Please see below selected recent emerging markets-related change. (Until mid-2018 the focus was primarily on Africa.)
- Latin America used to be the world’s most prosperous emerging region, but it is on the verge of being overtaken by other regions that were long considerably poorer. It has lost ground since the 1980s despite reform initiatives because of sluggish growth and the unequal distribution of the gains of that growth. McKinsey's Latin America’s missing middle: Rebooting inclusive growth examined two “missing middles” holding the region back: a robust cohort of midsize companies and a solid middle class with growing spending power.
- Iran's economy is forecast to contract by 6 percent this year, and inflation is expected to rise to 50 percent. Iran's oil exports have more than halved since the US announced its decision to abandon the nuclear deal last year.
- The Economist reported on the "new scramble for Africa". The 19th-century contest was for land and plunder; the cold-war one was over ideology. Today, countries including China, Turkey and India are rushing to strengthen diplomatic, strategic and commercial ties, drawn by Africa’s growing population as much as its resources. From 2010 to 2016 more than 320 new embassies were set up in Africa in probably the biggest diplomacy-boom ever. Foreigners are building ports and factories, selling insurance and banking and bringing technology for mobile phones and e-commerce. The foreigners expect to do well from all this, but Africans themselves could do best of all.
- In 2020 Asia's economies will reach a milestone, accounting for more than 50 percent of global GDP, adjusted for purchasing power. That marks the first time since the 19th century that Asia will dominate global economic output.
- The 22nd century will belong to Africa, claimed Quartz, because Chinese infrastructure investment will lay the groundwork for a cultural and financial renaissance.
- Meanwhile, Indonesia has the least volatile economy of the 21st century. Its GDP per capita grew between 3% and 5% every year from 2002 to 2017.
- Global engagement with Africa continued to surge in 2018, according to Chatham House, but how African leaders respond to this renewed attention will determine whether there is further continental political fragmentation or whether Africa develops its international voice.
- Russia’s trade with Africa rose 26% in 2017 to $17.4 billion, reflecting President Vladimir Putin’s effort to extend his country’s influence on a continent where many countries aligned with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Between 2012 and 2017, Russia's weapon sales in Africa doubled, and it ships more arms there than China and the US combined, reported GZEROMedia.
- Further reading:
- Emerging economies have accounted for almost two-thirds of the world’s GDP growth and more than half of new consumption over the past 15 years. Yet economic performance among individual countries varies substantially.Some emerging economies have grown much faster and more consistently than others. Underlying these success stories is a pro-growth policy agenda and the standout role of large companies, noted McKinsey.
- In Africa’s overlooked business revolution, McKinsey argued that global business leaders who misunderstand Africa run the risk of missing out on one of the 21st century’s great growth opportunities. The firm believes however that the right strategy can unlock strong, profitable growth in Africa.
- Further reading:
- By 2030, emerging markets will account for 62 per cent of total growth in global consumption, the equivalent of $15.5 trillion in spending. However, when it comes to economic performance, there are stark differences among some countries yet some similarities across regions, found Chatham House.
- Last year India climbed 30 places in the World Bank’s ranking of the easiest places to do business. This year China has trumped it, noted The Economist, rising 32 spots. Such surges may have less to do with reforms than with cosmetic changes aimed at improving the countries’ position. China’s ascent was partly eased by the fact that its rubber-stamp legislature could not hold things up. For a democracy like India, it is harder to elbow one’s way upwards.
- In Africa’s overlooked business revolution, McKinsey warned that global business leaders who misunderstand Africa run the risk of missing out on one of the 21st century’s great growth opportunities.
- After facing its lowest economic growth in over 20 years, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) posted a slow recovery in 2017, found EY. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a modest rise in the region’s GDP growth from 2.8% in 2017 to 3.4% by the end of 2018. In tandem with improved economic performance, FDI projects into Africa rebounded from their lowest level in a decade. Last year, Africa registered 6.2% growth in inward investment projects compared with 2016.
- Crude oil accounts for about 70 percent of all Iranian exports and half of all government revenue. Over the past six months, Iranian oil exports have already dropped by more than a third, as countries slashed purchases rather than risk the ire of the Trump administration.
- The EU recalled its ambassador to Tanzania, following the announcement that a senior official had set up a “surveillance squad” to track down homosexuals. Human rights and the rule of law have deteriorated fast since John Magufuli was elected president in 2015, warned The Economist, adding that opposition politicians have been arrested and researchers have been silenced. Tanzania is sliding towards dictatorship. International institutions should be alarmed.
- Further reading:
- In Outperformers: High-growth emerging economies and the companies that propel them, the McKinsey Global Institute looked at the long-term track record of 71 developing economies to identify the outperformers - and found two key factors that help explain their outperformance: a pro-growth policy agenda of productivity, income, and demand that has driven exceptional economic growth, and the underappreciated but nonetheless standout role that large companies have played in driving that growth.
- Since 1990, China has driven many global trends, noted The Economist. Two-thirds of the world’s decline in extreme poverty in that time period occurred in China. So did half of the total increase in patent applications and 60% of the total increase in global defence spending. All this growth has come at a cost: 55% of the increase in carbon emissions since 1990 came from China. Its remarkable development is pulling the world economy back towards the east.
- The ongoing trade war between the US and China is yielding some unlikely winners in developing markets. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects global trade growth to decelerate to 3.7% in 2019, from 5.3% in 2017, causing economic growth to slow in the US and Europe. However, in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa economies will register strong gains, while Asia will continue its robust growth.
- The Economist noted that Argentina and Turkey were both in the eye of market storms this year. Both had large current-account deficits, high inflation and skimpy foreign-exchange reserves. Brazil is different. Its current account is broadly in balance. Inflation is close to a record low. Yet it is still facing the prospect of capital flight, a falling currency and rising bond yields. With a presidential election imminent, the country is shaping up for a unique sort of currency crisis.
- Further reading:
- Emerging economies have accounted for almost two-thirds of the world’s GDP growth and more than half of new consumption over the past 15 years, yet economic performance among individual countries varies substantially, noted McKinsey. Some emerging economies have managed to achieve strong and consistent growth over a long period. These are the outperformers.
- From 2018 to 2035, the ten fastest growing cities in the world will be in Africa, according to the UN. By 2040, the continent’s urban population is expected to double to 1 billion, creating massive opportunities for economic growth that could also create challenges for resource-strained local and national governments.
- Quartz Africa’s 2018 Africa Innovators list included a mosquito-tracking scientist, a contemporary art fair organider, a choreographer, fintech pioneers, and a theoretical physicist. The annual list is, for Quartz, a worthy reminder of the incredible work being done on the continent, and the diversity of people, industries, and narratives deserving of our attention.
- As emerging-market currencies get battered, analysts expect Turkey to report that inflation in August had increased to 17.6% annually, noted Quartz, up from 15.85% the previous month and far above the central bank’s 5% target. The lira has lost around 40% of its value this year.
- Indeed, Turkey’s economy is in decline, warned The Economist. This year the lira, the country’s currency, has fallen by 40% against the dollar. Inflation is at nearly 18%. The central bank raised interest rates by 6.25 percentage points, to 24%, much more than was expected. This could spell trouble for Turkey’s banks. Their buoyancy now depends on the supply of foreign loans and on how much of the debt owed to them by Turkish companies turns bad.
- Meanwhile, in Argentina, local media reports suggested that 13 government ministries will be merged or axed. The central bank raised a key interest rate to 60% and asked the IMF to speed up payments for a $50 billion loan.
- In the second quarter of the year, South Africa slipped into recession for the first time in nearly a decade
- Further reading:
- The boon of China’s entry into Africa comes with a warning - FT
- Egypt is the latest darling of overseas lenders - FT
- Emerging markets checklist: a guide to the key economies - FT
- Emerging markets can still drive global growth - FT
- Why Argentine orthodoxy has worked no better than Turkish iconoclasm - The Economist
- Why Europe should focus on its growing interdependence with Africa - The Economist
McKinsey noted that in emerging economies, growing sovereign debt reflects the sheer scale of the investment needed to industrialise and urbanise, although some countries are also funding large public administrations and inefficient state-owned enterprises. Even so, public debt across all emerging economies is more modest, at 46%of GDP on average compared with 105% in advanced economies.
In recent months, African nations have been in the process of creating, signing and ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The agreement is one of the largest trade liberalisation efforts since the founding of the World Trade Organization in 1995. At the 31st African Union (AU) Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania; the total number of AfCFTA’s signatories reached 49 out of 55 African Union (AU) member states.
For GZEROMedia, Africa is set to be the fastest growing region in the worldeconomically over the coming decades. But the approach of the UK, Germany, and China in the region also reveal interesting details about their broader global concerns and who, ultimately, is poised to prevail.
Venezuela removed zeroes from its banknotes. The new currency, known as the sovereign bolivar, will replace the strong bolivar and will be anchored to Venezuela’s cryptocurrency, the petro. Each petro is worth about $60, based on the price of a barrel of Venezuelan oil—around 3,600 sovereign bolivars, a significant devaluation in a country battling hyperinflation.
