Diaspora investments
929 views | +0 today
Follow
 
Scooped by homestrings
onto Diaspora investments
Scoop.it!

Solar Roadways passes $1.4 million in crowdfunding: Just short of the $56 trillion required, but not bad for a crazy idea

Solar Roadways passes $1.4 million in crowdfunding: Just short of the $56 trillion required, but not bad for a crazy idea | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Over the weekend, the Solar Roadways project on Indiegogo reached its target of $1 million. At the time of publishing, that figure is now north of $1.4 million, with five days left to go. The concept is verging on utopian: By replacing the USA’s concrete and asphalt roads with solar panels, we could produce three times more electricity than we consume, instantly solving just about every energy problem we have (geopolitical stuff, reliance on fossil fuels, CO2 production, etc.) It’s not hard to see why Solar Roadways has attracted so much attention and money: On paper, it really does sound like one of the greatest inventions ever. In reality, though, where, you know, real-world factors come into play, it will probably never make the jump from drawing board to large-scale deployment.

Solar Roadways, the brainchild of Julie and Scott Brusaw of Idaho, have been in development since at least the mid-2000s. The concept, as described by dozens of videos and blog posts over the years, is pretty simple: We replace roads with hard-wearing solar cells. By adding other electronics, such as LEDs and touch sensors, additional functionality has also been mooted: Illuminated road markings (and animals crossing the road), roads that melt snow and ice, and so on. Electrified/networked roads could also be a key step towards self-driving cars and wide-scale EV adoption.

To be fair to the Brusaws, they’re not exactly scammers — Scott is an electrical engineer, and most of the science checks out — but so far, despite $850,000 in grants from the Department of Transport, the couple have only built a small prototype parking lot. TheIndiegogo page doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, either. Right at the bottom of the page, there’s a single line describing what the $1 million (and counting) will be spent on: “We asked for $1 million to hire an initial team of engineers to help us make a few needed tweaks in our product and streamline our process so that we could go from prototype to production.”

These engineers will be tasked with the rather difficult task of turning Solar Roadways from a utopian concept into a real-world product. I do not envy them. While no one is arguing that it would be great to turn our road system into a massive solar farm, there are simply way too many obstacles that need to be traversed — much like fusion power, cold fusion, or heck, building a frickin’ star-encompassing Dyson sphere. Chief among these obstacles is cost. While exact figures are hard to come by, there’s roughly 29,000 square miles (75,000 sq km) of paved road in the lower 48 US states. As you can probably imagine, asphalt is pretty cheap (on the order of a few dollars per square foot) — and Solar Roadways, which are essentially solar cells wedged between thick slabs of ultra-tough glass, are not cheap. Back in 2010, Scott Brusaw estimated a cost of $10,000 for a 12-foot-by-12-foot segment of Solar Roadway, or around $70 per square foot; asphalt, on the other hand, is somewhere around $3 to $15, depending on the quality and strength of the road. According to some maths done by Aaron Saenz, the total cost to redo America’s roadways with Solar Roadways would be $56 trillion — or about four times the country’s national debt.

The top piece of tempered glass on a Solar Roadways panel

Beyond cost, there are other factors like strength and durability, how to store the power, how to wire remote stretches of road into the grid, and, perhaps most importantly, how to keep the roads clean. The Brusaws say the glass tiles can support 250,000 pounds (113,000 kilos), which is certainly enough for any vehicle that might use the US road system — but what about withstanding piercing impacts? What about chemical spills and fires? If a glass tile breaks, is it easy to fix? Will the shards puncture tires?

The only actual real-world Solar Roadways prototype: A small parking lot

To get around the roads-get-rather-dirty issue, Solar Roadways proposes using self-cleaning glass — but in a kind of hand-waving way that conveniently forgets that self-cleaning materials, by virtue of being oleo- and hydrophobic, are incredibly slippery. Sounds like the perfect way to make the morning commute a bit more exciting. Suffice it to say, dirty roads, broken roads, and roads that are too far away from civilization to be useful might as well make no power at all.

With all that said, there’s still no denying that Solar Roadways are cool — but why not just, I don’t know, put solar panels along the side of the road? Or on the roof of your house? Or in the desert? Having built-in ice and snow melting is pretty neat, and lighting up when an animal steps on the road is cute, but neither are worth $56 trillion. Rooftop solar arrays are reaching the point where they’re actuallyquite cost effective in certain parts of the world — and they’re much, much cheaper than building a Solar Roadway — but adoption is still very low. As much as I’d love the US to be blanketed in green, fossil fuel-replacing electrified Solar Roadways, it just isn’t feasible. On the small scale, there could well be some companies that roll out Solar Roadway parking lots — but I think that’s about it, for the foreseeable future.

more...
No comment yet.
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Zambia International Investment Forum

Zambia International Investment Forum | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
The Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, the Zambia Development Agency and Homestrings, a UK-based investment platform will be hosting the Fifth edition of the Zambia International Investment Forum (ZIIF 2016) from the 21st to the 22nd of April 2016 at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, the Capital City of Zambia.

Read more: http://ow.ly/10BPoL
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Niquan Energy Gas-to-Liquid Bond, Trinidad & Tobago - Meet the panelists

Niquan Energy Gas-to-Liquid Bond, Trinidad & Tobago - Meet the panelists | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

On November 12th at 16:00 GMT, as part of the Homestrings Webinars Investor Series, we’re pleased to invite you to the webinar on "Niquan Energy Gas-to-Liquid Bond - Trinidad and Tobago". NiQuan Energy is a leader in the clean energy revolution, converting natural gas into premium zero-Sulphur, in-demand liquid fuels.


Read more: https://www.homestrings.com/news-and-analysis/2015/november/09/niquan-energy-gas-to-liquid-bond-trinidad-tobago-meet-the-panelists/#.VkMjurerTIU

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Homestrings announces major forum on Zambia's investment potential

Homestrings announces major forum on Zambia's investment potential | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Homestrings and the Zambia Development Agency are delighted to announce the launch of 5th edition of the Zambia International Investment Forum (ZIIF 2015). The event will take place from the 10th to the 11th of December 2015 at the Radisson Blu Lusaka, the heart of the Capital of Zambia.


Read more: http://ow.ly/T9Tyt

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Investing in the Right Education Guarantees a Bright Future!

Investing in the Right Education Guarantees a Bright Future! | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

The best gift parents can give their children is a quality education; one that prepares them for success in life and opens doors to a fulfilling life. It is therefore not surprising to see parents gladly bear the burden of searching for the best school for their children. This quest for the best school leaves me wondering whether the search should be for the best school or the right school.


