Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (749)

Lagos, Nigeria, October 7, 2013: The Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of MainOne, West Africa’s leading telecommunications services company, Mr. Folu Aderibigbe, has said that cloud computing represents the future in the IT sector. He stated this in his presentation titled “Cloud, Connectivity and Communications” at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization’s Annual Forum in Abuja.

Speaking on the benefits of cloud computing, Aderibigbe said “Cloud computing presents a more economical way of implementing IT services as it enables a pay-per-use service model, lower capital costs, predictable recurring expenses, and provides business flexibility. In addition to this, deployment of the service is easy since it utilizes service provider resources”.

The MainOne Executive added that global market for cloud computing is growing in leaps. According to him ‘globally, 30% of IT budgets in 2013 will be spent on cloud computing

Aderibigbe described MainOne as a major driver of cloud computing in West Africa as it carries traffic for the major West African, Nigerian and Ghanaian based telecom operators, ISPs and Enterprises. In addition, MainOne is building a 600 rack world class data center that is TIA (telecommunication industry Association) 942 Tier 3 compliant in Lekki to further address cloud opportunities. The company’s data center is also the only one in West Africa partner with the International Data Center Group of 200+ carriers and 33 Data centers.

Another cloud initiative of MainOne is the i-HQ project, an innovation hub launched in partnership with the Lagos State Innovation Council and ccHub which will provide enhanced connectivity to schools, health centers, businesses and government agencies in the Yaba area of Lagos.

MainOne offers telecommunications services which include, global internet access and global IP transit, MPLS, metro Ethernet, global video connect, data center, co-location, and managed services.

 

 

 

Posted On Thursday, 17 October 2013 16:22 Written by

 

Trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Thursday ended on a positive note as some blue chips recorded price gains.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the All-share index appreciated by 206.21 points or 0.55 per cent to close at 37,257.35 from the 37,051.14 recorded on Monday.

Also, the market capitalisation, which opened at N11.804 trillion, appreciated by N66 billion to close at N11.870 trillion.

Total led the price gainers’ chart by N6.50 to close at N164 per share.

Forte Oil followed with N5.41 to close at N58.33 while Guinness grew by N3.50 to close at N250 per share.

ConOil gained N1.51 to close at N31.75 per share, while Cadbury rose by N1.09 to close at N55 per share.

On the other hand, Ashaka Cement led the losers’ chart by N1 to close at N22 per share.

OkomuOil lost 55k to close at N44.95 per share, Zenith Bank dropped by 21k to close at N21.63 share while UPL lost 15k to close at N3.85 per share.

In all, investors exchanged 284.09 million shares worth N3.8 billion in 4,950 deals.

This was against the 246.37 million shares worth N2.9 billion exchanged in 4,189 deals on Monday.

Posted On Thursday, 17 October 2013 15:41 Written by

Malawi's President Joyce Banda on Tuesday named a former World Bank economist as the new finance minister, five days after dissolving her cabinet amid a massive corruption scandal.

Maxwell Mkwezalamba, who has been a commissioner for economic affairs at the African Union in Addis Ababa for the past nine years, replaces Ken Lipenga.

Amid mounting reports that some of her cabinet ministers were lining their pockets from state coffers in the deeply impoverished country, Banda last Thursday suspended all the ministers.

The president also sacked four ministers from the old cabinet, including justice and labour, according to an announcement made on state television.

Political analyst Ernest Thindwa said the removal of Lipenga was "expected because he was at the centre of fraud and cooked revenue figures" at the treasury.

It was not immediately clear why the president dropped Ralph Kasambara, a well-known lawyer and politician, who was the justice minister.

She however retained most of the faces from the old cabinet, increasing its number to 26 from 25 for the new line-up.

Banda reshuffled a few names, taking the information ministry from Moses Kunkuyu and giving it to veteran politician Brown Mpinganjira, who was irrigation minister.

Ten government employees have been arrested over the past three weeks on suspicion of swindling more than $3 million (2.2 million euros) from state coffers in a scandal dubbed the Capital Hill cash-gate scandal, named after the seat of government.