Nicaragua’s economy is expected to contract by almost 6 percent this year, in large part due to disruptions caused by the ongoing fightingbetween embattled President Daniel Ortega and opposition protestors. In 2017, the country's economy grew by nearly 5 percent.
- At the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa discussed promoting multilateral global trade amid a worsening trade war. The "crumbling world order" spells opportunity for the BRICS, believes Quartz, as backing the multilateral trading arrangements the US seems to be dumping can strengthen their position.
- HumanProgress analysis found that, since the start of the new millennium, Africa’s average per capita income adjusted for inflation and purchasing power parity rose by more than 50% and Africa’s growth rate has averaged almost 5% per year.
Increasing wealth has led to improvements in key indicators of human wellbeing. In 1999, 58 percent of Africans lived on less than $1.90 per person per day. By 2011, 44 percent of Africans lived on that income – all while the African population rose from 650 million to 1 billion. If the current trends continue, Africa’s absolute poverty rate will fall to 24 percent by 2030.
- Africa-based tech startups raised $169 million in the first half of 2018, more than they raised in all of 2017, reported GZEROMedia. Kenya and Nigeria, both of which have large English-speaking populations and burgeoning financial centres, were the top destinations for venture capital investment on the continent.
- Meanwhile, Madagascar has the fastest broadband speed in Africa. The island nation’s speed is more than double the world average, and outpaces many more developed countries.
- In the past two years, China has lent $1.4 billion to the strategically located East African nation of Djibouti. That sum is equivalent to 75 percent of the country’s GDP, noted GZEROMedia.
- GZEROMedia also noted that more than half of the world’s 282 mobile-money platforms are in sub-Saharan Africa, according to research from McKinsey & Co. Mobile money is another way Africa is “leapfrogging” traditional stages of development through the adoption of new technologies.
- South Africa needs to improve its governance and regulatory transparency to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI), according to AT Kearney, who noted that the country's share of regional foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows had diminished since 2007, as demonstrated in the latest AT Kearney FDI Confidence Index.
- China now owns more than 70% of Kenya’s external debt, reported Quartz. That figure is eight times more than the share of Kenya’s second-biggest lending partner, France.
- Emerging markets are once again in the headlines, noted Chatham House. The IMF has announced a $50 billion Standby Agreement for Argentina, the Turkish lira is precarious and investors are unnerved by forthcoming elections in Brazil and Mexico. Against the backdrop of a strengthening dollar and rising interest rates in the US, the question is whether it is likely that there will be a new round of crises in emerging markets or whether the conditions are fundamentally different today from those in the 1980s and 1990s.
Finance officials from 14 African countries discussed adopting the Chinese yuan as one of the currencies that their central banks hold. As China’s global investments grow, while misgivings about US dollar dominance mount, Beijing is keen to make its own currency an eventual rival to the dollar in international trade and finance.
According to recent data from the World Bank, more than half of South Africa’s population lives below the poverty line. Another 27 percent live at risk of falling into poverty. Just 4 percent are considered wealthy. Just 20 percent of South Africans qualify as middle class.
Afrobarometer research in 36 African countries between 2014 and 2015 found that 67 per cent of respondents saw democracy as the best system of government. In 26 of the 36 surveyed countries, popular demand for democracy surpasses citizens’ perceptions of how democratic their countries currently are. However, while constitutional restraints – particularly term limits – and laws protecting civil liberties are coming under attack across the continent, citizens of many countries have staged protests against these retrenchments.
Despite the volatility and turbulence of recent years, growth in emerging markets has outpaced that in developed markets in most countries over the past decade, argued BCG.
This year is proving to be a big one for major political transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa. After decades of one-man rule, the important economies of Angola, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia all have new leadership, noted the EIU, which is watching the new regimes closely to see how different their policy directions will be and whether there will be a decisive break with the past, which could open up new opportunities. Perhaps the most important transition is in South Africa, where the past few years have been very difficult, and GDP per capita in 2017 was 23% lower than it was in 2011.
Colin Smith of Africa Alert told jinfo that Africa is a huge and rapidly developing continent, so while listing just four relevant news resources is almost impossible, the ones listed below are those that are a little less well-known than major news resources such as Reuters and Bloomberg. Smith notes too that all 54 African countries have viable media resources and most also have well-developed government information websites.
- Africa.com: This site allows users to set up email newsletters, providing a daily update of the Top 10 African business news stories. It's a useful pointer to major events.
- Bizcommunity: This is another site offering Africa-wide updates. It also displays contributor content, throwing up news stories that are a little outside of the mainstream.
- Agence Ecofin: This is a French site (with an English version). It offers general news stories on Africa and a good resource across a variety of sectors including mining, finance and agriculture.
- Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: One of the big ongoing news themes in Africa is China's growing economic involvement. This site is a useful one-stop-shop covering Chinese investments in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- The South African Trade and Industry Minister noted that the focus on African innovation at this year’s edition of Viva Tech is very significant to the continent.
- African business is integrating Africa - economically and otherwise, argued BCG. It has been a long time coming, and plenty of hurdles remain, but the economic integration of the continent, which many see as key to its continued development, is manifest. Driving it are indigenous entrepreneurs and fast-growing African companies, as well as multinational corporations.
- African leaders are trying to create a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) for the unfettered exchange of goods and services among the continent’s nations. According to researchers, a single integrated market would vastly improve commerce in what is today the area with the world’s least amount of intraregional trade. The CFTA would bring greater opportunity to Africa’s 1.2 billion people, who already boast a total GDP of more than $3.4 trillion.
- Africa in Data argues that the continent has already changed fundamentally.
- By 2030, the sectors generating the most value in Africa could be food and beverages ($740 billion), education and transportation ($397 billion), and housing ($390 billion).
- The “Africa Rising” narrative gained momentum around 2010. As is the way with these things, it arrived about a decade late - and just as things were about to go pear-shaped. Investors, hungry for yield, alighted on the only continent where living standards had not yet visibly begun to converge on those in the west. Their bet was that Africa had turned a corner. Were they wrong? These days, the mood has darkened. Nigeria and South Africa, which account for half of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product, are at or close to recession. Nigeria has squandered its oil boom. Long-sluggish South Africa has failed to meet the pent-up expectations of its black majority. The hopes of other resource-rich countries — including Angola, Mozambique and Zambia — have faded along with commodity prices. A flawed election in Uganda, plus a cavalcade of leaders clinging grimly on to power, from Zimbabwe to Burundi, undermine the idea that governance is on the mend. Those who helped change the Africa narrative, however, are sticking to the script. Among the true believers is the consultancy McKinsey, whose 2010 “Lions on the Move” report did much to feed the original story. This week it published a follow-up . Call it “Africa Rising: The Sequel”.
- South Africa’s economy grew by an annualised 3.3% in the second quarter, the fastest pace since late 2014. In the first three months of the year GDP contracted by 1.2%, leading to fears of recession, but mining, the mainstay of the economy, has since rebounded. #SouthAfrica: Consumer inflation slowed to 5.9% year on year in August, from the 6% reported for July.
- India’s vice president vies for influence in West Africa. Hamid Ansari is finishing a trip to Nigeria before embarking on the first high-level Indian visit to Mali in history. India has been touting itself as a preferable alternative to China for foreign investment in Africa, promoting its long history in the region and the potential for mutual benefits.
- A new map for business in Africa - strategy+business
- WEF on Africa 2016 - Meeting report
- WEF on Africa 2016 Programme
- Africa Deal Drivers 2016
- Africa Consulting market 2015
- Africa Post2015
- Eurasia Group's African Frontiers: Monthly
- The Visual History of Africa.
- According to the World Economic Forum, Africa could have a single market with twice Europe’s number of consumers, but it still finds itself hopelessly divided into fragmented national markets, which are often too small to benefit from economies of scale. While technology and consumer power are important - and increasingly driving change - Africa can’t afford to wait for their positive impact. It won’t build the regional power infrastructure or new cross-border transport links, or slash tariffs or customs red tape fast enough.
- The Ivory Coast is Africa’s fastest growing economy, according to the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook. The West African nation’s GDP is expected to grow by 8.5% this year. The Ivory Coast’s economy has benefited from government policies and structural reforms, which have resulted in strong inclusive growth, according to the World Bank. Strong economic activity has been maintained through a strong aggregate demand and increases in investment, both public and private.
- The conversation about Africa is shifting from one of “deficits” and “gaps” to one about opportunities, prospects, ventures and creativity, believes the World Economic Forum. That’s not news to companies that have paid close attention to the continent and invested there. The fast growing youth population, the urbanisation expected to drive over 50% of Africans to cities by 2050, and Africa’s formalising economy are all well known. These trends and other developments have driven a half century or more of growth in Africa, and will continue to do so.
- In Unlocking Nigeria’s Potential: The Path to Well-Being, Boston Consulting Group argued that Nigeria boasts natural resources and a young, entrepreneurial population and that specific improvements in infrastructure, education, and health can help the country harness those advantages.
