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Living the FATCA life in Africa: New U.S. tax regulations add to burden of compliance on financial institutions across Africa

Posted on 21 May 2013 by Eugene Skrynnyk

Eugene Skrynnyk

Eugene Skrynnyk (CIPM, MILE, BComm) is a senior manager and specialist for the asset management industry in the Africa Sub-Area at Ernst & Young in Cape Town, South Africa.

Eugene Skrynnyk is the Ernst & Young Senior Manager and specialist for the asset management industry in the Africa Sub-Area.

Eugene holds a Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM), Master of International Law and Economics (MILE) and Bachelor of Commerce and Finance (B.Comm.).

 

When the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) and Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued final Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) regulations in January of this year, there was a sigh of relief that the financial services industry in Africa could begin to digest FATCA’s obligations. However, achieving FATCA compliance remains a challenge for banks operating across Africa.

FATCA is already law in the U.S. but negotiations are under way to enshrine it in national law of countries around the world via intergovernmental agreements (“IGAs”) with the U.S. While a variety of African jurisdictions will each face unique obstacles with FATCA compliance, many in the industry share a general unease with FATCA’s scope, as well as scepticism that FATCA’s rewards (an estimated US$1 billion in additional tax revenue annually) justify its expenses. Generally, FATCA attempts to combat U.S. tax evasion by requiring that non-U.S. financial institutions report the identities of U.S. shareholders or customers, or otherwise face a 30% withholding tax on their U.S. source income. Overwhelmingly, FATCA compliance obligations apply even where there is very little risk of U.S. tax evasion and it impacts all payers, including foreign payers of “withholdable payments” made to any foreign entities affecting deposit accounts, custody and investments.

General issues in Africa

Concerns about privacy abound. FATCA requires financial institutions to report to the IRS certain information about U.S. persons. For this reason, IGAs are being put in place so that institutions could instead report information to their local tax authority rather than the IRS. In some jurisdictions, investment funds and insurance companies are permitted to disclose information with client consent. In other jurisdictions, such disclosure is prohibited without further changes to domestic law. The process to make necessary changes locally involves time and effort.

Cultural differences in Africa need to be considered. In certain situations FATCA requires that financial institutions ask a customer who was born in the United States to submit documents explaining why the customer abandoned U.S. citizenship or did not obtain it at birth. African financial institutions never pose such a delicate and private question to their customers. Even apparently straight-forward requirements may pose challenges; for example, FATCA requires that customers make representations about their identities “under penalty of perjury” in certain situations. Few countries have a custom of making legal oaths, so it would not be surprising if African customers will be reluctant to give them.

FATCA contains partial exemptions (i.e., “deemed compliance”) and also exceptions for certain financial institutions and products that are less likely to be used by U.S. tax evaders. It still has to be seen to what extent these exemptions have utility for financial institutions in Africa. For example, the regulations include an exemption for retirement funds and also partially exempt “restricted funds” — funds that prohibit investment by U.S. persons. Although many non-U.S. funds have long restricted investment by U.S. persons because of the U.S. federal securities laws, this exemption could be less useful than it first appears. It should be pointed out that the exemption also requires that funds be sold exclusively to limited categories of FATCA-compliant or exempt institutions and distributors. These categories are themselves difficult for African institutions to qualify for. For example, a restricted fund may sell to certain distributors who agree not to sell to U.S. persons (“restricted distributors”). But restricted distributors must operate solely in the country of their incorporation, a true obstacle in smaller markets where many distributors must operate regionally to attain scale.

Other permitted distribution channels for restricted funds are “local banks,” which are not allowed to have any operations outside of their jurisdiction of incorporation and may not advertise the availability of U.S. dollar denominated investments.

Challenges and lessons learned – the African perspective

Financial institutions will have to consider what steps to take to prepare for FATCA compliance and take into account other FATCA obligations, such as account due diligence and withholding against non-compliant U.S. accountholders and/or financial institutions.

The core of FATCA is the process of reviewing customer records to search for “U.S. indicia” — that is, evidence that a customer might be a U.S. taxpayer. Under certain circumstances, FATCA requires financial institutions to look through their customers and counterparties’ ownership to find “substantial U.S. owners” (generally, certain U.S. persons holding more than 10% of an entity). In many countries the existing anti-money laundering legislation generally requires that financial institutions look through entities only when there is a 20% or 25% owner, leaving a gap between information that may be needed for FATCA compliance and existing procedures. Even how to deal with non-FATCA compliant financial institutions and whether to completely disengage business ties with them, remains open.

The following is an outline of some of the lessons learned in approaching FATCA compliance and the considerations financial institutions should make:

Focus on reducing the problem

Reducing the problem through the analysis and filtering of legal entities, products, customer types, distribution channels and account values, which may be prudently de-scoped, can enable financial institutions to address their distinct challenges and to identify areas of significant impact across their businesses. This quickly scopes the problem areas and focuses the resource and budget effort to where it is most necessary.

