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Why Global Businesses are Banking on Africa

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map of africa

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ever-changing lockdown regulations and travel bans for countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the continent has held firm with a positive outlook for its tourism and hospitality sectors. This has been further cemented by the increase in major global businesses either setting up shop in Africa or expanding further across the continent.

Tech hot spots for an expanding ecosystem

Zoho, the global technology company that offers the most extensive suite of business software in the industry, announced the opening of its South African office at the end of 2021 – the company’s flagship – in Cape Town.

“Zoho strongly believes in its growth being closely tied with the growth and development of the broader community that it serves, a strategy we refer to as ‘transnational localism’. As part of this vision, we’re focused on contributing to the creation of self-sufficient economic clusters across the world,” says Hyther Nizam, President MEA at Zoho Group.

In South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt, Zoho offers its products in local currencies. Additionally, Zoho has hired individuals in all of these countries for customer-facing roles. And the company is committed to establishing partnerships that will aid local businesses in their digital transformation efforts.

SweepSouth, SA’s leading on-demand home services brand, recently expanded its Pan-African presence by launching into Egypt. Already operating in Kenya and Nigeria, they acquired Egyptian start-up Filkhedma – Egypt’s leading home services marketplace that operates across three cities and serves tens of thousands of customers with cleaning, maintenance and beauty services.

“Africa has massive growth potential for us as a company,” says Aisha Pandor, CEO and co-founder of SweepSouth. “We already operate in three key markets and the acquisition of Filkhedma means that SweepSouth will be one of a few African start-ups operating in the continent’s four key tech ecosystems of South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria.

“Egypt has a strong and growing middle-class that has been underserved in the domestic home services arena, which can be said of many other regions across the continent, too. With a compelling economic growth track record and outlook, and an economy that has been resilient in the face of challenging times, it made sense for us to eye this market for our next big leap. Our presence there now primes us for further expansion into other parts of Africa and the Middle East.

“We are entering a rapid growth phase and executing on a number of other new country launches in 2022,” adds Pandor. “Having the Filkhedma team on board is particularly exciting as it’s an intra-African acquisition by two companies in the same vertical. This acquisition almost doubles our addressable market on the continent and enhances the products and services that we already offer.”

An African expansion plan

Ramsay Rankoussi, Vice President, Development, Africa and Turkey for Radisson Hotel Group, says that while the Radisson Hotel Group will continue to pursue organic growth underpinned by domestic and regional travel, the Group will also be exploring other routes through inorganic growth that may be slightly more unconventional and would include different types of partnerships, joint-ventures, co-branding and potential capitalistic approaches.

One of these – Radisson Individuals, a conversion brand that offers smaller hotel operators the opportunity to be a part of the Radisson family without losing their identity – already came to fruition in 2021.

“Africa holds immense potential across various segments and product types – from resorts and city hotels to serviced apartments and boutique offerings. The lack of funding, be it equity or debt, along with the high cost of capital remains the biggest burden across the continent.

“Inorganic growth will certainly help us to not only mitigate materialisation risks but should also unlock synergies and economies of scale with other local and regional chains to the benefit of local communities,” he says.

As such, the Radisson Hotel Group has set its sights on Africa, boosting its African portfolio with 14 signings and five hotel openings in 2021, setting it on a positive path to reach its ambitious goal of more than 150 hotels by 2025.

A recognised business hub

South African serviced office provider The Business Exchange (TBE) recognised the Mauritian potential and in April 2021, the company launched its second investment opportunity in Mauritius – a sectional-title serviced office space.

Beyond the white beaches and get-away-from-it-all lifestyle, Mauritius is increasingly recognised as one of the hottest business hubs on the continent. In fact, the island paradise is currently the highest-ranked economy in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Index.

“Mauritius presents a sound environment, both politically and economically. Major international brands, including Samsung, Broll, Expedia and NBA (North America’s National Basketball Association), have already based themselves at our serviced office space there, which speaks to the potential of the location as a foremost business hub,” believes David Seineker, TBE founder and CEO.

