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Global Trade Partners in the 21st Century

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Remarks

Robert D. Hormats

Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment

World Economic Forum

Pretoria, South Africa

May 14, 2013

 

 

As Prepared

 

Thank you Lyal for the kind introduction.

I am delighted to be in South Africa again. I visited last fall with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

What was most striking then, and continues to be the case today, is the extent to which the image of Africa has changed. According to the IMF, growth in sub-Saharan Africa will surge to 6.1% next year, well ahead of the global average of 4%.

Africa is booming in nearly every sector, ranging from massive energy developments in Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana, and other countries; to the growth of Rwanda and Kenya’s information and communications technology sectors; to South Africa’s thriving auto industry. And, though far from declaring victory, Africa is reaching a turning point in its hard-fought battles against poverty and corruption.

Today’s Africa looks nothing like what, in 2000, The Economist referred to as the “Hopeless Continent.” It is critical that we concentrate the world’s eyes on the new image of Africa, that of progress and promise. Perspectives are evolving—in 2011, The Economist referred to Africa as the “Rising Continent” and, last March, as the “Hopeful Continent.”

Trade is at the heart of Africa’s economic resurgence. So, in this context, I will speak first about America’s vision for global trade in the 21st century and then, focus on implications and, indeed, opportunities for Africa. America’s global trade agenda in the 21st century is shaped by a foundation laid, in large part, in the mid-20th century. After World War II, American and European policymakers worked together to build a set of international institutions that embodied democratic and free market principles.

The GATT—which led to the WTO—World Bank, IMF, and the OECD were designed to foster international economic cooperation. These institutions were vital to the economic prosperity of the United States, and to the success of America’s foreign policy and national security for the next three generations.

As we move into the 21st century, a new multi-polar global economy has surfaced. The emergence of a new group of economic powerhouses—Brazil, Russia, India, and China, of course, but also countries in Africa—has created momentum (if not necessity) for greater inclusiveness in the global trading system.

At the same time, these new players must assume responsibilities for the international economic system commensurate with the increasing benefits they derive from the global economy. In addition to the geography of international trade, the nature of trade and investment has evolved to include previously unimaginable issues such as e-commerce and sustainability.

So, part of our vision for trade in the 21st century is to build a system that is more inclusive, recognizes the new realities of economic interdependence, and matches increased participation in the global trading system with increased responsibility for the global trading system.

We are making progress with bringing new players into the global trading system as equal partners. Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama entered into force last year.

And, we are continuing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership—or TPP as it is more widely known. With Japan’s anticipated entry into the negotiations, TPP will grow to include 12 countries of different size, background, and levels of development. The agreement, when finalized, will encompass nearly 40% of global GDP and one-third of global trade.

In addition to TPP, we are embarking on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. TTIP—as it is being called—will strengthen economic ties between the United States and Europe, and enhance our ability to build stronger relationships with emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world.

TPP and TTIP are truly historic undertakings. Our objective is not only to strengthen economic ties with the Asia-Pacific and Europe, but also to pioneer approaches to trade and investment issues that have grown in importance in recent years.

These agreements will seek to break new ground by addressing a multitude of heretofore unaddressed non-tariff barriers, setting the stage for convergence on key standards and regulations, and establishing high quality norms and practices that can spread to other markets. TPP, for example, will raise standards on investment and electronic commerce, and afford protections for labor and the environment.

Our agenda also includes strengthening the multilateral trading system through the World Trade Organization. For example, the United States would like to see a multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement, which would commit WTO Members to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods, and improve cooperation on customs matters. A Trade Facilitation Agreement would be a win-win for all parties—Africa especially.

Cross-border trade in Africa is hindered by what the World Bank calls “Thick Borders.” According to the latest Doing Business Report, it takes up to 35 days to clear exports and 44 days to clear imports in Africa. Clearing goods in OECD countries, in contrast, takes only 10 days on average and costs nearly half as much. Countries like Ghana and Rwanda have benefited tremendously from the introduction of trade facilitation tools and policies.

Ghana, for instance, introduced reforms in 2003 that decreased the cost and time of trading across borders by 60%, and increased customs revenue by 50%. A multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement will create a glide path for increased trade with and within Africa.

Our views for 21st century global trade partnerships go beyond Europe and the Asia-Pacific, and efforts at the WTO. We are committed to supporting Africa’s integration into the global trading system. The cornerstone of our trade relationship with sub-Saharan Africa is the African Growth and Opportunity Act—known as AGOA. Of all of our trade preference programs, AGOA provides the most liberal trade access to the U.S. market.

Exports from Africa to the United States under the AGOA have grown to $34.9 billion in 2012. While oil and gas still represent a large portion of Africa’s exports, it is important to recognize that non-petroleum exports under AGOA have tripled to nearly $5 billion since 2001, when AGOA went into effect. And, compared to a decade ago, more than twice the number of eligible countries are exporting non-petroleum goods under AGOA.