Select the most optimal design solution

FATCA legislation is complex and comprehensive as it attempts to counter various potential approaches to evade taxes. Therefore, understanding the complexities of FATCA and distilling its key implications is crucial in formulating a well rounded, easily executable FATCA compliance programme in the limited time left.

Selecting an option for compliance is dependent on the nature of the business and the impact of FATCA on the financial institution. However, due to compliance time constraints and the number of changes required by financial institutions, the solution design may well require tactical solutions with minimal business impact and investment. This will allow financial institutions to achieve compliance by applying low cost ‘work arounds’ and process changes. Strategic and long-term solutions can be better planned and phased-in with less disruption to the financial institution thereafter.

Concentrate on critical activities for 2014

FATCA has phased timelines, which run from 2014 to 2017 and beyond. By focusing on the “must-do” activities, which require compliance as of 1 January 2014 – such as appointing a Responsible Officer, registering with the IRS, and addressing new client on-boarding processes and systems – financial institutions can dedicate the necessary resources more efficiently and effectively to meet immediate deadlines.

Clear ownership – both centrally and within local subsidiaries

FATCA is a strategic issue for the business, requiring significant and widespread change. Typically it starts as a ‘tax issue’ but execution has impacts across IT, AML/KYC, operations, sales, distribution and client relationship management. It is imperative to get the right stakeholders and support onboard to ensure that the operational changes are being coordinated, managed and implemented by the necessary multidisciplinary teams across the organization. These include business operations, IT, marketing, and legal and compliance, to name but a few. Early involvement and clear ownership is key from the start.

Understand your footprint in Africa

Many African financial institutions have operations in various African countries and even overseas, and have strategically chosen to make further investments throughout Africa. The degree to which these African countries have exposure to the FATCA regulations needs to be understood. It is best to quickly engage with appropriate stakeholders, understand how FATCA impacts these African countries and the financial institutions’ foreign subsidiaries, and find solutions that enable pragmatic compliance.

What next for financial institutions in Africa?

Negotiations with the U.S. are under way with over 60 countries to enshrine FATCA in national law of countries around the world via IGAs. Implementation of FATCA is approaching on 1 January 2014 and many local financial institutions have either not started or are just at the early stages of addressing the potential impact of FATCA. In South Africa, only few of the leading banks are completing impact assessments and already optimizing solutions. Other financial services groups and asset management institutions are in the process of tackling the impact assessment. Industry representative in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe have started engaging relevant government and industry stakeholders, but the awareness is seemingly oblivious to date. In the rest of Africa, FATCA is mainly unheard of.

Financial institutions choosing to comply with FATCA will first need to appoint a responsible officer for FATCA and register with the IRS, ensure proper new client on-boarding procedures are in place, then identify and categorize all customers, and eventually report U.S. persons to the IRS (or local tax authorities in IGA jurisdictions). Institutions will also need to consider implementing a host of other time-consuming operational tasks, including revamping certain electronic systems to capture applicable accountholder information and/or to accommodate the new reporting and withholding requirements, enhancing customer on-boarding processes, and educating both customers and staff on the new regulations. Where possible, institutions should seek to achieve these tasks through enhancing existing initiations so as to minimise the cost and disruption to the business.

Conclusion

Financial institutions in Africa face tight FATCA compliance timelines with limited budgets, resources, time, and expertise available. This is coupled with having to fulfil multiple other regulatory requirements. To add to the burden, FATCA has given stimulus to several countries in the European Union to start discussing a multilateral effort against tax evasion. The support of other countries in the IGA process indicates that some of these countries will follow with their own FATCA-equivalent legislation in an attempt to increase local tax revenues at a time when economies around the world are under unprecedented pressure. The best approach for African financial services industry groups is to engage their local governments in dialogue with the IRS and Treasury, while for African financial institutions to pro-actively assess their FATCA strategic and operational burdens as they inevitably prepare for compliance.

 

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 167,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

The Ernst & Young Africa Sub-Area consists of practices in 28 countries across the African continent. We pride ourselves in our integrated operating model which enables us to serve our clients on a seamless basis across the continent, as well as across the world.

Ernst & Young South Africa has a Level two, AAA B-BBEE rating. As a recognised value adding enterprise, our clients are able to claim B-BBEE recognition of 156.25%.

Ernst & Young refers to the global organisation of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. All Ernst & Young practices in the Africa Sub Area are members of Ernst & Young Africa Limited (NPC). Ernst & Young Africa Limited (NPC) in turn is a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee. Neither Ernst & Young Global Limited nor Ernst & Young Limited (NPC) provides services to clients.

For more information about our organisation, please visit www.ey.com/za

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Fi Istanbul’s Success Demonstrates Unlimited Market Opportunities in Turkey, the Middle East & North Africa

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

Staggering 3,000 Visitors + 150 Exhibiting Brands and Record Re-Booking Volumes for the 2014 Event

Yes, we’ve got a lot to shout about and so we would like to start with a huge thank you to all of our exhibitors who helped to make Food ingredients Istanbul such a great success. As the only dedicated food ingredients event in the region, last week’s highly successful show demonstrates that this region is thriving and thirsty for the very latest ingredients, solutions, innovations and networking opportunities.