Read more here: https://www.homestrings.com/news-and-analysis/2015/june/22/investing-in-the-right-education-guarantees-a-bright-future/#.VY0hgvmqqko

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

The advantages of SEAF II Fund in the long and the short term - interview

The advantages of SEAF II Fund in the long and the short term - interview | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Canada-based but of Macedonian origin, Mr. John Bitove truly understands the importance of investing back into his home country. Mr. Bitove is a member of Macedonia2025 and in this interview below outlines the advantages of SEAF II Fund in the long and the short term. 

You can read excerpts of his interview or watch the video here: https://www.homestrings.com/news-and-analysis/2015/april/19/the-advantages-of-seaf-ii-fund-in-the-long-and-the-short-term-interview/#.VTZn-yGeDRY

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Kenya adds 400 individuals to dollar millionaires club

Kenya adds 400 individuals to dollar millionaires club | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

At least 364 Kenyans crossed the $1 million (Sh92 million) mark in net worth last year, which excludes their primary residences, according to The Wealth Report 2015 released by Knight Frank.

The circle of Kenya’s affluent expanded to 8,764 in 2014, a 4.3 per cent increase from 8,400 in the previous year, according to research carried out by WealthInsight for the report.

The country’s dollar millionaire numbers have nearly doubled over the past decade from 4,482 people in 2004. High net worth individuals are forecast to increase by nearly three-quarters in the next 10 years to reach 15,249 in 2024.

“There’s a high concentration of wealth in Kenya because it’s a regional hub,” Ben Woodhams, the Knight Frank Kenya managing director, said during launch of the report yesterday. This is the first time The Wealth Report has been released in Nairobi.

Knight Frank said Kenya’s population of ultra-high net worth individuals – those with at least $30 million in assets – grew to 115 last year, and is projected to increase by 82 per cent over the next decade to 209. The country has 32 individuals worth at least $100 million, also known as “centa-millionaires”.

Most of the super-rich have substantial portions of their wealth decked in real estate, with respondents to The Wealth Report’s Attitudes Survey saying this currently stands at 31 per cent, nearly a third of investment portfolios.

“Kenya’s ultra-wealthy have been investing in overseas property in the past and have now started focusing inwards, raising their stakes in the local property market. Real estate is the world’s primary investment of choice for the wealthy and Kenya is certainly no exception,” said Woodhams.

Andrew Shirley, editor of The Wealth Report, said: “At least $100 million (Sh9.2 billion) is coming from Kenyans in the diaspora into the country every month. More of the mass affluence is being invested back home.”

Africa-wide, the number of super-rich grew to 1,932 in 2014. The UHNWIs are expected to increase by 59 per cent by 2024, much faster than the 34 per cent projected growth globally.

Ivory Coast and Tanzania are the two African states in the global top 10 list of countries predicted to more than double their UHNWI populations over the next decade. Tanzania will see its super-rich numbers doubled from 78 in 2014 to 156.

Uganda also features in the list of top 100 countries predicted to grow their UHNWI populations fast. Uganda’s dollar-millionaire population was 1,556 in 2014, and 21 individuals had $30-million-net-worths. Its UHNWIs will grow by 67 per cent to 35 by 2024.

“We have witnessed an increase in the number of ultra-high net worth individuals on our books, which backs this trend. For them [UHNWIs], it is increasingly becoming obvious that they are looking beyond just banking, and the overall management of their wealth is critical,” said Anjali Harkoo, head of wealth and investment at CfC Stanbic Bank, which sponsored release of the report locally.

The Wealth Report shows that of the $619 billion global commercial property investments made in 2014, private individuals channelled $153 billion into the asset class.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Food Production Affected as African Farmers Put Hope in Beer

Food Production Affected as African Farmers Put Hope in Beer | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Ugandan farmer Ephraim Opusi had managed to make ends meet growing corn on his 5-acre plot in the hilly Kumi district in eastern Uganda. But now that he cultivates white sorghum, a grain used in beer brewing, Mr. Opusi has struggled to feed his six children.

“It has been a bad season,” says the 52-year old farmer, who is under contract with beer makerSABMiller PLC.SBMRY +2.68%

During his first season in 2010, Mr. Opusi harvested three tons of sorghum. It earned him $750, one of his best seasons. An average Ugandan makes $510 a year, according to World Bank data.

Encouraged by the earnings, Mr. Opusi ditched other profitable crops to concentrate growing sorghum. But he didn’t count on many other farmers doing the same, leading to a 20% increase in the price of corn and beans in his district.

Brewing giants such as SABMiller andDiageo DEO +2.11% PLC have invested millions of dollars into African farms, providing a guaranteed market—and better returns—to smallholder farmers as they look for more locally sourced materials such as sorghum. Food staples cassava and yams are also being supplied to brewers. Farmers are also growing less food, preferring to cultivate sorghum varieties specifically developed for brewing.

The result: Shrinking food supplies have led to higher prices, putting staples out of reach to many families.

“There isn’t enough land to accommodate both kinds of crops,” said Okasai Opolot, the head of Uganda’s crop production and marketing for the agriculture ministry. “More families are exposed to food shortages.”


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Fewer African Mega Projects In 2014, But They're Worth More

Fewer African Mega Projects In 2014, But They're Worth More | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Heavy investment in power, energy and transportation led to a 46-percent increase in investment in African mega projects in 2014, according to financial advisory firm Deloitte’s African Construction Trends Report.

The number of projects valued at $50-million plus fell from 322 to 257, but the total value of projects under construction as of June 1 increased from $222.77-billion in 2013 to $326 billion in 2014, Deloitte reports.

Southern Africa accounted for half of Africa’s construction load. South Africa had half the projects in the Southern Africa region, followed by Mozambique with 15 percent and Angola with 13 percent. Australia and India entered the project ownership database in 2014.

Of the 257 projects listed in the 2014 Deloitte African Construction Trends Report, 26 were public-private partnerships; 88 were private-sector projects and 143 were public-sector projects, according to SouthAfrica.info.

Energy and power accounted for 37 percent of the mega projects that broke ground in Africa in 2014, followed by transport (34 percent), mining (9 percent), property (6 percent ), water (5 percent), oil and gas (4 percent), mixed-use facilities (2 percent) and health care (1 percent), according to Deloitte.

So where did the money go?

North Africa got eight projects worth $9 116 million, Deloitte reports.
West Africa got 66 projects worth $74 835 million.
Central Africa got 13 projects worth $33 205 million.
Southern Africa got 119 projects worth 144 888 million.
East Africa got 51 projects worth $60 671 million.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

African Businesses Turn to Online Crowdfunding

African Businesses Turn to Online Crowdfunding | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it











homestrings's insight:

Crowdfunding is a way to raise money from a large number of people over the Internet to support a project. Crowdfunding has become common in many Western countries. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two crowdfunding websites. Such sites have helped launch Western-operated projects. Yet crowdfunding websites are almost unknown in Africa.

