Nigeria recently paid a heavy price for not diversifying its economy, rather focusing almost exclusively on “black gold” to ensure wealth: in 2016, the oil price dropped and the country fell into a recession, its inadequate infrastructure failing to soften the blow of its main export losing value.
But come 2017 and things are looking up. For one, global oil demand is predicted to increase, and the Nigerian government is bent on policy reform (though unpopular in some camps) to secure an IMF loan that will bolster the ailing economy.
Oshodi market in Lagos
Touching down in chaotic, vibrant Lagos, Nigeria’s capital city, 702 journalist Nikiwe Bikitsha found that the West African country still faces major challenges that could deter investors, despite its current upswing – which will be a slow process. She reports that infrastructure is dire with only 50% of businesses accessing the internet with broadband (the rest rely on mobile phones); electricity generation cannot meet demand; and though Nigeria is one of the top oil-producing nations in the world, it has limited refining capabilities.
However, within these challenges are investment opportunities. According to Nikiwe, for Nigeria to become fully optimal in terms of power generation, it must produce at least 50 000MW a year. It currently produces only 4 000MW. Thus, she says, the electricity sector offers the biggest opportunity in the country.
Refining oil represents another. Nigeria’s government owns a few oil refineries, but they’re badly maintained. However, when interviewing Tonye Cole, part of the trio that founded one of Nigeria’s largest oil, coal and gas conglomerates, Sahara Group, he shared that Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has plans to build a refinery just outside Lagos. This should generate huge opportunities.
Besides oil and electricity, Nikiwe reports that potential investors can set their sights on Nigeria’s growing middle class, who are demanding more and more consumer goods, and the agricultural sector, which is being expanded in a move towards greater economic diversification. There is also potential in agro-processing.
Third Mainland Bridge Though struggling out of a recession, Nigeria boasts numerous assets – the very same that saw the country become Africa’s biggest economy. No doubt the most valuable is the country’s vast, youthful population. Endowed with an industrious and entrepreneurial spirit, Nigerians yearn to succeed. Take Dr Ola Brown, for example, Founder and MD of Flying Doctors Nigeria, the first air-ambulance service in the country.
After her younger sister passed away partly as a result of the unavailability of emergency medical services, Dr Brown dedicated her life to building a better medical system in Nigeria. Today, Flying Doctors Nigeria transports victims of medical emergencies from all over West Africa, and sometimes Central Africa.
Foluso Phillips, Chairman of Phillips Consulting, believes that Nigeria’s people are “the gem in Nigeria’s economic crown”. Oil will always be important, but it’s the Nigerians themselves who have the will to move Africa’s Giant forward.
... View more
Stanbic Bank Botswana opened its doors 25 years ago, following Standard Bank’s acquisition of the Africa operations of ANZ Grindlays in eight separate African economies. Stanbic Bank Botswana team At the time, Botswana was considered an “overbanked” economy, so the question arises why Standard Bank Group sought to establish operations in Botswana?
The answer is unpretentious – the bank was following its large corporate clients, many of whom were headquartered in South Africa, but whose other Africa operations needed the same level of support and expertise. At the time, most of the big deals were being made in the extractive industry sector, and natural resources remains one of Stanbic Bank Botswana’s strategic focus areas.
In just 25 years, Stanbic Bank has become a leading name in Botswana, as its recent financing of the $825 million expansion of the country’s Morupule B power station has shown. It now offers the full spectrum of financial services, from Personal and Business Banking to Corporate and Investment Banking, as well as custody and trustee business. Like the wider Standard Bank Group, Stanbic Bank Botswana draws its strength from the fact that is a distinctly African institution, dedicated to serving the continent and helping its people reach their personal and business ambitions, and growing industries and enterprises.
And, as in any prosperous and thriving community, there is consensus - from board members to the staff on the ground floor - that Stanbic Botswana will be known for identifying, nurturing and producing the best banking talent in the country in order to serve its clients with excellence.
“We have an immense hunger for success and a courageous spirit”, says Sheperd Aisam, the Head of Corporate and Investment Banking. Louis Van Ravesteyn, the Head of Personal and Business Banking, believes the bank differentiates itself through service excellence. Leina Gabaraane, Stanbic Bank Botswana Chief Executive
Furthermore, its strategy is aligned with the nation. It supports initiatives aimed at economic diversification, beneficiation of the mining sector, and a thriving service sector.
The bank’s corporate culture is about going beyond brilliance. It is self-driven by a carefully chosen group of likeminded individuals. Standard Bank’s Global Leadership College ensures that this team is thoroughly grounded in best-of-breed banking practices.
Service excellence is backed by a state-of-the-art IT system. Stanbic’s Finacle Core Banking Solution runs a real-time account processing platform. This system has proved its worth and upped the bank’s game. Its enterprise-class capabilities have heightened the agility and efficiency of Stanbic’s operations, and significantly improved the user experience by customizing offerings, as well as providing enhanced accessibility and convenience.
Initiatives in the corporate social responsibility space include the patronage of football team Township Rollers, the Diacore Marathon, the Morupule Cycle Challenge, the Stanbic Bank Piazza, and the Stanbic Bank Super 5s Football Centre.
Stanbic Bank Botswana’s senior management wants to send the market a clear message: “Africa is our home, we drive her growth”. In other words, they will continue to make strides in the world of financial services; their clients - whether corporate, business or personal - come first; and as an African bank, they sky’s the limit.
The year 2017 may be its Silver Jubilee, but Stanbic Botswana’s executive team is clear that the bank is not just a leading financial institution, it is also a learning institution, reactive and responsive to the needs of the market. While its silver anniversary is a significant event, Team Stanbic Bank Botswana is reaching above and beyond the gold standard - going for a whole new benchmark relevant to Botswana – the diamond touchstone.
... View more
The week of 10 March sees acclaimed journalist Nikiwe Bikitsha travel to Lagos, Nigeria as part of the Africa Connected quest to uncover the truth about our continent’s emerging economies. Nigeria's GDP composition
Known formally as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the West African country is also colloquially termed “Africa’s Giant” – and not just for its vast population, which is the largest in Africa. The country is also Africa’s largest economy and a member of a collection of countries that are widely seen as the globe’s next BRICS-like economies, MINT.
Along with Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey, Nigeria makes the MINT line-up, because it is an emerging middle-income mixed economy with developing financial service, communications and technology sectors. It also boasts a re-emergent manufacturing sector that is currently the third largest on the continent.
Altogether, Nigeria is on track to become one of the world’s 20 largest economies by 2020 – at least, it was: in 2016, Nigeria battled recession as a global slump in oil prices (its main export) coincided with rebel attacks in the country’s oil-rich Niger Delta region, hobbling production. Consequently, Africa’s Giant ended that year on course for another of negative growth. But the International Monetary Fund predicts that Nigeria should find its way out of recession in 2017, with Focus Economics saying, “the first green shoots of recovery are starting to emerge.”