South Africa, in particular, has made great strides in diversifying its exports to the United States. Thanks to AGOA, the United States is now South Africa’s main export market for passenger cars, representing more than 50% of exported value in 2012. Because AGOA is such an important mechanism for African countries to gain access to the U.S. market, the Administration is committed to working with Congress on an early, seamless renewal of AGOA. Our trade relationship with Africa goes beyond AGOA. For instance, AGOA represents only one-quarter of South African exports to the United States. The composition of South Africa’s exports to the United States, moreover, reflects complex interdependencies and industrial goods.

And, our trade relationship with Africa is not just about one-way trade. There is an immense opportunity for U.S. companies to do business on the continent.

We recently launched the “Doing Business in Africa Campaign” to help American businesses identify and seize upon trade and investment opportunities in Africa. The campaign was announced in Johannesburg, in part, because South Africa can play a prominent role in directing U.S. investment into other parts of the continent.

Although progress has been made on diversifying exports beyond energy, there is much more to be done. African ingenuity and entrepreneurship must be unleashed to drive innovation and growth throughout the continent. This requires closer integration to share ideas, transfer knowledge, and partner on solutions. Through AGOA and the “Doing Business in Africa Campaign”, we are promoting a business climate in Africa that enables and encourages trade and investment. However, realizing these goals is goes beyond trade preferences and commercial linkages.

Africa is also featured in America’s vision for global trade in the 21st century.

For example, we recently launched the U.S.-East African Community Trade and Investment Partnership—the first of its kind—to expand two-way trade and investment. The Partnership is designed to build confidence among the private sector by building a more open and predictable business climate in East Africa. We are considering a variety of mechanisms to accomplish this, including a regional investment treaty and trade facilitation agreement. The Partnership highlights our desire to help Africa integrate and compete in today’s global economy.

I will conclude with one final point. I began by saying that trade is at the heart of Africa’s economic resurgence. Trade is also at the heart of America’s economic recovery. We have a common interest and a common goal.

When it comes to enhanced trade, what is good for Africa is good for America. And what is good for America is good for Africa.

Thank you.


SOURCE

US Department of State

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ASANTE GOLD CORPORATION: ADVANCE NOTICE POLICY, ROYALTY ACQUISITION UPDATE AND WORKING CAPITAL LOAN AGREEMENT

Posted on 03 May 2013 by Africa Business

 

About Asante Gold Corporation

Asante Gold Corporation (TSX.V:ASE/FRANKFURT:1A9) is a Vancouver based gold exploration and royalty focused company, exploring the Fahiakoba Concession located in the centre of Ghana’s Golden Triangle between Perseus Mining’s 250,000 oz Au per year Edikan mine, and AngloGold Ashanti’s 315,000 oz Au per year Obuasi mine.


Vancouver, British Columbia – May 3, 2013 – Asante Gold Corporation (TSX.V:ASE/ FRANKFURT:1A9) (the “Company”) announces the approval and adoption by its Board of Directors of an Advance Notice Policy (the “Policy”). The purpose of the Policy is to provide shareholders, Directors and management of the Company with a clear framework for nominating directors of the Company. The Company is committed to: (i) facilitating an orderly and efficient annual general or, where the need arises, special meeting, process; (ii) ensuring that all shareholders receive adequate notice and information of the Director nominees; and (iii) allowing shareholders to register an informed vote after having been afforded reasonable time for appropriate deliberation. The Policy is intended to further these objectives.

The Policy includes a provision that requires advance notice to the Company in certain circumstances where nominations of persons for election to the Board of Directors are made by shareholders of the Company. The Policy fixes a deadline by which Director nominations must be submitted to the Company prior to any annual or special meeting of shareholders and sets forth the information that must be included in the notice to the Company. No person will be eligible for election as a Director of the Company unless nominated in accordance with the Policy.

In the case of an annual meeting of shareholders, notice to the Company must be made not less than 30 days and not more than 65 days prior to the date of the annual meeting; provided, however, that, in the event that the annual meeting is to be held on a date that is less than 50 days after the date on which the first public announcement of the date of the annual meeting was made, notice may be made not later than the close of business on the 10th day following such public announcement.

In the case of a special meeting of shareholders called for the purpose of electing Directors (whether or not called for other purposes), notice to the Company must be made not later than the close of business on the 15th day following the day on which the first public announcement of the date of the special meeting was made.

The full text of the Policy is available under the Company’s profile at www.sedar.com and on the Company’s website (www.asantegold.com) or upon request by contacting the Company’s Corporate Secretary, Janet Horbulyk, at (604)-558-1134.