We are delighted to announce that Food ingredients Istanbul exceeded all forecasts and expectations with the impressive amount of 3,000 visitors and a 94% rebooking rate. As a launch event, Fi Istanbul welcomed attendees from over 80 different countries, filling all aisles and bustling exhibitor stands.

It is clear that the industry responded well to this launch event. Building on the high growth rates that the food industry is experiencing in this region, Fi Istanbul provided a strong platform for all food and beverage manufacturers to source from over 150 local, regional and international food ingredients suppliers.

The response from the exhibitors was overwhelming! Many claimed to have had one of the best shows ever, with a high quality of visitors, a steady flow of traffic during the 3 days and a good mix of visiting companies, including food manufacturers from dairy, ice cream, confectionary, meat, poultry and many more.

Turkey, for a global company, is a very important market for us to be close to our customers. Food ingredients Istanbul has been a great experience to meet new customers in 3 days and share projects, prototypes, concepts and innovations” Luis Fernandez , Vice-President Global Applications, Tate & Lyle

Natasha Berrow , UBM’s Brand Director, also commented, “Last week’s event really did surpass even our expectations! The positive response to this launch event, the new Fi branding and signage provided the innovative environment that such a growing region deserves.”

She continued “the record re-bookings are further indication that exhibitors see Fi Istanbul as the place to continue to meet their customers and to expand into this booming region. I’d like to express our appreciation for the tremendous and ongoing support of all our customers.”

“We are very impressed by the quality of visitors; quality is more important than quantity. We found a lot of good customers that we’ll probably start new business with” Stella Wu , International Sales Manager, JK Sucralose

Visitor feedback also surpassed all expectations. The great mix of local, regional and international food ingredients suppliers was complimented by many attendees looking to source new ingredients from companies they never heard of.

“I want to know new suppliers and I want to see some different varieties of products that I can use for my customers. This is the first year for this exhibition and it feels like it has being a successful opening and I’m sure it will get greater and bigger in the coming years.” Meleknur Tuzun, Sales Manager, Agrana

Fi Istanbul is a key part of the Food ingredients Global Portfolio strategy to extend the its brand into new regions, offering exhibiting clients a platform to engage with new customers and present their new business growth opportunities. With the key focus on business development, innovation and trade, in a region with one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world, Fi Istanbul proved to be one of the most cost-effective platforms to source new ingredients, grow market share and act as a stepping stone to this vastly and yet close to untouched food industry.

 

About Fi ingredients Global – the trusted route to market since 1986

Food ingredients first launched in Utrecht, The Netherlands in 1986 and its portfolio of live events, publications, extensive database, digital solutions and high-level conferences are now established across the globe to provide regional and a global meeting place for all stakeholders in the food ingredients industry. Over 500,000 people have attended our shows over the years, and billions of Euros of business have been created as a result. With over 25 years of excellence, our events, digital solutions and supporting products deliver a proven route to market with a truly global audience.

About UBM Istanbul

UBM Istanbul was established in April 2012 to connect people and create opportunities for companies wishing to build business between Europe and Asia, meet customers, launch new products, promote their brands and expand their markets. Premier brands such as Fi Europe, CPhI, IFSEC, Black Hat, Mother & Baby Show , Jewellery and many others and will become an integral part of the marketing plans of companies across more than 10 industry sectors.

About UBM

UBM plc is a global events-led marketing services and communications company. We help businesses do business, bringing the world’s buyers and sellers together at events and online, as well as producing and distributing specialist content and news. Our 5,500 staff in more than 30 countries are organised into specialist teams which serve commercial and professional communities, helping them to do business and their markets to work effectively and efficiently.

For more information, go to http://www.ubm.com

SOURCE UBM Live

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Unreliable Power Supply Creates Huge Demand for Non-renewable Inverters, Finds Frost & Sullivan

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

Cost competitiveness vital to expand in developing markets

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. /PRNewswire/ — The global non-renewable inverter market grew steadily on the back of rising demand for reliable power and the lack of stable power infrastructure in many regions of the world. Higher disposable incomes and greater affordability in developing regions such as Latin America, as well as parts of Africa and South Asia, encourage the adoption of power inverters, especially in residential markets.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s (http://www.powersupplies.frost.com) Analysis of the Global Non-renewable Inverter Market research finds the market earned revenue of approximately $1.94 billion in 2012 and estimates this to reach $2.34 billion in 2018.

For more information on this research, please email Britni Myers , Corporate Communications, at britni.myers@frost.com, with your full name, company name, job title, telephone number, company email address, company website, city, state and country.

“The need for power reliability stimulates demand for power inverter and inverter/chargers, as they are employed as part of a back-up power system involving a battery,” said Frost & Sullivan Energy and Environment Senior Industry Analyst Anu Elizabeth Cherian. “The manufacturing and commercial sectors’ increased awareness and proactive protective measures such as employing adequate back-up resources to manage business more efficiently gives a significant boost to the market’s prospects.”