In March this year, Nigeria’s government published a reform policy aimed at jump-starting the economy through the selling of state assets and the liberalising of the naira, among other measures. The slow-down in the oil sector also eased due to government negotiations with rebels who have since stopped attacks.
In light of the above, Nigeria’s economy should grow if oil output holds steady or increases. Unfortunately, growth in non-oil sectors will continue to suffer from double-digit inflation, foreign-exchange shortages and unreliable power production. These are just some of the challenges one faces when doing business in Nigeria. Others include the poor state of infrastructure; limited internet access; endemic corruption in the public and private sectors; and an expatriate quota that limits foreign employment.
It’s not all negative, however. Nigeria presents a number of potentially lucrative investment choices for business people who are willing to consider the long term: middle-class consumption should more than triple, providing opportunities for the FMCG industry; the value of agriculture is expected to rise to USD263 billion a year by 2030; and, as most Nigerians rely on mobile phones for internet access, opportunities exist for new phone-compatible internet solutions.
To hear more about Nigeria’s potential, follow Nikiwe on Twitter or tune in to 702. The intrepid journalist will showcase her exploration of the country’s various sectors, as well as expert opinions from the likes of Omasan Ogisi, MTN’s manager of Corporate Affairs; Zik Zulu Okafor, renowned Nigerian film producer; and Tonye Cole, founder of the Sahara Group.
Follow the journey online using #AfricaConnected
... View more
In an effort to meet a need in the community and also make a real difference in the lives of those living in the community, our Bloemfontein office in South Africa set out on a mission that would forever change the lives of two elderly ladies.
Our excited Bloemfontein CSI team on site to build houses Our staff set off to Heidedal and Bochabela to complete the homes of two ladies who desperately needed someone to notice and improve their living conditions.
The first team set out to plaster and paint the walls of the home Standard Bank had built for the grateful 92-year-old Elizabeth Tiaas. Elizabeth, who will be turning 93 on the 12th of March, said she could hardly contain her excitement at the prospect of moving into a home without leaks in the ceiling and cracks in the walls. With tears in her eyes and a genuine smile, the matriarch said that she never thought she’d live to the day when she would have another home. Staying true to our tagline, “Moving Forward”, our team arranged with various stakeholders, including small to medium enterprises, to lend a helping hand to make sure that the work of the day is completed that same day.
92 year-old Elizabeth's new home structure, which still needs a few finishing touches before she can move in The second group visited Bochabela where a sadder, however, equally meaningful tale, unfolded. An elderly lady living at her home in Bochebela only managed to see part of her home being built. She was struck with a short illness and unfortunately died before she could see the complete structure. While the team was visibly saddened by the news, they, in honour of this lady’s memory completed the house so that when the woman’s funeral was to be held at the home, the bulk of the work would have been done.
One of the members from the group said they are looking forward to such events in the future where they can make a difference in someone’s life. She added that working for a company that actively seeks to make a difference, is “such a blessing, because you’re always looking forward to your next event and how you can contribute”.
The team aims to build three more houses for three underprivileged families. Our Bloemfontein CSI team’s prime focus is on providing meaningful solutions to those in need, with a special focus on the elderly, children from underprivileged homes and schools as well as providing support to smaller non-profit organisations.
Visit our sustainability website to find out more about our efforts to make a real difference.
... View more
The Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) hosted Stanbic IBTC to a closing gong ceremony on the trading floor to commemorate out-going Chief Executive for Stanbic IBTC Group who recently assumed office as Chief Executive, Africa Regions -Sola David-Borha and to formally introduce the new Chief Executive for Stanbic IBTC Group, Yinka Sanni to stockbrokers.
The closing ceremony was themed after Standard Bank’s payoff line - Moving Forward and aptly resonates with the elevation of both Sola and Yinka. The event was televised live on CNBC Africa alongside an interview by Sola. The Nigeria Stock Exchange team was led by their Chief Executive Officer, Mr Oscar Onyema.
Yinka once worked as a dealer at the NSE and was greeted with cheers from all the dealers. One of the dealers commented that it was good to see one of their own achieve such great success and that they were glad to see him back in his capacity as CE of Stanbic IBTC Group.
The ceremony was attended by key top executives of both The NSE and Stanbic IBTC.
Watch the full video by CNBC Africa here.
... View more
We were awarded six accolades, including Best Emerging Markets Bank in the World and Best Investment Bank in Africa, in the Global Finance World’s Best Investment Bank Awards 2017.
We also received the following awards:
- Best M&A Bank in Africa
- Best Investment Bank in Angola
- Best Investment Bank in Ghana
- Best Investment Bank in Kenya
The awards reflect client confidence in our ability to address their challenges and identify opportunities despite a tumultuous year globally and in sub-Saharan Africa, which was characterised by volatile economic and market conditions, geopolitical risk and social challenges.
The winners of the awards are a model of how an exemplary financial institution can best serve its corporate clients in a national, regional or global market. They are selected through a survey by Global Finance editors, with input from industry analysts, corporate executives and banking consultants based on growth in assets, profitability, strategic relationships, customer service, competitive pricing and innovative products.
We remain firm in our commitment to drive long term and inclusive growth in Africa.
... View more
Financial experts predict that growth in ultra-wealthy populations in Africa will outpace that of Europe and North America over the next decade. Such findings can be found in the 2017 edition of The Wealth Report, launched by Knight Frank and Standard Bank Wealth and Investment.
The Report states that the continent’s number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals will increase by 33%, and key hotspots for growth will include Ghana, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda.
Deon de Klerk, Head of Wealth: Africa Regions for Standard Bank, reveals that preservation of capital and generational wealth transfer remain as important as they have ever been to an effective overall wealth strategy, but now investors are also concerned about their short-term prospects as they seek to navigate an increasingly uncertain environment.
According to the report, the total number of global ultra-wealthy - those with USD30 million or more in net assets – rose by 6 340 in 2016, taking the total to 193 490. What’s more, countries offering fiscal and political stability, as well as excellent quality of life, are expected to see strong growth over the next 10 years.
It’s imperative that African countries position themselves to attract new business and investment, boosting economic growth and improving financial inclusion. So, while the ultra-wealthy in Africa only grew by 13% between 2006 and 2016, growth could be more than double that rate over the next decade as policy and regulatory frameworks make countries more conducive for doing business.
The current level of market complexity has heightened risks, highlighting the need for specialised investment and wealth management expertise. At the same time, absolute discretion and confidentiality are crucial. Africa’s ultra-wealthy also want to leave a legacy through philanthropic activities.