The Policy is in effect as at the date of this news release. Pursuant to the terms of the Policy, the Company will seek shareholder ratification of the Policy at its next annual general meeting of shareholders (the “Meeting”). If the Policy is not confirmed at the Meeting, the Policy will terminate and be of no further force and effect following the termination of the Meeting.

The Company also announces that it has entered into a loan agreement with Goknet Mining Company Limited (“Goknet”) of Accra, Ghana. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Goknet will loan the Company CDN$200,000 for working capital purposes, payable within 60 days of demand, with interest payable on the unpaid principal at the rate of 5% per annum, calculated yearly. The loan is not convertible into securities of the Company. Goknet is a related party, as Douglas R. MacQuarrie is the CEO of the Company and the Managing Director of Goknet.

Goknet has also informed the Company that its arbitration with PMI Gold Corporation, with respect to PMI’s consent to the assignment of a 1% NSR royalty interest on the Obotan Gold Mine project in Ghana held by Goknet to the Company, is progressing with the full panel of arbitrators now selected. The Goknet/PMI agreement calls for a decision of the majority of the arbitrators to be made within 30 days. Further updates will be issued when and as received.

On behalf of the Board,

“Douglas R. MacQuarrie”

President & CEO

 

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Dubai Expo 2020 reports on two social initiatives in Africa that are helping foster sustainability on a local level

Posted on 01 May 2013 by Africa Business

DUBAI, UAE, May 1, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Dubai is building its Expo 2020 bid (http://www.expo2020dubai.ae) on three sub-themes representing the forces that inspire global development: sustainability (lasting sources of energy and water); mobility (smart systems of logistics and transportation); and opportunity (new paths to economic development). Dubai Expo 2020 (http://www.expo2020dubai.ae/en/) reports on two social initiatives in Africa that are helping foster sustainability on a local level.


Governments and large business are all looking at sustainability as a key issue in their bid to tackle climate change and water scarcity. But while global leaders and chief executives work on incorporating sustainability into policy-making and business models smaller enterprises are delivering at grassroots level.

In Ghana, Toyola Energy, founded by Suraj Wahab Ologburo, is one such enterprise. Toyola makes energy-efficient cooking stoves for ordinary Ghanaian consumers, who spend a large chunk of their incomes on fuel.

Ologburo’s “coal pot” stove uses one-third less charcoal than most existing stoves and sells for as little as US$8. Ologburo also offers credit, so consumers can pay US$2 up front and the remaining US$6 over two months using money saved on charcoal.

His company has produced 200,000 stoves and more than one million Ghanaians eat food cooked using Ologburo’s products every day. His business has reduced charcoal consumption in Ghana by 30,000 tonnes each year and carbon dioxide emissions by 150,000 tonnes a year.

Gina Garbon was one of Ologburo’s first customers. She liked the stove so much she ordered five for her market stall in Accra. Five became 100 and she sold every one, using the profits to buy land and build a new house. “Stoves changed my life,” she says.

Elsewhere, across Sub-Saharan Africa social enterprise Solar Sister is enabling rural women to start their own clean-tech cottage industries. The solar energy “business-in-a-bag” model provides funding, and inventory – including solar lamps and solar mobile phone chargers – that the women sell locally.

The scheme provides participants with an income and brings clean solar power to their communities. “My children need light to study so they can do well in school. If I have the opportunity to earn some money, I can give them a better future,” says one Solar Sister entrepreneur.

As the world ponders the climate change challenge, Solar Sister and Toyola Energy demonstrate how grassroots initiatives can effect change in ways that bring not just sustainability benefits but economic opportunities too.

To know more about UAE’s bid to host the World Expo in 2020, please visit: http://www.expo2020dubai.ae

 

SOURCE

Dubai Expo 2020

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GEMALTO TASKED TO IMPLEMENT GHANA’S SECURITY SYSTEM

Posted on 27 April 2013 by Amat JENG

 

AMSTERDAM, Netherland, April 8, 2013/ — Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653) (http://www.gemalto.com), the world leader in digital security, has been appointed as prime contractor and turnkey supplier to provide Ghana Immigration Services (GIS) with a highly secure electronic visa and border management solution. This initiative is part of the eGhana project, an ambitious plan with backing from the World Bank to create a modern IT infrastructure that can support the country’s sustainable development plans in the years ahead.

With a population of 24 million, the Republic of Ghana is experiencing rapid expansion of cross-border travel. Recognizing the need to improve the security and efficiency of its existing procedures, the country’s immigration service has turned to Gemalto to deliver the benefits of a country-wide electronic border management system based on biometric authentication.

Gemalto acts as prime contractor and will take responsibility for integrating the advanced visa and border management solution, including change management, transitional training and maintenance services.

The company will deploy border management systems at Ghana’s main ports of arrival and will implement a fully computerized system for visa and permit applications processing and issuing, with the collaboration of Avalon Biometrics. The project also covers the set up of an online portal service for visa application, and the implementation of electronic gates at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport, for rapid, convenient and automated border control of arrivals and departures.

