Welcome to this month's newsletter from Addleshaw Goddard's Africa Business Group
This month, we focus on PPP and renewable energy which are often touted as the obvious solutions for the infrastructure funding gap and energy shortage. Whilst challenges remain, including senior level political commitment to create policy to push PPP and renewable energy, there has been an increased focus in many countries, particularly for solar where the sharp decline in costs and increased efficiency, coupled with battery storage is making it the obvious choice for African countries. The sector remains incredibly exciting with many opportunities for developers, investors and lenders.
Please visit Addleshaw Goddard's dedicated Africa site for more information about doing business in Africa and how Addleshaw Goddard can support you.
South Africa Delays Renewable Projects Pending Court Hearing
South Africa delayed signing agreements for renewable-energy projects worth 56 billion rand ($4.7 billion), after a court postponed a ruling on a labor union application to block the deals.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Transform RSA applied for an interdict on Monday evening to prevent state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. from signing 27 power purchase agreements that have been held up since 2016. While the union says the projects threaten jobs and coal-fired plants, the government argues that renewable energy will stimulate economic growth and diversify South Africa’s power mix.
The High Court will hold a hearing on March 27, after both sides have submitted further arguments. Energy Minister Jeff Radebe was originally due to sign the contracts with independent power producers on Tuesday.
Africa’s First Renewable Energy Academy Launched in Ogun State, Nigeria
Following the recent launch of Asteven Group’s energy academy, Nigeria has become the first country in sub Saharan Africa with an academy where green vendors, service providers, installers, technicians and dealers in renewable energy technologies can be trained into reputable professionals.
As a green energy solution provider company, and as part of its commitment to tailor a holistic approach to sustainability while playing a greater role in stimulating the adoption of efficient practices in doing business in Africa, the group says the academy is built primarily and structured in line to support rapid developing markets for renewable energy and energy efficient industry.
The event which took place earlier in the week has thus been described as a timely intervention –particularly for the fact that the nation currently battles for self sufficiency in electricity generation and distribution. According to the green energy solution providers the curriculum of the academy will facilitate the receipt of global professional certifications in each area of study.
AfDB partners with ISA to enhance solar energy in Africa
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has partnered with International Solar Alliance (ISA) in order to enhance solar energy in the country.
The new partnership is said to be part of AfDB’s Light up and Power Africa initiative.
AfDB and ISA have agreed to provide technical assistance and knowledge transfer for the development and deployment of solar projects in African countries.
In order to support off-grid solar projects and large-scale solar independent power producers in African ISA member countries, AfDB and ISA will also create new financial instruments.
Under the new partnership, ISA has agreed to support AfDB’s Desert to Power solar initiative, which aims to transform Africa’s deserts into new energy sources.
London looks to African infrastructure and energy markets
A trio of recent lateral hires indicates that law firms in London are keeping a close eye on African energy and infrastructure opportunities, with US law firms at the vanguard of such interest.
Recent announcements by the London offices of Covington & Burling, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and McCarthy Denning, show that partners with project finance, infrastructure and energy backgrounds are in demand in London’s busy lateral law firm hires market.
That reflects increasing confidence by banks and sovereigns in financing energy developments, the impact of gradually rising oil and gas prices and increasing activity, recently valued at USD 21.2 billion, in oil and gas mergers and acquisitions, alongside increased infrastructure activity associated with gradually increasing confidence in the mining sector.
UKDIT pledges billions to African infrastructure
The UKDIT says it has the ability to facilitate the provision of billions of Pounds Sterling in lending and guarantees to African countries to help address a chronic infrastructure backlog that the World Bank estimates to be about US$93 billion a year in the Sub-Saharan region alone.
United Kingdom Department for International Trade (UKDIT) in Africa has a presence in 21 countries across the continent and enables the provision of these facilities through UK Export Finance (UKEF), the United Kingdom’s (UK) export credit agency, a part of Department for International Trade.
Loans can be extended in the local currencies of nine African countries for projects ranging from transportation, mining and general construction, though they must include at least 20% UK content and meet all other lending criteria.
E. Africa seeks $78 billion to fund infrastructure projects
The East African Community (EAC) needs $78 billion in the next ten years to fund more than 200 infrastructure projects in the five member states.
The key projects to be funded include the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), hydropower, oil and gas projects across the region, which together are to cost $62.2 billion.