The award-winning Standard Bank Wealth and Investment fits this bill perfectly. An extensive presence throughout the continent combined with the Standard Bank Group’s heritage of over 154 years, empowers the Bank with the necessary diversification to provide seamless, bespoke on- and offshore offerings. By partnering with Frank Knight, Africa’s leading wealth manager delivers valuable views on key trends underpinning the continent’s wealth market.
“Our approach ensures clients receive best-of-breed solutions. With increasing volatility experienced in the markets, there is an increasing demand for bespoke investment solutions that achieve superior risk-adjusted investment returns alongside those which give a higher degree of confidence to achieve each family’s unique goals and aspirations,” says Mr de Klerk.
... View more
In partnership with India’s Tech Mahindra, we have launched a Data-Science and Analytics (DSA) graduate programme, with an inaugural intake of 13 graduates from six African markets.
This programme is the latest addition to our existing graduate programmes to run across our Africa network, and aims to accelerate the deployment of data-science and analytics specialists in the banking industry.
Graduates from sub-Saharan Africa - including South Africa, Nigeria and Mozambique - with qualifications in Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, IT, Statistics and Economics, were eligible to apply, as these are the scarce skills that are so critical to Africa’s growth and future competiveness, according to Thula Ngonyama, Standard Bank Head of Customer Insights for Africa. With innovative programmes such as the DSA, she says, the Bank and its partners hope the potential to develop and enhance a new sector in Africa can be realised.
The graduates will spend three months at Tech Mahindra’s Infocity in Hyderabad, India, immersed in one of the world’s leading data-science and innovation centres where they will train in advanced data analytics tools and project implementation.
Additional learning via a rotation through various lines of businesses within Standard Bank South Africa and the graduates’ home countries will cover training in industry and banking-systems knowledge. On completion, graduates will return to their home country to implement a specialised two-year data-science project at an in-country division.
By developing a broad and deep pipeline of data-science skills across the continent, we are aiming to be a key knowledge source and provider of data-analytics on the continent. While this supports our digitization and customer-centric vision, it also demonstrates our commitment to leveraging human potential through the development of valuable business skills that actively transform a sector with the potential to drive Africa’s growth.
“Standard Bank’s DDA graduate programme has the potential to establish key African markets as centres of excellence in advanced analytics,” says Ms Ngonyama. “This has immediate implications for employment as well as profound implications for Africa’s digital future.”
... View more
Though stable and blessed with considerable mineral wealth, Zambia is steeped in contradictions: the national GDP has doubled since independence in 1964, but per capita income is currently only at two thirds of independence-year levels. Policies focused on reducing inflation and developing infrastructure have enabled the economy to maintain steady growth for more than six years. Yet, lingering institutional shortcomings mean that overall progress in long-term development is lagging. To journalist Nikiwe, it was clear that, on her latest Africa Connected journey, she needed to consult economic and business experts to figure out where Zambia really stands in terms of growth:
The copper-mining sector is central to Zambia’s prospects, covering more than 80% of its exports. Concern exists that the economy is not diversified enough to cope with a drop in international copper prices following a dramatic demand drop in 2015 that saw the Zambian kwacha become one of that year’s worst performing currencies.
Less than two years later, however, things are looking up. According to government reports, copper output may reach a record 800 000 tonnes as prices rebound. Minister of Mines and Mineral Development Christopher Yaluma concurs, saying that Zambia is the “most wanted” mining country for foreign investors.
Though she agrees that there is interest from overseas, Stanbic Zambia’s Head of Business Banking Mwensa Mutati says that most business expansion is from southern Africa, particularly South Africa. Apparently, Stanbic has seen “very significant growth” (predominantly in trade and sales), which has been powered by southern-African investors. This may be due to the fact that starting a business is comparatively easy in Zambia, as the necessary advice is readily available.
CEO of Pangaea Securities Limited Ceasr Siwale believes that Zambia’s growing middle-income group prefers to be associated with international brands, rather than “home-grown” ones. As the CEO of the company that introduced Mugg & Bean and Pizza Hut to the country, he is well-placed to offer such assessments.
While travelling through the capital of Lusaka, Nikiwe noted that many shopping malls are mostly occupied by South African retail chains, such as Pick ‘n Pay. Though the Zambian government requires a certain level of national ownership, this observation confirms Mr Siwale’s claim that Zambian’s prefer international brands.
One of the major challenges faced by foreign businesses is Zambia’s poor infrastructure. While interviewing Trudie van Rooyen, Co-founder of Go Vino, Nikiwe learned that the wine import company’s trucks can take up to 15 days to reach Lusaka from SA due to the country’s crumbling roads.
The infrastructure challenge also means that Zambia’s full tourism potential (and possible new tourist spots) cannot be reached; besides Victoria Falls, the country offers a number of stunning attractions, but they remain unexplored and unknown.
As one of the fastest growing countries in Africa bursting with resources, Zambia should be attracting foreign investors in droves. One way this fledgling economy can realise its true potential is to invest heavily in its unrefined infrastructure.
... View more
A compelling line up of policy makers and business leaders from Europe, Africa and Malawi are scheduled to address delegates attending Standard Bank Malawi’s first Socio-Economic Forum focussing on the youth next week, Tuesday March 28 th in Malawi’s administrative capital, Lilongwe.
Under the theme; “Youth Entrepreneurship: Creating Opportunities to Build Mother Malawi,” the forum has been organised in partnership with UNICEF and the Government of Malawi, and will put the spotlight on potential of the Malawi youth market and bring customers closer to the market’s opportunities.
Keynote speakers include Mia Seppo, UN Resident Representative, Dr. Joseph Yossie Shevel, President of Galileo International Management and Resident Representatives from key UN bodies in Malawi namely, Dr Dan Odallo and Johannes Wedenig. Others notable speakers expected are Honourable Henry Mussa, MP and Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports & Manpower Development, Mike Kafe Standard Bank Group Research Andrew Mashanda Chief Executive Officer of Standard Bank Limited and Kondwani Mlilima, Chief Risk Officer of Standard Bank Limited. Another exciting speaker to look forward to is Rachel Sibande, founder of mHub, Malawi’s first technology incubation hub which has trained over 4,000 young people with digital and entrepreneurial skills.
Dr. Joseph Yossie Shevel will discuss the potential of youth employment in the agriculture sector in Malawi based on lessons drawn from Israel where young graduates and agriculture entrepreneurs are using high technology. Malawi’s economy is agriculturally-driven.
“The presentation will centre on the methods and techniques to be implemented in Malawi in order to develop incubators for young Malawians and how to develop the agricultural sector to be more competitive in SADC and to lower youth unemployment,” said Shevel.