Recently, the World Bank launched a program to help business owners in Kenya make use of crowdfunding. The bank’s Kenya Climate Innovation Center provides crowdfunding mentorship programs for small companies.

A World Bank study found crowdfunding could have a major effect in the developing world. But to raise money through websites, business owners need specific skills.

Edward Mungai works at the Kenya Climate Innovation Center in Nairobi. He says business owners need to be well connected to both individuals and organizations. He says they also need to know how to show their ability to use the money they collect. Finally, he says, they should show how their business would help society.

Three businesses in the program have launched campaigns. One of them is Wanda Organic, an organic fertilizer business. Marion Moon started Wanda Organic three years ago. Like many small African entrepreneurs, Ms. Moon found it hard to finance her business.

So, Ms. Moon says, she decided to try something unusual: online crowdfunding. She says banks would not finance her business in the early days. She had to depend on friends and family to keep her business going.

In some ways, Ms. Moon says, crowdfunding is similar to the more traditional ways Kenyans raise money from their communities.

“I think the word ‘crowdfunding’ is new to people. But the idea or the principle of everybody putting in a little bit to help a project, I do not think that is new at all. So I think one of the things we maybe could have done better is how we linked what people are used to, to this word ‘crowdfunding.’”

Edward Mungai says getting local support for crowdfunding has not been easy. He says most of the money is still coming from Westerners, and not from Kenya.

“Unfortunately, the people who are being reached, they cannot be able to contribute because there is no infrastructure to contribute.”

He adds that most Kenyans do not have credit cards. Marion Moon notes that those who do have credit cards are worried about online security.

Her Wanda Organic is halfway through its campaign. The company has only raised around six percent of its $45,000 goal.

She has one month left to raise enough money to build storage centers for her fertilizer. The campaign has been slow, she says, but she has not lost hope.

more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by homestrings from Changemaking
Scoop.it!

How to build a real energy revolution in Africa

How to build a real energy revolution in Africa | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it

Via The Ashoka Community
homestrings's insight:
TED Fellow David Moinina Sengeh explains why he’s bullish about the “microgrid.”

 

Nearly 70% of the sub-Saharan African population doesn’t have electricity. That’s about 600 million people who are completely off-grid, often paying high prices in cash and health to use diesel generators, kerosene lamps and charcoal fires.

 

Recently, we’ve seen a wealth of stories about entrepreneurs who promise clever solutions for these unhealthy, smoke-belching products. The replacements may differ, but all seem to agree: Installing actual electricity infrastructure in Africa would take too long and be too expensive to be practical. So instead there’s a focus on products that, while often very smart, and certainly well-meaning, serve only one single use. I’m talking bike-powered mobile phone chargers, solar-powered lamps, “pot-in-pot” refrigerators.

 

I’m not alone in finding something grating about the idea that people living on the continent should make do with an inferior solution that westerners wouldn’t tolerate for a second. The cleverest solar lightbulb in the world is no replacement for a standard AC-current plug that allows you to power anything you want or need. Pot-in-pot refrigerators will not store and keep safe large volumes of vaccines and bicycles will not generate enough power to support any form of manufacturing or production.

 

A friend of mine, Sam Slaughter, is the co-founder of PowerGen, a company that wants to install “microgrids” across the continent. Microgrids are small, local versions of the traditional electricity grid. They can run independently, powered by fuel cells, wind, solar, and so on. Their autonomy makes them appealing in remote locations where sustainable energy such as wind and sun are abundant — and they help to pull the focus away from these one-by-one solutions, and toward giving homes and businesses real power they can use as they choose.

PowerGen’s “PowerBox” comprises 1.4kW of solar panels, 9kWh of batteries and a 3kW inverter. It supplies power to 14 clients in Nkoilale, Kenya, all of whom pay for the electricity via mobile phones. Photo by David Sengeh.

 

When I spoke to him recently, Sam compared the current state of the African energy sector to the state of the African telecoms industry decades ago. “The pioneers of wireless telecommunications in Africa made a big bet that African consumers wanted world-class mobile communication service, and they invested in the infrastructure to deliver it by building tens of thousands of telecom towers throughout the continent,” he told me. “They faced enormous risks — including serious regulatory headwinds from government-owned landline telecom operators.”

 

The result: African telecoms have famously leapfrogged the west, building mobile payment systems, for instance, that many western countries haven’t yet managed to pull off.

 

“Now,” Sam continued,  “we are faced with a similar question in energy: do we as the private sector invest in infrastructure like microgrids to deliver the solution that the consumers want — which is grid-style, AC electricity — or do we ignore the lessons of the telecom revolution and decide that African consumers should settle for something less, which is DC-only solar lanterns and solar home systems?” No prizes for guessing which bet Sam is preparing to make.

 

I saw one of PowerGen’s microgrids in action recently at the Nkoilale community in Kenya, about 250 kilometers west of Nairobi and home to a solar-powered microgrid unit known locally as PowerBox.

 

It was managed by Lillian Muthoni, a restaurant owner who told me about how her life has changed since the orange box was installed. Before PowerBox, Lillian owned a set of solar lights and intermittently used a diesel generator to power her music system and a small TV for her customers.

 

She spent about 12,000 Kenyan shillings (US$ 130) a month on diesel for her generator and hated the fumes. Now on the microgrid, she pays about 2,000 Kenyan shillings (US$ 22) each month for the power she needs, leaving her money to buy new equipment for her business, such as a refrigerator.

Lillian Muthoni owns a restaurant in Nkoilale; now hooked into the microgrid, she now pays about $22 a month for power. Previously she’d spent up to $130 on diesel for a generator. Photo by David Sengeh.

 

PowerGen certainly isn’t the only company experimenting in this space (see Anil Raj’s TED@BCG Talk, Bringing power to millions). A December 2014 report from Navigant Research estimated that worldwide investment in microgrid enabling technologies will total more than $155 billion by 2023. All of them have challenges to overcome — microgrids, like many infrastructural developments in Africa, are expensive to install, and the initial lump sum necessary to finance these grids won’t be paid by poor clients.

 

Companies like PowerGen have their work cut out to explain the model: the Nkoilale unit that I saw was set up through funding from Kiva.org. And continued cooperation of regulators is also key. Thus far, East African governments have been open-minded about allowing micro-utility models to test and develop their approaches, but ultimately, access to electrical power must involve partnerships with the bureaucrats in power.

