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From financial restructuring and the global economic slowdown, to debt investing and politics, we forecast the road ahead in the coming 12 months.

A Global Slowdown in 2019 Will Hit Africa (Hard)

Economists are not in a consensus on whether there will be a recession, but they are all in agreement on a downturn in 2019.

“There is a confluence of deep-seated, structural headwinds that threaten to upend the global economy,” warns Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo.

A mix of massive debt burdens on governments, corporations and individuals juxtaposed with political instability, growing inequality, and a workforce ill-prepared and ill-adapted to rapid technological change, among many other structural factors, will underpin a hard 2019 for many countries.

The Chinese economy is already slowing, and the U.S. economy is expected to follow the same course in 2019, having a distressing effect on emerging economies with consumption of goods and services from emerging markets likely dropping in the coming year.

The economic malaise in India and Brazil as well as slow growth in the European Union only add to the concerns for some African leaders.

The economists (in a relatively small group) betting on a moderately bullish global economy in 2019 point to a massive downturn in 2020, suggesting a downturn is inevitable and timing may be the only disputed factor.

More Financial Restructuring in 2019

Restructuring in 2018 was not as big as expected in some economist and banker corners, but it will likely be a different narrative in 2019.

Many companies are not prepared for a global slowdown, especially after less than exciting growth numbers in the last three years (due to low commodity prices).

A significant amount of debt was issued in 2013-2015 with maturities in 2018 ignored by many lenders. Maturities in 2019 are top of mind for many companies, while maturities in 2020 are not far out enough to create a timeframe for finding a solution to balance sheet challenges.

A new slump in oil and gas prices will not have a similar dramatic effect on African economies as the price plummet in 2014 had on 2015, but the current price levels indubitably suggest that $100 oil prices are far away, and firms must adjust their operations and cost structures for the long term (many national firms are still in the early to middle stages of that change process).

Power companies will also be a concern for many African economies as their balance sheets and accompanying debts will weigh on government coffers. Lastly, the challenges encountered by many financial institutions in the last couple of years with interest rate caps, limited retail growth, and high non-performing loans (NPLs) could boil over in a greater economic slowdown.

Brexit Will Force Some Changes for Africa-Focused Investors

Africa-focused investors are in the same boat as other emerging market investors – if not London, then where? This question is layered with several realities of recent years in the industry. Africa investors have gone through cycles with office location and regional focus.

The early 2000s are best characterized by firms being based in the U.S. (i.e., Emerging Capital Partners in Washington, D.C.) or the U.K. (i.e., Helios Investment Partners in London) but then development finance institutions (DFIs) started advocating a focus on localized offices towards the end of 2000s in cities such as Lagos, Nairobi, and Johannesburg, among others.

Localized offices have struggled with economic troubles in South Africa (and the declining appeal of Johannesburg), the never-too-high appeal of living in Lagos, the politics of Kenya (and a growing local objection to foreigners flooding Nairobi), and the emergence of Francophone and Lusophone economies (and the lack of flight connections within Africa).

As a result, London was re-emerging as the headquarter focus for many firms. An unplanned Brexit (or “no-deal Brexit”) will confound many emerging market players (including those Africa-focused players) as there is no uniquely popular financial home for many firms if London struggles to maintain its place.

Some investors are already blaming Brexit (and its unexpected unpredictability going into 2019) for the growing expectations of a 2019 economic downtown and their potential exit from London (a city many of those departing have called home for decades).

Debt Investing Will Be the Focus in 2019

Africa investors will focus on debt investments (with some equity kickers). Equity investing is simply not providing the returns imagined by investors. Many L.P.s quietly confirm that the annual internal rates of return (IRR), net of management fees, remain under 5 percent for Africa-focused investors, with the number only slightly rising to sub 6 percent when excluding South Africa.

This level of return pales in comparison to mezzanine and credit investors, and look unattractive when placed side-by-side with infrastructure funds.

Expect many investors to be happy to put in debt structured investments into Africa coupled with security against assets, potential risk guarantees from local banks or international institutions and an equity kicker to gain on the upside.

Debt investors also benefit from weak financial institutions in many countries when it comes to lending. High NPLs at some banks across the region have spurred a decline in lending appetite in the near-term.

Interest rate caps create mixed results, subsequently creating more opportunity in some countries and exposing the challenges of lending in general in other countries.

Politics and Poverty Will Be Dangerously Overlapping Subject Matters

Many countries, including Nigeria and South Africa, have elections in 2019 (see some predictions here). The trajectory of these countries will depend on their ability to enable democracy and economies to address the concerns and challenges of many individuals feeling left out of the system.

