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Rising Africa Series: Thought Leaders Africa

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A celebration of thought leaders, innovators, thinkers, problem solvers, and drivers of growth and development.


RISING NIGERIA

Sports have been recognized as a positive force in promoting education, health, development, and peace as acknowledged by the United Nations and reflected in its agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. 

Additionally, the economic impact of a vibrant sporting industry is significant.  In well-established markets throughout North America and Europe, sports have come to represent a billion-dollar business, generating tens of thousands of jobs, and tax revenues for local governments.  

The sports industry in Africa continues to grow and thrive.  The diversity of sports offerings range from football, rugby, and cricket to cycling, wrestling and basketball. Many of the continent’s professional athletes are quickly grabbing attention on the international stage.

AFA SPORTS Store, Lagos. Picture:Supplied

Mohamed Salah, Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, Dikembe Mutombo, Julius Yego, Daniel Teklehaimanot, and Merhawi Kudus have become well-known within their respective sports both within Africa and globally.

Nigerian-born Ugo Udezue, former successful NBA agent working in the US returned home to Nigeria to lend his experience and talents to Africa’s sports industry.  He was instrumental in creating the 10-team Continental Basketball League (CBL), which provided Udezue with a unique business opportunity in sports merchandising. 

AFA Sports, which means “Africa for Africa” stepped in to address the need Africa’s professional sports teams had for sports apparel and shoes.  

AFA Sports entered an arena dominated by global players such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok. 

However, AFA Sports did not shy away from the challenge and focused on creating a unique value proposition, one of creating sports apparel and shoes made in Africa, by Africans, for Africans while tapping into a growing African conscious market, as well as consumer associations outside Africa.


AFA SPORTS Store, Lagos. Picture:Supplied

AFA Sports is positioning its brand to be the premier sports brand company in Africa but has made it clear its ambitions do not stop there.  The company hopes to develop a global brand that appeals to mainstream sporting institutions in Europe, Asia, and North America.

AFA Sports products are currently sold through its flagship store in Victoria Island, Lagos and its website.  The company plans to open two additional stores in the near future. It also remains focused on promoting the continued development of various sports programs throughout Africa.


RISING GHANA

President Nana Akufo-Addo was peacefully elected and assumed office in 2017, and under his leadership, the Ghanaian government has taken steps to reduce corruption at the national level by appointing a special prosecutor, centralizing all government accounts into a single account with the central bank, and promising additional reform legislation.

Ghana’s GDP grew 8.5% in 2017, compared to 3.7% in the previous year.  While the services industry is a strong pillar of the country’s $43-billion economy, the oil and gas sector has driven recent growth.  The oil and gas sector, which represents over a quarter of the economy, increased 80% boosting the industry sector significantly. 

Akufo-Addo who has adopted the slogan “Ghana Beyond Aid,” is anxious to move Ghana from aid-dependency to trade to fuel the country’s economic growth.  Ghana is looking to build sustainable relationships of mutual benefit, and this approach appears to be working.  In 2017, GIPC set a target to attract US $5 billion in FDI inflows and by December had $4.91 billion.

Rex Danquah. Picture: Supplied

BETWAY GHANA PRIDES ITSELF ON GIVING BACK

Rex Danquah, Country Manager Betway Ghana

Betway has achieved tremendous heights in the sports betting industry with an overwhelming success rate, while focusing on sports development in Ghana. Betway has revolutionized the sports betting sector by digitalizing the process with solely online sports betting platforms. 

Betway aspires to be a household brand in sport betting providing a safe and secure online sports betting platform with the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that transactions are protected using the finest digital encryption technology.

As part of Betway’s continuous efforts to develop sports in Ghana, Betway currently sponsors four clubs with great history and performance in the Ghana Premier League.

As part of their goal to give back to society, many communities and individuals have benefitted from the Betway CSR Initiative, such as  Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital in Accra, Tanoso Health Clinic in Brong Ahafo and Himan Health Center in Prestea.

NIMED CAPITAL IS REDEFINING GHANA’S PRIVATE WEALTH BUSINESS

Nimed Capital  Ltd is an investment banking firm with a core focus on asset management services. We specialize in delivering fund management and advisory services that meet the needs of retail, institutional and high networth clients. Our investment decisions are backed by our strong knowledge and expertise in the domestic market.

Abena Bigridi, CEO Nimed Capital. Picture: Supplied

How do you see the investment landscape in Ghana?