Leaders from the EAC member states including Tanzania’s president John Magufului, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir were hosted by Uganda’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the regional bloc’s Joint Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure and Health Financing and Development. The leaders agreed that the revenue will be internally and externally raised through borrowing and public private partnerships.
Africa’s fibre broadband market set to rise in 2018
The use of broadband by telecommunications companies in Africa is increasing, which will lead to the competition rising for manufacturers in the market during 2018.
IT News Africa quoted Steve Briggs, chief commercial officer at SEACOM, stating that the flurry of activity in the fibre market is creating a virtuous circle where end-users benefit from better broadband connectivity and thus use more telecom services.
The resulting uptick in demand gives telecom networks the incentive and business case to invest more heavily in fibre infrastructure.
“In the markets where we operate, East Africa and southern Africa there’s a land grab underway,” noted Briggs. Read more: KETRACO form allies to upgrade its fibre connections.
Over a third of SA water supply lost through poor infrastructure
Over a third of SA's water supply is being lost due to aged and leaking infrastructure before it can be used.
That's according to CSIR principal researcher and research group leader for resource-specific scientific measures Marius Claassen.
Claassen, speaking during a panel discussion on Thursday ahead of World Water Day, said countrywide an average of 37% of SA's water supply was lost before it reached users due to leaks.
An expert on water policy and its governance, he said water conservation was not only a government responsibility.
“For metropolitan areas infrastructure is fit for supply and sanitation, but in rural areas infrastructure is at imminent risk of failure as it has not been upgraded for years,” Claassen said.
Wood Wins Framework Contract to Expand Electricity in Africa
Wood is providing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with technical consulting services to support its Power Africa initiative. The program aims to expand electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa, where two out of three people lack access to power.
The five-year framework agreement has an aggregate maximum value of US$900 million for the multiple awardees and is estimated to reach completion by 2025.
Power Africa is a partnership between the U.S. and African governments, the private sector, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and bilateral and multilateral partners. The goal is to increase installed power capacity by 30,000 megawatts and create 60 million new connections to double access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.
Mastercard Pilots 'Pay As You Go' Program For Solar Energy In Africa
There’s a lot of untapped potential when it comes to solar energy in Africa. Solutions have come to the continent on a small and rural scale, but it remains very expensive to implement. Mastercard is teaming up with a solar energy company to help the population pay for solar generation based on consumption.
Africa receives the most amount of sunshine than any other continent on Earth. Most of that is beamed at the Sahara Desert, but there’s still a number of African countries south of the desert that can utilize the sunlight. At the same time, over 600 million people don’t have access to electricity.
M-Kopa Solar, a Kenyan energy company that focuses on bringing electricity to everyone, has already rolled out a “pay-as-you-go” plan in East Africa for a trial run. This prevents the need for people to pay for large solar energy costs immediately and instead make small daily payments on their account.
- Business council for Africa news and country spotlights
50% of oil-funded projects in three regions non-existent – PIAC (Ghana)
Fifty percent of all oil-funded projects in three regions are nonexistent, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee, (PIAC) said in a report.
The 2017 Project Inspections Report by PIAC revealed that of all oil-funded projects in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions 50 percent are nonexistent.
Chairman of PIAC Dr Steve Manteaw said, “Six projects were inspected in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions; the findings and observations were overwhelming with fifty percent of the projects being nonexistent.”
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation restores normal supply of petrol at cost of $4 million
Exactly six months after the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) assumed the sole importer of petrol in October 2017 and struggled to meet the country’s need, the corporation has finally normalised the supply of the product, with depot owners now selling at official ex-depot price, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
The corporation’s inability to bridge the supply gap created by the refusal of the private marketers to import petrol, had led to fuel crisis, which marred the Christmas celebration and lingered into the first quarter of 2018.
However, NNPC’s success was achieved at a great cost to the country as the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had revealed that the corporation’s under-recovery, which is the loss incurred by selling the imported product at official prices of N133 per litre at the depots and N145 at the pumps, had hit N1.4 trillion yearly.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation begins integrity test on 5000km pipeline network
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has stated that it will embark on a comprehensive audit of the over 5, 000 kilometres of its petroleum products and crude oil pipelines to ascertain their integrity levels.
