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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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