 

Ghana's airport

This mission-critical solution will streamline processes, reinforce national security and provide the GIS with enhanced border information and intelligence. Aided by biometric data, the authorities will be able to account accurately for everyone entering and leaving the country. The system will also improve the traveling experience, delivering faster and significantly more convenient border control procedures for visitors.

“To maintain Ghana’s economic development, we need an immigration system that can meet the challenges of rapid growth in international travel,” said Commissioner of Police Dr. Peter A. Wiredu, Director of Ghana Immigration Service. “Gemalto contributed to over 80 successful government programs worldwide and has all the required project management skills, reputation and expertise to deliver the country’s new IT infrastructure”.

“This advanced electronic identity management system is fundamental to the whole eGhana project,” said Ari Bouzbib, Senior Vice President for Government Programs at Gemalto. “It will put the country’s border control processes on par with the latest, cutting-edge practices worldwide. In addition to helping to transform Ghana, it can serve as a template for modernization across many other countries in Africa.”

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Last Flight to Abuja

Posted on 24 April 2013 by Africa Business

Last Flight to Abuja the blockbuster airplane disaster thriller from multi award winning Nollywood filmmaker Obi Emelonye is now finally available to be watched online anywhere in the world on all internet enabled devices. The feature film originally inspired by a series of airplane disasters that rocked Nigeria in 2006 is available to be seen for a small fee via Distrify, the innovative online self distribution platform based in the UK.
WATCH ONLINE NOW http://muvi.es/w3968
Based on real life events, Last Flight to Abuja went on to become the highest grossing film of 2012 at the W Africa box office and is officially holder of the titles of the biggest ever premiere and the longest running movie in Nigeria cinema history.
The much anticipated online release comes just before the film competes in 5 key categories including Best Film at the 2013 African Movie Academy Awards. The producers are preparing to finally release the film on DVD to the international market in late May 2013, a few weeks ahead of the first anniversary of the Dana Air tragedy.
Last Flight to Abuja was originally premiered to the world in June 2012 just one week after the Nigerian Dana Air and Ghana bound Nigerian cargo plane tragedies and paid tribute to the many deceased and has since been used as an advocacy tool to raise awareness for increased aviation safety in Nigeria, Ghana & Africa as a whole.
As the producers embark on the online release, all involved with the film remain sensitive towards the feelings of the family and friends of the victims may their souls continue to rest in God’s perfect peace.

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Standard Bank Group ranked the world’s 12th greenest bank

Posted on 23 April 2013 by Africa Business

Standard Bank Group has been ranked the 12th “greenest” bank in the world and the cleanest in Africa by Bloomberg Markets.

According to Bloomberg: “The biggest gain in renewable energy came from a newcomer: South Africa’s Standard Bank Group Ltd. ranked 12th after agreeing to underwrite $1.1-billion in government-approved projects, including $314-million for solar parks.

“As Europe scales back and the US regroups, such initiatives may become the seeds that sustain growth in the green landscape.”

This was the third annual ranking by Bloomberg Markets to assess the top 40 global banks based on their lending to clean-energy projects and reduction in their own power consumption and carbon footprints.

Alastair Campbell, Executive Vice President, Power & Infrastructure Finance, at Standard Bank Group, says Standard Bank Group’s entry to the rankings is the result of three years of behind-the-scenes work commencing from the government’s first announcement of the renewable energy programme and its subsequent evolution into the current renewable energy independent power producer (REIPP) programme.

“We have adopted a proactive approach to this strategic and socially important sector and actively sought out deals to underwrite. We’re delighted to have our commitment to the sector acknowledged with an international no.12 ranking,” he says.

He believes its ranking may yet improve, given Standard Bank’s commitment to government’s renewable energy programme “as the next two to three years will continue to be a time of intense activity not just domestically in South Africa but on the African continent.

Given that the government’s strategy envisages 3,725 MW being tendered in the first three years, it is clear that the scale is enormous: perhaps R60-70-billion of capital is required, of which the quantum of debt will be approximately 70%. The ranking was based on Standard Bank Group’s success in first round of the REIPP procurement process, backing a total of 11 wind and solar projects valued at R9.4-billion. In the second round the bank is participating in a further seven deals (out of 19) valued at R7.1-billion.

These deals have been awarded preferred bidder status and are due to close shortly. Mr Campbell says the bank is hoping that its market leader status will continue as the third window gets under way in August.

In the first round, Standard Bank provided comprehensive corporate and investment banking services to all its clients, including underwriting R9.4 billion worth of debt, providing interest and currency hedges, carbon trading credits, and corporate bonding and guarantee facilities. Its mandated clients comprised 338MW of wind and 235MW of solar photovoltaic (SPV), out of the combined 1416MW per year expected to be produced by all the projects, making it the largest funder of the 28 wind and solar power projects awarded in the first round.