Malawi relies on foreign aid to bankroll around 40 percent of its national budget.

The European Union, one of the key donors has called on Banda to rapidly deal with the rampant corruption if it is to restore donor confidence.

Posted On Wednesday, 16 October 2013 17:31 Written by

Road warrior Ramadhan Myolele, 38, is the face of the booming, informal trade between Africa and China.

Every two to three weeks, the businessman leaves his home in the town of Morogoro in Tanzania and boards a plane bound for Hong Kong.

He buys tens of thousands of dollars' worth of electronics on every trip.

Often carrying wads of cash, he bargains fiercely with wholesalers to buy new or used Chinese-made phones to sell back home.

"If you want to be a big boss, you must be physically in each and every place," he says, as he carefully packs hundreds of mobile phones in several enormous suitcases.

"Because you can understand which is required to sell there, and which is required to sell somewhere else."

Mr Myolele says he owns two stores in Tanzania, one wholesale and one retail.

He has been travelling to Hong Kong since 2005.

Before, he used to personally source for electronics in Dubai.

The managing director of Wagala Investments plans to hand carry and check-in the luggage on his return flight.

'Business is very good'

On this trip, he has purchased $40,000 (£25,000) worth of products.

"Yes the business is very good, I went to buy here and I sell there, and I get a profit compared to when I go and buy somewhere else, that's why I proceed to buy in Hong Kong," he says.

"I'm just taking Chinese models, different types of Chinese models."
Multi-storey market

Mr Myolele declines to tell me at what price he plans to sell the phones.

But other African traders say they can sell them for double or even triple the price for a healthy profit.

One out of five mobiles currently used in sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to have physically passed through Chungking Mansions at some point.
mobile phones wrapped up ready for shipping to Africa Phones bought in China can be sold for up to three times their price in Africa

It is a 17-storey tower block located in the heart of the city's tourist district. When Mr Myolele arrives in Hong Kong, it is his first, and sometimes only, stop.

'Most globalised'

Chungking Mansions first opened in the early 1960s and now, it is possibly the most globalised building of its kind in the world.

Inside, more than 100 nationalities gather every day to shop, eat, stay at cut-price hotels and bargain for the electronics that have powered Africa's technology revolution.

About 10,000 people are estimated to walk through the building each day, with about 4,000 travellers staying overnight in private guesthouses.

Trade between China and Africa is booming, despite general economic weakness in the rest of the world.

Bilateral trade reached $200bn (£125bn) last year and could almost double by 2015, according to Standard Chartered Bank.

Much has been made of the often controversial Chinese presence in Africa.

But intrepid African traders are also making the journey to China.

On the first-floor mezzanine where Mr Myolele is packing his suitcases, Ibrahim Zidwemba, from Burkina Faso, is finalising a deal.

He will be spending $28,000 (£17,000) on phones on this trip.

He tends to make the journey to Hong Kong four times every year.

Mr Zidwemba, 29, also used to source in Dubai.

"But now the market there is very high. That is why I choose to come to Hong Kong because here the market is very cheap.

'So much profit'

"The quality is very good, you can get so much profit. That's why I come here to Hong Kong to buy.

"You know, everybody likes profit. If you have profit, you come," he says, laughing.

Traders come to Chungking Mansions because accommodation is cheap, costing as little as $12 (£7.50) a night.

There are plenty of wholesalers selling everything from clothing to flat-screen television sets inside.

And the entire building is welcoming toward practising Muslims, with plenty of restaurants that cater to religious dietary restrictions.

The entire business trip can be completed cheaply and quickly, usually without even leaving the building.

Chungking Mansions used to have a more seedy reputation, but the association of owners, led by chairwoman Lam Wai Lung, has been trying to improve its image.

Ms Lam, who arrived in Hong Kong from mainland China in 1979, made her fortune by setting up hotels and guesthouses inside the building.

'In big numbers'

She reckons that African traders now account for 20 per cent of all guesthouse customers.

"They started coming in big numbers in only the last five or six years," she says.