Ghana is open for business and investments. The economy slowed down recently with the country recording a paltry GDP growth of 3.5% in 2016 due to several factors such as power shortages, high NPL’s of commercial banks etc. However, the turnaround has been very impressive with GDP rebounding to 7.9% in 2017 after resolving the challenges mentioned earlier.

What are the market opportunities and challenges and how is NIMED redefining the private wealth space?

Ghana has one of the lowest savings rate in the region, the country’s savings to GDP ratio is at 7.9% compared to 14.9% and 15.4% for Nigeria and Kenya in 2017. Ghanaians are entering into the prestigious HNWI class (High NetWorth Individuals), with the country recording a total of 2,900 HNWI’s in 2017 according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report. This provides enormous need for private wealth management services and collective investment scheme products (Mutual Funds & Unit Trust).  

The main challenge confronting the industry is the huge appetite for high returns without a commensurate ability to bear associated risk. This negatively influences our competitors to take risk that contradicts their clients Investment Policy Statement (IPS).

What makes us different is our strict adherence to our clients’ IPS risk return objectives. Where clients’ desire outstrips his/her ability to bear risk, we advise the client accordingly.  Our safety first approach to wealth management has paid off handsomely. Since inception NIMED Capital has outperformed all benchmarks for its private investment portfolios and have never lost money.


RISING ETHOPIA

REFLECTING POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRESSIVENESS

Since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018, there has been a whirlwind of positive change. In the business realm, internet usage is spiking, digital currency is gaining traction and foreign direct investment rising. Greater agricultural productivity and strong industrial growth has boosted GDP.  A trend that the World Bank is projecting to continue through 2020 with an annual growth rate of 9 percent. 

Abiy Ahmed. Picture: Supplied

Peace with Eritrea has added access to Eritrea’s ports, that in addition to Djibouti’s is boosting imports. The rollout of the visa on arrival program also brings us closer to achieving full regional integration.  Couple this with the election of our first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, and the prime minister’s efforts to promote equal representation in his cabinet by appointing women to half of those positions, there is no doubt about progress.

There is still much work to do to achieve lasting peace as ethnic tensions and clashes remain, but we remain optimistic that Ethiopia will heal, and economic growth will continue to benefit all.

MEDTECH ETHIOPIA CARING TO CURE

Medtech is on a mission “to heal the ill” by providing quality affordable pharmaceutical and medical supplies.  Born of a frustration at the shortage of pharmaceutical products in Ethiopia, founder and CEO Dr Mohammed Nuri turned his attention to pioneering the relatively unexplored pharmaceutical industry in the country. 

Dr Nuri’s drive and commitment to innovation within the sector led to the company’s meteoric rise. 


Dr Mohammed Nuri, board chairman & CEO Medtech Ethiopia. Picture: Supplied

Medtech began its journey as a pharmaceutical trader importing a limited roster of products, but in less than two decades has transformed itself into a manufacturer operating two major factories, Julphar Ethiopia and Ethiopian Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Factory.

And according to Dr. Nuri, the government of Ethiopia must be acknowledged as well when it comes to supporting the sector by “giving land with low prices, priority in foreign currency and by different tax subsidies”.

Medtech sees the growth potential both the pharmaceutical sector and the Ethiopian market offers.  Such opportunities will likely support the company’s goals of becoming one of the three leading pharmaceutical companies in Africa by 2020 as well as one of the best three business groups in Ethiopia by 2025.

ETTA SOLUTIONS IS PROVIDING TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS IN ETHIOPIA

ETTA Solutions is an Ethiopian tech company independently owned, financed and managed by two childhood friends, Temesgen Gebrehiwot & Ambaye Michael Tesfay. Temesgen, the developer, always dreamt of building a company to provide tech solutions for everyday problems in his country. In 2016, he brought onboard Tesfay as a business partner and they began their journey.

Their first product and first in Ethiopia is ETTA (Ethiopia Taxi), a call center and app-based taxi hailing service that operates 24/7 across the capital, while providing services for thousands of people daily. ETTA is also the leading corporate transport provider, offering prepaid and postpaid services to several large organizations. 


Etta co-founders Temesgen Gebrehiwot and Ambaye Michael Tesfay. Picture: Supplied

SUNSHINE INVESTMENT GROUP IS FORGING AHEAD INTO DIVERSIFIED BUSINESSES

Sunshine Investment Group has been a pioneering business leader in Ethiopia for over three decades. 