- Africa has always been valued for its commodities, whether it’s gold or diamonds or slaves, note a historianin the Financial Times. The “‘Africa Rising’ narrative was based on the Chinese being prepared to trade heavily to get their hands on those raw materials.” However, that phase is over. Unless governments can build sustainable growth models less dependent on commodities and based more on adding value domestically, the ‘Africa Rising’ story will be just that: a story.
- However, while agreeing that a decline in global commodity demand has since ushered in a slowdown, strategy+business believes that Africa remains a promising long-term growth market. Its GDP grew about 3.4 percent in 2015, a full percentage point above the global growth rate, and is expected to increase to 4.2 percent in 2016, As home to seven of the world’s megacities, and with 29 million youths entering the labor force each year, Africa is fertile ground for investment in such areas as infrastructure and manufacturing. These figures paint an optimistic picture of the continent as a whole. But Africa is made up of 54 fully recognised sovereign states that cover a vast range of natural ecosystems and an even vaster range of cultures, with some 2,000 languages spoken.
- The commodity boom may be over, and barriers to doing business are everywhere. But Africa’s market of 1.2 billion people still holds huge promise, claimed The Economist. This is the Africa of business magazines and bank ads: a continent that is rising at a prodigious pace and creating profitable new markets for multinational firms.
- Nigeria is embarking on a borrowing spree to pay for infrastructure projects its government believes are key to reviving an economy hit by the collapse in oil prices. In an interview with the Financial Times and Reuters, Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s finance minister, said she is widening the search for the “cheapest possible money” to finance projects and plug an $11bn budget deficit. She is now considering tapping the Chinese and Japanese bond markets.
- Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa could lag behind that of the world as a whole this year for the first time since the millennium, exacerbating poverty in the world’s poorest continent. Capital Economics, a consultancy, forecasts that growth in sub-Saharan Africa will slide to just 2.9 per cent this year, down from 3.5 per cent last year according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund, which would be the weakest rate of growth since 1999.
- Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the world’s fastest-growing regions, however, according to new analysis from The Economist. In 2016, despite economic headwinds of soft commodity prices, US monetary tightening, El Niño-induced drought, infrastructure deficits, terrorist threats and political unrest in some countries, seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies will be in Africa. Although a deceleration from previous years, at 3.2% the region’s GDP growth will still be the world’s second fastest, behind only Asia.
- Much of the news from Africa is about civil war and suffering. Yet for the most part, life on the continent of 1.1 billion is getting better, found Time/Eurasia Group. It was just a couple of years ago that “Africa Rising” was a hot story, as a continent best known for tragedy gained attention for rapid economic growth and real hope. The slowdown of the global economy and slumping commodity prices have dampened that enthusiasm a bit, but there are still positive longer-term trends across Africa that deserve attention.
- The Lawyer's 'Africa Elite' analysed the energy and power sector across the continent. Using 10 years’ worth of Thomson Reuters deals data, it explored the international firms that have been most active in this space. In addition to taking a pan-continental view of the sector, the report also looked more in depth at the firms winning the most work in oil-driven Nigeria, coal-fired South Africa and gas-centric Egypt.
- Recent developments in key African markets:
- Eurasia Group is downgrading Egypt’s long-term trajectory from neutral to negative. The country faces a slew of intensifying political and economic challenges, and the government now appears less able to address them over the next 24 months.
- Nigeria's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 1 percentage point, to 12%. Nigeria’s currency, the naira, has been hurt by the fall in oil prices. That has helped push up inflation to 11.4%. This came after the announcement that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation will be restructured in coming months. Still, controversial new fiscal terms for the oil sector will not advance before the second half of 2016 at the earliest. (See also: New report: the Nigerian economy's potential beyond its oil sector.)
- African stock market flotations are on track to reach their highest level since 2010, in dollar terms, according to analysis by Baker & McKenzie, the law firm. About $3.1bn is likely to be raised from at least 16 initial public offerings this year, the Chicago-based firm forecasts. If so, it would be the strongest year for African IPOs since 2010, when $4.4bn was raised.
Selected recent Eurasia Group analysis of African markets:
- Oil exporters like Angola and Nigeria will tap new concessional financing sources to plug growing budget deficits, while Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya will pursue more traditional IMF support, according to Eurasia Group. Zambia, Ghana, and to a lesser extent Ethiopia face the toughest challenges, but default remains unlikely.
- In Nigeria, Eurasia is downgrading its long-term trajectory to neutral on erratic economic policymaking. President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will continue to take an ad-hoc approach to confronting the oil price shock; a devaluation of the naira by mid-year is likely.
- The Democratic Republic of Congo will shelve an onerous new mining code while Zambia will ease royalties in an effort to contain production and job cuts amid weak global copper prices. However, power supply constraints will persist and presidential elections will pose risks to miners in 2016.
- Nigeria asked the World Bank and African Development Bank for $3.5bn in emergency loans to fill a growing gap in its budget in the latest sign of the economic damage being wrought on oil-rich nations by tumbling crude prices. The request from the eight-month-old government of President Muhammadu Buhari is intended to help fund a $15bn state deficit, which has been deepened by a hefty increase in public spending as the west African country attempts to stimulate a slowing economy.
Selected highlights from PwC's latest African Business Group newsletter:
- The Global African Investment Summit, of which PwC was a platinum sponsor, took place on 1-2 December 2015. The event was very successful and high profile with around 1,200 delegates and 7 heads of state in attendance. We had a strong multi-territory senior team.
- Christine Lagarde says although all six central African states counted on their petroleum resources to improve their economies,Gabon,ChadandEquatorial Guineahave suffered most as a result of reducing world prices. She says they did not diversify their economies like Cameroon did
- Seizing the opportunity provided by the first near universally available infrastructure, hundreds of technology start-ups have sprung up across the continent to plough new trade routes and seek breakthrough innovations. In parallel there is mounting competition between global tech companies —IBM, Google, Facebook, China’s Tencent - for a slice of what are some of the world’s fastest growing IT markets.
- For the past 50 years, the scattered, unreliable state of data about African business and finance have deterred access to capital and hampered growth. Now, an array of big-data tools have sprung up to help transform the process for a multitude of users, including farmers, small-business owners, policymakers and international stakeholders looking to invest in the continent.
- The mobile phone is to sub-Saharan Africa what the steam train was to 19th century Europe: the mechanical workhorse driving social and economic transformation, argued the Financial Times. Seizing the opportunity provided by the first near universally available infrastructure, hundreds of technology start-ups have sprung up across the continent to plough new trade routes and seek breakthrough innovations. In parallel there is mounting competition between global tech companies — IBM, Google, Facebook, China’s Tencent- for a slice of what are some of the world’s fastest growing IT markets.
- Despite all the negative press, Africans have arrived, argued Trendwatching, citing a few of the signs that it saw in 2015: sub-Saharan Africa launched its first metro in Ethiopia; the world’s largest desert solar power plant announced in Morocco and a multipurpose terminal at deep-water port scheduled for construction in Cameroon. In 2016, then, it will be imperative for B2C professionals operating on the continent to understand the direction of consumerism across multiple dimensions.
- The "Africa rising" narrative will still prevail in 2016, said The Economist but there are pitfalls ahead, while Oxford Analytica warned that political and economic risks will coincide with high-risk African polls, pointing to a volatile 2016.
- Nevertheless, across Africa, the emerging middle class, even as it fends for itself in terms of public services, is demanding more of the state, claimed The Economist Elections held in Nigeria in 2015 were reportedly the cleanest in decades, largely because people with phones recorded the tally in thousands of voting stations, tweeting or posting the results so that they couldn’t be rigged by the incumbent party. With presidential or legislative elections coming up in 2016 in several countries, this new class could find itself on a political roller-coaster too.
- In 'Africa’s Boom Is Over', Foreign Policy warned that Africa was never going to get far without manufacturing - and it can’t do so under today’s trade and investment treaties. Oil and commodity prices are plunging, China’s purchases are slowing, and GDP growth rates across the African continent are in steep decline. Reflecting these trends, the IMF cut its 2015 projection for growth in sub-Saharan Africa from 4.5 to 3.75%, concluding that the decade-long commodity cycle that had raised African export revenues “seems to have come to an end.” With a population boom on the horizon, experts now worry about how the continent will produce enough jobs for its people.
- The sixth Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), held on 4–5 December 2015, set in motion a deeper pattern of exchanges with its partners that could drive economic transformation across the continent. In ‘scaling-up’ measures to ease African bottlenecks in infrastructure, skills and finance. China is already a leader in investing and financing infrastructure in developing countries, with an estimate that China financed US$13.4 billion of African infrastructure in 2013. This sum surpassed the total financing provided by European and North American countries combined, as well as that of all multilateral and regional development banks.
- As access to the internet is growing, so are cyber ]crime rates in Africa where businesses and governments are starting to face a new type of threat for which few are currently prepared. Statistics show that 298 million people in Africa are active internet users, nearly 30% of the total population, a number expected to grow as internet penetration continues to improve in towns and rural areas. The financial sector is by far the most vulnerable sector. For example, every year Kenya's Commercial Bank loses $9.4 million to cyber perpetrated fraud. Resulting not only in economic loss but also affecting brand image and market reputation, there is a significant need for corporate entities to recognise these cyber threats and develop incident response strategies.