“This leading position was made possible by our in-depth understanding of the sector and the South African market,” says Mr Campbell.

Bidding rounds are scheduled to take place annually until the initiall allocation of 3725MW has been awarded. Mr Campbell is confident that Standard Bank Group will play a meaningful role in each of the roll-outs. He says Standard Bank Group is already busy preparing financing packages to support the third bidding window.

To ensure its readiness for this multi-year process, Standard recently signed a R20-billion Funding Support Agreement for Renewable Energy Projects in South Africa with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the bank’s single largest shareholder.

“Furthermore, we believe that the procurement process that South Africa has run is likely to be used as a blueprint for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa to follow in terms of renewable energy.” Says Mr Campbell. In addition to South Africa, general interest in countries such as Morocco, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana and Ghana are readying themselves for the roll-out of comprehensive renewable energy programs.

Bloomberg also looked at what banks were doing to reduce their own environmental impact, and here Standard Bank Group’s rating was boosted by various initiatives, particularly its new Rosebank building, rated five-star by the Green Building Council of South Africa.

“The Bloomberg ranking represents Standard Bank Group’s commitment to sustainability in every aspect of our business operations in South Africa and elsewhere, and is physically manifested in the structures we build. Our newer buildings are built to optimise energy efficiency,” says Mr Campbell.

How Bloomberg Markets ranks banks

To rank banks’ environmental records, Bloomberg Markets looked at their efforts to reduce their own waste and carbon footprints and at their investments in clean energy.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Bloomberg’s ESG Data group, which collects information on environmental, social and governance issues, gathered material from annual and corporate social responsibility reports, websites and other public documents. The teams conducted independent research and used surveys and telephone interviews to secure additional data and verify the accuracy of their findings.

The second consideration, reducing environmental impact, accounted for 30 percent of the score. It looked at reductions in air emissions and water use and at gains in energy efficiency.

Each data point is peer ranked on a scale of zero to 100. For example, in underwriting activities, the banks reporting the highest-dollar-value deals received the highest scores. Those scores were then multiplied by the weight factor assigned to that category to determine the overall value in the section. This was done for every grouping to determine a total score for the opportunity and environmental impact categories.

For more on Standard Bank Group’s sustainable business initiatives, see www.standardbank.com/sustainability.

Source: StandardBank.com

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South Africa’s mobile money industry remains innovative and diverse

Posted on 22 April 2013 by Africa Business

Mobile Money Africa returns to Johannesburg in May

South Africa remains one of the most diverse regions in Africa for its proliferation of successful mobile money business models being championed by banks, MNOs (mobile network operators), third party providers and retailers.  This is according to Emma Pearce, director of the upcoming, annual Mobile Money Africa conference and exhibition, which will again gather the continent’s leading industry experts in Johannesburg from 28-29 May.

Says Emma:  “We have seen some of the most compelling mobile payments case studies come from South Africa and the market continues to reinvent itself and innovate its offerings.  Johannesburg is the perfect backdrop for Mobile Money Africa, as it is one of the foremost economic hubs of Southern Africa: a melting pot of business models and market leaders.  The event will challenge preconceptions regarding mobile money in Africa and introduce innovators driving the marketplace forward.”

South Africa is a tough market
Brian Richardson, WIZZIT CEO, and a mobile money industry pioneer from South Africa tells us that a recent development which has been “incredibly exciting” is the level of interest from banks in emerging markets.  He explains:  “up until now, the stance of many banks has been to wait and see and as we are all aware, they have had many other pressing priorities to address.  There is an enormous amount of ‘noise’ in the mobile banking space and a lot of unsubstantiated hype which causes confusion for everyone.”

He continues:  “South Africa is a tough market – dominated by four very large and very powerful entities.  It is also an interesting market in that not only has the market grown up with a card paradigm, but South Africa has a very well developed card acquiring infrastructure.  This is not typically the case in other emerging markets where the opportunity of leap frogging the card paradigm is very much more real.  A mobile acquiring infrastructure for a start can be deployed at a fraction of the cost.”

Mobile always supported by card
Brian believes that in South Africa mobile will always be supported by card (or vice versa) “but as one entity will vouch for, it will be very difficult to ignore card totally.  We have believed that the two channels can work together.  According to Finscope, the number of people using mobile banking has almost doubled in the past year which is very encouraging indeed.  By contrast, the number of people using internet banking increased by 1%.  The challenge in South Africa remains at the unbanked level and much work remains to be done.  Mobile can certainly play a role in this.”

Brian is a speaker at the Mobile Money Africa event which will bring together some 400 industry leaders from the entire spectrum of the industry, including retailers, regulators, banks, MNOs, microfinance institutions, donor agencies and NGOs to discuss collaboration, moving the market forward and the different business models for the industry.