Nigerian politicians must prove their victory and subsequent decisions can help the country escape its economic malaise while South African politicians, specifically the African National Congress (ANC), will have to shore up its voting base under President Cyril Ramaphosa in the next five years (assuming a victory in 2019) or deal with more investor and citizen flight from the country.

Tunisian politicians are still working to prove democracy works in North Africa and that it will solve the economic challenges of the ‘average’ Tunisian.

All this political rancor will overlap with undying clamor from politicians and philanthropists among others that enough is not being done to address poverty in Africa, in particular sub-Saharan Africa.

Education and healthcare investment may be up in Africa but many children (and families) are still trapped by location on the continent (i.e., being born in certain cities severely undercuts opportunity for certain people without access to living necessities such as running water and basic healthcare).

And many investors admit that there are parts of Africa that they simply will not invest in, at least, in the near-term, and as such, public and philanthropic capital will have to step in.

Article by Kurt Davis Jr. He  is an investment banker with private equity experience focused on Africa, Middle East, and Turkey. He earned an MBA in finance, entrepreneurship and operations from the University of Chicago and J.D. in tax and commercial law at the University of Virginia’s School of Law. 

Read source here

Developing original agricultural financing, providing better assistance to small farmers, taking advantage of innovative technologies…. Six experts present solutions that will enable the sector to flourish.

In 2016, the cost of African food imports was $65.8 billion (€62.4 billion). If nothing is done to change the state of competitiveness, this figure could reach $110 billion by 2025.

Private investments may have grown in Africa, but the sector still faces international competition.

By only contributing less than a quarter of the continent’s GDP, it is far from having reached its full potential. Difficulties in obtaining financing, a failure to take small farmers into account, the price of inputs…. Most African countries struggle to find the model that will enable them to increase their productivity and, ultimately, transform agriculture into a commercial activity that meets international standards.

According to Alassane Doumbia, executive chairman of the board of the Ivorian agro-industrial group Sifca, the first problem to overcome is that of private financing.

“No bank is ready to finance a planter alone. In many cases, we have had no choice but to handle it ourselves.” Two complementary solutions have been put forward to resolve this problem. The first, suggested by Sérgio Pimenta, Vice President Middle East and Africa of the IFC (International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group), consists in developing innovative agricultural financing. Blended finance combining public and private players will be specifically adapted to meet the needs of small farmers, who represent 80% of the continent’s farmers.

Help producers to increase their outputs

In this configuration, the public stakeholder assists the private investor so that they do not have to single-handedly assume the risks in case of failure. This system is the key to the success of the Nigerian private equity firm Sahel Capital, according to Yana Kakar, Global Managing Partner of Dalberg Advisors. Founded in 2010, Sahel Capital succeeded in raising over $30 million from the Nigerian and German governments for technical assistance for SME in the Nigerian agricultural sector. According to the African Development Bank (ADB), identifying new sources of financing could generate $110-125 billion in income by 2025.

The second solution consists in international donors setting up technical assistance programs in order to help producers to increase their outputs—because the continent is lagging behind. “If we look at the example of grain production over the past 50 years, South America and Asia have increased their respective outputs by 50% and 40%, while Africa has not exceeded 25%,” says Yana Kakar.

But what methods should be used to improve productivity? According to Karim Senhadji, CEO of OCP Africa, “There is a very strong correlation between the rate of fertilizer use and the rate of agricultural output.” And yet, the African farmer, for reasons relating to distance, the cost of transportation, communication, or financing, has limited access to fertilizers.”

“To overcome these difficulties, the only solution is to build an ecosystem around the farmer,” insists Karim Senhadji.

That’s what was achieved in Guinea, where all the stakeholders came together to form task forces with the aim of delivering around 15 different kinds of fertilizer on schedule, thereby lowering their transportation costs by 40%.

Once this point has been settled, “the farmer must be taught to use the technologies available to him as efficiently as possible,” continues Karim Senhadji.

The training aspect also matters a great deal to Alassane Doumbia: “In Côte d’Ivoire, we manage an oil palm tree farm of over 120,000 hectares cultivated by small growers. The output of these farms is around 5-7 tons per hectare as opposed to 18 tons for industrialists. With better-trained teams, it could grow exponentially.”

But these are not the only possibilities. Sérgio Pimenta has chosen to promote what is known as “smart farming,” a notion that has already been developed by OCP in Ethiopia, where the world leader in the phosphate sector collaborated with local agricultural institutions to develop a “fertility map” enabling the components of fertilizer to be adjusted to suit the nature of the soil.