The market will also gain from the escalating use of electronic equipment in boats, cars, trucks, ambulances and recreational vehicles. Power inverters and inverter chargers can meet business travelers’ or vacationers’ demand for connectivity on the go as well.

While power inverters are establishing a foothold in the power industry, the gradual pace of economic recovery and restrained spending environment are stymieing inverter manufacturers’ efforts to expand. Further, the slowdown in infrastructural build-outs in telecommunications and investments makes customers cautious about investing in inverters.

“Inverter manufacturers could attempt to offset the price issue by offering enhanced features for the premium products or lowering prices,” noted Cherian. “We know that without a solid solution, power quality issues will continue to persist.  This improved awareness of the need to be well prepared for power outages bolsters the power inverter market.”

Analysis of the Global Non-renewable Inverter Market is part of the Energy and Environment Growth Partnership Service program. Frost & Sullivan’s related research services include: Analysis of the Mexican Distributed Power Generation Market, Asia-Pacific Rental Power Market, Bangladesh Uninterruptible Power Supply Market, and Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection in Europe. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

Connect with Frost & Sullivan on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare, and LinkedIn, for the latest news and updates.

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants.

Our “Growth Partnership” supports clients by addressing these opportunities and incorporating two key elements driving visionary innovation: The Integrated Value Proposition and The Partnership Infrastructure.

  • The Integrated Value Proposition provides support to our clients throughout all phases of their journey to visionary innovation including: research, analysis, strategy, vision, innovation and implementation.
  • The Partnership Infrastructure is entirely unique as it constructs the foundation upon which visionary innovation becomes possible. This includes our 360 degree research, comprehensive industry coverage, career best practices as well as our global footprint of more than 40 offices.

For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Is your organization prepared for the next profound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitive intensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics and emerging economies?

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Analysis of the Global Non-renewable Inverter Market
N839-27

Contact:
Britni Myers
Corporate Communications – North America
P: 210.477.8481
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E: britni.myers@frost.com
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http://www.frost.com

SOURCE Frost & Sullivan

 

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2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival Programme full of New Highlights

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

The programme for the 2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is growing, with new and exciting events joining the stable of old favourites. “Last year’s programme sported more than 100 events,” said Festival Manager Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt. “And it is already clear that we’ll top that number this year.”

The Pick n Pay Women’s Walk will take place on Sunday 7 July. The Women’s Walk is a popular event that takes place across South Africa. Bronwen Rohland Marketing Director Pick n Pay said, “This 5km event raises funds for PinkDrive, an organisation that provides free breast cancer screening and health education for women who cannot afford it.”

The Young Oyster Festival is gaining in popularity each year, providing an environment for kids to have a blast. Aside from the regular events such as cooking lessons, arts and crafts, movie screenings, sport clinics, and exciting competitions, this year will see a dedicated Kids Zone complete with popcorn, candy floss and all things necessary for exciting and entertaining kids.

“Older kids will enjoy an all-new fun fair as well as obstacle courses and exciting events and competitions at The Yard, our local skate park,” Rousseau-Schmidt said. “This age group and their parents will also enjoy an all new 10-day local food and craft market at the main venue on Waterfront Drive and details of how to enter the Miss Knysna Oyster Festival will be available soon.”

“Of course we wouldn’t have a festival if it weren’t for our oysters. This year’s Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna will truly showcase Knysna’s restaurants as they once again prepare oysters according to their own, unique recipes, with other delectable treats prepared by Pick n Pay also available on the evening.

“The oyster shucking and oyster eating competitions are always very entertaining and well attended, and this year we will combine these two fun events to both take place at the main venue on Waterfront Drive,” Rousseau-Schmidt said.

The festival has a longstanding relationship with the South African Navy, especially the local Sea Cadet unit from the Training Ship Knysna. “The Admiral’s Ball is a firm favourite on the festival’s calendar with music provided by the incredibly talented SA Navy Dance Band. Presented in co-operation with the Knysna Featherbed Company, the 2013 ball promises to be an event not to be missed,” said Rousseau-Schmidt “We are hoping to welcome two naval ships through the Knysna Heads this year – weather permitting,” she said. “The Navy also presents other fantastic events on the festival calendar, including the Right of Entry Parade which incorporates precision drilling and music from the marching band, displays by the Knysna Sea Cadets and the ever popular concert by the SA Navy Band which unofficially closes the festival.”

“This year the Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon have already sold out, and we anticipate that Knysna will be buzzing with excitement,” said Rohland, “the festival is a great opportunity for us to meet our customers and be part of an event that showcases the best the region has to offer.”

“We are looking forward to old favourites such the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour and the Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon, but we have many exciting developments on the programme to look forward to,” Rousseau-Schmidt concluded. “And what you’ve read about here is only a taste of what the 2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival has on offer. Knysna is truly the place to be during the school holidays. So come along – I can guarantee that you’ll have the best ten days of your winter.”

Keep an eye on www.pnpoysterfestival.co.za for regular updates to the programme, or contact Knysna Tourism on 044 382 5510 for more information.