Founded by Samuel Tafese, a local contractor and business tycoon, the investment group has been involved in multiple ventures in the road construction, real estate, and hospitality sectors. 

Under the umbrella of the investment group is Sunshine Business Group headed by Tafese’s daughter, Selamawit Samuel, who serves as the chairwoman and executive vice president. 


Sunshine Investment Group, Selamawit Samuel, Chairwoman and EVP. Picture: Supplied

Recent initiatives led by Samuel include the establishment of the first bean-to-bar chocolate factory in Ethiopia. The Haredo Chocolate Company built in the Tatek Special Industrial Zone in West Shewa, Oromia of Ethiopia.  The factory which has a 3,000-ton annual production capacity is expected to create over 350 direct and indirect jobs.

The Haredo Chocolate Factory is not the only successful initiative under the leadership of Samuel.  She has also taken a hands-on role in opening the first Marriott branded hotel in Sub-Saharan Africa through a partnership between Marriott International Group and the Sunshine Business Group. 

The Sunshine Business Group has also partnered with Hilton Hotels & Resorts to develop the 30,000 square meter Hilton Awassa Resort & Spa, slated to open in 2020.  

Samuel’s long-term focus for the company is to further diversify the Sunshine Business Group’s portfolio of businesses expanding into the FMCG and service sectors.  Given this focus, additional business initiatives in other sectors are likely on the horizon.

Aziz Ahmed. Picture: Supplied

CAPTURING ETHIOPIA ONE PHOTO AT A TIME

The focus of your photography is on the treasures of Ethiopia’s wildlife and landscape. Why?

My father used to take me hunting as a young boy, but as I grew into a teen, I started to understand the need to preserve wildlife. I sold my car when I was 24 years old to buy my first camera. I felt it was my calling to change the minds of Ethiopians through the images I captured about the wildlife and hidden treasure our country held.

I believe I have a responsibility to ensure the remaining wildlife and habitat is passed on to the next generation. That is exactly why I focus on the wildlife and landscape of Ethiopia. Our country has a lot to offer but many Ethiopians don’t have that knowledge. While this may have started as a hobby, I have now dedicated my life to preserving these treasures.

Chef Yohanis. Picture: Supplied

Chef Yohanis

We want to globally promote the taste and health benefits of African cuisine and find ways to make it available to everyone. I believe Africa has yet to share her wide heritage-based knowledge to improve the lives of many around the world. With just the right interest and research into our own cultures I believe Africa can solve her own challenges regarding food disparity, but also serve as a model for different societies around the globe.

Amadou Daffe, CEO and co-founder, Gebeya Inc. Picture: Supplied

Gebeya

Gebeya is a self-sustainable ecosystem that combines an original practical training model that shapes the next generation of talented African software developers for global job opportunities and entrepreneurship to build innovative startups in Africa. The Gebeya ecosystem is composed of: A practical project based training model, an online marketplace for on demand IT talent and an incubation/acceleration that nurtures, scales and exits African startups.

– Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-Founder, gebeya inc

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Africa’s people-led approach to combat COVID-19 shows signs of progress and leadership

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Writes Thandi Tobias

In its fight against the spread of COVID-19, our continent faces a massive challenge that requires unprecedented levels of unity and coordinated action. To prevail, we have to grasp without hesitation what the World Health Organization (WHO) has described as a ‘window of opportunity’ while it remains open for us to do so.

While our continent is home to many of the world’s fastest developing nations, it is also home to some of the most vulnerable. It is a known fact that the high prevalence of malnutrition, anaemia, malaria, HIV/AIDs, and tuberculosis among our people, puts our continent in an unfortunate position; one in which high death rates happen easily. That is why the country’s leadership had to act swiftly and decisively.

As Africans, itis essential that we focus on coordinated efforts in our shared battle against COVID-19.  Africa spans both hemispheres and consists of 55 member states. Our combined efforts and determination can and will see us through this challenging period. The second and follow-up virtual meeting of the ‘AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government’, held in April 2020, ended with solid plans for a more unified African response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to presentations by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Bureau was also addressed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

All the heads of state in attendance expressed a shared apprehension over the unknown impact this virus stands to have on the health of citizens of Africa, as well as the unforeseeable economic impact it will have. The Heads of States and Governments discussed three broad themes and agreed to proceed to pursue several key solutions:

1.    Stronger inter-continental links for greater African solidarity

There was unanimous agreement on the urgent need to establish better humanitarian and trade corridors among countries; something they also agreed would require cohesive efforts from all participants.  All decisions would be in the best interest of the continent and its people.  This will also enable Africa to speak with one voice on Africa’s priorities. African leaders also agreed on the need for an immediate lifting of all economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan, as no African state would be left alone to fight against the spread of COVID-19. It was resolved that without the burden of sanctions, Zimbabwe and Sudan would be better positioned to save lives.