In order to achieve this, an immense satellite data collection initiative had to be organized on-site. “Thanks to this effort, Ethiopia increased its corn production by 37% by using a new, more cost-effective and more efficient fertilizer,” says Karim Senhadji.

A sufficient number of reliable logistics infrastructures

And technology has other virtues still. “The new agricultural data collection tools foster improved anticipation of outputs,” highlights Venkataramani Srivathsan, Regional Director of Africa and the Middle East at Olam.

Several countries are on the right path. In Ethiopia, strong governmental support has enabled floriculture to develop considerably: in less than 20 years, flower exports have generated $550 million in income.

Likewise, in Nigeria, the transformation of the input distribution system achieved over the course of the past 10 years has enabled cassava production to triple while saving around $100 million in imports per year.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that if the challenge of competitiveness is to truly be met, improving production is not enough. There is still a need for “a sufficient number of reliable logistics infrastructures, such as railways, ports or roads, to compete with the rest of the world,” cautions Karim Senhadji. However, implementing those tools will inevitably take some time.

 

source: theafricaceoforum.com

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Deals valued at $32.6 billion dollars were recorded at the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) which ended in Cairo on Monday, according to preliminary figures released by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Afreximbank, which organised the trade fair in collaboration with the African Union, said that the amount represented the value of 100 deals concluded during the fair.

“That number might rise as it did not include some bilateral deals among exhibitors which had not been recorded,” reads part of the statement from Afreximbank.

The Bank said that the majority of the deals were in sectors of industrialization/export manufacturing ($6.2 billion), power ($6 billion), and financial services ($1.86 billion).

Other key sectors included oil and gas, transport and logistics, heavy industry, mining, infrastructure, healthcare and SME promotion.

The preliminary report also showed that there was a total of 1,086 exhibitors at the fair, with 45 countries having country pavilions.

Some 584 companies were accommodated in country pavilions while 375 were in private sector stands. The creative industries had 36 participating exhibitors.

The IATF2018 Conference, which ran alongside the trade fair, featured 42 sessions with 152 speakers.

According to the Bank, the Virtual Trade Fair platform, which operated during the fair, attracted 700 total registrations, with the rooms being accessed more than 7,000 times and product information and market resources on the platform accessed or downloaded about 2,000 times.

About 300 booths have been built on the platform, which will remain active after the IATF.

The IATF2018, which ran from December 11 to 17, was aimed at promoting trade among African countries and at supporting the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Rwanda has been selected to host the IATF2020.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Deals valued at $32.6 billion dollars were recorded at the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) which ended in Cairo on Monday, according to preliminary figures released by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Afreximbank, which organised the trade fair in collaboration with the African Union, said that the amount represented the value of 100 deals concluded during the fair.

“That number might rise as it did not include some bilateral deals among exhibitors which had not been recorded,” reads part of the statement from Afreximbank.

The Bank said that the majority of the deals were in sectors of industrialization/export manufacturing ($6.2 billion), power ($6 billion), and financial services ($1.86 billion).

Other key sectors included oil and gas, transport and logistics, heavy industry, mining, infrastructure, healthcare and SME promotion.

The preliminary report also showed that there was a total of 1,086 exhibitors at the fair, with 45 countries having country pavilions.

Some 584 companies were accommodated in country pavilions while 375 were in private sector stands. The creative industries had 36 participating exhibitors.

The IATF2018 Conference, which ran alongside the trade fair, featured 42 sessions with 152 speakers.

According to the Bank, the Virtual Trade Fair platform, which operated during the fair, attracted 700 total registrations, with the rooms being accessed more than 7,000 times and product information and market resources on the platform accessed or downloaded about 2,000 times.

About 300 booths have been built on the platform, which will remain active after the IATF.

The IATF2018, which ran from December 11 to 17, was aimed at promoting trade among African countries and at supporting the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Rwanda has been selected to host the IATF2020.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa SOC Limited (ECIC), yesterday, Johannesburg, unveiled a $1billion financing programme to promote and expand trade and investments between the country and the rest of Africa.

The financing, under the South African-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Programme (SATIPP), Afreximbank and ECIC will work together to identify, prepare and appraise trade transactions and projects.They will also explore co-financing and risk-sharing opportunities, as well as share knowledge, with particular emphasis on intra-African trade matters, through technical cooperation, staff exchange, research and joint events.