Says the WIZZIT CEO:  “at the end of the day, the product or service offering has to meet the needs and demands of the market; it has to be affordable; and it has to meet the financial and strategic objectives of the service provider.  There are still today question marks as to the business case around mobile money but there is no doubt about the potential in the industry.  Mobile banking has proved over the last few years that it has a place and that it is here to stay.”

More programme highlights at Mobile Money Africa this year:

· Betty Mwangi-Thuo, Chief Officer – New Products, Safaricom

· Habil Olaka, CEO, Kenya Bankers Association

· Albert Matongela, Leader – Southern Africa Development Community Bankers Association Payment Project (SADC BA Payment Project), FNB Namibia

· Francis Matseketsa, EcoCash Executive, Econet Services

· Ngoni Simelane, Head: Technology & Innovation; Beyond Payments, Standard Bank

· Eli Hini, Mobile Money Commercial Senior Manager, MTN Ghana

· Vanesha Palani, Head: Channel Management; Nedbank Digital, Nedbank

· Lowell Campbell, Branchless/Agent Banking, Standard Bank Africa

· Yolande van Wyk, CEO – eWallet Solutions, FNB Retail

· Charles Inwani, Regional Cash And Voucher Programme Officer, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Event dates:

Mobile Money Academy pre-conference workshop:  27 May
Conference days:  28-29 May
Post conference site visit:  30 May

Location: Hyatt Regency Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa


Website: http://www.mobile-money-gateway.com/event/mobile-money-africa-2013

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IMF Concludes Article IV Consultation Mission to Ghana

Posted on 15 April 2013 by Africa Business

ACCRA, Ghana, April 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ A mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Christina Daseking, visited Accra during April 2-12, 2013, to conduct discussions for the 2013 Article IV consultations. The mission met with President Mahama, Vice-President Amissah-Arthur, Finance Minister Terkper, Bank of Ghana Governor Wampah, other senior officials, members of parliament, and representatives of the private sector, think tanks, trade unions, and civil society.

At the end of the mission, Ms. Daseking issued the following statement:

“Economic growth continued at a robust pace of 8 percent in 2012 amid rising fiscal and external imbalances. A growing public sector wage bill, costly energy subsidies, and higher interest cost, pushed the fiscal deficit to about 12 percent of GDP. The external current account deficit also widened to 12 percent of GDP, while unadjusted fuel and energy prices and a tightening of monetary policy helped keep inflation in single digits.

“The growth momentum has continued into 2013, with rising inflation pressures. While activity in the non-oil sector is dampened by energy disruptions and high interest rates, increased oil production should keep overall economic growth close to 8 percent. A weaker outlook for cocoa and gold exports will leave the current account deficit around 12 percent of GDP. The mission projects a reduction in the fiscal deficit to 10 percent of GDP this year, about 1 percent higher than the budget projections, assuming a delayed adjustment in utility tariffs.

“Despite Ghana’s strong economic potential, short-term stability risks have risen. Ghana’s strong democratic institutions and favorable prospects for oil and gas continue to attract significant foreign direct investment (FDI). Yet, low external buffers and a rising domestic debt ratio expose the economy to risks, such as weaker terms of trade, reduced capital inflows, or unanticipated spending needs. Energy sector problems could curtail growth, while excessive government domestic borrowing is raising the cost of credit to the private sector. Both factors have been identified as key growth constraints in Ghana. The mission’s still positive assessment of the economy is contingent on the authorities’ resolve to confront these challenges decisively.

“The mission strongly supports the government’s ambitious transformation agenda, centered on economic diversification, shared growth and job creation, and macroeconomic stability. Rebuilding buffers to safeguard stability is now the immediate priority. This requires lower budget deficits to contain external pressures and keep debt sustainable. In due course, this will also allow for a reduction in interest rates. Going forward, successful economic transformation will require a realignment of spending, away from wages and subsidies toward infrastructure investment.

“A ballooning wage bill, if untamed, will bring debt to levels that could endanger the government’s transformation agenda. The wage bill in 2012 rose by 47 percent, with much of the factors explaining the increase not yet quantified. In addition, deferred wage payments from the single spine salary reform were twice the level included in the supplementary budget. The mission urged the government to gain control over the wage bill. It recommended a thorough audit of the 2012 payroll and welcomes that the government has already started this process.

“The government’s deficit target of 6 percent of GDP by 2015 will keep public debt high and buffers low. The mission recommended an additional fiscal adjustment of 3 percent of GDP by 2015, using a combination of revenue and expenditure measures. This would lessen the public debt burden and raise official reserves toward the authorities’ target of more than 4 months of imports—up from 2.8 months currently. This target is consistent with the mission’s own analysis of optimal reserves, which suggests that a cover of 4.2 months of imports would provide a reasonable cushion against plausible shocks.