 

As a Sierra Leonean and entrepreneur who has lived in off-grid communities, I passionately believe that access to the reliable and sufficient power provided by microgrids can result in national-level improvement in education and economic prosperity. To create power for all, private and government institutions must invest in and harvest renewable energy to provide reliable microgrids for communities far away from connected major towns. That way, Lillian’s story can be echoed across the nation, and Africa can shine brightly.

more...
The Ashoka Community's curator insight, January 19, 2015 10:58 AM

"Installing actual electricity infrastructure in Africa would take too long and be too expensive to be practical", say the experts on solving the power problem in Africa. Sam Slaughter and her company PowerGen are challenging the assumption by installing micro-grids throughout the continent, which provide a sustainable and low-cost solution. One of the most important components of changemaking is taking the thought that something can't be done and making it work. 

Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Zambia’s copper industry to welcome $460m investment from newly merged Australian firms

homestrings's insight:

Two Australian mining companies, Blackthorn Resources Limited and Intrepid Mines, which recently completed a merger, have embarked on a $460 million copper project in western Zambia.

Read more: https://www.homestrings.com/news-and-analysis/2015/january/13/zambia-s-copper-industry-to-welcome-460m-investment-from-newly-merged-australian-firms/#.VLkMWEfF_K8

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Mozambique Publishes Law Enabling Eni, Anadarko Gas Investments

Mozambique Publishes Law Enabling Eni, Anadarko Gas Investments | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Mozambique published a law enabling groups led by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) and Eni SpA to proceed with multi-billion dollar gas projects, setting financial and legal terms and allowing much of the revenue to be kept offshore.

The southern African nation’s council of ministers approved the law on Nov. 25 and included it in the Bulletin of the Republic dated Dec. 2, which was published yesterday in the capital, Maputo.

Eni and Woodlands, Texas-based Anadarko are considering whether to develop offshore fields that are estimated by Mozambique’s national oil company to hold 250 trillion cubic feet of gas. That’s enough to meet world consumption for more than two years. The country may become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas after Qatar and Australia.

The law “gives both sides considerable certainty and sets out clear parameters for future revisions, Anne Fruhauf, senior vice president and Africa energy analyst at Teneo Intelligence, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The groups will have the legal and fiscal framework guaranteed for the 30-year duration of their exploration and production concessions, subject to meeting with the government 10 years and 20 years after the delivery of the first gas cargoes to revise the levels of taxation, it said. If no agreement is reached, they will pay a 4 percent production tax, or royalties, for years 10-20, and then 6 percent from years 20-30.

Royalty Rates

The normal royalty rate for gas projects in Mozambique is 6 percent, but earlier deals with Anadarko and Eni had put it at 2 percent, Fruhauf said. Lower tariffs for the first 10 years of production are important for cost recovery, she said. ‘‘The government can seek to improve its take after 10 and 20 years, respectively, but within clear boundaries set out within the decree law,’’ Fruhauf said.

Another key provision is that companies involved with the projects will be allowed to keep gas revenue in bank accounts outside Mozambique, using a local account only to pay taxes, buying goods and services in the country, and paying local workers. Expatriate employees will also be able to be paid in foreign currency into foreign bank accounts.

The groups now have six months to submit a joint plan on how to develop gas reserves that straddle the two areas they are licensed to exploit in the Rovuma Basin on Mozambique’s Indian Ocean coast. The decree law says 12 trillion cubic feet of gas should be developed from these areas, either by the groups separately or working together.

Foreign Workers

The decree law also sets out specific regulation regarding the project companies’ use of foreign workers, and the building of a gas liquefaction facility onshore.

Passing the decree law was necessary ‘‘to provide the legal and contractual framework to progress the project towards finalinvestment decision,” John Peffer, Anadarko’s country manager for Mozambique, said in October.

Mozambique’s revenue may reach as much as $212 billion over the life of the project, based on 45 trillion cubic feet from Anadarko’s Area 1, Standard Bank Group Ltd. said in a July 31 study. That’s less than half of the total estimated resource.

Area 1 and Eni’s Area 4 combined hold technically recoverable reserves of 120 trillion cubic feet, according to industry consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Celebrating Women's Entrepreneurship Day across Africa

Celebrating Women's Entrepreneurship Day across Africa | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

From East Africa to West Africa, women have been playing an integral role into the future development of socio-economic growth. At first, we thought, why have a day to focus on women, shouldn’t we be appreciating women everyday?

But then, we thought – why not? Read more: https://www.homestrings.com/news-and-analysis/2014/november/17/celebrating-womens-entrepreneurship-day-across-africa/#.VGtrWPnF844

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Free Webinar: The Smart Way to Finance African SMEs and Have Banks Clamor to Partner - The Ovamba Case Study

Free Webinar: The Smart Way to Finance African SMEs and Have Banks Clamor to Partner - The Ovamba Case Study | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) are critical for the economic and social development of nations in Africa. However, a lack of access to financing has hindered the growth and scale of SMEs in the region.


Read more: https://www.homestrings-events.com/webinars/homestrings-webinar-investor-series-the-smart-way-to-finance-african-smes-and-have-banks-clamor-to-partner-the-ovamba-case-study/#.VrNCjbIrJD8

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Homestrings Webinar - Investors Series Niquan Energy Gas-to-Liquid Bond, Trinidad & Tobago 16:00 GMT on 12th November

Homestrings Webinar - Investors Series Niquan Energy Gas-to-Liquid Bond, Trinidad & Tobago 16:00 GMT on 12th November | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

NiQuan Energy is a leader in the clean energy revolution, converting natural gas into premium zero-Sulphur, in-demand liquid fuels. From next generation Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) project development to total plant operation, NiQuan is changing the way Trinidad and Tobago fuels development.

NiQuan is acquiring 100% assets of a Gas-to-Liquid plant in Trinidad and Tobago, in Receivership. Once fully constructed and commissioned, it will be the first GTL plant of its kind in the Western Hemisphere – producing over 2,000 barrels-per-day of Zero-sulphur ultra-clean diesel and naphtha. 


For more information and to register for this webinar, please check here: https://www.homestrings-events.com/webinars/niquan-webinar/#.VkMjULerTIU

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Homestrings Investor Series Webinar discusses private sector funding on Education in Africa

homestrings's insight:

The aim of Enko Education Investments is to enable and facilitate affordable education in Sub Saharan Africa at a high quality standard. They strive to build one of the largest networks of private schools in the Sub Saharan region. With the help of your investments they can make their vision a reality and improve the overall future of the region. Their business model is to invest in high potential, existing private schools to help them reach their full potential. Given that the schools are already existing, it minimises the risk of your investment. 