"Of course, African business people had been coming before but not in such great numbers. They used to come to buy clothing, very few traders bought electronics.

"Now, what we are seeing that is that they all come to buy electronics and mobile phones. Their purchasing patterns have completely changed."

African traders now tend to travel directly to mainland China to buy clothing.

For electronics, they say they have greater trust in their suppliers in Hong Kong, where products are of higher quality.

It is an informal market, and exact statistics are hard by come by.

But with trade between China and Africa booming, Chungking Mansions will continue to be an important stop on the new silk road.

Posted On Tuesday, 15 October 2013 14:44 Written by

Kenya hopes to raise close to $1.5 billion in an ambitious international bond issue aimed at revamping crumbling colonial-era infrastructure and accelerating East Africa's largest economy.

The hunt for liquidity from the global capital markets is central to government efforts to close an unhappy chapter marked by political instability, drought and the fall-out from the international financial crisis that conspired to push economic growth down to 1.5 per cent.

Kenya's economy has since recovered from the 2007-2008 election-related violence, and is projected to expand 5.6 per cent in 2013. The government has now set its sights on double-digit growth within five years and middle-income status by 2030.

"We are optimistic the issuance will be overly subscribed," Haron Sirima, deputy governor of Kenya's Central Bank said last week on the sidelines of a International Monetary Fund conference on Kenya's economic prospects.

The bond issue, planned for late November, would be the largest debut by a sub-Saharan African nation, and follows successful moves by Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia.

"African countries are taking advantage of these historically low rates," said Kitili Mbathi, managing director for CfC Stanbic Holdings.

Carmen Altenkirch, an analyst for Fitch Ratings, said African nations also wanted to tap into renewed investor interest in Africa.

Pay off debt

What started out as interest in natural resources "...over the past five years, this had muted also into Africa's financial assets," she said.

Antoinette Monsio Sayeh, Africa director at the International Monetary Fund, said she understood that the cash raised would go to paying off more expensive debt and "addressing infrastructure challenges".

Kenya's main port of Mombasa, congested roads and century-old railway link -- which dates back to a time when Nairobi was little more than a railway depot -- are all major bottlenecks to trade.

"We think Kenya is in a very good place," Ms Sayeh told reporters, describing investors as "very gung-ho on Kenya these days".

She praised Kenya's "sound monetary and fiscal policies" including steps to bring inflation down from 14 per cent in 2011 to around 5 per cent this year.

In a keynote speech, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta admitted that a timid reduction in poverty rates, from 52 per cent in 1997 to 46 per cent in 2006, was "neither satisfactory nor compatible with our stated aim to become a middle-income country by 2030."

He also said he wanted to see Kenya undergo an "industrial revolution to power our ambition of becoming a middle income country by 2030" -- a formidable challenge for a mostly agrarian economy with a burgeoning youth population.

Cautious sentiment

At the Nairobi conference, which carried the optimistic title 'Ready for Take Off', there was nevertheless some cautious sentiment.

The meeting coincided with the second week of the trial of Kenya's Vice President William Ruto, who is accused of masterminding some of the 2007-2008 ethnic unrest that left at least 1,100 dead and more than 600,000 homeless.

President Kenyatta is also facing charges of stoking the violence, and his own trial begins at the Hague-based International Criminal Court on November 12. He also denies the accusations.

The IMF's Sayeh asserted that both politicians were cooperating with the ICC and that investors did not appear to have been put off.

However, a Western source said the ICC trials added "a degree of political instability" to Kenya's outlook -- especially if either takes the course of non-cooperation and arrest warrants are issued.

Examined

Ms Sayeh said Kenya's fiscal conduct "will be more closely scrutinised", noting that the conditions of its other fresh debt -- $5 billion of infrastructure deals with China signed last month -- would also have to be examined.

"It will be very important to continue the efforts on the fiscal side that are underway to have a medium-term fiscal policy that is seen to be well crafted," she said. "Kenya will have to continue to be prudent over what it borrows and what it borrows for."

Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital and an emerging markets specialist, warned that banks, which get paid to organise bond placements, encourage Kenya to borrow too much.

