooperation between African governments in promoting macroeconomic and political stability as well as curbing insurgency, we can expect to see more economic fortunes arise from the African continent.
The first hotel to be built in the city of Angoche, in Mozambique’s Nampula province may start operating this year, the head of Economic Activities Services for the district, Miguel Massunda Júnior told Mozambican daily newspaper, Notícias.
The hotel, construction of which is expected to cost US$664,000, is owned by Mozambican group Kirimba and will offer 42 beds along with other related services, such as a restaurant.
Massunda Júnior also told the newspaper that once the hotel opens to the public the city will finally have better quality accommodation and the number of beds available will increase from 67 to 109.
Angoche now has three bed and breakfast units – Parapato, Mafamede and Sporting – as well as some private homes that take in overnight guests.
With the exceptions of the provincial capital Nampula and the port town of Nacala, Angoche is one of the few municipalities that has the facilities to become one of the busiest urban areas in the province, particularly in economic terms, as it has electricity, running water, mobile and fixed-line telephone services and banks.
Most of the 172,000 inhabitants of Angoche work in the agricultural, fishing and informal retail sectors.
The Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC) — a project of the World Bank and its global entrepreneurship program infoDev — has announced the 11 winners of its first regional Proof of Concept (PoC) competition. The successful applicants will receive grants of up to USD 50,000 to develop, test, and commercialize innovative, locally relevant climate technology solutions.
Officially closed on April 20, the PoC has received more than 300 applications from 14 countries, including territories within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Entrepreneurs were asked to submit proposals for innovative products, services, or business models in sustainable agribusiness, water management and recycling, solar energy, energy efficiency, and resource use sectors.
“This overwhelming response is very encouraging for the future of the CCIC and its activities,” said Everton Hanson, Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean CIC. “The process was very competitive and even the unsuccessful applicants submitted interesting ideas that show great potential.”
The 11 winning proposals represent seven Caribbean countries — Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Belize. Particularly noteworthy is also the high engagement achieved among women, with four winning concepts submitted by female applicants.
The PoC grants are designed to help entrepreneurs prove the value of their business concept by providing the resources and the skills necessary to prototype, test, develop, and commercialize services and products. In addition to funding, the PoC winners will also get access to the suite of advisory services offered by the CCIC, as well as considerable exposure and networking opportunities through the center’s media events.
The CCIC will work with Caribbean countries to develop innovative solutions to local climate challenges. By supporting Caribbean entrepreneurs with a suite of services to commercialize new climate-friendly products, the CCIC will spur economic development, decrease reliance on imported fossil fuels and increase resilience to climate change.
The Caribbean CIC is part of infoDev’s Climate Technology Program (CTP), which is currently implementing a global network of innovation centers across seven other countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Vietnam and Ethiopia. The center is also part of the broader Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) funded by the Government of Canada.
As part of efforts to enhance its operations, First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) has concluded plans to raise fresh capital through the issuance of a new Tier-2 subordinated Eurobond. According to a reliable industry source, the bank will commence the road show for the bond on Thursday in London, preparatory to issuance of the dollar-denominated instrument.
UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) rail specialist Jake Rudham believes that there are many investment opportunities in the Namibian railway sector that firms from his country could exploit.Speaking at the conclusion of a one-day visit to Namibia, Rudham said UK companies had the necessary expertise to help the southern African country to develop its infrastructure projects, including railway.
He expected more UK companies to engage with TransNamib on projects such as the Trans Kalahari Railway.
“We look forward to further engagement and developing these opportunities,” the official said.
UKTI is the UK Government’s trade promotion body and the visit by Rudham followed the success of the fact-finding mission to Namibia by a British business delegation in September 2013.
During his stay Rudham met senior Namibian government officials, including Minister of Works and Transport Erkki Nghimtina, and representatives of the National Planning Commission, railways utility TransNamib and Namibia Port Authority.