Read more: https://www.homestrings.com/news-and-analysis/2015/july/16/homestrings-investor-series-webinar-discusses-private-sector-funding-on-education-in-africa/#.VakDk_mqqko

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Angola – From independence, to civil war and becoming a global player: An inside story on the ground

Angola – From independence, to civil war and becoming a global player: An inside story on the ground | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
Two and a half decades is an insignificant amount of time when you look at the history of mankind, or even compare it to the life of a person who has lived a long time. From the first moment I set foot in Luanda, the capital of Angola, nearly a quarter of a century ago, I could never in my wildest dreams, have imagined what the city would look like today.  
homestrings's insight:

Read more: https://www.homestrings.com/news-and-analysis/2015/may/08/angola-from-independence-to-civil-war-and-becoming-a-global-player-an-inside-story-on-the-ground/#.VUyZj_mqqko

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Nigeria will be Africa's first global superpower

Nigeria will be Africa's first global superpower | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

If Nigeria plays its cards right, it could become Africa’s only global superpower. It already has the continent’s biggest economy, a huge military budget and a fair record of regional engagement. By 2040 it will also be the fourth largest country in the world after India, China and the United States.

New research by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) shows that out of Africa’s “Big Five” powerful countries – Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Ethiopia – Nigeria is “the African country with by far the greatest capabilities” to play a global role.

The choice of the Big Five is based on the demographic, economic and military size of these countries, as well as their historical role as regional leaders, says the ISS.

South Africa is the only African member of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and the G20, but it is not expected to grow in power and influence internationally and in Africa. Dr Jakkie Cilliers, executive director of the ISS and one of the co-authors of the report, says South Africans sometimes have the misguided impression that the country is a big military power and plays a major role in peacekeeping in Africa.

Spending on defence has, however, been drastically reduced, as shown in the recent defence review. It contributes fewer peacekeepers to United Nations missions than Ethiopia, Egypt and Nigeria.

“In fact, Algeria is spending the most on its military, Ethiopia is the major peacekeeper on the continent and Egypt has the biggest diplomatic power,” says Cilliers.

South Africa’s economy is not projected to grow nearly as much as the rest of Africa.

Population growths are much higher elsewhere on the continent, particularly in Nigeria, where it is projected to grow from 170-million to 320-million by 2040.

“South Africans don’t appreciate the huge size of Nigeria’s economy,” says Cilliers. Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to grow from $525-billion in 2014 to $4.2-trillion by 2040.

Added to South Africa’s woes are “legitimacy problems on the continent”.

Sense that South Africa speaks more than listens
“South Africa can be heavy-handed when it comes to diplomacy and there is a sense that South Africa speaks more than it listens in Africa,” says Cilliers.

The ISS concludes that of the Big Five, South Africa and Ethiopia are “punching above their weight”, while Nigeria and Algeria are “punching below” theirs.

Egypt is punching above its weight internationally – it has a very strong voice in the Middle East – but low in Africa.

The inclusion of Ethiopia in the Big Five is controversial because it is, according to the ISS, “an authoritarian and repressive state” and in 2014 had the 11th lowest GDP per capita in Africa. However, it is growing fast and has become “a poster child for development in Africa”. It hosts the headquarters of the African Union and is the largest African contributor to UN peace missions.

Algeria is also not living up to its potential given that it has by far the biggest military in Africa.

Nigeria, hampered largely by domestic problems of governance and insecurity, is also under-performing. Nigeria’s military spending has, for example, increased dramatically, with an additional budget of $1-billion approved last year, but this has all been earmarked for the fight against Boko Haram.

Even if this past weekend’s elections in Nigeria, dubbed the most important in its history, go off smoothly, it still doesn’t mean it has made the transition to a sophisticated and mature democracy, says Cilliers.

“Nigeria is the only power with the potential to be globally significant but it does not have a coherent foreign policy and its massive security and governance issues are detracting from this potential,” he says.

South Africa, on the other hand, has made this transition and has many attributes that make it a worthy representative of Africa on the world stage, says Cilliers.

But, if the status quo prevails, South Africa will lose its place in pole position.

Angola and Morocco are important players on the continent with huge economies, but Angola is a “purely resource-driven economy” with huge inequalities and lack of democracy, while Morocco is not a member of the AU.

more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by homestrings from HOTEL INVESTMENT NEWS
Scoop.it!

Real estate company JLL expands hotel services in Africa


Via HOTEL INVESTMENT NEWS
homestrings's insight:
Real estate company Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) has announced its plans for expansion in sub-Saharan Africa to include hotel service and has appointed Xander Nijnens as head of hotels and hospitality for the region

JLL hopes to capitalise on the vast set of real estate opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. (Image source: David Stanley/Flickr)

 

Nijnens, who is a regional industry expert, will focus on providing a sector-specific advice in sub-Saharan Africa and will function out of Johannesburg. He will partner with Mark Bradford, chairman of regional Sub-Saharan Africa at JLL, to serve the firm’s current and prospective client base as well as integrate with JLL’s 100-strong EMEA hotels and hospitality team.

 

In addition, Nijnens will assist clients in a suite of services including strategic consulting, transactional advisory, corporate structuring, operator selection, management contract negotiations, feasibility studies and asset management.

 

Nijnens said, “Sub-Saharan Africa is an exciting and emerging region for the hotels and hospitality industry with a highly diverse sector across the region. In establishing a presence, we aim to facilitate cross-border capital flows into the sector and assist in attracting investment into the region for our global and regional clients. JLL has an excellent track record of assisting clients in both emerging and developed hotel markets and I am excited to be able to bring this level of expertise to this region as well.”

 

Mark Bradford, chairman of sub-Saharan Africa, said, “We see the expansion of our hotel service in sub-Saharan Africa as an excellent opportunity to provide clients with advice across the real estate asset classes. JLL has identified sub-Saharan Africa as a priority region for long-term growth and we have seen an exceptionally positive response from our global clients to our regional offering.”

 

According to officials at JLL, there is favourable interest in the region for hotel development, as investors and developers are showing keen interest to enter the market. Jon Hubbard, head of investor services EMEA for JLL Hotels & Hospitality noted that JLL has provided advisory and transaction services to clients in 22 African markets and felt that the establishment of an office in Johannesburg would allow the company to further develop on-ground expertise for clients.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Egypt bags over $19 billion in investments on summit opening day

Egypt bags over $19 billion in investments on summit opening day | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Sharm El-Sheikh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi outlined Cairo’s long-term development strategy in his address to the Egypt Economic Development Conference on Friday as media reports confirmed that Egypt had secured more than 19 billion US dollars in investment pledges on the first day of the summit.

Sisi announced that Egypt is aiming for economic growth of 6 percent over the next five years and a decrease in the unemployment rate to 10 percent over the same period.

“The march of Egypt to the future will continue . . . Egypt is open to the whole world,” Sisi said, calling for greater international investment in the North African state.

“We are committed to moving forward with the development and modernization of the Egyptian economy,” he told investors, highlighting the package of investment reforms that has recently been announced by his government.

Egypt’s closest Gulf Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, pledged a combined 12 billion US dollars in investment at the Sharm El-Sheikh conference on Friday.