The corporation said this in a statement by the Managing Director of its subsidiary, Nigerian Pipeline and Storage Company (NPSC), Mr. Luke Anele.
Anele, according to the statement, signed by the Group General Manager, Public Affairs of the NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, said the integrity test plans had been approved by the corporation’s board and would be executed by the National Engineering and Technical Company (NETCO), an upstream subsidiary of the NNPC.
“It covers the conduct of integrity test on crude pipelines, the products pipelines and our depots, with special emphasis on refinery attached depots and refinery evacuation lines,” said Anele in the statement.
Anele noted that the outcome of the project would help the NPSC to take informed decisions on the appropriate strategies it would adopt in the planned Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement for the pipelines.
Nigeria’s ministries to meet over non-taxation of imported cooking gas
The ministries of petroleum resources and finance would soon meet to address the issue of the continued exemption from value added tax (VAT), imported Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), or cooking gas, while the product that is produced in Nigeria is taxed, Brenda Ataga, a Senior Special Adviser to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said.
Speaking to journalists at a stakeholders’ meeting on how to adequately deepen the role of LPG in Nigeria’s domestic energy sector, Ataga who advises the petroleum minister on downstream infrastructure, said in Abuja that the government would address the existing issues and controversies surrounding non-taxation of imported gas.
According to her, government was also looking into how Nigeria’s gas sector could be restructured to become more competitive and help her economic diversification from oil to gas as a sustainable energy source and revenue earner.
Mobile money cross-network transfer fees fall 75pc (Nigeria)
Cross-network money transfer charges have fallen by up to 75 per cent after interoperability went live Tuesday between Safaricom and Airtel.
Transaction fees between the two mobile money wallets is down by between 40 per cent and 75 per cent compared to what was previously charged.
Safaricom will now charge sending money to a registered Airtel Money subscriber a similar amount as a registered M-Pesa user.
Airtel will also lower its cross-network fees with the reduced charges being part of the approval by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
Facebook deepens consumer data mining in Kenya with ‘firmware’
Global social networking giant Facebook, which is facing a storm of international protest over its data mining and consumer data protection, is collecting additional citizen data beyond its users through the Wi-Fi Express programme it launched last year in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, India, and Indonesia, the Business Daily has learned.
It has emerged that the company, which has in recent weeks suffered a mass user withdrawal following exposés that it has been acting as a gateway to those who want to collect data on millions of users, such as data firm Cambridge Analytica, may be mining even deeper into consumer data in the developing world where laws are weak or non-existent and regulators are lacking the knowledge and technology to monitor its activities.
With eyes now focused on the scale of Facebook’s data gathering and data selling through its own platform, the company’s Express Internet service, which has been rolled out in thousands of hotspots, including more than 1,000 in Kenya, is thought to have deepened the company’s data gathering capacity with unknown consequences to consumers.
Ghana Stock Exchange best performer among seven African stock markets in Q1
The Ghana Stock Exchange, (GSE) was the best performing stock market among seven African stock markets in local currency term at the end of the first quarter of 2018.
The GSE returned 30.51 percent in cedi term for investors to end the first quarter of 2018 on a blissful note.
Egypt CASE 30 followed suite with a return of 13.2 percent and the Nigerian ASI with a year-to-date return of 9.3 percent for investors.
Kenya NASI gave investors 6.8 percent return, whilst Morroco’s MASI and Mauritius SEMDEX recorded 6.7 and 4.8 percent respectively.
73 firms join plan for fast East African Community trade (Kenya)
Some 73 companies are on track for expedited payment of refunds and reduced customs security checks after they enrolled in an East African Community (EAC) programme to promote regulatory compliance, enhance trade and improve border security.
The firms will reap other benefits of the programme, named Authorised Economic Operators (AEO), including automatic passing of their declarations and will undergo no physical examination of goods except where risks are high, among others.
The incentives apply to multinationals as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that have joined the programme.
Established almost 60 years ago, The Business Council for Africa network supports over 400 companies and entrepreneurs operating across the continent. The Business Council for Africa works closely with its members to promote business opportunities and facilitate sustainable investment across the continent. They organise over 30 African business related meetings in London each year and have 33 In-Country Directors in West and Southern Africa and thus provide a very useful platform for networking for both new investors and those already operating on the continent.
For further information on Business council for Africa, please contact Nouria Bah