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Canadian Solar’s Partner Romano Wins Eskom Rooftop Project in Johannesburg

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

About Eskom

Eskom generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45% of the electricity used in Africa. Eskom generates, transmits and distributes electricity to industrial, mining, commercial, agricultural and residential customers and redistributors. Additional power stations and major power lines are being built to meet rising electricity demand in South Africa. Eskom will continue to focus on improving and strengthening its core business of electricity generation, transmission, trading and distribution.  For more information, please visit www.eskom.co.za.

About Romano Group

The Romano Group is a multi-skilled provider of a broad range of sustainable solutions, to clients who are typically large commercial, industrial or retail property owners and tenants spread throughout Africa. Romano’s value-added offer includes the design, manufacture and installation of high-quality Solar PV, ECO-Lighting, Modular Construction and Signage & Print solutions, all of which are delivered on-time at a competitive price. The company celebrated its 60th birthday in 2012 and employs 150 people. For more information, please visit www.romano.co.za.

About Canadian Solar Inc.

Founded in 2001 in Canada, Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) is one of the world’s largest and foremost solar power companies. As a leading vertically integrated provider of solar modules, specialized solar products and solar power plants with operations in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and Asia, Canadian Solar has delivered more than 4GW of premium quality solar modules to customers in over 50 countries. Canadian Solar is committed to improve the environment and dedicated to provide advanced solar energy products, solutions and services to enable sustainable development around the world. For more information, please visit www.canadiansolar.com

 

JOHANNESBURG, May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) (the “Company” or “Canadian Solar”), one of the world’s largest solar companies, today announced the successful expansion of its partner Romano Sustainable Solutions in Africa. Romano, a pioneer company in the South African photovoltaic (PV) industry, was recently awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for a 360 kW PV solar system installation. The roof top installation will be on the Johannesburg headquarters of Eskom, the largest producer of electricity in Africa.

As one of the most experienced solar PV systems integrators in Africa, Romano designs, manufactures and installs solar PV systems to commercial clients spread throughout Africa. Most of Romano’s solar PV systems are grid-tied systems. When connected to the client side of the on-site electrical sub-station, the electricity generated is used on the site by the client. When connected to the utility side the electricity generated is exported to the national or municipal electricity grid.

“We are very proud to be involved with this prestigious project for Eskom, which we understand was awarded on the basis of our technical capability and track record, as well as the cost effectiveness of our offer,” said Alexi Romano , CEO of Romano.

“The solar energy market in Africa continues to develop and has considerable potential for growth. We are positioned to benefit through our relationships with experienced partners like Romano. We look forward to supporting their growth in this important market, including the high profile Eskom project,” said Dr. Shawn Qu , Chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar.”

 

SOURCE Canadian Solar

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Airtel reiterates commitment to customers in Uganda

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Chancy Namadzunda

Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), a leading global telecommunications services provider with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, today reiterated its commitment to Uganda and said it will “continue to make investments and offer world-class and affordable services to customers in the country”.

Airtel’s proposed acquisition of Warid Telecom has received approvals from the Uganda Communications Commission. With this, Airtel will further consolidate its position as the second largest mobile operator in Uganda with a combined customer base of over 7.2 million and market share of over 39%.

Warid customers will be able to retain their existing mobile numbers and continue to enjoy benefits such as remaining balances in their SIM and existing services. In addition, Warid customers will benefit from Airtel’s ‘One Network’ across 20 countries and get access to innovative products and roaming benefits on successful completion of integration.

Airtel Uganda Managing Director Mr. V.G. Somasekhar said, “We welcome Warid customers to the Airtel global network and assure them of a world-class experience. This acquisition will create a superior and wider network and we will invest more in key areas such as technological innovation and customer service.

“Further, the existing Warid customer will also be enjoying all Airtel services such as the widest 3G coverage, Blackberry services and superior roaming serviceson successful completion of integration. During this transition, I want to reassure Warid customers of our commitment to providing world-class, affordable services to customers in Uganda. They should also be assured of the security and continuity of Warid Pesa services during this period”.

He added: “After the successful completion of integration, Warid customers will begin to enjoy benefits of the 0ne network with lower roaming rates across Africa and South Asia that other Airtel Customers have been enjoying. It’s a great beginning to a journey with our loyal Uganda customers and for the economy as a whole.”

With presence across 17 African countries, Airtel is the largest telecom service provider across the Continent in terms of geographical reach and had over 62 million customers at the end of quarter ended December 31, 2012. Globally, Airtel is ranked as the 4th largest mobile services provider in terms of customer base.

Bharti Airtel Limited is a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. Headquartered in New Delhi, India, the company ranks amongst the top 4 mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers.

In India, the company’s product offerings include 2G, 3G and 4G wireless services, mobile commerce, fixed line services, high speed DSL broadband, IPTV, DTH, enterprise services including national & international long distance services to carriers. In the rest of the geographies, it offers 2G, 3G wireless services and mobile commerce. Bharti Airtel had over 271 million customers across its operations at the end of March 2013.