This is coming few weeks after the continent's largest trade bank, reiterated its cooperation with Nigeria's quest for development and offered to arrange financing of up to $1 billion to support investments in trade enabling infrastructure.The pan-African multilateral lender said that its facilities had made major impact on critical sectors of the Nigerian economy, while the institution now has loans outstanding of about $3.5 billion in the country as at 31 December 2017.

The bank identified the benefiting sectors of its to include financial institutions, transport, hospitality, manufacturing, agro-allied, oil and gas, power, and telecommunications.But addressing the business community, media and stakeholders from the public and private sectors, the President of Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah, said that the joint initiative would support businesses through capacity building and market information initiatives and would help small and medium-sized entrepreneurs to join regional supply chains.

It would also provide advisory services and guarantees to South African investors seeking trade and investment opportunities in Afreximbank's regional member countries.According to him, the initiative provides a platform for the realisation of Afreximbank's strategic objectives in line with its strategy- Impact 2021: Africa Transformed, which prioritises intra-African trade, industrialisation and export manufacturing.

The Chief Executive Officer of ECIC, Kutoane Kutoane, said: "We realise that one of the best ways to enhance our exporting capabilities as a country is by intensifying mutually beneficial trade with the rest of the continent." Today, Afreximbank commenced its yearly general meetings in Abuja, slated for July 11 to 14, while it also has the Intra-African Trade Fair in Cairo slated for December 11 to 17, in efforts to promote trade among African countries.

Oramah said the trade fair, being promoted in collaboration with the African Union and the Egyptian government, would be the continent's single largest trade fair and the first of its kind.It will feature a seven-day trade show where Nigerian businesses could join others to showcase their capital goods and service offerings to a large market, including private sector corporates and government institutions from up to 55 African countries.

Read the original article on Guardian.
A landmark forum, co-organized by UNCTAD, focuses efforts by African countries seeking ways to ease interregional and international trade. African countries seeking to reduce the cost, time and complexity of interregional and international trade in goods will gather for the First African Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 27–29 November. The landmark event, organized by UNCTAD and seven partner organizations, comes as Africa scales up its trade easing efforts after the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement entered into force in February 2017 and as it prepares to implement the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) signed in March 2018. “The World Trade Organization calculates that current trade costs for developing countries are equivalent to applying a staggering 219% tariff on international trade, and this hurts Africa,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said. “UNCTAD has supported Africa’s work on trade facilitation for decades, including with our ASYCUDA automated customs systems, and capacity building programmes. The culmination of this work is to support the institutions that can make trade work for all, and National Trade Facilitation Committees must become the agents of change to boost international trade for developing countries.” A central cog of the Trade Facilitation Agreement is the obligation of each country to set up a National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) with public and private sector stakeholders “to facilitate both domestic coordination and implementation of the provisions of this agreement”. With well-functioning NTFCs, countries will be able to make trade easier, faster and cheaper. For developing countries, and especially least developed countries – the majority of which are in sub-Saharan Africa – full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement could lead to a reduction in trade costs of up to 15%. Win-win for all Correctly implemented trade facilitation measures not only boost trade but also improve revenue collection, safety and security compliance controls (for example, improving food safety) and can help to streamline government agencies. Such reforms help small cross-border traders, often women, enter the formal sector, make economic activities more transparent and accountable, promote good governance, generate better quality employment, strengthen information technology capabilities and generally modernize societies by bringing about benefits related to administrative efficiency. These reforms are a prerequisite for developing countries to join global value chains and start trading out of poverty. Trade facilitation reforms are also positive steps towards human, enterprise and institutional development, and link to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, making their enactment a win-win for all. But for these benefits to be realized it is essential that the Trade Facilitation Agreement is implemented as foreseen. According to the WTO, the rate of implemented commitments under the agreement as of October 2018 stood at 60% – but broken down by level of development a new picture emerges, with developed countries having achieved 100% of commitments, developing countries having achieved 60% of commitments and least developed countries just 22% of commitments. Anticipating this, the Trade Facilitation Agreement contains important and novel provisions on so-called special and differential treatment that allow developing countries to choose their own implementation schedules – and get implementation assistance if needed. Make trade work “By coming together to share experience, learn lessons on common challenges, and meet with development partners, participants at this event will be equipped to redouble their trade facilitation efforts,” Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division on technology and logistics, said. “The forum is the result of close collaboration between multilateral and international organizations and is supported by several bilateral donors. The alliance showcases the collaborative effort of these institutions and donors to assist in moving forward opportunities for developing and least developed countries to integrate into globalized trade,” she added. Topics covered during the three-day event include the role of African regional organizations, the role of NTFCs in the implementation of trade facilitation provisions in the AfCFTA, paperless initiatives at entry points, the involvement of the private sector in NTFCs, how to coordinate border agencies, and the role of transit corridors. There will also be sessions on the gender dimension in cross-border trade, and the application of digital technologies in future modes of trading at a time when e-commerce becomes ever more important in international trade. The forum is co-organized by: UNCTAD United Nations Economic Commission for Africa United Nations Economic Commission for Europe / Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business International Trade Centre World Bank Group World Trade Organization World Customs Organization Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation The event was made possible with the support of: The Commonwealth European Union Danida – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark Government of Finland Islamic Development Bank The First African Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees will take place in the UNECA Conference Centre and follows a similar global event organized by UNCTAD in Geneva, Switzerland, in January 2017. Source: https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=1934