Each Gulf state pledged 4 billion US dollars. The UAE announced that it would deposit 2 billion US dollars in Egypt’s central bank, with the remaining 2 billion US dollars being invested directly in the Egyptian economy. Saudi Arabia said that 2 billion US dollars of its pledge would be deposited in the central bank, while the remainder would be distributed as development aid, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). Kuwait, for its part, did not announce how its country’s pledge would be divided.

The Saudi pledge was made by Crown Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz who is heading Riyadh’s delegation to the three-day conference.

In comments made on his arrival in Sharm El-Sheikh, Prince Muqrin highlighted Riyadh’s “permanent and continuous stand” with Egypt.

He said that his visit to the Egypt Economic Development Conference highlights the “historical close ties between the two countries and confirms the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s stance in support of development and stability in Egypt.”

He added that Riyadh is committed to enhancing the bilateral ties between the two countries in the coming period, particularly praising Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s leadership.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz is confident in the wisdom of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and this will have the greatest impact on the success of this conference to promote the march of the Egyptian economy,” he said in comments carried by the SPA.

Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We are seeking to support the implementation of the [financial] assistance that was announced by the Crown Prince.”

“The priorities for the support of the Egyptian economy will be determined by the desire of our brothers in Egypt,” he added.

“We are also seeking to contribute to development projects [in Egypt], in addition to financing Saudi exports to Egypt and investing in the private sector,” he said.

A number of public and private sector companies have already announced major investments in Egypt. British oil company BP announced on Saturday, the second day of the conference, that it has finalized a 12 billion US dollar deal with Egypt to develop 5 trillion cubic feet of gas resources and 55 million barrels of condensates in the West Nile Delta, according to a Reuters report.

Egypt also signed a number of memoranda of understanding with foreign states and companies worth tens of billions of dollars. Cairo signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power International and the UAE’s Maadar Company to construct a number of power plants, including solar and wind farms, worth approximately 10 billion US dollars.

Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy also signed four memoranda of understanding with Siemens International worth approximately 10 billion US dollars to construct several “conventional” power plants.

Egypt is undergoing its worst energy crisis in decades and Cairo is seeking to strengthen its energy sector, recently pushing through a new electricity law which privatizes electricity production and transmission.

The law limits the state’s role in the electricity sector to regulation and supervision with the goal of creating competitiveness within the private sector and driving prices down.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

African nations face dilemma over digital switch

African nations face dilemma over digital switch | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

The UN has set June as the deadline for moving from analog to digital transmission. Only a few African countries seem prepared for the change. Even the largest television markets on the continent are lagging behind.

Staring at a blank TV screen has become a reality for most Kenyans, and many other African TV viewers could face the same fate come June 17. That is the deadline set by the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for television programs to be transmitted only digitally.

After the deadline, satellite dishes and antennas will receive their signals via a different technology. Theoretically, it will be possible to receive many more channels and enjoy improved image quality.

There is a story behind Kenya's black screens. President Uhuru Kenyatta's government ordered a consortium of four major television networks to be blocked from broadcasting in analog. This happened after they refused to change their signals to digital. The media houses argued that they were not ready yet, and now they are in court trying to push for one hundred more days to prepare for the digital transition.

Apart from Nigeria and South Africa, Kenya is one of the largest television markets in Africa.

The Standard Group,one of Kenya's leading media house, says it needs more time for the switchover

All three countries are not ready for the switchover, says Mike Jensen, an IT specialist with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) based in South Africa. "The Kenyan situation is probably the worst-case scenario on the continent; South Africa is pretty close," Jensen said. "In Nigeria, only one state has made the switch," Jensen told DW.

Nationwide coverage after the switchover to digital broadcasting is by no means ensured in African countries. As in Kenya, it is often about money. The change is costly for governments and citizens alike, the APC states on its website, which seeks to create an awareness of the issue.

Television viewers will usually need a decoder, which costs about $50 (44 euros), to decode the digital signal. Moreover, television companies will have to dig deep into their pockets to be able to broadcast their programs using the new technology.

Tanzania a digital model

Vera Moses, a Tanzanian viewer, says she is happy with the digital reception. "The quality of the pictures is good," she told DW in an interview.

Tanzania is one of three countries that has already largely switched to wide-band Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB). "In Dar es Salaam we already switched off analog transmission at the end of 2012," John Nkoma, the director of Tanzania's Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), told DW. Most cities are now receiving programs via DVB-T, which is terrestrial digital broadcasting via antenna. The remote parts of Tanzania receive broadcasts via satellite.

Dar es Salaam has already gone digital

It took some persuasion to convince citizens and businesses of the merits of the new system, Nkoma said, as he revealed two secrets to Tanzania's success: Firstly, decoders were taxed less. "The price for the decoders is artificially low," Nkoma said, "so they have become affordable." Tanzanians can get a decoder for $30.

Secondly, user habits were taken into consideration. "The public was used to free-to-air channels, so we required that in the digital broadcasting platform there would be the five popular channels of this country and those would be available as free channels." Viewers whose subscriptions expire would have these five channels to fall back on.

Market interests

But according to APC's Mike Jensen, that is not the whole story. Tanzania and neighboring Rwanda had forced the switchover on the public by shutting off the analog signal. Of course, there were citizens in both countries who simply could not afford the necessary equipment, Jensen said.

He thinks governments should guarantee a realistic compensation for the costs. The price of a decoder, Jensen said, was also a big issue in Mauritius. The government ordered large amounts of cheap decoders from China. Many of which had defects.

Satellite transmission is also to be digitalized

Jensen also does not understand the date the ITU has chosen. He estimates that by then only six countries may succeed in formally completing the switchover.

Germany has already changed to digital broadcasting, and so have most of the other industrialized nations. But Latin America has planned the switchover for as late as 2020.

Jensen says African telecommunications companies pushed for the early date for Africa. These companies, he said, were the only ones to profit from such a date, because they wanted to monopolize television broadcasting.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Nigeria’s electricity transmission capacity upgraded by 40%

Nigeria’s electricity transmission capacity upgraded by 40% | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

The Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil, has said the federal government has upgraded Nigeria’s electricity transmission capacity by an additional 40 per cent growth ratio within the last couple of years.

Wakil noted in a recent statement from the ministry that transmission capacity of the power sector has improved by 40 per cent in line with generation capacity, which he said has also increased owing to massive injection of fund by the federal government into the sector.

While signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Global Business Resources USA for the generation of 50MW of electricity in Abuja and Kano, the minister explained that with the construction of new transmission lines and substations across the country, the capacity of the country transmitting its generated electricity has been upgraded by an additional 40 per cent.

“I am happy to say that power sector has improved tremendously compared with what President Goodluck Jonathan inherited when he assumed office. Records of where we were in generation, transmission and distribution in the electricity value chain have confirmed that the sector is placed on a strong footing for growth and service delivery,” he said.