- The PwC Africa Business Group published a report on food security in Africa, highlighting that this is set to become a major investment theme - with the continent facing a huge opportunity to solve the food security crisis. Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation across many emerging economies is placing a strain on the world’s food resources. The world needs more food. And as more industrialising countries lose the ability to feed themselves, the world is going to look increasingly to Africa as holding the solution.
- Over the past 15 years sub-Saharan African economies have expanded at an average rate of about 5% a year, enough to have doubled output over the period, noted The Economist. They were helped largely by a commodities boom that was caused, in part, by rapid urbanisation in China. As China’s economy has slowed, the prices of many commodities mined in Africa have slumped again. Copper, for instance, now sells for about half as much as it did at its peak. This is hitting Africa’s growth: the IMF reckons it will slip to under 4% this year, leading many to fret that a harmful old pattern of commodity-driven boom and bust in Africa is about to repeat itself. One of the main reasons to worry is that Africa’s manufacturing industry has largely missed out on the boom.
- Eurasia Group is upgrading its short-term trajectory for Ghana to positive as ongoing fiscal reforms take root. Ghana is likely to reduce its fiscal deficit from about 7.3% of GDP this year to about 6% next year and push forward with microeconomic measures despite election-year pressures.
- Nigeria has the potential to become the hub of Africa's automotive industry, according to a report released by PwC. The report adds that this will see imports of used cars into Africa’s largest economy fade out by 2050.
- Chinese investments in Uganda are slated to double in the next five years, as the two countries continue to strengthen their economic corporation and trade relations.
- According to Eurasia Group, slowing growth and low commodity prices will endanger fiscal revenue targets in a number of key African countries. Politics in Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana will be supportive of new revenue generation measures, but they will not be in Nigeria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, risking bigger budget deficits.
- China’s investment into Africa appears to be another casualty of the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. Chinese cross-border investment in greenfield projects and in expansion of existing projects in Africa fell by 84% in the first half of this year compared with a year earlier, from $3.54bn to $568m.
- In What Africa is really like, Prospect argued that the continent is getting more prosperous and democratic by the day, and claimed for example that the truth about famine in Africa is that it hardly ever occurs and that the Somali famine is the only one to have taken place in Africa in the 21st century, and it had its own special causes.
- Deloitte's global office committed itself to making significant investments in its African operations as it looks to enhance its offering to clients and grow the business. "There are significant investments the global firm will make into Africa. We had our global CEO out about a week ago attending a partners meeting," Deloitte Africa CEO Lwazi Bam said after the release of the professional services firm’s financial results on Wednesday. "The main thing is we want to ensure the clients in the region are serviced appropriately." Bam said the plan in Nigeria was to deepen Deloitte’s offering beyond auditing and build its advisory service. The growth advisory services business is aimed at multinational companies looking to expand into the continent.
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) was chosen by the International Federation of Accountant (IFAC) to help strengthen Ghana’s accountancy education, training and qualification in a state funded programme. ICAEW and the Institute of Chartered Accountants Ghana (ICAG) will join forces and combine international best practice and local knowledge and experience in order to bring Ghana’s professional accountancy education, training and qualification up to speed with the standard demanded by an expanding economy.
- The China Development Bank (CDB) is to provide financial support to Chinese firms “to encourage investment in steel, cement and shipbuilding” in Ethiopia, Chinese state media has reported (see also Market Insights - APA: East Cluster).
- EY plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in acquisitions in South Africa and the rest of Africa over the next five years as it looks to grow its business and develop new skills. Over the past few years, EY has invested about $100m in acquisitions, office infrastructure and skills development. EY Africa CEO Ajen Sita said the capital to be invested over the next five years would be more than $100m, but could not give a specific figure. "From an Africa perspective, we will deploy about 40% of all our investment capital in SA and 50%-60% outside in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique". EY, which operates in 33 African countries, does business in tax, auditing, advisory and transactional advisory services. EY will target advisory businesses and supply-chain consulting. Recently the company announced it had acquired IZAZI Solutions, which provides technology solutions in the financial services space. It was EY’s fourth acquisition in its Africa practice over the past three years.
- EY's Islamic Finance: Sukuk - A solution to Africa’s financing needs suggested that fixed income instruments, particularly sukuk, have become an important part of the African and indeed the global financial system.
- The Nigerian federal government's decision to appoint international forensic audit firms to audit the accounts of all its revenue generating agencies has attracted strong condemnation from Concerned Nigerian Professionals and Entrepreneurs Forum (CNPEF). The professionals questioned the rationale for such a decision when there are competent and reputable Nigerian firms that can handle that scope of work.
- For African countries that have bet heavily on China as their economic saviour, the sudden devaluation of the Chinese currency is a painful reminder of the risks of over-dependence on the Asian giant, warned The Globe and Mail. The devaluation of the yuan, coupled with a broader slowdown of the Chinese economy, is likely to weaken demand for the commodities that have spearheaded Africa’s booming trade with Beijing. It could also help Chinese manufacturers to compete even more ruthlessly against African producers as Beijing’s exports become cheaper.
- This year’s collapse in oil and metals prices has already had a significant impact on Africa’s largest economies, including Nigeria and Angola – the continent’s top two crude exports respectively – and South Africa, the continent’s top mining destination. Now dollar strength and concerns over the health of China’s economy have riggered a broader weakening of African currencies as they get swept up in the emerging market volatility.
- Higher education is expanding rapidly in Africa. Millions more men and women are enrolling in university; according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the number of students enrolled in tertiary education shot up from 6.1 million in 2000 to 12.2 million in 2013. But what does this mean for economic development? It’s not quite as simple as "more students equals higher income", say the authors of an Atlas Award-winning study. Higher education is key to economic development, but the way the two relate is complex.
- For the Financial Times, the problem is not that Africa has a missing class of people but rather a missing class of organisation. The founts of productivity are organisations, such as businesses, that make ordinary people productive by harnessing the potential of scale and specialisation while preserving worker motivation. Africa is short of such organisations: its private sector lacks scale while its public sector lacks motivation. Global businesses, by contrast, perform the alchemy of combining these factors every day.
- Africa is usually perceived as a net beneficiary of the global financial system, with aid and investment flowing to the continent from richer parts of the world. This is simply not true, argued a new Project Syndicate article. Illicit capital flight is "draining Africa dry" – costing the continent about one trillion dollars over the last 50 years, according to a high-level panel chaired by former South African president Thabo Mbeki. More money, it turns out, flows out of Africa than into it.
- The majority of trade in Africa still takes place in the informal sector and traders are often one-man-bands, using their wits to eke out a living in the best way they can. The key to developing these micro entrepreneurs, argued the Financial Times, is persuading more of them to move from informal businesses into the formal sector. While the informal sector still dominates, growing numbers of formal businesses have sprouted and flourished over the last decade as African nations have boomed on the back of soaring commodity prices and the rapid expansion of consumer goods and service industries. These growing businesses have thrown a new generation of successful African entrepreneurs into the spotlight.
- PwC published a new post on its Africa Upfront blog - Ethiopia: From Famine to feast. A nation once characterised by land-locked isolation and poverty, Ethiopia has emerged as Africa’s newest Lion economy and continues to accelerate in the global economy. With a population of 70.7 million people, Ethiopia has enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth, by about 10% a year since 200 - read more about how the development of the agriculture industry has been a major feature of Ethiopia’s economic growth.
- Today, seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa and the continent is increasingly moving more into the global limelight as a promising investment destination - despite preconceived risks of investing in turbulent times. The World Economic Forum believes that a significant amount of the growth that is being experienced and enjoyed in key markets across Africa is as a direct result of governments being able to successfully implement far-reaching economic and political reforms, thus creating more conducive business and investment climates.
- New research from PwC projects that traditional assets under management (AuM) in 12 markets across Africa will rise to around $1,098 billion by 2020, from a 2008 total of $293 billion. The report, Africa Asset Management 2020, is an in-depth study which examines the asset management industry across 12 African countries which have financial markets of varying levels of development.
- EY published its first Africa banking review. It analyses three of the largest Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) banking markets: South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. However, given that economic integration in the East African Community (EAC) is far more advanced than other regional economic and political clusters across SSA, it also included Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, creating an east Africa perspective.
- Heads of state at an African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg formally launched negotiations for a continental free-trade area. They set the target of 2017 for the agreement to be implemented. It is a highly ambitious goal in a hugely diverse continent. But Fatima Haram Acyl, AU commissioner for trade and industry, insisted that the initiative is not mere rhetoric. African leaders, she said, realise that improving trade is critical to tackling the continent’s problems of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment. She added that Africa risks “missing the boat” as other regions push ahead with their own trade agreements.
- PwC's own Economics team launched its monthly Global Economy Watch for June. This month's issue focused on North Africa. It’s been almost five years since the beginning of the ‘Arab Spring’ which brought about significant change in North Africa and the wider region. With this milestone approaching, PwC economists have taken a look at the five largest North African economies – Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia – and highlighted some of the key points that businesses and policymakers should consider when thinking about North Africa Click here to read the full Global Economy Watch.