2.    An aggressive medical response

Africa requires the production of medical supplies and equipment. The heads of states and governments called for international cooperation, support towards up-scaling local production of needed Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs), medical supplies such as masks, gowns, ventilators, and other support devices, all of which are greatly needed in the continent.

Furthermore, the AU commended rapid action initiatives such as the ones coordinated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Jack Ma Foundation. Working with the World Food Programme and Africa CDC, they mobilised and distributed over one million diagnostic tests, six million masks, and 600,000 PPE items to all African Union member states in less than a week.

3.    Fundraising efforts

The AU is taking a multi-stakeholder approach towards raising needed financial and other forms of international support to strengthen the fight to flatten COVID-19 growth in Africa. The gathered Heads of States and Governments also noted the progress made in operationalising the African Union’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which was established on in March 2020. Members pledged the sum of US$12.5 million and an additional US$4.5million to the Africa CDC.

Africa’s Call

To win the battle against COVID-19, protect its citizens and, by extension, citizens of the world, the AU calls for the support pledged by the G20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be delivered without further delay. It also calls for these institutions to review their disbursement policies to unlock higher levels of flexibility, speed, and Africa’s access to the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In addition, the AU also supports the call for a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa and the immediate suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external public and private debt. Such measures would benefit all Africans, as greater fiscal space would be created to resource the battle against COVID-19.

In conclusion, allow me to remind you all, of our South African concept of Ubuntu – I am because you are – which also rings true in the hearts of all Africans and, I hope, inspires people around the world. It is in the spirit of this shared humanity that Africa’s call is made for the global support of our resilient, yet fragile continent.

Thandi Tobias is the Chairperson of Brand South Africa; the official marketing agency of South Africa with a mandate to build the country’s brand reputation and to improve its global competitiveness.

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Building Africa’s Biggest Digital Classroom

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“Wealth, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases.” Swahili Proverb

An enduring lesson learnt throughout our 175-year existence is that, while things rapidly change around us, the things that truly matter don’t! The desire to keep learning and growing is one such thing that remains a driving force behind everything we do at Old Mutual. Education is central to this.

Responding to the Challenges

Aligned to both Sustainable Development Goal’s 4 (Quality Education) and 17 (Partnerships) as well as our Responsible Business philosophy, we’re working to share, connect, learn and grow together with the communities we serve through Education.

We believe in the power of Education to solve key social issues such as poverty, inequality and unemployment. By continuing to invest in Education today, we know that we can build a more prosperous future for the generations of tomorrow.

Old Mutual has partnered with authorities, experts, and practitioners in the field on a number of ongoing initiatives including:  

  • Dynamic and interactive Financial Education and Inclusion programmes that have reached millions across the African continent. Utilising an array of channels and leveraging off technology, the programmes impart valuable and often life changing principles that empower customers and communities to build and sustain their lifetime financial goals.
  • Investing in Schools, Teachers and Leadership to drive immediate and long-term impact in the Education sector. Old Mutual’ s Education Flagship Project – a longer-term programme with a seven-year investment cycle – is in place to connect the dots between learners, teachers and school leadership through innovative training that has paid off in improved results in affiliated schools.
  • Skills Development interventions such as Bursaries, Internships, Learnerships and Graduate Development programmes that seek to create sustainable job opportunities and placements for learners.

Introducing Africa’s Biggest Digital Classroom to Bring It All Together!

In perhaps our most ambitious move yet, Old Mutual has committed to building Africa’s Biggest Digital classroom so that we can extend the Education-based work already being done across the Group to so many more.

This Digital Classroom is being designed to respond to the challenges of widespread education exclusion, low Financial Literacy rates on the continent, vastly uneven teacher-to-learner ratios, as well as accessibility to physical and financial resources that continue to hamper the success of the delivery of Education on the continent today, and into the future. 

Enabling Learning Through Digital Engagement

But why a digital classroom?

Our aim as a business, is to be able to effectively respond to an increasingly connected Africa with user-friendly, value-adding solutions and experiences that bring as many people along on this educational journey as possible. Designed with a generation of digital first, tech-savvy users in mind, but mindful of the wealth of knowledge coming through from past generations, Africa’s Biggest Digital Classroom will enhance the capabilities of past and present, to shape a brighter future for all well into the future.