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IFC Promotes Mobile Financial Services in Cote d’Ivoire to Encourage Inclusive Development

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, May 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and The MasterCard Foundation today convened key financial industry players to build further momentum for mobile financial services in Cote d’Ivoire. The event recognized the market’s enormous potential, especially for increasing access to finance for low income households, small scale businesses and in hard-to-reach areas.

 

Mobile phone penetration in Cote d’Ivoire is more than 90 percent, while only 14 percent of Ivoirians have access to financial services. Mobile network operators have registered more than two million mobile financial services customers in the past three years. The Ivorian market for mobile financial services is the largest and the most dynamic in the West African Economic and Monetary Union region.

 

Cassandra Colbert, IFC Resident Representative in Cote d’Ivoire,

said,”Improving access to finance is important for supporting shared prosperity in Cote d’Ivoire. IFC and The MasterCard Foundation want to help local financial institutions realize the opportunity in Cote d’Ivoire for the development of agent banking and mobile financial services that will accelerate the reach of financial services to those currently without banking services.”

 

At the seminar in Abidjan, IFC highlighted the business case for engaging in mobile financial services in Cote d’Ivoire. The workshop marked the beginning of the implementation of a four year program by IFC and The MasterCard Foundation to contribute to the development and expansion of mobile financial services in the country.

 

IFC and The MasterCard Foundation consider access to financial services a key tool in poverty alleviation that can dramatically change the lives of the economically marginalized.

 

About The Partnership for Financial Inclusion In January 2012 IFC and The MasterCard Foundation launched the $37.4 million Partnership for Financial Inclusion to bring financial services to an estimated 5.3 million previously unbanked people in Sub-Saharan Africa in five years. The program aims to develop sustainable microfinance business models that can deliver large-scale low-cost banking services, and provides technical assistance to mobile network operators, banks and payments systems providers in order to accelerate the development of low-cost mobile financial services.

 

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. In FY12, our investments reached an all-time high of more than $20 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs, spark innovation, and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit http://www.ifc.org

 

SOURCE

International Finance Corporation (IFC) – The World Bank

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Mobile Technologies to Fast Track Financial Transactions for the Unbanked in Asia

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

4th Annual Summit on Mobile Payments & Banking Greater Mekong/ Emerging Markets will be taking place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 12-13 June 2013.

Singapore, Singapore –(PR.com)– 1. Mobile technology is fast becoming the first choice for many consumers to access financial services especially among the economies of the unbanked population. At the 4th Annual Summit on Mobile Payments & Banking Greater Mekong/ Emerging Markets which will be taking place in Phnom Penh in Cambodia on 12 – 13 June 2013, key industry stakeholders from the financial institutions, mobile operators and solution providers will congregate to discuss the latest developments in mobile payments in the growing affluent economies of South East Asia, South Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, Eurasia, Middle East and Oceania.

2. This year summit’s will have a special focus on emerging economies of Fiji, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. Key issues include an assessment of the growing opportunities in the region, success stories on how to design, establish and operationalize mobile payments solutions, evaluation of the various technology and challenges, discussion on IT strategies to drive revenue opportunities, cost efficiencies and the future transformation of the customer retail banking experience.

3. Companies expected to speak at the summit include: National Bank of Cambodia, Department of Finance, (Philippines), VeriFone, Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines, Quezon Capital Rural Bank, Hattha Kaksekar, ACLEDA Bank Plc, Viettel Telecom, Globe Telecom Inc / G-Xchange Inc, BICS Asia, Maybank, Chunghwa Telecom, Western Union, Standard Chartered Bank, Alpha Payments Cloud, Bank Mandiri, Etisalat, ControlCase, EPIC Lanka Group, Ayeryarwady Bank, Vodafone, FINTEL Fiji, Bank of the Lao PDR, Bank of Ayudhya and more.

4. EPIC Lanka Group, a world class software solutions provider in its core technology areas of Secure Electronic Payments and Information Systems Security is the summit’s Associate Sponsor.

5. Exhibitors at the summit include SecureMetric, the fastest growing digital security technology company and ControlCase, a United States based company with headquarters in McLean, Virginia and PCI center of excellence in Mumbai, India.

6. The CEO of the conference organizing company, Magenta Global Pte Ltd, Singapore, Ms Maggie Tan, said: “A new report from Juniper Research finds that over 1 billion phone users will have made use of their mobile devices for banking purposes by the end of 2017, compared to just over 590 million this year. The emerging economies in this region are likely to see a huge increase in mobile subscribers who are mostly unbanked. Banks must implement at least one mobile banking offering either via messaging, mobile browser or an- app based service. Some banks are already doing so with larger banks deploying two or more of these technologies. This Summit has been specially convened to take the industry forward.” She invites all telco operators, financial institutions and technology service providers to join this Summit and contribute to the greater development of the banking and financial services sector in this region.

7. The event will be held at the NagaWorld Hotel.

Notes for Editor

About Magenta Global – Organizer

Magenta Global Pte Ltd is a premier independent business media company that provides pragmatic and relevant information to government & business executives and professionals worldwide. The organization provides the opportunity to share thought-provoking insights, exchange ideas on the latest industry trends and technological developments with thought leaders and business peers. With a strong focus in emerging economies especially in Africa, Middle East & Central Asia, Magenta Global works in partnership with both the public and private sectors.