“The mission shared the Bank of Ghana’s views on keeping a tight monetary policy stance, for the time being. Both actual inflation and inflation expectations have risen recently, with upside risks from the sharp increase in government borrowing. To strengthen the signaling role of the policy rate within the inflation-targeting framework, the mission recommended narrowing the gap with current market rates. Successful fiscal consolidation will allow an easing of interest rates in due course, provided inflation expectations decline to levels consistent with the achievement of the target.

“On its return to Washington D.C., the team will prepare a staff report that is tentatively scheduled to be discussed by the IMF’s Executive Board in mid-June.”

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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Accra, Ghana: Africa Mining Investment & Development Summit 2013

Posted on 14 April 2013 by Africa Business

Event: Africa Mining Investment & Development Summit 2013

Dates: 9th to 11th July 2013

Venue: Holiday Inn Accra Airport, Accra, Ghana

URL: http://neo-edge.com/event-line-up/commodities-supply-chain/africa-mining-summit-2013/

Overview

As Africa moves forward with their mining development initiatives, global investors are starting to realize the vast potential of this untapped market to greater heights. The resource rich African market are continuously welcoming investors that is keen to unlock and understand the investments and environmental concerns of many African countries.

 

The Africa Mining Investment & Development Summit (AMIDS) 2013 will be held in Accra, Ghana on 9th to 11th July 2013. We will provide insights from various stakeholders, have extensive understanding of the mining and investment potential of Africa, and resolve challenges and barriers that will be encountered along the way. We aim to provide a platform to learn from Africa mining industry’s pioneers and new entrants.

 

Together with Neoedge’s line of premier conferences, we aim to bring mining industry’s best speakers and delegates. Network with not only the mining and mineral exploration companies but expect to meet regulators, engineering support companies, upstream and downstream mining sector infrastructure development organizations, financial institutions, advisory and consultancy firms.

 

Make the move towards the next big thing in Africa.

 

The following key themes will be addressed in depth with Real Examples and Case Studies:

African Market Overview

 

  • The African Mining Road Map: What has been done and what will be done
  • 3 E’s for policy and regulatory challenges: Explaining, Enhancing and Enforcing
  • Resource nationalism and local content for long term benefits
  • Understanding current legal system and managing through uncertainties
  • Managing taxation complexity and trade barriers

 

Mining Industry Developments

 

  • Developing infrastructure and transportation for viable business and society rehabilitation
  • Labour relations and human capital progress in Africa
  • Geological database for ease access to information and enhance productivity
  • Automating mine operations for lesser downtime and better production gains
  • Improving mining logistics for cost efficient and reliable operations
  • Emphasising safety and sustainability in the rising African mining industry

 

Financial Investment Environment

 

  • Unlocking the potential of Africa’s mining investment industry
  • Africa’s Mining Financial Trends: Making that “unconventional financing”
  • Surviving volatile commodity price fluctuation for continuous economic growth
  • Financial modelling for mining exploration and production projects
  • Funding new mining investments and expanding existing projects: Opportunities and Challenges

Summit Objectives

 

  • Understand the current investment situation of major African countries in the mining industry
  • Hear the latest regulatory and policy development straight from government/association representatives
  • Identify the most viable mining frontier markets in the African region
  • Learn the best practices in investing on mining projects direct from the industry experts
  • Maximize the full potential of your mining investments towards profitability
  • Navigate through the fluctuating global commodity market and manage supply and demand trends
  • Benchmark on Africa’s most successful countries in global mining arena
  • Harness the potential of African mining industry through technology development
  • Discuss African region’s development plans from talent development, infrastructure, safety and sustainability
  • Familiarize your self with the legal and taxation regimes

 

 

For full agenda, speaking oportunities, sponsorship, exibitions, media partnership, please email us your detail contact information to rueburn@neo edge.com. Please indicate subject title “Africa Mining Investment & Development Summit 2013”.

 

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IBM Report: Technology Holds the Key to Economic and Social Reform in Accra, Ghana

Posted on 12 April 2013 by Africa Business

Cloud computing, Big Data and mobile technologies can help transform Accra into a smarter city – improving lives and bolstering the West African hub’s continued rise to prosperity

 

Joe Mensah, Country General Manager, IBM Ghana (left) presents an IBM Smarter Cities report on Accra, Ghana to the city's Mayor, Alfred Vanderpujie. (PRNewsFoto/IBM)

 

ACCRA, Ghana, April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced the launch of a report entitled “A Vision for Smarter Growth: an IBM Smarter Cities Report on Accra, Ghana” that highlights how the rapidly emerging West African city should turn to technology to transform its key urban systems. Based on the opinions of local experts from across public and private sectors and civil society, the report identifies city services, transportation, and energy as essential for Accra‘s urban reform.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Ghana is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, driven by an emerging oil and gas industry, a growing base of consumers and significant foreign investment. Its capital, Accra, is one of Africa‘s fastest emerging cities. According to Mastercard’s African Cities Growth Index, Accra is ranked Africa‘s top city in terms of economic potential over the next five years. Accra has also experienced significant demographic growth, the city’s population expanding by over 1 million people – a 35 percent increase in the past decade, placing increasing strain on the city’s resources.