- Sub-Sahara Africa is primed for growth over the next 30 years with industry strength in mining, agriculture, oil production and a growing pool of young, educated people ready to enter the workforce. However, Deloitte warned that logistical bottlenecks, poor governance, rising unemployment, vulnerability to commodity price shocks and economic downturns in key trading partners will challenge the region’s economic growth.
- Deloitte Africa CEO Lwazi Bam joined the group’s global executive committee after Africa was deemed one of the firm’s 11 priority markets. The announcement follows the appointment of Punit Renjen as the new CEO of Deloitte Global "Mr Punit has a very deep understanding of the African markets and will continue Deloitte global’s investment in the African continent," Bam said. Punit advocates that our business should profit from doing good. He has already challenged all of us as leaders in our regions to ensure what we do as a business has a meaningful impact." Bam added that Deloitte Africa had been trying to better integrate its practices. "Our clients expect to be given similar services and to receive consulting of a high standard no matter which country they’re in."
- See What next for Nigeria’s economy?, by Andrew Nevin, Partner and Chief Economist at PwC Nigeria. In the months leading up to January 2015, the price of oil fell by 60% driven down largely by booming shale oil production, the drop in energy demands from emerging markets and the strengthening of the US dollar. By late-January of 2015, Brent Crude traded at around $50, hitting its lowest-levels since the global financial crisis in 2009. Prices however recovered to around $60 - 65 by the end of the first quarter of 2015 but this still represents a major adjustment from the $90 - 110 average price levels we’ve seen over the last five years.
- Africa’s leading stock exchanges are open for trading, claimed KPMG. However, despite growing interest and investment in Africa, the lack of complete and good quality information about the African stock markets is contributing to a continued hesitance by international public companies to list on Africa’s stock exchanges and for foreign investors to invest in domestic companies listed on African stock exchanges. KPMG’s Listing in Africa report aimed to provide comprehensive information about selected African markets and stock exchanges, thereby providing international public companies, foreign investors and fund managers and private equity investors who are invested in Africa with valuable insights into listing and investing in securities across key markets in Africa.
- Africa could be a source of great growth out to 2030 and beyond but much will depend on how much external investment in infrastructure and capacity building is made in the more stable economies of the continent, according to Shaping Tomorrow. For example, many parts of Africa may see soaring car ownership and fuel consumption and rail volumes are projected to increase significantly. However, manufacturing growth could be constrained by lagging infrastructure.
- The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China signed a deal to invest US$26 billion in Equatorial Guinea. The ICBC, China’s biggest lender, said most of the fund will go to providing infrastructural and financial support for the Equatorial Guinea government and Chinese enterprises located in the country. The pact, which marked another of the many spending sprees of China into Africa, follows a state visit paid by the President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea to Beijing.
- A Chinese state-owned rail company signed $5.5bn worth of contracts in Africa, in the latest sign that the country’s “New Silk Road” strategy to build infrastructure around the developing world is showing tangible results. African units of China Railway Construction Corp will build a $3.5bn intercity rail line in Nigeria and a $1.9bn residential real estate project in Zimbabwe, the company said in exchange filings.
- In The pioneering continent, The Economist argued that innovation is increasingly local and that a remarkable change taking place in Africa. A continent that has long accepted technological hand-me-downs from the West is increasingly innovating for itself. Much of this is made possible by technological advances elsewhere. Mobile phones are common today in even the most remote African villages. Ericsson estimates that the number of mobiles will rise to 930m by 2019, almost one per African. The spread of smartphones, some of which now cost as little as $25, is likely to push internet penetration to 50% within a decade. This is now allowing Africans to go beyond merely copying technology used elsewhere or adapting it to fit African circumstances. In some cases, firms are generating innovations that can also be used in rich countries.
- The Economist identified the 15 fastest growing economies in 2015. five are in Africa.
- PwC published a new post on its Growth Markets Centre (GMC) blog: The Battle for African Banking Supremacy argued that banking in Africa has undergone some dramatic changes over the past 20 years including a transition from government- owned banks in the 1980s and restrictive regulation to financial liberalisation and the spread of globalisation. Today, Africa is rising and poised to enjoy a growth in its banking systems - ultimately becoming the new banking destination, with seven out of ten fastest economies residing in Africa. Learn how African banks will have to evolve to survive, and watch the video on The Battle for African Banking Supremacy.
- According to EY, Islamic Finance can act as a catalyst in mobilising funding into Africa, thereby resulting in economic growth and sustainable development. The continent’s growth is expected to progress to up to 6% in the upcoming year. This is driven by increased domestic demand, developments in the private sector and strong trade relations with developed economies. Although the Islamic financial services industry in Africa is currently dominated by the banking and Sukuk segments, growth potential remains in the asset management and Takaful spheres. Globally, the Islamic finance sector is expected to surpass the US$2 trillion mark by the end of 2015.
- The chief executive of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange talked to the Financial Times about ebola, oil and African growth; black share ownership; and exchange competition.
- The EIU's Africa is the horizon report found that, for the past twenty years, the centre of the global economy has been shifting from the developed to the developing world. Today, growth rates in developing economies are many times higher than in developed economies. Africa, in general, and Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, are two notable cases in point. In 2015 Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP is expected to grow at 4.5%, making it the fastest-growing economic zone in the world, outpacing Asia’s regional average of 4.3% annual growth. Obviously, in terms of overall market size, Sub-Saharan Africa is still quite a bit smaller than Asia, but, when considering the longer term, continued steady growth in Africa will result in an economic bloc with global impact over the next two decades. In the next five years alone, Sub-Saharan Africa’s percentage share of the global GDP is expected to increase from 1.4% to 4%.
- Partners in Africa - The Key to success or Failure? is a new PwC blog post which explains that while it’s no secret that sub-Saharan Africa has seen significant growth over the last decade and there may have been bumps on the road, the trend is set to continue. The US private equity group, Carlyle is a case in point. In April of last year it closed its maiden private equity fund focused on sub-Saharan Africa at nearly USD 700 million, 40% above target. Last November, it announced its first investment in Nigeria, taking an 18% stake in Diamond Bank. And, the same week saw another first for Carlyle, this time in South Africa, where it acquired TiAuto in a deal thought to be worth about USD 182 million.
- The results of PwC's Into Africa report show how megatrends are colliding across the continent - creating opportunities as well as challenges. The report also highlights North African cities as the top four leading the way due to their developed infrastructure, regulatory and legal frameworks and already established socio-cultural ecosystems. However, the other African cities with promise that we highlight can, and will, climb to join the top cities in our overall ranking with little effort and organisation.
- In Looming threats to African growth, but the picture is generally positive, the EIU argued that, in Sub-Saharan Africa, economic activity will remain robust, but numerous threats loom. Growth is being encouraged by the pursuit of structural reforms in an increasing number of countries, but often at the cost of rising public spending and widening deficits. Financing these deficits is likely to become more expensive in the coming years as monetary policy tightens in the US. In addition, Africa's growing links with Asia - something that has fuelled demand for African commodities - are at risk from any slowdown in China.
- PwC launched new PwC Business Schools in Rwanda and Ghana. The focus of PwC’s Business School is to enhance the skills of people, provide relevant development offerings to clients and help uplift communities. In Rwanda the Financial Services academy, Tax academy and the Public Sector Services academy were launched at an event attended by representatives from the public and private sector. PwC’s business school in Ghana is the first in West Africa and will provide training courses as well as tailor-made solutions for professionals in the West African sub-region.
- Hein Boegman was named as PwC's new Africa TSP. Hein was voted by 400 Africa partners to become the new Africa Territory Senior Partner for PwC with effect from 1 July 2015, succeeding Suresh Kana who retires on 30 June. He is the Mining Industry Leader for Africa, serves on the PwC Africa Executive board and is the current Regional Senior Partner of PwC in Southern Africa. He was also voted on to the Global Board of PwC in 2013.
- South Africa’s economy grew by 1.5% in 2014, the slowest pace since the depths of the global financial crisis, as the country grappled with crippling strikes in the mining and manufacturing industries. With those disputes over, GDP increased by 4.1% in the fourth quarter on an annualised basis. The government this week presented a budget of tax rises and spending cuts, which didn’t impress investors.
- According to Disrupt Africa, Africa could become an exporter of digital skills, and counter a growing rise in the costs of tech personnel for startups being felt in the US, if sufficient investment is pumped into technical skills training across Africa.
- Ghana reached a long-awaited US$1bn agreement with the International Monetary Fund to shore up an economy hit by falling gold and cocoa prices, rising debt and growing trade and fiscal imbalances. The deal, spread over three years, represents one of the first big IMF interventions in sub-Saharan Africa since the shine began to come off some of the continent’s booming commodity exporters.
- The African Business Review released its list of top-10 most valued African brands in 2014: top of the list and valued at over US $5.4 billion, MTN is the largest telecommunication company in Africa and has been pivotal in opening lines of communication across the continent.
- Fastcompany.com's latest list of the top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Africa highlighted some of Africa’s true innovators who come from Nairobi, Kenya, Nigeria, and other popular tech driven countries.