Mauritius’s proximity to South Africa – it’s a mere four-hour flight from Johannesburg – is a further advantage, as the City of Gold remains the continent’s foremost business hub. Mauritius is also perfectly positioned en route from Asia and the Middle East to the tip of Africa, making it ideal for expansion into Africa as well as from Africa to the rest of the world. While the strategic relevance of the location was key to TBE’s expansion plans, others look for opportunities in regions that face the same challenges as in the business’s key operational area.

Remote working made easy

Cheapflights, a global travel search site that compares flights, hotels and rental cars, reports that searches from South Africa to the rest of the continent were up 67% on average between September and December last year compared to the same period in 2019. Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mauritius, Namibia and Mozambique were the most searched countries within the region.

Additionally, the site recently also launched its Work from Wherever Index, which provides travellers looking to work away from home or while on vacation a definitive list of the best countries that are easiest to work from while enjoying a new country.

The results of the Index are based on popular searches made on the Cheapflights site as well as on how well each country scored across six categories. Nigeria ranks 95th globally and 14th amongst countries in the Middle East and Africa region, with its highest scores in the categories of price, travel and weather.

Mauritius, which ranked fourth globally, beating out many European heavyweights, topped the ranking for the Middle East and Africa. The island nation offers great weather, low crime rates and a fairly low cost of living in addition to a remote work visa (also called a digital nomad visa), which is a travel authorisation for on-the-go workers, allowing them to work independently during their stay in a country.

Other African countries that made the list include Seychelles at number 26 globally and number 2 in the region; Réunion (at number 69); Kenya and Tanzania (ranked 80th and 81st, respectively); and Tunisia (ranked 84th); amongst others.

The Work from Wherever Index, as well as the increase in flight searches to the continent, might be additional indicators of renewed business and growing confidence among travellers.

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Economy

Hyde Energy Advocates Ways to Reduce Cost of LPG

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Domestic LPG

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria’s leading energy trading company, Hyde Energy, has proffered strong recommendations for making Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) affordable and available in Nigeria.

This was discussed at the just-concluded 2nd West Africa LPG Expo & NLPGA Summit 2022 held in Lagos themed Energizing the Future: LPG as a Sustainable Fuel in African Economies as part of efforts to address the sector’s need for significant investments in infrastructure.

The conference, which has continued to gather momentum in Nigeria, is a platform for industry players to engage both indigenous and international stakeholders to attain insight into the LPG market and network with more than 3,000 delegates across the value chain.

The first day of the two-day conference featured a panel discussion where the Chief Executive of Hyde Energy, Mr Oladimeji Edwards, encouraged more collaboration amongst relevant stakeholders in the industry to develop necessary measures that can improve infrastructural development in the sector to reduce the cost of LPG and increase supply.

“To reduce the cost of LPG, it is very important to build infrastructure to a captive market, to take it from truck to skid, to dispensing unit, all the way down to the cylinders, and ultimately at some point, the next generation will reticulate as part of standard code for construction at which point in time, we would have had ample supply of LPG distribution across the country,” he said.

He further revealed that for infrastructural development to come into place, there is a need for all hands to be on deck and show the will to make it happen.

Mr Edwards stated that Nigeria has tremendous gas deposits but there is an inadequate infrastructure around gas resources.

“To reduce imports, adequate investment is required. Gas suppliers are importing LPG, paying in US Dollars, and due to inflation and devaluation this affects retail prices, but with good infrastructure, I assure you that we will have an enabling environment for investment to thrive and everyone will be happy,” he advocated.

Mr Edwards commended the effort of the NLPGA to bring together industry stakeholders to share ideas on contentious topics and share strategies to help Nigeria’s LPG market unlock its incredible potential saying, “this is a brilliant platform for relevant stakeholders in the industry. It is a great event which brings in international and indigenous experts to exchange ideas, opinions, trends and outlook for the future.”

Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing LPG markets in the world with more than 20 per cent average growth per annum for the past 10 years. In 2020, Nigeria recorded a national LPG consumption of 89.91 thousand MT (PPPRA, 2020), with a positive variance of 7.9 per cent above the targeted estimated figure.