Johannes Wedenig, Representative, UNICEF Malawi noted, “Malawi has one of the youngest populations in Africa. Investing in children is investing in Malawi’s future. Partnerships with the Government of Malawi and Standard Bank are key to ensuring that the rights of all Malawi’s children are realized. Children’s issues are everyone’s issues and should unite all sections of society.”
Mike Kafe will share economic insights in Africa, SADC and Malawi.
Dr Dan Odallo is the UNFPA Country Representative and will discuss economic opportunities for the youth as the emerging demographic divided. The forum will be privileged to have Vice President of the Republic of Malawi Dr Saulos Chilima as Guest of Honour.
Invited guests will have the opportunity to network with like-minded people, policy makers, UN and government officials as well as be in a position to assess for themselves the underlying potential in youth and how to navigate the challenges they face in their entrepreneurship strides.
Follow Standard Bank Malawi on Twitter for live updates from the forum.
... View more
Water evaporation is one of the leading challenges facing the manufacturing sector, and the greater South African business eco-system. The need for water conservation was significantly highlighted following the severe drought conditions that impacted South Africa last year, resulting in eight provinces being declared disaster areas. WaterSavr SA is a new venture, and despite the recent rains in Gauteng and KZN, it’s aiming to plug a gap in the market when it comes to sustainable water conservation. The company supplies a powdered substance that can be added to open dams or on-site storage tanks to reduce the amount of water businesses lose to the sun.
WaterSavr SA’s powder can be applied to any large body of water from a small boat or through an automated spreader. Once applied, a thin film forms on the surface of the water, which then automatically spreads, thereby limiting the amount of water lost due to evaporation. This technology can help water reliant businesses, that still use open dams and tanks, to save money and reduce environmental impact. Follow #WorldWaterDay on Twitter to join the conversation.
... View more
News of breaches at major retailers has littered the headlines for the last couple of years. Giants such as Target, TJX, eBay and Home Depot have all fallen foul to cyber criminals, making other retailers all too aware of the financial and reputational repercussions, in the aftermath. Theft has always been a problem for retailers. However, before the days of the Internet, thieves, be they hijackers, burglars or shoplifters, were after physical goods. Today, retailers have more valuable assets, their customers and their customers’ credit card information, to protect.
For hackers, credit card details are even more lucrative than money, because the data can be transmitted anonymously and electronically. Bear in mind that cyber-crime organisations are run in a similar way to legitimate businesses. Within the group, there will be people who write the malware, parties who run the show, and associates who act as money mules, who can act very quickly to steal cash from any compromised accounts even before the retailer has discovered the breach.
When you bear in mind that there could be millions and millions of accounts compromised, the amounts start to add up.
So, with cyber crooks always hot on their heels, retailers have been increasing spend on IT security in the last few years. There are a wide array of tools and solutions that they can adopt to help mitigate the threats, including firewalls, DLP, intrusion prevention and of course having a good response plan in place, should a breach occur. However, although planning is an essential part of any security posture, security has been, and remains a ‘catch-up’ game, with cyber criminals becoming increasingly complex, clever and sophisticated. The retail industry is desperately trying to keep up.
Over and above this, data privacy regulations, both new and evolving, are putting retailers under pressure to have solid security systems in place, as well as strong procedures in place to limit any potential fallout. Cyber regulations are only going to get tougher unfortunately and even the most sophisticated and expensive tools are not a silver bullet. Retailers also need to seriously consider having specific, cyber insurance in place that is over and above their regular cover.
Retailers have to deal with a specific set of challenges in terms of cyber threats. They generally don’t need to deal with massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, because cyber crooks need to keep transactions happening in order to cash in. Shutting them down means there is no data to steal, and no cash to be skimmed. However, instead, retailers have to deal with highly complex malware that steals login credentials, as well as malware that stealthily infiltrates their networks, and lingers around to pinpoint and record very specific transactions.
A couple of years ago, a point-of-sale (PoS) malware called AbaddonPOS was implicated in several large-scale breaches that affected retailers all over the USA. AbaddonPOS is delivered via an email campaign specifically tailored to retailers and which is highly specific, and targeted. The message entices the recipient into enabling content by clicking on an image, which then delivers a malicious macro called TinyLoader. Following this, command-and-control servers are contacted while TinyLoader takes a new version of the malware that is able to test white-list and black-list implementations and alter the way it skims credit card information to avoid detection.
What this highlights is that although the retail space was once considered too onerous a target to be practical for hackers, targeted malware and the slew of breaches over the last few years have altered the circumstances. Attacks on retailers are not only feasible now, they are extremely lucrative for cyber crooks, and PoS malware is evolving and increasing in frequency and complexity. The only way for retailers to help themselves is to have good security measures in place to deter criminals, and loss of funds insurance in place to help them deal with any fallout should a breach occur.
... View more
According to the World Health Organisation, the early childhood period is considered to be the most important developmental phase in our lives. What happens to a child in the early years is critical for their developmental trajectory and life course. Numerous initiatives have been carried out across many of Standard Bank’s markets. Giving back to people and the communities that support us is important to our people and we can find no better way to give back than investing in children.
Our partnership with General Electric (GE) and the opening up of children’s hospitals in South Africa and Kenya is evident that our investment starts early in a child’s life. Understanding that healthcare is crucial to this continent is important to us and numerous smaller initiatives have taken place where staff choose to raise money, such as Stanbic Bank Ghana coming to the aid of a baby with a hole in its heart. Our female employees using the power of mentorship to encourage young girls to stay in school and to be powerful agents of change. In Malawi, we partnered with UNICEF to establish a girl mentorship program which encourages girls to continue with their education. Targeted at girls between the ages of 8 – 15, female employees of the Stanbic Bank Malawi act as role models in a country where 57% of girls enrolled in school drop out before they reach secondary school.
A 2- day hackathon held in Ghana was supported by the bank at the Kwame University of Science just recently. Empowering and promoting young, talented app developers and encouraging idea generation is key to problem solving. Stanbic Bank Zambia’s Personal and Business Banking team share their day with the Bauleni Special Needs Project and make a donation of K60,000 of much-needed items for its school. When it comes to giving back to the community, our staff in Zambia reached out to Bauleni Special Needs School with donations of much needed school items. Included in that donation was a shower wheelchair for children who have mobility issues. This will go a long way in ensuring the comfort and safety of the user in the shower. The Bauleni Special Needs Project seeks to create an enabling environment for the most marginalised and vulnerable young people in the country and this touched the hearts of the staff in the country who wanted to be a part of that.
Donations are one thing. But in South Africa, investing in the professional development of ECD practitioners is recognised as the single most effective measure that can be introduced to improve educational outcomes. However, changing the teaching style of most educators can be difficult, it needs intense classroom support and takes time. In 2015 in SA, we invested R15 million in the training of ECD practitioners to ensure children are given the best start to their education.