In the runoff to the privatisation of successor generation and distribution companies created from the unbundling of defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the country, the country’s transmission network was described as the weakest link in the value chain with a meager wheeling capacity of about 6000MW and unable to convey all the generated electricity to distribution points.

At the earliest periods of government’s reform of the sector, frequent collapse of the transmission network and subsequent power blackout were recorded as a result of such weakness in the system and which prompted the government to muscle up huge funding outlay for its upgrade.

Funding has come in forms of grants, loans and investments from international and regional finance agencies such as the World Bank, African Development Bank  (AfDB), and French Development Bank amongst others to total approximately $2.7 billion as funds for expansion of the network.

Loans such as the World Bank’s $700 million, JICA’s $200 million, African Development Bank (AfDB)-$370 million, $1.65 million proceeds from the sale of National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), EXIM China’s $500 million and contractor financed turnkey projects worth $1 billion, all make up the funding outlay within TCN’s disposal.

In a related development, Nigeria’s attempts to diversify her energy sources is gradually beginning to attract attentions from different quarters with the recent disclosure that an indigenous firm, Torrent Energy Limited has concluded plans to build a 30 megawatts waste-to-energy plant to augment electricity generation of the country.

While reports have put Nigeria’s immediate electricity requirement to 40,000MW for it to achieve a near regular power supply to domestic and industrial users in the country, the country currently generates a meager 4500MW on the average to distribute to about 50 per cent of her population that have access to grid electricity.

In their presentations for a proposed waste-to-energy plant at the Ministry of Power in Abuja, both the Managing Director of Torrent Energy, Okey Chidume and its Executive Director, Tudor Mikko stated that the planned 30MW, though not huge, could contribute immensely in boosting the country’s efforts.

According to them, the waste-to-energy technology will utilise extant waste generated in country and which are in abundance to generate electricity for local consumption.

They emphasised that adequate power supply was necessary for economic development and as such the waste-to-power plant has been planned to be a state-of-the-art concept for generation of electricity from waste which allows efficient power generation, efficient waste disposal, and low environmental impact.

“Nigeria is facing rapid growth in energy demand, persistently high-energy prices, and a challenge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power generation. Despite current efforts, access to electricity still remains low and there is still inability to produce enough electricity to meet demands,” Chidume said.

He further said: “In Nigeria, millions of tons of waste are generated on daily basis, with an estimated ratio of approximately 0.8 kilograms per person per day, and rising.

Out of the total solid waste generated, 30 to 45 per cent is collected, while over 94 per cent is disposed unscientifically.”

He noted that the company intends to latch on that opportunity to generate and distribute municipal electricity to Nigerians.

Chidume equally noted that the plan is to generate electricity for the consumption of the rural, underserved communities at a rate less than what is currently obtained in the electricity market, a development the Assistant Director, Renewable Rural Power Access in the ministry of power, Tope Seton, commended.

Seton noted that the initiative was in line with current realities in meeting up the country’s energy requirement, adding that the government is currently looking at renewable sources of power, other than hydro-power generation and that the ministry will lend its support to the project.

The planned location of the project was however not disclosed by the promoters.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Investing for the Long Term

Investing for the Long Term | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Investors often try to profit by betting on short- and medium-term shifts in stocks and bonds. But the real money comes from anticipating long-term trends, the kinds of changes that take place over many years.

That’s why some experts encourage investors to focus on shifts that may develop over the next decade or so.

The largest profits come from investing “across multiple business cycles” and on themes that last many years, argues John Brynjolfsson, who runs hedge fund Armored Wolf.

 

Below is an attempt to identify a few trends in the global economy and financial markets that could affect investments over the next decade or so, along with a few ways to take advantage of them. These shifts are hard to predict, but if they pan out, big profits can result.

Demographic Shifts

Investors will have to grapple with aging populations in many developed economies, something that could weigh on economic growth by boosting health-care and other costs, reducing the number of workers and draining the pool of entrepreneurs.

The trends are especially troubling in Asia and Europe. In Japan, the sale of adult diapers began to exceed those for babies a few years ago, and more than 25% of the population is at retirement age. The birthrate also has fallen in the U.S. Immigration to this country has offset some of the problems, but the nation’s working-age population is growing at less than 1% in recent years, down from 2% between 1960 and 1985, according to Wells Capital Management.

“The biggest long-term trend investors should consider is aging developed-world demographics,” says James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. “Expect perpetually weaker average growth in the developed world, including the U.S.”

Population trends aren’t a reason to exit developed-market investments. Slower growth doesn’t mean no growth. Still, the populations of emerging-market nations are growing at a fast clip, a good reason to maintain exposure to those economies, which will become a larger part of global demand despite setbacks over the past year. The Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund (VEIEX) is a low-cost way to wager on those markets.

Jared Dillian, an ex-trader who publishes a financial newsletter, says investors should focus on so-called frontier markets, which are among the smallest and least-advanced of the emerging markets.

“The only place you will get growth in the next 10 years is in frontier markets, with growing populations and massive productivity increases, along with huge improvements in the rule of law and property rights,” says Mr. Dillian.

He recommends the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (FM). 

Conquering Cancer

Innovations in fracking and horizontal drilling have transformed the world of energy and elevated the U.S. as an energy power. The next American breakthrough appears to be in the world of cancer research, which already is causing a frenzy of interest among investors and excitement in the medical world.

Advances in immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, have helped those suffering from melanoma and will likely be applied to other cancers, experts say. Immunotherapy has disappointed in the past, but recent advances seem to offer breakthroughs that patients and investors have been waiting for.

Making money as a biotech investor is a challenge. Many of the companies leading the way with these treatments, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and Roche Holding (RHHBY), are so large that even successful immunotherapy products would provide only a modest boost to their stocks. A group of smaller companies developing their own immunotherapy approaches, such as Juno Therapeutics (JUNO), Kite Pharma (KITE) and Bluebird Bio (BLUE) are already at expensive levels.

The best approach: Buy Bristol-Myers and Roche, and wait for shares of the upstarts to fall a bit before wagering on them.

Energy Prices

Oil prices have tumbled below $50 a barrel as rising crude supplies overwhelm meek global demand, upending financial markets and giving consumers a lift. Analysts don’t think the shift will last very long, though. Eventually, they say, global demand will outstrip the new supplies. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently predicted that benchmark Brent global oil prices would hit $235 a barrel by 2040 as global consumption grows, amid a growing middle class around the world.

Experts were caught flat-footed by the remarkable supply of oil pouring out of U.S. fields, though. They could be just as wrong about demand over the next few decades.