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Economy

NASD OTC Securities Exchange Opens Week 0.81% Lower

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unlisted securities exchange

By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange opened the week in the negative territory following a 0.81 per cent drop on Monday, June 27.

At the session, the bourse, which admits unlisted securities, recorded a poor outcome following losses reported by three companies — FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, and Food Concepts Plc.

FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc saw its equity drop N2.96 or 3.09 per cent to N98.76 per unit from N95.80 per unit, CSCS Plc lost 42 Kobo or 2.84 per cent to close the day at N14.38 per share as against N14.80 per share of the preceding session, while Food Concepts Plc went down by 5 Kobo or 5.00 per cent to 95 Kobo per unit from N1.00 per unit.

As a result, the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) dropped 6.21 points to settle at 762.06 points versus last Friday’s 768.27 points as the market capitalisation went south by N8.18 billion to N1.003 trillion from N1.011 trillion.

At the market yesterday, there was a jump in the units of securities exchanged by investors to 647,785 units from 323,519 units, implying a 100.5 per cent increase.

The value of securities traded amounted to N5.6 million, 37.6 per cent lower than the N8.9 million achieved at the previous trading day, while the number of trades depreciated by 27.27 per cent to eight deals from 11 deals.

AG Mortgage Bank Plc finished the trading session as the busiest stock by volume on a year-to-date basis with the sale of 2.3 billion units worth N1.2 billion, CSCS Plc also retained the second spot with the sale of 674.3 million units valued at N14.1 billion, while Food Concepts Plc was in third place for trading 146.5 million units valued at N127.2 million.

When the coin is flipped to the other side, CSCS Plc maintained its position as the most active stock by value on a year-to-date basis with a turnover of 674.3 million units valued at N14.1 billion, VFD Group Plc was in second place with 10.9 million units worth N3.2 billion, while FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc retained the third place with the sale of 9.7 million units valued at N1.2 billion.

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Economy

Naira Now N617/$ at Peer-to-Peer, N605/$1 at Parallel Market

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Nigerian Naira

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira appreciated by N1 or 0.16 per cent against the United States Dollar at the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) window of the foreign exchange (FX) market on Monday to close at N624/$1 compared with last Friday’s N618/$1.

At the parallel market, according to data harvested by Business Post from the various traders of forex on the streets of Lagos, the Nigerian currency was exchanged against its American counterpart at N605/$1.

At the interbank market, the local currency appreciated against the Pound Sterling by 20 kobo to trade at N509.82/£1 versus the preceding session’s N510.02/£1 but against the Euro, it lost N1.89 to sell for N439.49/€1 compared with last session’s value of N437.60/€1.

Also, at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment, which is the official market, the Naira recorded a 0.21 per cent or 88 kobo loss against the American Dollar as it was sold at N421/$1 in contrast to last Friday’s N420.12/$1.

The domestic currency was weakened despite a $10.02 million or 6.1 per cent slide in the turnover for the trading day as forex worth $152.96 million exchanged hands compared with the $162.98 million recorded in the preceding session.

Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency market saw the value of TerraClassicUSD (USTC) rising by 33.0 per cent yesterday to $0.0191 as other digital coins monitored by this newspaper struggled for life.

Dogecoin (DOGE) depreciated by 7.2 per cent to trade at $0.0695, Solana (SOL) recorded a 6.4 per cent slide to sell at $37.38, Ripple (XRP) went down by 6.0 per cent to trade at $0.3429, while Litecoin (LTC) followed with a 5.9 per cent depreciation to quote at $54.41.

Further, Cardano (ADA) slumped by 3.8 per cent to settle at $0.4798, Ethereum (ETH) suffered a 3.6 per cent loss to trade at $1,174.74, Bitcoin (BTC) recorded a 2.3 per cent retreat to sell at $20,642.92, Binance Coin (BNB) declined by 1.7 per cent to finish at $232.0, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) moderated by 0.05 per cent to sell for $0.999.

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