MEDIA ADVISORY

AFRICAN UNION TO ORGANISE THE AFRICA INDUSTRIALIZATION WEEK 2018 (AIW 2018)

INVITATION TO REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MEDIA

What: AFRICA INDUSTRIALIZATION WEEK 2018 (AIW 2018)

When: Sunday 18th – Friday 23rd November 2018

Where: AU Headquarters, Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia

Who: Organized by the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission (AUC)

JOURNALISTS ARE INVITED TO ATTEND AND COVER THE OPENING CEREMONY AT THE AFRICAN UNION HEADQUARTERS ON 18TH NOVEMBER 2018

The African Union Commission (AUC) plans to organize an Africa Industrialization Week (AIW) to be held from the 18th to the 23rd November 2018 at the AUC Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The afternoon of 18th November 2018 is dedicated for the Official Opening Ceremony by the H.E Paul Kagame, Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Republic of Rwanda, High Level dignitaries from Member States, RECs, United Nations Agencies, Diplomatic Corps and Private Sector will attend the Opening session.

The commemoration of the Africa Industrialization Day (AID2018) to be organized by the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission in partnership with the NEPAD Agency, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Regional Economic communities (RECs) and Development Partners. The Theme for the AID2018 and AIW2018 is: “Promoting Regional Value Chains in Africa: A pathway for accelerating Africa’s structural transformation, industrialization and pharmaceutical production”.

Given the importance of Industrial development as an engine for inclusive and sustainable development, the AIW2018 seeks to enhance consciousness and understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with the industrialization drive on the continent. This is meant to mobilize African leaders, policy makers, and private sector and development cooperating partners to enhance dialogue on the pan-African industrialisation agenda, with emphasis on how development of regional value chains can a be a major catalyst towards boosting industrial production capacity, and hence accelerated industrialization for the continent as we gear up on the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
The AIW2018 will also among other things, promote the implementation of the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA), the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), the SME Strategy, the Boosting Intra-African Trade and the African Continental Free Trade Area and the UN General Assembly's Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) in the context of Agenda 2063.

The 1st AU-NEPAD Africa Pharma Conference will be the flagship event of the Africa Industrialization Week (AIW). This event is co-organized by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Social Affairs and the NEPAD agency. It will be held from the 19th to 21st November, 2018 with aim to contribute to efforts to boost local production of essential medicines. The conference will involve all relevant continental institutions, development partners, UN agencies, Member States and the private sector.

The week will also be commemorated through a series of events which will highlight the progress, achievements, and challenges faced by African governments in developing their industrial sectors. It will also provide a platform for business to business interface, to enhance prospects for developing business partnerships and investment promotion.

Some of the side events during the week will include:

 Continental Forum on Regional Value Chains and Mobilizing African Manufacturer’s (to support the linkage of Africa Regional Value Chains to the Global Value Supply);
 The Second Symposium on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Green Industrialization.
 A Workshop on Africa Enterprise Network, catalyzing SMEs and start-ups productivity;
 A Workshop on Youth Entrepreneurship to reduce migration, Youth and women empowerment in enterprise development; and
 A Workshop on Financing Industrialization.
 EIB-UNIDO Africa Day 2018: sustainable Industrialization in Africa.

Heads of State and Government, high level representatives of international organizations and senior policy makers from across the continent are expected to participate in the AIW2018.

Media contact:
Mrs. Esther Azaa Tankou, Head of Information Division, Directorate of Information and Communication, AU Commission, Tel: +251911361185, E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mr. Patient Atcho, Communication Assistant, Department of Trade and Industry, AUC Commission, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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