About EPIC Lanka Group – Associate Sponsor

Established in 1998, Epic is a trendsetter and renowned for innovative software solutions in the region. The company has successfully implemented pioneering mobile banking solutions in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and several other countries winning an unprecedented number of national and international accolades in the recent past including APICTA Gold Award for Asia pacific’s best banking solution. Time and again Epic has proved their technological dominance, product supremacy and entrepreneurial excellence at Asia Pacific level.

About SecureMetric – Exhibitor

SecureMetric is one of the fastest growing digital security technology company. Our products and solutions have been successfully shipped and implemented in more than 35 countries worldwide. As a multinational company, SecureMetric’s technical team consist of top security experts from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Middle East, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and United Kingdom. Cross region and cross culture exposure has made SecureMetric a company that is always ahead. With our innovative products and services, we are poised to help our customers to be the best in their industry.

About ControlCase – Exhibitor

ControlCase provide solutions that address all aspects of IT-GRCM (Governance, Risk Management and Compliance Management). ControlCase is pioneer and largest provider of Managed Compliance Services and Compliance as a Service and a leading provider of Payment Card Industry related compliance services globally.
Magenta Global
Merilynn Choo
65 6391 2549
Contact
http://www.magenta-global.com.sg/GreaterMekongMobilePayments2013/

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ZIMFUND launches first phase of Zimbabwe’s water supply and sanitation rehab project

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Wallace Mawire

by Wallace Mawire

The Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund (ZimFund) urgent Water Supply and Sanitation Rehabilitation Project phase one expected to increase the reliability, quality and availability of water, restore wastewater treatment capacity and reduce the incidence of cholera and other water related diseases has been launched, according to the Zimfund Manager,  Engineer Emmanuel Nzabanita.

The ZimFund Manager reports that Zimfund has handed-over the site of Mutare water and sanitation works to the contractor. This project, valued at  $9.04 million, is the first to be implemented under the Fund’s overall $29.65 million Urgent Water Supply and Sanitation Rehabilitation Project (UWSSRP), which will also see developments in the municipalities of Chegutu, Chitungwiza, Harare, Kwekwe and Masvingo.


The UWSSR project has been designed to improve the health and social well-being of the residents of the beneficiary cities, through the equitable provision of adequate water supply and sanitation services.

The ZimFund grant will enable the provision of urgent support for the restoration and stabilization of water supply and sanitation services in the six municipalities, by undertaking emergency rehabilitation to the systems and reducing pollution of the water sources.

In Mutare, the project comprises of  the partial rehabilitation of Odzani Water Treatment works, the completion of the Chikanga Reservoir, the completion of the Mutare Trunk Sewer, the rehabilitation of Gimboki Sewerage Treatment Works and  the supply of laboratory and other equipment for maintenance.

ZimFund Manager, Eng. Emmanuel Nzabanita said, “I am delighted that this project that is expected to have a major impact on the people living in Mutare has commenced.”

The rehabilitation of Chikanga Water Reservoir, the Gimboki BNR Sewage treatment plant and the pipeline for the outfall sewer is expected to improve the water and sanitation services considerably.

The restoration of some wastewater treatment capacity in the project areas will reduce pollution to the fresh water sources and the immediate environment.

In addition to the water and sanitation projects, ZimFund is also supporting the Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (EPIRP) to the tune of $35 million, benefitting the electricity consuming public in Zimbabwe – especially the poor.

The second project is expected to help rehabilitate the Ash Plant at Hwange Power Station (HPS), in addition to sub-transmission and distribution facilities in Atlanta (Murehwa), Criterion (Bulawayo), Gweru, Kadoma, Marvel (Bulawayo), Mazowe, Mpopoma (Bulawayo), Norton, Pomona (Harare), Redcliff, Sherwood (Kwe Kwe), Victoria Falls, Zisco (Redcliff), Zvishavane and electricity distribution facilities throughout the country.

Once complete, these refurbishments and reinforcements of the sub-transmission and distribution networks are expected to  improve system reliability and allow the restoration of supply services to about 22,000 customers in various neighbourhoods across the country that presently have no access to electricity services.

The EPIR Project is linked to UWSSR Project, in that it will also improve the electricity supply to the water treatment plant of the Harare city water supply as well as the other five urban water supply systems, with a possible contribution to the reduction in the incidence of cholera and other water related diseases, according to the Zimfund Mamager.

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FOREX industry celebrates the JFEX 2013 awards winners

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Africa Business

Jordan, Amman, May 13th, 2013: JFEX awards, the most prestigious professional awards in the region announced on Monday honoring the best brokers and services providers in the FOREX industry. The 8th Annual JFEX Awards is celebrating the contributions to continue to develop the FOREX industry and reach achievements with great heights that will inspire the investors to pursue the many opportunities available in the industry.

It has been announced as the winners of the eight annual JFEX Awards, honored for their contributions to continue to develop the FOREX industry and reach achievements with great heights that will inspire the investors to pursue the many opportunities available in the industry.