Childhood education will continue to be one of Standard Bank’s key focus areas. We believe that realising Africa’s growth potential begins with an understanding of the needs of its people and we remain committed to the progress and prosperity of this continent we call home.
Read more stories here about the work we are doing in communities across Africa.
... View more
While funding remains a major barrier to venturing into business, an increasing number of entrepreneurs complain about lack of access to markets as another big hindrance, which limits their prospects to grow their businesses even when funding is available. This was confirmed in a recent survey of female entrepreneurs by Standard Bank, where respondents cited scarcity of funding as the second biggest challenge after lack of access to new markets. Standard Bank Incubator Jayshree Naidoo, Head of the Standard Bank Incubator, says difficulties with accessing markets may be a symptom of an absent or ineffective networking strategy.
“A lot of small businesses don’t have big budgets – if any – to rollout marketing and advertising campaigns, and often have to use innovative ways to sell their products. What many seem to overlook is the power of networking, a cost-effective tool to market and grow your business,” says Naidoo.
“Attending networking events creates many possibilities. Whether you’re looking for people who could help grow your firm or advice from experts in the industry or a business partner, nothing beats networking. It’s a cost-effective chance to meet potential new buyers, suppliers or even a mentor,” she says.
Writing in his book What To Do When You Want To Give Up: Help For Entrepreneurs In Tough Times, entrepreneur Allon Raiz equally extols the virtues of networking. And while the common form of networking involves attending events related to your industry with the view of meeting potential new clients, he says networking can be both formal and casual.
“As an entrepreneur, once you know that your primary responsibility is to sell, sell and sell, there are definite ways to ensure that you expose yourself to the right people and that you find opportunities to pitch your business, either using your elevator pitch or your story,” Raiz writes. “An obvious exposure is at networking events – both business and social. And you need to attend as many as of these as possible. I firmly believe that early-stage entrepreneurs who do not network will not succeed. That has been my experience.”
As part of its business development programme, the Standard Bank Incubator hosts a number of networking events to create opportunities for small business owners to meet. Mentors and successful entrepreneurs are invited to share their experiences and how they overcame challenges in their early days.
Naidoo, however, cautions that attending a networking session is not going yield instant results. Rather, it must be seen as a relationship-building exercise, which requires a second date and follow-up meetings.
Equally important, entrepreneurs must remember that networking is a two-way street. That means whenever you meet someone, you need to ask them as many questions as possible regarding their business, as well as informing them about yours.
It is also important to filter through your contact list to see who is worth pursuing a relationship with, as it is not possible nor desirable to make friends with everyone in your industry. Here are some tips on effective networking:
Be an early bird: Intuitively, most guest prefer to arrive just when the official programme is about to start to avoid being lonely. On the contrary, being an early bird creates endless networking opportunities. Firstly, you get a chance to meet the host, and introduce yourself and your business before a circle forms around him or her. Secondly, being one of the first to arrive makes it easy to approach other “lonely” guests and begin a conversation before everyone settles into a group.
Remember, it’s a two-way street: It may be tempting to dominate the whole conversation with your great plans to build a business empire or about how you’re struggling to penetrate the market, but keep in mind that your acquaintance is equally eager to tell you about his or her business. Show interest in their story by asking questions and listening. If there’s a meeting of minds between the two of you, a lasting relationship will begin.
Don’t oversell yourself: Just like in a formal pitch, don’t exaggerate your abilities and capabilities. This may be tempting when you’re struggling to get your business off the ground and see a potential customer, but it’s not worth the risk. The last thing you need is to receive an order you can’t deliver, or ruin a relationship that could potentially grow big.
Bring lots of business cards: Carrying business cards to external meetings has become standard practice for professionals and business people. Writing contact details on a diary or storing them on your phone is an unnecessary distraction during a conversation, and there’s a chance you may not remember who’s who from your contact list a few days later. Because business cards contain the key particulars of a person, they tend to serve as a good reminder of who you met.
Follow up, follow up: Just like any courtship, a second date is essential. If you see a potential relationship with an acquaintance, inquire about the best way to stay in touch. Busy people prefer to be contacted via email, while those who are still hustling may not mind a call on their cellphones. It is important to make contact within a week after the event, while your contact still remembers you.
... View more
The importance of African women's participation in business on the continent is one of the central themes of the fifth edition of the Africa CEO Forum held in Geneva on 20 and 21 March, the leading international gathering devoted to the development of Africa and its companies.
The forum hosts more than 1000 African and international personalities, as well as key African industrial, financial and political decision-makers, including about 200 business leaders from 43 African countries. Such influential business leaders include Sola David-Borha, our newly appointed Chief Executive Standard Bank: Africa Regions.
Africa’s ability to unleash the power of female entrepreneurs and start-up companies has become increasingly important in light of the fact that overall growth on the continent has slowed markedly from the economic boom enjoyed in the 2000s. Although certain countries, such as Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Tanzania, are still performing well and achieving world-class results, overall growth for 2016 is expected at 3%, a far cry from the 6% achieved ten years ago, which calls for a more detailed analysis of the economic boom of the 2000s.
By holding the 2017 meeting under the theme Re-thinking Africa’s Business Model, the Africa CEO Forum has chosen to focus on the changes that must be made in order to succeed in this new economic cycle.
The major themes are:
Unleashing entrepreneurial energies, including those of start-ups, young and women entrepreneurs;
Increasing Africa’s attractiveness to international investors;
Improving the competitiveness of African stock exchanges; and
Encouraging the creation of more export-orientated activities
The forum will also feature more than 20 sessions that examine a number of practical issues that African companies face, including: digital transformation, fintechs, agribusiness, private equity, and the development of African champions or off-grid electricity.
African Women in Business initiative
The African Women in Business initiative will be made up of a high-level panel which will bring together the most influential women in the African private sector and the Chief Executives most active in promoting gender diversity.
Its goal is twofold: to identify the best strategies for increased female representation in business; and to highlight the career paths of the women who have shaped the African private sector.
“A greater representation of women in companies is crucial to the prosperity of the African private sector”, said Amir Ben Yahmed, the President of the Africa CEO Forum. “By creating the African Women in Business initiative, we have decided to put female leadership at the heart of our discussion.”
The African Women in Business initiative will also present the findings of the event’s knowledge partner, McKinsey & Company’s, report titled “Women Matter Africa”. This report sets out the progress made by the African private and public sectors in terms of women’s representation. While Africa equals – and even exceeds – international standards, there is still a long way to go to achieve true gender equality.