For one thing, consumers and companies are becoming more efficient in their use of energy. The average American new car and truck will get nearly 55 miles a gallon by 2025, up from 24 miles in 2012. Chinese oil demand is starting to slow. Alternative-fuel vehicles, such as all-electric cars and hybrids, are gaining popularity. If the Chinese government can push citizens to embrace electric cars, an expected source of new oil demand could evaporate.

Google expects to roll out a self-driving car in the next five years. Any widespread embrace of self-driving cars could also cripple oil demand. Meanwhile, demand for urban living also will reduce auto use.

Ed Morse of Citigroup , one of the few analysts to anticipate the U.S. energy revolution, predicts global oil demand could drop to around 74 million barrels a day from about 93 million today, as global transportation shifts from a reliance on oil to plentiful natural gas.

The upshot: Be wary of investing in energy shares in the years ahead.

Low Interest Rates

Investors assume interest rates, held down by an aggressive Federal Reserve, eventually will rise, making it harder to make money. But Darren Pollock, portfolio manager of Cheviot Value Management, says rates could stay low for years to come, to bolster markets and deal with debt that’s built up throughout the economy. Tepid inflation also could sideline the Fed, some say.

“The U.S. held interest rates low from the 1930s into the late 1950s,” he says. “Japan has suppressed rates since the early 1990s. Markedly higher rates in the U.S. may not be something we see for a very long time.”

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Bitcoin Crowdfunding is Catching on in China

Bitcoin Crowdfunding is Catching on in China | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Bitcoin crowdfunding has taken off as a means to grow startups in China, with dozens of projects embracing the popular funding method to finance a variety of novel use cases.

One of those use cases currently being explored is selling part-ownership in a discussion forum to encourage quality over quantity in user behavior. Chinese forum Bikeji.com is offering its members the opportunity to become part-owners of the site through a crowdsale of shares in the company. In doing so, the forum's founder hopes to demonstrate the value of crowdfunding to the wider Chinese digital currency community.

Gang Wu, the founder of forum Bikeji.com, said selling valuable stakes in his online community has already made a dramatic improvement to the quality of conversation.

Explaining the thinking process behind creating Bikeji.com, Wu told CoinDesk he was fed up with the incumbent Chinese language bitcoin forums which, according to him, have too many advertisements, unsubstantiated rumors, and even outright slander.

There needs to be a space for more rational discussions, Wu said at his Zhongguancun, Beijing, office from which he also runs interest-bearing bitcoin wallet service Haobtc.com.

The result is his member-owned forum. Dedicated to cryptocurrency discussion, the forum has a Reddit-style reward point system and gives users the option to verify their ID – both measures intended to incentivize responsible posting.

Bitcoin crowdfunding in China

What is most remarkable about this forum, however, is its fundraising process.

On 16th November, Wu posted a proposal to raise 85 BTC in a WeChat group called 'Aisi Shuzi Huobi' (爱思数字货币 or 'love thinking digital currency'). Anyone who sent a bitcoin to a designated address would own 1/100 of the site, which had already already been online for two weeks by that point. Wu personally owns 15 shares and is responsible for the website’s day-to-day maintenance.

Within hours, the fundraising target was reached.

This is just one example of the newly emerging Chinese bitcoin crowdfunding scene. A quick scan on the Internet reveals about a dozen such projects over the past year – with most taking place in the mining sector.

One of the largest is Silverfish, a scrypt-coin mining operation. The project raised 5,600 BTC in late 2013. At that time, with the BTC price above $800, the valuation of the company was well beyond $10m.

The share value today, however, has dropped from its IPO price of 0.5 BTC per share to 0.07 BTC over the course of about a year. On 2nd December, the company announced that it would suspend dividend payments, citing capital strain as the cause.

Benefits and downsides

Wu concurred that "high fatality" was the norm for these ventures. He said he has personally invested in several bitcoin crowdfunded projects, including the aforementioned Silverfish. Most floundered. Some were outright scams, more were unprofitable due to bad timing, like Silverfish.

Since its launch, the litecoin price has dropped from $23.80 to $3.73 at press time, while hashing difficulty has grown substantially as scrypt mining transitioned from GPU rigs to ASICs like bitcoin.

When asked about the appeals and drawbacks of bitcoin crowdfunding, Wu said the positive is that bitcoin is a "free currency" allowing transactions directly between any two individuals – the verifiability of any transactions on the block chain to some extent removing the necessity of a third-party platform like Kickstarter.

The downside, Wu said, is lack of protection for investors:

"Investment is a professional activity. Most people simply don't have the experience or knowledge to make an educated evaluation of the risk."

In addition, bitcoin's unregulated nature is a double-edged sword. While it removes some legal hurdles, it also makes it difficult (if not impossible) for investors to seek legal redress when disputes arise – this also leads to a higher number of scams in the space.

Culture of risk taking

All of its problems notwithstanding, bitcoin crowdfunding in China is becoming its own vibrant subculture. Wu pointed out that a culture of risk taking is very strong among bitcoin investors there. Financial gain is not necessarily 100% of the motivation, he added: a sense of camaraderie in a small close-knit community is also a factor.

For Bikeji.com specifically, Wu believes that bitcoin crowdfunding has certain marketing value, especially by helping 'high-quality' users; the forum's crowdsale has attracted notable investors in the Chinese bitcoin space.

Wu expects that being a formal shareholder in Bikeji will give these BTC 'dignitaries' more incentive to post actively, thus attracting more users.

Fledgling business model

One month after its launch, Bikeji show all signs of being a robust forum. The number of registered users has exceeded 400, and new posts are frequently published.

Some of the project’s idiosyncrasies, however, may prevent it from becoming a replicable business model.

Its success has as much to do with Wu’s personal reputation, which, one may argue, is a bigger factor than the profitability prospect of the project itself.

Since Wu guaranteed investors full refunds if they opt to exit, the only downside risk is the possibility he will renege on that promise – but this risk, given the relative small investment amounts (and the fact that Wu is a well-recognized bitcoin entrepreneur) is likely low.

In addition, the project is a forum, meaning its success or lack thereof is relatively easy to ascertain. Regardless, Bikeji is just one example of the many types of use cases that startups in China and beyond could explore by tapping into the growing popularity of bitcoin crowdfunding.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by homestrings
Scoop.it!

Santa’s hand-picked $100 Christmas investment bonus to Homestrings members

Santa’s hand-picked $100 Christmas investment bonus to Homestrings members | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Even from the North Pole, Santa knows the importance of diaspora investing. Thus we are pleased to inform you that Santa has a deal for you this festive season. Santa is giving you a $100 bonus on investments made through Homestrings in the following investments: 


Read more: https://www.homestrings.com/news-and-analysis/2014/november/25/santa-s-hand-picked-100-christmas-investment-bonus-to-homestrings-members/?wherefrom=homepage#.VHhPBzHF_K8

more...
No comment yet.