"The risk is that they borrow too much, that the budget deficit, the current account deficit get too large and that the economy overheats." (AFP)

Posted On Monday, 14 October 2013 00:46 Written by

Seychelles has topped other African countries in the UN's net-connectivity table for the third consecutive year.

The island nation ranked first in the ICT Development Index (IDI), followed by Mauritius, South Africa, Cape Verde, Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

The index, by the International Telecommunications Union – a UN body committed to expanding connectivity in the world, measures the world's digital divide.

Contained in the ITU's annual Measuring the Information Society 2013 report, it is based on 11 indicators measuring internet access, use and skills.

The African IDI however is the lowest of all regions.

Only Seychelles and Mauritius have IDI values above the global average, while South Africa and Cape Verde have an IDI above the developing country average.

All the remaining countries lie below average and rank poorly globally.

The bottom 19 countries are all African with Niger taking the last position.

A cursory look at the countries at the top of the regional ranking suggests a strong link between ICT development and national income. The IDI value in African countries with higher income is almost double that of those with smaller income.

The report also notes that Seychelles and Mauritius have the highest percentage of individuals using the internet at 47 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.

South Africa (41pc), Cape Verde (35pc), Nigeria (33pc) and Kenya (32pc) stand out for having a higher proportion of individuals using the internet well above the developing country average of 27.5 per cent.

Among these countries South Africa greatly increased its internet penetration from 34 per cent in 2011 to 41 per cent in 2012.

Very low

Internet penetration in other African countries is very low.

The report notes the percentage of households with access to the internet in countries like Eritrea, Guinea and Niger stood at less than one per cent.

According to the report, the majority of African countries were late in launching mobile-broadband networks and have yet to launch 3G high-speed services.

This partly explains why wireless-broadband penetration is marginal in many countries as more than half of African countries had a penetration of less than two per cent by end of 2012.

Another reason is affordability. The report notes that in developing countries, fixed-broadband services remain out of reach for the majority, accounting for 30.1 per cent of average monthly incomes.

In Africa that figure could go as high as 40 per cent.

Mobile-broadband has been acknowledged as potentially a solution to the high costs of fixed-broadband services in Africa but it still remains considerably costly.

The report says a 500 MB data plan for a handset in Africa cost on average 38.8 per cent of monthly wages.

Other highlights of the report on international trends in global connectivity include:
Korea is ranked first in overall ICT development for the third year a row, followed by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, UK, Luxembourg and Hong Kong.

Mobile-cellular penetration rates stand at 96 per cent globally; 128 per cent in developed countries; and 89 per cent in developing countries.

2.7 billion people – almost 40 per cent of the world’s population – are online.

Posted On Monday, 14 October 2013 00:20 Written by

Lagos, Nigeria - October 8, 2013: MainOne, one of West Africa’s leading telecommunications services companies, has signed a $100 million financing facility agreement with Standard Chartered Bank, FirstBank, Skye and FCMB Bank. The ceremony which took place on Wednesday October 9th, 2013 at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos was in furtherance of MainOne’s effort to expand its services.

Speaking on the transaction, Chief Financial Officer, MainOne, Mr. Babatunde Dada, thanked the deal team for the laudable work done to bring the transaction to a close. He stated: “the successful signing of this facility agreement clearly shows the trust which the financial institutions have in MainOne, as well as our expansion plans in Nigeria and our other West African markets’.

According to the Group Managing Director, FirstBank, Bisi Onasanya, this initiative signposts FirstBank’s continuous support to responsible and value-adding companies like MainOne. He said FirstBank confidently signed on to this facility further to the excellent performance of the company on the initial project financing that FirstBank actively supported as a leading investor in 2009.

Also speaking on the transaction, the Group Managing Director of Skye Bank, Kehinde Durosimi-Etti posited that ‘We are pleased with this arrangement and are providing further financing support given the performance of MainOne. It is our hope that through this financing, MainOne would add impetus to its drive to extend its services to customers irrespective of their location.