- The European Investment Bank, Europe’s long-term lending institution, and East African-based regional development body, PTA Bank, launched a new EUR 160 million lending initiative to support investment across eastern and southern Africa. The EIB has agreed to provide EUR 80 million for the new initiative that will be matched by PTA Bank and represents the largest single private sector lending scheme ever backed by the EIB in Africa - see press release.
- In McKinsey's The growth opportunity in Africa, Nigeria’s finance minister explained why addressing the technology, agriculture, and infrastructure needs in parts of Africa, and in other emerging markets, is crucial to sustaining global growth. Emerging markets offer the largest opportunity to accelerate productivity growth and sustain broader global economic prosperity. In Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, and in other parts of the continent, much of that opportunity lies in improving infrastructure, creating jobs for young people, and enhancing the value chain in agriculture.
- PwC’s IPO Watch Africa 2014 reported that US$11 billion was raised in 2014 in African equity markets, almost equal to the combined amount raised in 2012 and 2013. IPO activity also increased overall in number from 20 to 24. The report showed a significant share of capital was raised in markets outside of South Africa, with Johannesburg listings accounting for only 44% in 2014.
- The World Economic Forum 2015 held a video session on Achieving Africa’s Growth Agenda.
- The Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, a private sector initiative, announced that PwC has joined leading African businesses in supporting the African Union Support for Ebola in West Africa programme. Close to 1,000 African health workers have been deployed to combat Ebola in the most affected countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. PwC will provide financial and risk management and fund administration services to the Trust.
- The Economist explained that for decades commodities have shaped Africa’s economic growth. When prices were high, growth was good; when prices dipped, so did the continent. But that is slowly changing. Despite big commodity price falls this year, the continent will probably grow by 5% in 2015 (and more in the following years). While lots of African currencies lost value in 2014, they have performed much better than during other periods when commodity prices were falling. Few African countries will fall into recession in 2015.
- Deloitte conducted a survey to investigate the impact of key economic and HR trends on global mobility in Africa. Whilst there is a general view that the number of assignees will increase in the coming years, there is an expectation that individuals who move to and from Africa will increasingly be on local terms, thus signalling a move away from the traditional expat approach.
- The first $1bn-plus Africa-focused private equity fund was raised by Helios Investment Partners, a London-based group founded almost a decade ago by a pair of Nigerian-born dealmakers. The record size of the fund signals the growing appetite for a continent that until a few years ago had been largely ignored by global investors. Africa still attracts a tiny proportion of the world’s private equity money, even compared with other emerging regions, notably Asia and Latin America. But interest has increased recently, buoyed by strong economic growth. After stagnating for two decades African GDP per capita has surged almost 40% since 2002, fuelled by high commodity prices, the rise of a small consumer class, and cheap Chinese loans.
- PwC says Mozambique could become the world’s third largest producer of Liquefied Natural Gas after Qatar and Australia, but needs to secure billions of dollars in foreign investment. PwC has predicted Africa’s energy industry would see a boom in coming years, with Mozambique and Tanzania expected to emerge as new gas frontiers.
- In China-West corporate ties grow slowly in Africa, Oxford Analytica concluded that, over the last ten years, China has become a significant competitor to Western governments, multinationals, and multilateral institutions in Africa. This is evidenced by increased rivalry for infrastructure contracts and resource deals as well as competing ideological development visions. However, there is also an emerging trend toward cooperation in both the government and corporate spheres.
- PwC's own new Spotlight on: Africa found that, after decades of being seen as a high-risk, low-reward place to do business, Western companies are waking up to Africa’s economic potential. The Spotlight helps readers explore selected PwC insights on the opportunities and challenges companies face as they invest in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.
- With the rise of Asian economies and their desire to play a greater role on the world stage, it has been suggested that Africa should choose between keeping its partnerships with the West and embracing new alliances with the East. But, for a leading African politician, this is the same false choice that African countries were told that they had to make during the Cold War. The idea that Africa must once again choose between two competing blocs – Chinese and the Western – has become widespread among Western strategists, think tanks, and journalists, but reducing African options to such a crude choice conjures the spectre of a new “Great Game,” with foreign powers once again carving up the continent for their benefit.
- PwC's own Chief Economist argued that, if Africa is to fulfil its potential, it needs long-term improvement in political, legal and economic institutions in order to provide the right environment for both domestic and international investment to proceed. Long-term investment in energy, transport and communications infrastructure is also critical, but won’t happen without the right institutional environment. There’s been encouraging progress in many African countries on these fronts in recent years, but there’s clearly still a long way to go to get infrastructure and institutions up to the levels seen in Europe, North America or the leading Asian economies.
- Nigeria’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate from 12% to 13% and devalued the naira. Like Russia’s, Nigeria’s currency has come under pressure from speculators as the price of oil, the mainstay of the economy, has plunged. With its foreign reserves dwindling, the governor of the central bank described Nigeria’s fiscal outlook as “not too impressive”.
- In 2015 the African entrepreneur will emerge on to the global stage, argued an Economist article, as a new generation shows the world what those of us doing business in Africa have long known: that the continent is home to some of the most exciting and innovative entrepreneurial talent. From advanced mobile-payment systems to new agricultural-insurance models, one is already seeing how entrepreneurship is transforming Africa. But in Africa, business growth alone is not the full story. It is perhaps not even the most important part. Entrepreneurship matters especially for its potential to transform society.
- For many African countries, which all too often suffer from infrastructure problems such as power outages and unreliable or expensive internet access, tech hubs have proven to be a boon over the last five years or so. The continent currently plays host to more than 90 of these home-grown centres, with more than half of all African states housing at least one, according to the World Bank. While the hubs themselves vary considerably in their size, ambitions and business models, examples range from business incubators such as South Africa’s Smart Xchange to the more common physical co-working spaces provided by Uganda’s Hive CoLab. Kenya’s iHub, which was named Africa’s most innovative firm and the 38th most innovative organisation in the world by Fast Company earlier this year, sits somewhere in-between.
- While growth is slowing in some of the main emerging markets, Africa’s economy is going through an impressive transformation - albeit fragile as the recent ebola outbreak reminds us - with a rising middle class, increasing political stability and improved economic governance. As a result, many African economies are transitioning from resource exporters to consumption markets. In a new report, Deloitte assessed how the market has developed, how perceptions of Africa have changed and how consumers are responding to a period of rapid economic growth. What it took to succeed in the past may not be what it takes to succeed in the future.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has long lagged behind the developed world in corporate-governance practices, but political and economic stability in countries like Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda have had a halo effect on the region. Over the past five years, more African companies have adopted International Financial Reporting Standards to help draw global investors.
- Deloitte Digital acquired Flow Interactive as it continues to build a fully integrated digital consultancy and agency providing customer-centric digital engagement solutions to its rapidly growing list of clients across Africa. The acquisition of Cape Town-based Flow, a leading user experience design agency, will boost Deloitte Digital’s growing list of digital expertise. The South African team, which are based in studios in Johannesburg and Cape Town, is already a leading player in Deloitte Digital’s network of more than 2,700 highly skilled digital experts located in 18 studios across the world including the US, Europe and Australia.
- A recent brief in the Brookings Global Think Tank 20 series examined what has been holding the Sub-Saharan regions back, how Africa might reach the rapid convergence seen by other emerging economies, and if and how convergence might be sustained. Despite the “growth miracles” happening on the continent, sub-Saharan Africa still has a long way to go. Africa’s economic growth started much later and has gone much slower than the rest of the developing world; thus its per capita income gap against advanced economies still remains quite large.
- PwC published a new post in its Africa Upfront blog: Delivering affordable, interconnected, innovative public services. Muchemi Wambugu, Partner, Technology Advisory Services, PwC Kenya. argued that the rate of change driven by technology will influence the affordability, interconnectedness and innovation of public services. In Africa, public services can still end up being too expensive for many citizens - even when those services are subsidised. This is because the total cost to the citizen includes long travel times (particularly for those in rural, less-connected areas) and long waiting times, such as for initial diagnoses, which also reduces take-home pay.
- The Kenyan government plans to create a 'Silicon Savannah' – an environment where technology companies, researchers and outsourcing firms can innovate and find solutions for African and global problems – and Konza Technology City is the centrepiece of that vision. The government is seeking to capitalise on Kenya's fast-growing economy, its booming technology sector and an increasingly well-educated and tech-savvy workforce.
- The bulk of mobile machine-to-machine (M2M) connections are now in developing countries, including in Africa, helping leapfrog technological development. By the end of 2014, the number of cellular M2M connections in the developing world will total 128m or 52% of the global numbers, global industry lobby GSMA estimates. This should rise to nearly 60% or 575m in another six years. In Africa, most people access the Internet from mobile devices. "In Africa sometimes you can leapfrog and go to the latest in innovation and technology at the same time. It is absolutely excellent," said Anne Bouverot, GSMA's Director General.