By launching the African Women in Business initiative, the Africa CEO Forum is contributing to the implementation of concrete solutions for the improvement of gender diversity. It aims, to shake things up and push boundaries.
... View more
Like other commodity-producing economies, Côte d'Ivoire had a tough 2016, but this will do little to diminish its expected GDP growth of about 8%. This is what acclaimed journalist Nikiwe Bikitsha learned on her latest Africa Connected journey to the West African country.
Long associated with chocolate and coffee, Côte d'Ivoire has so much more going for it – though cocoa and coffee beans are two of its main exports. Today, the Ivory Coast is the largest economy in the West African and Monetary Union, contributing to about 40% of the union’s GDP. Compared to other countries in the region, it also has a relatively high income per capital of USD3 600.
So, what’s the secret to Côte d'Ivoire’s economic success? Nikiwe interviewed a number of banking, law and economic experts to find out. Business and Corporate Lawyer Michel Brizoua believes the country’s legislative framework is welcoming to foreign investors. Besides in highly regulated sectors, such in the mining industry, foreigners can establish themselves with 100% business ownership, and set up a business in roughly 24 hours.
This view is also held by James Osterloh, Chief Operating Officer, Stanbic Côte d'Ivoire. He revealed that the Ivory Coast’s business environment is very positive, saying that people generally come across as pro-business and progressive. “Brand South Africa” is especially welcome in the country, as Ivoirians look to South Africa for innovation.
In terms of investment opportunities, the general consensus among Nikiwe’s chosen experts is that investors are spoilt for choice: Hervé Boyer, Director General, Stanbic Côte d'Ivoire, says the Ivory Coast is a “land of opportunities” in which “all the elements” exist, including low costs of doing business. In terms of energy, Côte d'Ivoire is a net exporter, and will soon double production to meet the requirements of its economic growth and the needs of the countries around it. Infrastructure is booming; though already excellent, 31% of all government expenses are related to infrastructure projects. Mining is also on Mr Boyer’s list, as 11% of Côte d'Ivoire’s GDP come’s directly from this sector.
It seems like solid investment prospects are everywhere, and Mr Osterloh agrees, saying that when an economy is booming like Côte d'Ivoire’s, opportunities are widespread, and thus Stanbic Bank is seeing invest from “really diverse” sectors.
Of course, any country will present challenges. In the case of the Ivory Coast, the biggest challenge, as believed by Mr Osterloh, is language. Côte d'Ivoire is a French-speaking nation – in fact, one of the reasons Stanbic Bank opened a subsidiary there was to expand operations into Francophone Africa. However, the language barrier is not insurmountable. Mr Osterloh suggests it can be overcome by working with local partners.
It seems Côte d'Ivoire offers more in favour of investing than not. According to Mr Brizoua, “Côte d'Ivoire can be seen as the best business destination in Francophone Africa.”
... View more
Fall armyworm is devastating crops in East and Southern Africa causing alarm and talk of threats to food security. Native to the Americas, this caterpillar of the Lepidoptera order which first appeared on the continent early in 2016, eats everything in an area, and once the food supply is exhausted, the entire "army" moves to the next available food source .
It has attacked maize crops in at least seven countries in the region, and could spread to sugar cane in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where the warm climate would help it to survive throughout the year, according to an article published in the South African media on 20 February. However, the South African Agricultural Research Council says there aren’t any reports yet of infestations of sugar cane, and in South Africa, the vast bulk of the commercial maize crop has not been damaged and national food security is not at risk.
The best vaccine is swift, sector-wide and cross regional action to deal with this and other threats, says Bertie Hamman, Senior AgriBusiness Manager at Standard Bank, which is a major financier of the agribusiness sector. This has been shown in South Africa, where farmers, scientists, agro-chemical companies, industry bodies and regulatory authorities have worked tirelessly together since January to put preventative measures in place and register patents to combat the threat.
“Global food systems are complex and multinational. Today it is very common for farmers to harvest a crop which was grown from input supplies coming from all over the globe. And then this same crop gets processed in another country and consumed in yet another,” Bertie says. Bertie says the bank is encouraged by the collaboration shown across industries and sectors in South Africa to eradicate the disease. “It demonstrates how well agribusiness can function, together with regulators. This co-operation will likely avoid a much larger crisis and gives stakeholders like Standard Bank the confidence to invest in the sector.”
The power of regional and sectoral collaboration to fight fall armyworm and other diseases is echoed by an emergency meeting in Harare on 16 February organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) of the United Nations, where sixteen East and Southern African countries set out urgent plans of action to boost regional capacity to manage emerging crop pest and livestock diseases, including armyworm and avian influenza.
Countries like Zambia, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe have been particularly hard hit by the disease. Zambia has reported that almost 90 000 hectares of maize have been affected, forcing farmers to replant their crops. In Malawi about 17 000 hectares have so far been affected, while in Namibia, approximately 50 000 hectares of maize and millet has been damaged and in Zimbabwe up to 130 000 hectares could be affected.
... View more
In the latest African Connected journey to highlight economies on the continent that are writing their own success stories, Nikiwe and the team visit the flourishing West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire.
For decades after French colonial rule, Cote d’Ivoire – or the Ivory Coast – was hailed as a beacon of stability in West Africa thanks to its ethnic and racial harmony, and well-developed economy. But an armed rebellion split the nation in two in the early 2000s, and, since then, peace deals have alternated with conflict as the country limps towards a permanent political solution.
Yet, despite the political turmoil, Cote d’Ivoire’s economy is widely reported as stable and even prosperous: the International Monetary Fund predicts that its GDP will increase by an average of 7.4% between 2017 and 2020, and the country is well-placed to act as the business hub for the entire West African region, further entrenching its influence and value - indeed, Cote d’Ivoire currently makes up about 40% of this zone’s economy.
Cocoa and cocoa preparations account for 55.5% of the country's top exports
The reasons for the Ivory Coast’s prosperity are numerous. Largely an agricultural economy, it is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of cocoa, coffee beans, and palm oil. Forestry is another economic mainstay, with the industry exporting more than 25 different types of wood (including mahogany, teak, pine and cedar) to Europe, Senegal and Morocco.
Most important to foreign investors, though, is the country’s excellent infrastructure: Described as “outstanding” compared to that of other developing countries, Cote d’Ivoire boasts a network of more than 13 000km of paved roads; modern, accessible telecommunications services; rail links; regular air transport service within the region and to Europe; and a highly regarded education system.
With this in mind, it’s clear why many multinational companies are moving, and have made the move, into the Ivory Coast: US Giant General Electric (GE) opened a subsidiary in Abidjan in 2012; MTN began operating in the country in 2005; and Standard Bank established its first Ivorian branch in 2015 - Stanbic Côte d'Ivoire - to expand its operations into Francophone Africa. On her journey, Nikiwe will interview representatives from all these organisations - and others - getting to the heart of their activities in West Africa and their goals for the future.