The Group Managing Director, First City Monument Bank, Ladi Balogun said the bank was happy to arrange the loan facility. According to him, ‘FCMB is a bank that is synonymous with excellence and growth. Today, we have demonstrated once again our support for the growth of indigenous companies through this agreement with MainOne.

It will be recalled that since commencing operations in 2010 as the first private Submarine cable in West Africa with the largest internet network platform in Sub-Sahara Africa, MainOne has led groundbreaking innovations in telecommunications services in Nigeria and across West Africa. MainOne has developed a reputation for highly reliable services and has become the preferred provider of wholesale Internet services to major telecom operators, ISPs, government agencies, large enterprise, and educational institutions in the region.

 

Posted On Thursday, 10 October 2013 14:25 Written by

Sierra Leone may have found a solution to its perennial housing problem with a factory to mass produce affordable houses set to be established.

The so-called ‘Butterfly House’ factory-built homes, also called Casa Mariposa, are a project of the US-based Global Links Corp which says it wants to provide affordable and quality housing to underdeveloped countries.

The factory will be located in Freetown from where the houses will be churned out.

The 1991-2002 civil war worsened Sierra Leone`s housing deficit, forcing people to erect buildings indiscriminately at the expense of safety.

Constructing a good house is an intricately tedious and long process compounded by difficulties in acquiring land.

This had led to all kinds of issues from exorbitant rents to a big squatter problem in Freetown and other major towns across the country.

Many buildings in the capital are disasters waiting to happen, analysts say.

In August six people died when a bridge under which they were sleeping in makeshift houses collapsed.

A lack of finance means that successive governments have failed to address the perennial problem and the private sector is not attracted to it because they do not view the sector as viable.

The mortgage market is also not ideal for a country where the vast majority of citizens have no jobs, or regular pay that guarantees access to such facilities.

The National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) has dominated the sector but its high-priced homes – valued at minimum $100,000 – are out of reach for most Sierra Leoneans.

NASSIT is now looking to build cheaper housing for low and middle income earners of between $7,000 and $10,000 per house. But these too would also be still available to only few.

More measured

About a dozen houses it recently built in pilot projects across the country did not come out well.

Global Links` ‘Butterfly Houses’ are meant to be a more measured down project, although the price tag per house is yet to be made public.

Work on construction of the factory is expected to complete and ready for full-scale production in nine months, the company said.

Hundreds of jobs will be created for locals and the project crucially reduces supply line costs.

It will be initially funded by the Home Finance Corporation (HFC) Mortgage and Savings (SL) PLC, a subsidiary of the national pension fund.

Initially, 25 homes will be produced per week, and this could be accelerated to a maximum of 75 homes per week, the company added.

"At this production rate, Global Links projects monthly revenue between $200,000 and $600,000 from its Sierra Leone facility," it added.

"With the tremendous positive impact our housing project will have in Sierra Leone, we expect several more nations to join our initiative in the near future. Our mission is to help end poverty in one generation by providing people in underdeveloped countries with a quality home to serve as a solid foundation for an education, proper nutrition and medical care due to a better sense of safety and well-being," said CEO Frank Dobrucki.

Posted On Monday, 07 October 2013 01:26 Written by

Lagos, Nigeria: October 01, 2013: Interswitch, a leading pan-African integrated payment company, in conjunction with Verve International, the payment card solutions division of Interswitch Transnational Holdings, has launched a new ‘Remember Card’ feature for QuickTeller, the online transaction service.

QuickTeller customers will now be able to use Remember Card to save their Verve card details, saving time each and every time they use the service to make a transaction. The service is now available for customers using QuickTeller online and on their mobiles via Quickteller.com and m.Quickteller.com.

To enjoy Remember Card when making transactions QuickTeller customers must enable their Verve cards for Safetoken, the online security tool, then login to the QuickTeller service using and verifying the phone number they have registered for Safetoken. Users will then be able to tie all their ATM cards to their phone number.

Once the service has been enabled QuickTeller customers will only have to enter their CVV2 and PIN when making transactions.