While we’re investing in digital capabilities to enhance education across the continent, we know that the future of Africa is still its people! And Africa’s Biggest Digital Classroom has people at its core. We believe that in creating opportunities for people to share and connect using digital technologies, we can contribute to greater inclusivity and a more prosperous continent for all.

How You Can Participate

Work is already underway to establish Africa’s Biggest Digital Classroom. We will be creating opportunities for our employees, customers, teachers, learners and many other stakeholders to add their voices to the design process. You can follow our progress and add your voice to the conversation on social media using #175Africa

We look forward to working with you to bring Africa’s Biggest Digital Classroom online!

Content provided by Old Mutual

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Op-Ed: Africa’s People-led Approach To Combat COVID-19 Shows Signs Of Progress And Leadership

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By Thandi Tobias

In its fight against the spread of COVID-19, our continent faces a massive challenge that requires unprecedented levels of unity and coordinated action. To prevail, we have to grasp without hesitation what the World Health Organization (WHO) has described as a ‘window of opportunity’ while it remains open for us to do so.

While our continent is home to many of the world’s fastest developing nations, it is also home to some of the most vulnerable. It is a known fact that the high prevalence of malnutrition, anaemia, malaria, HIV/AIDs, and tuberculosis among our people, puts our continent in an unfortunate position; one in which high death rates happen easily. That is why the country’s leadership had to act swiftly and decisively.

As Africans, itis essential that we focus on coordinated efforts in our shared battle against COVID-19.  Africa spans both hemispheres and consists of 55 member states. Our combined efforts and determination can and will see us through this challenging period. The second and follow-up virtual meeting of the ‘AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government’, held in April 2020, ended with solid plans for a more unified African response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to presentations by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Bureau was also addressed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

All the heads of state in attendance expressed a shared apprehension over the unknown impact this virus stands to have on the health of citizens of Africa, as well as the unforeseeable economic impact it will have. The Heads of States and Governments discussed three broad themes and agreed to proceed to pursue several key solutions:

1.    Stronger inter-continental links for greater African solidarity

There was unanimous agreement on the urgent need to establish better humanitarian and trade corridors among countries; something they also agreed would require cohesive efforts from all participants.  All decisions would be in the best interest of the continent and its people.  This will also enable Africa to speak with one voice on Africa’s priorities. African leaders also agreed on the need for an immediate lifting of all economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan, as no African state would be left alone to fight against the spread of COVID-19. It was resolved that without the burden of sanctions, Zimbabwe and Sudan would be better positioned to save lives.

2.    An aggressive medical response

Africa requires the production of medical supplies and equipment. The heads of states and governments called for international cooperation, support towards up-scaling local production of needed Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs), medical supplies such as masks, gowns, ventilators, and other support devices, all of which are greatly needed in the continent.

Furthermore, the AU commended rapid action initiatives such as the ones coordinated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Jack Ma Foundation. Working with the World Food Programme and Africa CDC, they mobilised and distributed over one million diagnostic tests, six million masks, and 600,000 PPE items to all African Union member states in less than a week.

3.    Fundraising efforts

The AU is taking a multi-stakeholder approach towards raising needed financial and other forms of international support to strengthen the fight to flatten COVID-19 growth in Africa. The gathered Heads of States and Governments also noted the progress made in operationalising the African Union’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which was established on in March 2020. Members pledged the sum of US$12.5 million and an additional US$4.5million to the Africa CDC.

Africa’s Call

To win the battle against COVID-19, protect its citizens and, by extension, citizens of the world, the AU calls for the support pledged by the G20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be delivered without further delay. It also calls for these institutions to review their disbursement policies to unlock higher levels of flexibility, speed, and Africa’s access to the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In addition, the AU also supports the call for a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa and the immediate suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external public and private debt. Such measures would benefit all Africans, as greater fiscal space would be created to resource the battle against COVID-19.

In conclusion, allow me to remind you all, of our South African concept of Ubuntu – I am because you are – which also rings true in the hearts of all Africans and, I hope, inspires people around the world. It is in the spirit of this shared humanity that Africa’s call is made for the global support of our resilient, yet fragile continent.

Thandi Tobias is the Chairperson of Brand South Africa; the official marketing agency of South Africa with a mandate to build the country’s brand reputation and to improve its global competitiveness.

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