As the Ivory Coast is one of the world’s major cocoa-producing nations, no tour of the country would be complete without a visit to a chocolate factory or the Conseil Cafe Cacao (the Coffee and Cocoa Council or CCC). Though the West-African country exports the cocoa and coffee beans needed to produce globally adored treats, this industry is blighted by the scourge of child labour. The CCC is determined to combat this, promoting a fair and sustainable export industry.
Just like past Africa Connected adventures, this one promises to be as enlightening as it’s engaging. To join Nikiwe on this latest journey of discovery, follow #AfricaConnected with Standard Bank and 702’s Nikiwe on Twitter.
... View more
We have joined the powerful R3 network of more than 75 of the world’s largest and most influential banks and financial institutions which is exploring blockchain solutions.
“It is essential to deliver on changing customer expectations and be innovative so that we can provide solutions that make a difference in the lives of customers. We are optimistic about the potential use of blockchain technology, and are very interested to see what opportunities it presents,” says Peter Schlebusch, our Chief Executive for Personal & Business Banking.
“Collaboration will be critical to unlocking value, and we want to be actively involved in exploring and testing how technology like blockchain can be adopted by financial institutions. Being a partner member of the R3 network will provide us with an excellent opportunity to accelerate and enhance our adoption of this new technology,” he says.
R3 is a financial innovation firm that is leading a consortium of financial institutions to design and deliver advanced distributed ledger technologies to global financial markets. Distributed ledger technology has the potential to change financial services profoundly, and banks are looking to, among others, develop a permissioned blockchain system that requires a level of clearance to join and can be linked to legal tender.
“South Africa is a key market for us as we continue to expand our footprint in the region. We look forward to working closely with Standard Bank to test and develop distributed ledger based technology to address some of the major challenges facing participants operating in Africa’s financial markets and beyond,” says David Rutter, the Chief Executive of R3.
The R3 team of financial industry veterans, technologists and blockchain and crypto currency experts collaborate with consortium members on research, experimentation, design, and engineering to advance the technology to meet banking requirements for identity, privacy, security, scalability, interoperability and integration with legacy systems.
Consortium members worked closely with R3 to develop Corda™, its shared ledger platform specifically designed to record, manage and synchronise financial agreements between regulated financial institutions.
“The potential for blockchain technology to transform the financial services industry is vast. Change should become more mainstream as regulatory acceptance grows. We are also working closely with regulators to understand the implications for the South African and other African markets,” Peter says.
We are already engaged in a number of blockchain initiatives in the area of business trade, and are exploring the enhancements that blockchain technology can make to our cross border payment solutions.
The ability of numerous participants in the financial services sector to exchange insights and knowledge is vital for the future of a global network. “Our partnership with R3 will be essential in this regard,” Peter says.
... View more
As Africa’s biggest bank, with a heritage of over 150 years on the continent, Standard Bank is a champion of the Africa China opportunity. Our formidable partnership with the largest bank in the world, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), gives us unparalleled access to China.
Together, Standard Bank and ICBC are building and growing the Africa China trade & investment corridor, and helping forge a partnership that is transforming economies, growing cities, developing infrastructure, increasing employment, and empowering people. In short, the partnership brings two worlds together.
Standard Bank – Africa is our home, we drive her growth
A formidable partnership driving opportunity and prosperity
Standard Bank’s Africa-focused strategy and our formidable partnership with ICBC provides an unrivalled ability to facilitate capital flows and cross-border trade between Africa and China. We bring together ICBC's financial and global reach, and Standard Bank’s deep expertise and heritage in Africa, to support clients in both destinations.
We link our clients to growth opportunities offered by African economies. Across Africa, our clients rely on our strong partnerships with government, regulators and business, and trust our capabilities in growth sectors from agribusiness and infrastructure development to retail and fast moving consumer goods.
We operate in 20 African countries, providing the financial capabilities and relationships to make progress real. We assist clients by navigating complex financial and regulatory cross-border environments, with experienced local teams and in-depth research providing the basis for our deep understanding of market dynamics in countries with rapidly developing economies.
Through ICBC, we have strong relationships with Chinese businesses – many of whom are already playing a significant part in the infrastructural development of African markets, as well as the related industries associated with that development which drive socio-economic growth.
The rise of the Renminbi
China’s role in Africa’s economic growth and development continues to increase. As China and Chinese companies continue to ramp up economic activities on the continent, the use of the Renminbi (RMB) in international trade continues to gain traction. Payments between Africa and China (and vice versa) have found a home with Standard Bank.
We are already a dominant foreign currency player in Africa, conducting 2.1 million trades annually and executing approximately 30% of all foreign exchange flows on the continent. We offer our customers a suite of products to assist in their dealings with China, including foreign exchange spot, forwards, currency options and money markets, as well as telegraphic transfers, Letters of Credit and customer foreign currency accounts.
In extending our Renminbi capabilities, products and services, and through established banking relationships and trading lines with numerous counterparties, we offer our clients competitive pricing and real access to opportunity. Through our understanding of the international payment and trade requirements of Chinese clients doing business in Africa, and African clients doing business in China, we will continue to deepen our capabilities to drive real growth for China and Africa.
... View more
Standard Bank Group's links with paleoanthropology resulted in the bank donating 100 hectares of land for the development Maropeng. This is where visitors to the world-renowned Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg, can experience how life as we know it today emerged as they "return to the place of origin" (Maropeng).
This development was the first public-private partnership of its kind in South Africa and was undertaken with the Gauteng Provincial Government, which is responsible for the development and management of the World Heritage Site.
All From One exhibit
Standard Bank is proud to support the Paleontological Scientific Trust (PAST) “All From One” campaign which launched on 10 November 2015 as a pro-Africa campaign calling for unity, collaboration, conservation and tolerance in the pursuit of prosperity.
PAST's All from One exhibition is part of a global awareness campaign that celebrates Africa as the shared origins and birthplace of humankind , to promote tolerance of diversity and to foster collaboration in building a sustainable and prosperous future.
The Cradle of Humankind is not only a national symbol; it's an international marker of all humanity's common heritage. Nowhere else on the planet is it as clear as it is here that we all share a common history – not only as South Africans, not only as Africans, but as human beings. And that is what we're celebrating.
... View more
Our Chief Executive, Sim Tshabalala is at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum showcasing Africa’s business & investment opportunities. Watch what he has to say about deeping the ties between the U.S and Africa.
... View more
Two years ago, government and business representatives from across Africa and the US gathered at the US-Africa Summit to discuss investment opportunities and potential partnerships. A key focus of the summit was attracting US investment into Africa’s energy, transport and IT infrastructure.