JFEX’s mission, “Together, improve and adapt to the changing needs of the market.” recognizes that We need to keep pace with these rapid changes, we have to manage change so that we can still make a difference. and the awards, set up in 2013, aim to celebrate the hard work and dedication of the companies.

All winners were originally nominated by Filling the Award application , while the prestigious judging panel, who put experience and recognizes the winners in their categories.

Mr. Khaldoun Nusair, AFAQ GROUP chairman , said: “AFAQ GROUP is delighted to host these JFEX Awards to help highlighting the Obtaining of the qualifications, especially on this time basis it`s considered a huge accomplishment , improve and adapt to the changing needs of the market. And this evening, we have seen some of the best examples, from professionals and specialists, as to how this should be done.”

The JFEX Winners:

· FXSTREET: Best FOREX Forecast and Strategy Provider

FXStreet produces well-designed forecast strategy plans need to be desired outputs to required inputs) and provides the traders with market consulting and strategic forecasting supporting by strategic analysis service to emphasis analyzing and risk management.

· AFBFX: Most Innovative ECN Broker

AFBFX as ECN broker became the best who consolidates bank quotes and provides their clients the best bids and offers available. Providing their clients with FOREX scalping opportunities similar how it was originally done by floor traders.

· NOORCM: Most Transparent FOREX Broker

NoorCM is a service provider of Al Shams Investment one of the most respected Investment and financial companies in the region.  NoorCM offers their clients the best conditions, transparency and high level services that exceed all expectations.

· Money Experts : Best Educational FOREX Website

Money experts became the leader in day trading educational systems and strategies by providing online outstanding resources for quality articles, videos, news, analysis and opinions about the FOREX.

· ICM Capital : Fastest Growing Online FOREX Broker

ICM Capital is well-positioned to continue the company’s growth in MENA and is committed to be a dynamic and to provides their services and products in an efficient and innovative manner consistent with the needs of their client.

· FXCM: Best Retail FOREX Provider

FXCM, the best retail broker, who provides easy method to open an account with reasonable leverage, and their clients can demo trade with no limits on its platform until they learn.

· Banc De Binary: Best Binary options Broker in MENA

Banc De Binary , a top-notch binary options broker throughout MENA region and the world, provides traders with the opportunity to test out the platform and to gain trading skills that they can use to have a long, profitable binary options trading experience.

· ADS SECURITIES: Most trusted FOREX Broker

ADS SECURITIES the first and the only FOREX broker is regulated by Central Bank of the UAE. ADS SECURITIES became genuine Middle East brokerage, and it`s the most reliable FOREX broker provides  regional services are designed for use by Middle East customers and the high capitalization of the company means that they can invest in new technology and services.

· FXDD: Best Islamic FOREX Broker

FXDD, the leading Islamic FOREX broker, who strives to always respect the requirements of the Islamic Sharia, the moral code and religious law of Islam.

· DGCX :Best Middle East FX Exchange

DGCX commenced trading in November 2005 as the regions first commodity derivatives exchange and has become today, the leading derivatives exchange in the Middle East. DGCX offers huge advantages to existing participants in physical commodities markets in the region previously unable to hedge their price exposures as well as opportunities to the region’s burgeoning investment community.

· AFB: Best White Label Solution Provider

Arab Financial Brokers (AFB), the closed shareholding corporation registered under the Kuwait commercial law. AFB provides White Label program for individuals and institutions that want to establish a brand name and a presence in the FOREX industry. AFB white label partner are provided with a platform that reflects the partner brand or logo. AFB has been continued dedication to offer global benchmark White Label solutions.

· Activtrades: Best FOREX Customer Services

ActivTrades offers the security and peace of mind of insuring its clients’ funds above the threshold provided by the (FSCS) by providing insurance policy underwritten by Lloyd’s of London. Clients of ActivTrades are individually covered up to £500,000 as Excess of FSCS Insurance.

· FxSolutions: Best Affiliate Program

FxSolutions has the Best Affiliate Program to work with and promote offering the best tools, commissions and overall offerings. FxSolutions ` Affiliate Program has become increasingly popular and as a result there’s a lot more in way of their clients.

· Fxstat: Best Social Trading Networks

FXSTAT has become one of the largest social trading networks. It now serves as an Autotrading (copy trade) service provider as well as a FOREX social network platform to aid traders in their trading. FXSTAT autotrading platform is the image of its innovative approach to technology.

· Market Trader Academy: Best educational trading academy

Market Trader Academy serves their students by offering the best in financial education . Market Trader Academy has been committed to teaching the skills needed to trade with the confidence of the pros using risk management and technical analysis strategies.

The JFEX 2013 Honorees:

· PalFX: JFEX 2013 advisory

The high profile information and consultation services providers in the region, made its contribution to the conference and the award by providing high skills of consultation to JFEX 2013, also sharing its experience in the JFEX Award judging panel.

· Banc De Binary: Most Innovative Stand

· Optimized sense: Participant

· FXBORSSA: Participant

· FX Arabia: Participant

· Bareed Wared: Participant

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