With the Remember Card feature customers will experience quicker and more efficient transactions but will not have to compromise on security. The Remember Card feature utilises Safetoken™, the very latest in online security technology that protects customers against unauthorized use of their cards online through the generation of one-time-passwords (OTPs).

Interswitch has a track record in delivering the state of the art security and technology that is second to none. In 2013, Interswitch completed the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS) certification, the highest global security certification, for the third year in a row. In 2010, when Interswitch was first PCIDSS certified, it was the only company in West Africa to have achieved the certification and has since been working with its partner banks to improve their security.

QuickTeller allows cardholders to access services such as: phone recharge, bill payment, cash withdrawal, funds transfer and cashback. More than one million people use QuickTeller every month through ATMs, point of sale terminals, kiosks, their mobile phones or online.

Mr. Mitchell Elegbe, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Interswitch Transnational Holdings, said:

“The launch of QuickTeller’s Remember Card feature will make the service easier and more convenient to use without compromising on security. We are committed to extending this new time saving innovation to as many of our customers as possible and will also be launching Remember Card on selected partner sites soon.”

Mr Charles Ifedi, Chief Executive Officer, Verve International, said:

“As the home-grown Nigerian payment card Verve is always on the lookout for new ways that we can better meet the needs of Nigerians and the Nigerian market. We are proud to be the first card to sign up to QuickTeller’s Remember Card service and extend its new time saving features to our customers.”

Posted On Wednesday, 02 October 2013 18:53 Written by

Nigeria has announced two major initiatives aimed at improving its woeful electricity supply, entering a $1.3 billion power plant deal with China and on Monday handing over state power assets to private investors.

The privatisation of most of state electricity firm PHCN has long been in the works in Africa's most populous nation, where blackouts occur multiple times daily despite the country's status as the continent's largest oil producer.

Those taking over assets include Seoul-based Korea Electric Power Corporation as well as local investors.

Separately, the deal with the Chinese government involves construction of a hydroelectric plant expected to add 700 megawatts to the national grid.

A loan from China's Export-Import Bank will pay for 75 per cent of the plant while the Nigerian government will cover 25 per cent of the cost, a statement by the finance ministry said.

It is not clear if the new plant will remain in state hands or if it too will be privatised.

Hundreds of PHCN workers and retirees on Monday staged protests in several parts of the country against the take-over of the company when the government has not paid all of them their severance financial benefits.

Final throw

Some of them chanting slogans and carrying placards told AIT private television that they would not allow the investors to enter PHCN premises until the monies have been paid.

"We are ready to be sleeping here until they pay us," one of the protesters, Ganiyu Adegboye, told the television.

They locked up the entrances to PHCN's two main offices in Lagos, AIT footage showed.

Nigeria has portrayed the privatisation of electricity generation and distribution as a reform capable of finally bringing steady power supplies to the country, where businesses are forced to rely on diesel generators to cope.

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday handed over operating licences to investors for most of the companies created from the splitting up of the former Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

Mr Jonathan, at a brief ceremony also attended by top government officials, ceded ownership of four of the six generation companies and 10 of the 11 distribution firms after raking in about $2.5 billion from their bids.

'Day of hope'

A power generation firm not part of PHCN was also handed over, while various issues are yet to be resolved for the two other generation firms and one distribution firm.

Nigeria will retain ownership of the national grid, but privatise its management. Canada's Manitoba Hydro International was named its manager for three years in 2012.

"Today, therefore, not only concludes legal transactions, it is a day of hope, a day of promise and a new beginning for one of the most vital sectors of our national economy," President Jonathan said.

"We do not expect the sector to be revitalised overnight but we can all look forward to a better time very soon as we have seen in the telecommunications and banking sectors."

Government said that only about 2,000 of the 47,000 PHCN workers were yet to be paid their terminal allowances.

The privatisation of telecommunications in Nigeria is generally credited with bringing improved service and accessibility to the country.

However, critics have expressed concerns that many of the bidders for power assets have been politically connected barons in Nigeria and questioned whether the assets will be properly managed.

Posted On Tuesday, 01 October 2013 14:49 Written by
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