The U.S.-Africa Business Forum 2016
Progress hasn’t been linear – it never is. The value of US imports from Africa has shrunk by about a third as a result of weaker oil prices and increased domestic oil production in the US. But this should not be allowed to obscure much more positive underlying trends from Africa’s point of view. Non- petroleum exports to the US - particularly apparel and manufactured goods – continue to grow significantly, driving economic diversification, industrialisation and job creation. And in the past decade, Africa has also begun to close its infrastructure gap with the rest of the developing world, but massive new investment is still required.
President Obama’s Power Africa and Trade Africa initiatives have been instrumental in marshalling US investment and in reinforcing these positive trends. For example, in the Power Africa initiative, the US government’s initial $7bn commitment has leveraged nearly $43bn in commitments from over 120 public and private sector partner, and the initiative is on track to add 30000 MW to Africa’s power supply by 2030.
The Trade Africa partnership has made good progress in increasing US partnerships with firms in its initial area of focus, the East African Community. In the first year of the initiative, there was a 24% increase in exports of goods from the EAC to the US. A US-EAC Cooperation Agreement aims to further reduce red tape and unnecessary formalities at border crossings, to help EAC partners meet international food safety and quality standards, and to build capacity to meet global trade standards and regulations.
Looking continent-wide, the US government is working towards expanding trade in services and increasing its imports of African agricultural products. And both US and African firms are looking for ways to maximise the opportunities created by extension of the AGOA trade agreement. For instance, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda are working with US trade agencies to support local exporters to access US markets, including capacity development to comply with international standards for product development and packaging.
These initiatives are valuable right now and also make good sense in the longer term. They are helping to build relationships that will continue to pay off for the US and for Africa in the coming decades.
Despite soft commodity prices, Africa’s medium and longer-term growth trajectories remain strong. Looking ahead a year or two, Africa’s growth will be boosted by the continuing recovery in the US, and by the re-acceleration of the Chinese economy as it continues its transition towards consumption and services – an evolution that will continue to challenge some of Africa’s commodity exporters, but is already benefitting oil importers and Africa’s agro-processing, manufacturing and services sectors.
The IMF forecasts that while Africa’s average economic growth rate will remain subdued at around 1.6% in 2016, it will pick up to 3.3% next year. While commodity exporters will continue to grapple with prices well below recent peaks, the likely modest recovery in prices will make a welcome difference to current account balances and export prospects. And non-commodity countries, particularly in East Africa, will continue to perform well above the continental average.
Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda offer particularly attractive growth prospects. The IMF expects all three economies to expand by 6% to 7% in 2016 and 2017. All are in the process of improving their transport and energy infrastructure, and have introduced wide ranging reforms to improve the business environment. They benefit from robust domestic consumption, driven by the growing middle class. And their governments have actively pursued economic diversification, with initiatives to develop tourism, agriculture, services and manufacturing. East Africa’s markets are also increasingly integrated, lowering the costs of doing business and boosting trade.
Across the continent, the middle class continues to grow thanks to decades of steadily improving education and health. The numbers are startling. Standard Bank research on 12 of Africa’s larger economies finds that the lower-middle class category has grown by 132%, or 6.6 million households, over the past six years, and that it can be expected to grow by 100%, or another 11.6 million households, over the next 15 years. The middle class category has shown even stronger growth – an increase of 9 million households, or 150%, since 2000, and an expected further increase of 17.6 million households, or 151%, over the next 15 years. In most countries, growth rates for the lower middle and middle income segments together will outweigh growth of lower income households – indicating that trends for consumer buying power are moving steadily upwards. If you’re a US services or manufacturing firm, key economies to watch include South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana.
A third reason for confidence in Africa’s long-term economic performance is the growing strength of democratic institutions. For instance, over the past year, the democratic resilience of the region’s two largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, has been resoundingly confirmed. In both countries, incumbent parties suffered serious losses in free and fair elections and a peaceful and orderly shift in the balance of power was achieved. The maturing of these two major democracies is a strong positive for the quality of governance in the region as whole.
Over the past two years, despite tough global conditions, Africa has continued to grow, and the US-Africa relationship along with it. Both US and African firms have continued to develop a more n uanced and in-depth understanding of the opportunities and risks associated with specific markets and regions in what is, after all, an enormous and diverse continent. We’re in a stronger position than ever before to forge partnerships and take advantage of growth opportunities – and I am sure that US and African firms will use the September 2016 US-Africa Business Forum to do so.
Visit our Insights Hub to read more about the U.S. - Africa Business Forum.
... View more
Throughout the world, women make up less than 10% of film directors and fewer than 15% of screenwriters, according to sceenafrica.com. However, in postcolonial Africa, the film industry is one sector in which the talent of ambitious women has faced scant resistance. This will be made clear in this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), as its City to City programme showcases vibrant Nigeria, and so features work by directors and filmmakers from that city, many of them women.
In celebration of TIFF and to honour the women who have redefined African storytelling, we list four of the continent’s most well-known female filmmakers:
Sarah Maldoro – Angola
Born in 1938, Sarah Maldoro enjoys the prestigious distinction of being the first African female director of a feature-length film. Sambizanga, which follows the struggles of Angolan militants involved with the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), was produced during the height of the Angolan War of Independence in 1972. Today, many regard it as a historical “treasure trove”, because of its political significance and heartrending artistry.
Kemi Adetiba – Nigeria
Award-winning director, producer and cinematographer Kemi Adetiba is one of the West African country’s most distinguished and prolific filmmakers. Kemi was introduced to performing as a child, but after many years of fame in front of the camera, she enrolled in the New York Film Academy to pursue a career behind the scenes. Her latest work, The Wedding Party, is an amusing take on a Nigerian wedding between two different tribes and premieres at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Hawa Essuman – Kenya
Born to Ghanaian parents who raised her in Kenya, Hawa Essuman is one women recognised for redefining the filmmaking space on the continent by telling African stories in a more subtle and sensitive way than is typical. Her first feature film, Soul Boy, tells the story of a young boy who finds out that his father gambled away his soul to a witch. To save his father’s life, the boy must complete seven tasks. The enchanting, if spine-chilling film received a number of international and national awards.
Photo credit: www.indiewire.com
Safi Faye – Senegal
Filmmaker and ethnologist Sufi Faye studied filmmaking at the renowned Louis-Lumière National Higher School in Paris. Her first feature was named Kaddu Beykat; The Voice of the Peasant in Wolof, an indigenous language spoken Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania, but was known internationally as News from My Village. The film was released in 1975 and, though initially banned in Safi’s home country, it went on the win the FIPRESCI Prize from the International Federation of Film Critics a year later.
... View more