- Oxford Analytica warned that residential, legislative and local government elections could trigger significant political volatility across Africa in 2015. While regular elections underline the widespread acceptance of formal democratic rules, the high number of presidents seeking third terms (by making constitutional changes) in 2015 and 2016 indicates the era of ‘strong men’ is not over -- despite incentives from donors. In states plagued by violent insurgencies, polls could spur attacks by groups eager to capture media attention or pursue localised grievances. Elsewhere, they could lead simmering ethnic or post-conflict tensions to escalate.
- Sourceforconsulting's The consulting market in Africa 2014 report found that there was 5% growth in 2013 to just over $2.1bn, while the African Consulting market is expected to grow by 4% in 2014 (but it varies considerably across the continent - 1% in Southern Africa, 3.5% in North Africa, 20+% in East Africa, 20+% in West Africa) The picture in terms of industries across the region is varied - overall, Financial Services looks set to remain the largest with strongest growth in real terms across most territories. In terms of types of consulting services, the picture is again variable depending on which country you are looking at - overall it is clear that Technology and Financial management & Risk stand out.
- IBM will put its super-computing data crunching to use in Sierra Leone, as part of the fight against ebola. It has launched a system which allows citizens to report ebola-related issues and government, health agencies and others to keep track of the disease. Citizens can use SMS or voice calls that are location-specific. The data will then be analysed to identify correlations and highlight issues. Already, regions with growing numbers of suspected ebola cases have been pinpointed and the delivery of urgent supplies such as soap and electricity have been sped up.
- South Africa slashed its GDP growth estimate for 2014 to 1.4%, from the 2.7% that was forecast back in February. Among other things the economy has taken a hit from a lengthy mining strike that was resolved in June.
- The rally in African debt markets came to an abrupt halt as countries in the west of the continent battled to contain the spread of ebola. Ghana deferred the sale of a local currency bond scheduled for issue this month and yields on debt issued by the region’s largest economy are at a six-month high. The sell-off in sub-Saharan Africa’s government bonds comes towards the end of a record year for African debt issuance. So far in 2014, governments have borrowed close to $7bn in international debt markets, according to figures from Dealogic, the data provider, and the region’s economic progress remains contingent on overseas investment.
- The IMF's latest outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa anticipated continued strong growth, driven by efforts to invest in infrastructure and by strong agricultural production. However, the current Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is exacting a heavy toll, with spillovers to neighboring countries. In addition, external threats to the region's overall positive outlook include global financial conditions and a slowdown in emerging market growth. Other topics are building resilience in fragile states and addressing the infrastructure deficit.
- New Economist research found that Africa has enjoyed a decade of high growth, especially south of the Sahara, but this is now placing an increasing strain on the infrastructure stock. While investors, companies and donors have poured financing into roads, railways, information and communications technology (ICT), water and power, there remains a significant financing gap. As much as US$93bn is required annually to meet the continent’s infrastructure needs through to 2020, with half of that amount currently being met.
- Can Technology Help Save Africa? examined whether tech be an important fix for some of Africa’s most pressing problems. For example, major fibre-optic cables are being submerged along the east coast of Africa, connecting countries from Djibouti south to South Africa, while cellphones have already had a major impact on sub-Saharan Africa. They are changing the way businesses and educators do work and for mobile banking. The conclusion? As long as “appropriate" technology is used, (i.e. not always necessarily the latest high-tech solution), it can certainly be an important contributor to African development, particularly since costs are dropping rapidly and its potential uses of are expanding exponentially.
- In its The New Africa special report, the FT warned that inequalities are continuing to mar the continent’s rise. Foreign investment in Africa may be hitting record highs but social disparity and corruption remain rife.
- The FT also noted that the battle among the world’s largest tech and telecoms groups to connect Africans has intensified in the past year, with drones and blimps brought in to provide the first sight of the internet for many. The vast scale of the continent makes generalisation difficult. The more tech-savvy smartphone users in southern Africa are a very different proposition from those in areas in central Africa where infrastructure remains rudimentary. In such areas, technology takes on different roles as companies navigate challenges from political revolution to Ebola scares - from educator and healthcare provider to bank and business partner. But the opportunities are still clear for many of the world’s biggest companies in Africa. The key attraction remains the rapidly growing population.
- Kenya has been newly classified a middle-income country after a statistical reassessment increased the size of its economy by 25%. The planning minister said that Kenya’s gross domestic product stands at $53.3bn, up from $42.6bn, making it the continent’s ninth biggest economy. GDP per capita stands at $1,246. The revision also shows that Kenya’s growth rate in 2013 was 5.7%, well above a previous estimate of 4.7%, which is the average for sub-Saharan Africa.
- Fortune asked: Is Africa's rise for real this time? Its conclusion: Africa's economics are surging, and foreign investment is exploding. The challenges - including Ebola- are immense, but the continent may finally be ready to deliver on its promise.
- The FT warned that while hailing Africa’s glowing fortunes has become standard for anyone keen to flirt with the “frontier”, the old clichés – that of a continent characterised by war, poverty and pestilence - have been replaced by too many new ones. In the eyes of hopeful investors, the continent is now a territory of 1bn consumers, set to grow faster than any other region and to deliver bountiful returns to the plucky backer’s pockets. Neither take is convincing or illuminating; and as Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, deputy governor of Nigeria’s central bank, points out in Emerging Africa, both are largely determined by outsiders. In the former, aid junkies have bathed the continent in victimhood. In the latter, growth is the preoccupation of financiers falling over themselves in a fresh scramble for the continent, rendering it “a playground for globalisation”.
- Kenya currently leads in African connectivity with the highest bandwidth per person on the continent, the fastest speeds, and some of the lowest internet costs, according to Liquid Telecom. By way of contrast, workers in Kenya are dismantling the hazardous electronic-waste generated by the world last year. Kenyan leaders are working on new laws and regulations requiring proper disposal of e-waste, defined as anything with a battery or a cord.
- PwC's UK International Development business has been working with colleagues from firms across Africa to build an integrated African and UK International Development business. This collaboration, under the UK/Africa Alliance, will coordinate efforts in Africa and the UK around the donor market place with clients like the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Dr Bert Odiaka, partner in charge of Government and Public sector in Nigeria, said: “Meeting in Ghana and spending the week working together has been a fantastic start to what we believe will be a long and productive relationship.
- In its latest Africa Attractiveness Survey, EY noted that it is increasingly important to distinguish between trends in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. While foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into North Africa have declined significantly, those into sub-Saharan Africa continue to grow — by 4.7% last year, and at a compound annual growth rate of 19.5% since 2007. Regional hubs, such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, together with emerging highgrowth economies, such as Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda, are at the forefront of rising FDI levels.
- According to Trendwatching.com, mobile connectivity and the online world has expanded both the scope and scale of Africans' networks across the continent and beyond, making it easier to connect with friends, strangers and brands, in both the real and virtual realms. These connections may be old news in the West in 2014, but the constant, timely, relevant, social, practical and personal interactions are still in their infancy in Africa, and their potential to solve African problems is "undeniable".
- Global investors are taking note of the economic potential of sub-Saharan Africa. According to a new PwC report, Africa will grow faster than any other region - and will have the world's biggest labour force. Many international corporations are already active in Lagos, Kinshasa, and Johannesburg. But PwC says investors should also be getting excited about the "Next 10" Dar es Salaam, Luanda, Khartoum, Abidjan, Nairobi, Kano, Ibadan, Dakar, Ouagadougou and Addis Ababa.
- South Africa avoided a recession in the second quarter, as official figures showed the economy growing by 0.6% at an annual rate. GDP contracted by 0.6% in the first three months of the year. The country’s weak growth in part reflects lengthy miners’ strikes that have unnerved investors.
- China invited the US to co-operate in financing and building infrastructure in Africa and other parts of the developing world, an unprecedented proposal that has potentially sweeping implications for the future of international development aid.
- The first US-Africa summit, attended by nearly 50 African heads of state, took on issues from corruption to Islamist extremism. But the dominant theme was Africa’s potential as an additional motor for global growth, and the role that US companies could play in that. If the goal was to shift US perceptions of Africa as simply a repository of war, poverty and disease, then the summit made a healthy start.
- According to the FT, the flood of sovereign bond issuance this year by African countries is setting a benchmark that companies are beginning to use to raise their own debt.
- According to a joint editorial by three African heads of state, the dream that the twenty-first century will be the “African Century” is powerful and intoxicating, and it is also becoming reality. While conflict and poverty remain serious problems in many African regions, the continent is not only more stable than ever before; it is also experiencing some of the highest economic growth rates anywhere on the planet. Over the past decade, tens of millions of people across Africa have joined the middle class; cities are expanding rapidly; and the population is the most youthful in the world. But Africans must not take it for granted that their time has come. Words are cheap, and, despite the continent’s positive momentum, they know that history is littered with squandered dreams – nowhere more so than in Africa.
- Roughly 12 million people will enter the African workforce each year in the next decade; but, even today, young people account for 60% of all unemployed. Creating a sufficient number of rewarding jobs is a substantial challenge. The answer to that challenge will vary by country, but it rests on reviving and reinforcing the manufacturing, agriculture, retail, and hospitality sectors, as well as technology-related businesses. There have already been positive impacts that innovations such as so-called mobile wallets – mobile phone apps for banking – have had on facilitating payments and commerce, and on creating a new class of jobs in Africa. Even more can be achieved by making broadband and technology more abundant and affordable.