“As Ghana’s capital, Accra is emerging as one of Africa‘s economic success stories,” said Alfred Vanderpujie, Mayor of Accra. “But such growth is not sustainable in the long term if we do not act now to put in place the systems and processes of the future. Technology is clearly one of the fundamental building blocks for creating a smarter and better functioning Accra.”

The publication of the IBM report follows the launch of the Ghana government’s National Urban Policy Framework and Action Plan, which is aimed at improving infrastructure and raising revenue in Ghana‘s cities to reduce poverty and tackle urban growth challenges.

“Cities across Africa are facing the dual challenge of rapid urban and economic growth,” said Joe Mensah , Country General Manager of IBM Ghana. “IBM’s approach is to enter a dialogue with key stakeholders and experts on the ground to understand the challenges and explore where technology can be successfully applied to transform the systems on which our cities depend. The scale of Accra and its challenges creates a manageable environment for implementing smarter systems that could really improve lives and business.”

Transforming City Services
Rising numbers of residents place increased strain on existing resources and require more effective delivery of city services such as water, sanitation, refuse, public safety, education and healthcare. The Government of Ghana sees improved revenue collection as key to Accra‘s transformation and its ability to fund investment across all of the city’s systems – a key part of the country’s Urban Policy Framework and Action Plan:

“We estimate that Accra loses up to 50 percent of its current revenues to fraud or underpayment by residents,” said Lydia Sackey , Metro Director of Budget, Accra Metropolitan Assembly. “Revenue generation is key to improving city services in Accra. Quite simply, if we don’t raise enough revenue, we are not able to perform our functions and produce enough services for people in the city.”

The IBM report highlights how mobile payment systems could help make the process of paying taxes easier for Accra‘s residents in the future. Hosting city services in the cloud would translate to more transparent and cost-effective municipal service delivery and an online platform for cataloguing property values could lead to a substantial increase in property tax revenues.  Big Data analytics could help city authorities more easily identify cases of tax under payment or fraud.

The Transportation Headache
Like all African cities which are currently experiencing rapid rates of urbanization, transportation is one of Accra‘s key challenges with growing numbers of citizens and vehicles placing increasing pressure on the city’s road networks. With 90 percent of all transport in Accra by road, traffic jams have a negative effect on many other areas such as business, emergency response, the environment, education and healthcare.

The IBM report lists a number of areas where technology can help. While the long-term goal should be the construction of a modern mass public transit system, instrumented, interconnected and intelligent technologies can help in the meantime to form the basis of a smarter transportation system. Smart and networked traffic lights could help to ease the flow of traffic through the city. Cameras and social media technologies could help monitor the road network and provide intelligence to decision makers. By using Big Data technologies to analyze mobile phone data, city officials could gain a clearer view of how people move around within the city and how the existing transportation systems could be enhanced.

The Energy to Grow
Ghana has grown so fast in recent years that electricity supply has become a serious problem and Accra regularly suffers from load-shedding and blackouts. The IBM report highlights energy source diversification from Ghana‘s current 77 percent reliance on hydro-electricity as key to improving supply as well as establishing new commercial enterprises.  For example, telco provider Airtel is piloting the use of wind and solar power as a backup to grid power for its mobile stations in Ghana – an alternative to the costly and environmentally unfriendly generators that businesses rely on.

“Telecommunications sites that are near grid power will always use grid power and in Ghana that comes to about 70 percent of sites. But even those that are on grid power still have generators to back them up because of the grid’s lack of reliability,” said Philip Sowah , CEO of Airtel Ghana.

Smart meters can help monitor and manage electricity distribution and smart grids can help energy providers anticipate and isolate problems limiting impact on lives and business. By building a smarter energy system, Accra can help lay the groundwork for future investment and economic growth.

Laying the Foundations for Smarter Cities Across Africa
In addition to working alongside leaders in Accra, IBM is actively engaged in dialogue with cities across Africa to help public and private sectors address urban challenges and opportunities. In 2012, an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team was deployed in Nairobi, Kenya to advise on technology solutions to resolve Nairobi‘s traffic challenges; while another team spent a month in the city of Tshwane, South Africa developing a crowdsourcing solution to improve the city’s water management system and enable citizens to report water leaks. Further teams will be deployed in other African cities this year. IBM’s new Africa Research Lab is also developing pilot solutions to optimize traffic management, public safety and government services.

 

SOURCE IBM

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