- DEMO released the names of the 40 start-ups that have qualified to launch their products on the DEMO Africa stage in September 2014. Topping the list is Nigeria with 14 start-ups qualifying, followed by Kenya, Ghana and Egypt. According to the Ministry of Communication Technology, at the weekend, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Ethiopia would each have two representatives while Tunisia, Benin, Cameroon, Uganda and Zimbabwe had also earned their space at the DEMO Africa platform, according to the report. DEMO Africa is the flagship initiative of the Liberating Innovation in Opportunity Nations or LIONS@FRICA partnership, which brings together the US State Department, Microsoft, Nokia, InfoDEV, and the United States Agency for International Development, among others, to support and amplify Africa’s budding startup and innovation ecosystem.
- A new article argued that, taken as a whole, the African continent is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Averaging 5% growth each year, Africa’s economy has become more market-oriented, with a rapidly growing private sector. But if it is going to continue on this growth path, it is going to have to create jobs at an unprecedented rate. Technology alone can’t do that., but the continent certainly does have an enormous opportunity to harness technologies like cloud computing, mobility, social media and big data technologies to get cities working better, create a new wave of entrepreneurship and give people the chance to make a living by helping solve these challenges.
- Across sub-Saharan Africa, consumer demand is fuelling the continent’s economies in new ways, driving hopes that Africa will emerge as a success story in the coming years comparable to the rise of the East Asian Tigers in the second half of the 20th century. After seeing years of uninterrupted economic expansion across Africa, governments, analysts and investors are focusing on this fast-growing continent’s shoppers and workers rather than just the usual upswing in commodity prices that have driven past cycles of boom and bust. The African Development Bank projected that foreign investment in Africa would reach a record $80 billion this year, with a larger share of the money going to manufacturing and not just the strip-mining of resources.
- PwC plans to ramp up its own investment in Africa and build closer links between its UK and African operations as British companies look to tap into the rapidly expanding growth of the continent. PwC plans to invest several hundred million dollars in Africa across its network and wants to double headcount in the continent over the next five years, mainly through local hires. We currently employ 8,500 people in Africa, of which 4,500 are in South Africa.
- According to Business Insider, there's a range of startups in Africa that are aiming to effect change in the continent. In fact, there are now more than 90 tech hubs in across Africa, according to the World Bank. These startups are tackling issues like education, connectivity, and transportation. In 2013, U.S. investors poured more money into African startups than any other year, according to CrunchBase.
- Trendwatching.com argued that, while the explosion of interest in Africa from foreign brands is undeniable, Africa's economic boom is also seeing a new wave of African brands willing and able to reach out to – and fulfil the needs of – other African consumers. Not just in the brand's home nation, but across the continent. The most exciting story of cross-border consumerism in Africa today? It's Africa for Africa.
- PwC UK will be entering into a Strategic Alliance with PwC Africa. The UK/Africa Alliance is the next step in our strategy of linking together high potential markets across the PwC network and follows our successful and ongoing Alliances in the Middle East and CEE. The abundance of natural resources and the rapid growth of many African economies present significant growth opportunities. The Alliance also offers our people, across the UK and Africa, the chance to experience different working environments. To read about our strategy click on ourstrategy.pwc.com.
- According to Prospects for Africa in the third quarter from Oxford Analytica, Sub-Saharan Africa's economies - with the exception of South Africa - will continue building on the robust growth momentum of recent years. However, an unfavourable external environment, combined with domestic strains (eg, negative fiscal and current account outlooks) is beginning to challenge the region's growth model, posing new tests for policymakers. In Nigeria, rising political temperatures ahead of the ruling party's primaries and next year's election continue to qualify the reform outlook, while Sahel belt security concerns may be worsening.
- In Unleashing Africa’s Immense Potential: Connectivity Is Critical, BCG argued that Africa’s economic takeoff has been a long time coming, but after several crisis-ridden lost decades, encouraging signs of sustainable growth are mounting. Since 2000, the continent’s GDP has been growing 2 to 3 percentage points faster than global GDP, and it is projected to continue to grow by an average of 6 percent annually through the rest of the decade. Consumer optimism is at some of the highest levels worldwide. Some $45 billion in direct foreign investment has been flowing into the region annually since 2007: established multinationals such as Philips and Samsung, as well as global challengers such as China’s Huawei and India’s Bajaj, have been dramatically increasing their stakes in what promises to be the final frontier of untapped growth in the global economy.
- The IMF warned African nations issuing billions of dollars in sovereign bonds that they could overload their economies with too much debt and derail the best economic period for the region in a generation. The warning comes as the continent enjoys a virtuous circle of strong economic growth and improved governance that many have enthusiastically called “Africa rising”. The improved conditions are in sharp contrast with the lacklustre decades of the 1980s and 1990s, when poverty levels climbed across the region.
- The FT warned that the "scramble for Africa" is on once more. Stock markets in sub-Saharan Africa have lead the world over the past five years, while surveys show that private equity managers are now more bullish about the region than they are about China, India or Brazil. According to the International Monetary Fund, between 2010 and 2020 nine of the ten fastest growing economies in the world will be from Africa. So Africa has become the flavour of the month. Interest in the continent is surging among investment institutions, while fund managers and private equity providers are attempting to meet the demand.
- One of the key features of the African digital renaissance is that it is increasingly home grown. In other sectors of the African economy, such as mining or agribusiness, much of the know-how is imported and the wealth extracted. But Africa’s 700 million or so mobile subscribers use services that are provided locally, and they are also downloading more applications that are developed locally. One of the main sources of locally developed applications is the technology hubs that are springing up across Africa. In a recent project carried out for the Botswana Innovation Hub, we worked with two of the longer established labs, the research arm of *iHub_in Kenya and BongoHive in Zambia, to create a map of tech hubs. There are now around 90 tech hubs across the continent, and more than half of Africa economies have at least one.
- Nigeria was front-page news recently when it overtook South Africa as the continent’s largest economy. Behind the headlines, another transformation is taking place with the growth in technology start-ups in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. This entrepreneurial boom is partly the result of a fast-expanding population, an increase in digitally savvy young people in need of work and the proliferation of smartphones. Welcome to Silicon Lagoon, said the FT. New figures put Nigeria's GDP at 80.2 trillion naira ($509 billion) in 2013, taking it above South Africa in the rankings of the continent's economies by size. Its number-one rank was the result of updating the reference or "base" year used to calculate real GDP, from 1990 to 2010.
- BCG noted that, in recent years, much has been said and written about Africa’s emerging class of consumers, who are often described as inexhaustibly optimistic, highly brand conscious, Internet savvy, eager to spend, and willing to pay more for quality. These generalisations appear to herald the arrival of a new and meaningful consumer base. Yet the details about African consumers’ specific attitudes toward spending, brands, and the media, and how demographic differences affect those attitudes, have been largely absent - until now. BCG’s 2013 Africa Consumer Sentiment Survey, which polled 10,000 consumers across eight of the continent’s largest countries, provides a quantitative database that supports the theory of not one but many consumer classes emerging across the continent.
- Deloitte opened an office in Rwanda to complete its network across East Africa, where it already has a presence in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. Deloitte said the move was prompted by the need to move closer to its clients. The office is based in Kigali and will provide financial consulting, tax and risk advisory services to clients in both the public and private sector.
- Project Syndicate warned that an estimated $1 trillion, almost one-third of Africa’s GDP, leaves developing countries annually, though the true size of hidden transfers is, by definition, almost impossible to ascertain. People have only a hazy sense of where the money comes from, whom it belongs to, the routes it takes, and where it ends up. One obvious cause of these outflows is poor governance in developing countries. But recent OECD research suggests that rich countries are also at fault for failing to devise and enforce adequate laws to track and prevent illegal money transfers.
- Reuters cautioned that while it’s become quite popular in the last few years to declare that Africa will be the next great economic success story, Africa’s growth may not be sustainable, because it hasn’t made enough progress in creating the type of manufacturing jobs that can transform the continent’s economies. Fewer than 10% of African workers find jobs in manufacturing, and among those only a tiny fraction – as low as one-tenth – are employed in modern, formal firms with adequate technology. There has been very little improvement in this regard, despite high growth rates. In fact, Sub-Saharan Africa is less industrialised today than it was.
- Project Syndicate argued that it is in Africa, a region with the world’s second-fastest growth, where the next big business opportunities lie. In about one-third of the continent’s 55 countries, annual GDP growth is above 6%, and Sub-Saharan Africa grew at an estimated 5.1% pace in 2013.
- IBM announced the results of a new study entitled ‘Setting the pace in Africa: How IT leaders deliver on the potential of emerging technologies’, which found that while nearly 87 percent of African IT leaders rank new technologies such as analytics, cloud, mobile and social media as being critical to business success, only 53% are pushing forward with adoption.
- According to the World Economic Forum, Africa is now the world’s second fastest economy, predicted to grow by 5.3% by the end of 2014. South Africa alone recently hosted more than 1,000 professionals and leaders who discussed how Africa could improve its financial situation.