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    The Hague, 18 September 2017 – FMO, the Dutch Development Bank, together with Miami based Fintech and digital transformation strategists above & beyond (a&b), today launch “ FinForward”, a marketplace where Fintech companies, Financial Institutions (FIs) and Mobile Money Providers (MMPs) in Africa are matched. After matching, they enter a testing environment where the banks and Fintechs can test and integrate new financial technology solutions in a safe and secure manner.

    The objective of the new platform is to accelerate the digitization of the financial industry in Africa by supporting innovation of the core business with digital solutions. The matching and integration tool will make global Fintech companies accessible and top-of-mind to African financial institutions in order to help them to reduce costs, innovate, add services, tap into new revenue streams and work towards open banking platforms. It will also enable them to service difficult to reach segments such as the bottom of the pyramid, women and small entrepreneurs.

    FMO‘s Andrew Shaw, Senior Fintech Specialist, “We feel that the Fintech conversation is less about who is the disruptor and who is the incumbent, and more about the ecosystem and new partnerships and alliances. We want to stimulate collaboration where it makes commercial sense, and where we can improve financial inclusion.”

    “FinForward is one of a kind initiative that facilitates collaboration between Financial Institutions, Mobile Money Providers and Fintech companies. We are building a thriving interconnected global ecosystem integrated through one single platform”, added Jorge Ruiz, Co-Founder & CEO, above & beyond tech. Fintech as a game changer for emerging markets – reaching the unbanked African financial institutions recognize Fintech as a game changer that allows them to increase efficiency and expand their client/product base. However, they admit that they have difficulties finding, choosing, testing and implementing Fintech companies and their solutions.

    The high demand for financial services in emerging markets provides a large market opportunity for innovative Fintechs using new financial technology such as block chain, data analytics, artificial intelligence and new distribution systems such as online, mobile and agent networks. Fintechs for emerging markets are active in areas such as balance sheet lending, platform lending, payment solutions, software-as-a-service (SaaS), digital field applications, alternative credit scoring, predictive data analytics and transaction verification via block chain.

    FinForward, a 9-month program The 9-month program aims to link Fintechs worldwide with financial institutions in Africa. How does it work? – Outreach – Banks, Mobile Money Providers and Fintechs are invited to join
    – Fintech Opportunity Scan – Participating banks and mobile money providers define their problems and needs – Matching – Pairing of Fintechs based on problem definition – Acceleration & Integration – Testing of Fintech solutions in a sandbox and integrating the technology into the bank’s operations – Showcase – demonstrate success during showcase days About FMO FMO is the Dutch development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, and has a more than 45-year proven track record of empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life.

    FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With a committed portfolio of EUR 9.0 billion spanning over 92 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector developments banks globally.

     

    For more information, please visit www.fmo.nl . Press contact FMO: Renée Schnitzler Senior Communications Advisor T: +31 70 314 9308 E: R.Schnitzler@fmo.nl

    “Kenya’s free market credentials give it a unique opportunity to crowd international and domestic investors in. I expect lift-off in the mining sector over the next 5-10 years.” This is according to the leading Kenyan investment and business guru Aly-Khan Satchu, CEO of Rich Management Ltd.

    The organisers of the Kenya Mining Forum have just announced that Mr Satchu will be a keynote speaker at the annual gathering in Nairobi, which has been moved from November to take place from 4-5 December. Mr Satchu, who will address the opening session on “What do the financial markets tell us about the mining industry at present?”, began his career in banking in the City of London before returning to Kenya 11 years ago and founding his investment advisory firm.

    “I had always studied and traded the commodities markets” says Mr Satchu, “however, the opportunity to take a close look at the mining industry came via Base Resources on whose Base Titanium Kenya Board I serve. It has been a unique opportunity to see a best of breed mining operation up close and personal. Base will parlay its Kwale success into a SSA wide operation in due course.”

    “Investors are the missing ingredient”
    With regards to the main challenges facing the Kenyan mining sector he says “the sine qua non of a successful mining sector is policy making stability and certainty. I believe we have that. These investments are typically big ticket and have a long life. We need to be cognizant of these realities. In the comparison (see Tanzania and SA), Kenya’s mining star is shining bright. The biggest challenge remains capital and building out a capital markets which can support the industry.”

    According to Mr Satchu the Kenyan government “has a crucial and necessary role to play. There is a lot of propaganda around the industry and we need to be wary of the resource nationalism argument. The government needs to play its role so that whilst the government receives its fair share, local communities are also empowered. If that equation is interfered with licenses to operate will be more difficult.”

    During the upcoming Kenya Mining Forum the Rich Management CEO will also chair the Investors Breakfast: “I am very excited to be chairing this discussion. Investors are the missing ingredient. I am keen to tease out how we crowd investors in and how we construct a best of breed capital markets which allows us to capture more value.”

    The complete interview with Mr Satchu can be viewed here: http://www.kenyaminingforum.com/Aly-Khan-Satchu-Interview

    Varied and practical programme
    This year Kenya Mining Forum is once again hosted by the Kenya Ministry of Mining, in collaboration with the Chamber of Mines.

    A varied conference programme focuses on industry issues and challenges ranging from finance, legislation, women in mining, the gemstone sector to CSR. The expo showcases leading technology and services for the sector while a practical workshop programme offers free training and up skilling for mining professionals.

    Base Titanium is the returning diamond sponsor for Kenya Mining Forum, heading up a strong list of leading mining companies and industry suppliers at the event.

    Acacia Mining is also a gold sponsor again this year along with Panafrican Group. More early confirmed sponsors are Kilimapesa Gold, ALN, Conco, Dassault Systemes, ESRI Eastern Africa, HH&M, Scania, Socabelec and Spruceland.

    Mining and infrastructure events
    The Kenya Mining Forum is organised by Spintelligent, a well-known trade conference and expo organiser on the African continent. The company has particular expertise and experience in mining and infrastructure development events; including the long running flagship shows such as DRC Mining Week in Lubumbashi, Nigeria Mining Week in Abuja, Future Energy East Africa (formerly EAPIC) in Nairobi, Future Energy Nigeria (formerly WAPIC) in Lagos and African Utility Week in Cape Town.

    Kenya Mining Forum dates and location:
    Conference and expo: 4-5 December 2017
    Venue: Safari Park Hotel & Casino, Nairobi, Kenya

    Website: http://www.kenyaminingforum.com
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/kenyaminingfor
    LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8530207

    Media contact:
    Senior communications manager: Annemarie Roodbol
    Telephone:  +27 21 700 3558
    Email: annemarie.roodbol@spintelligent.com

      “I’m excited about Nigeria’s energy future, Nigeria IS the future” says a confident Ade Yesufu, who is heading up the Future Energy Nigeria initiative that is taking place in Lagos from 7-8 November.

      As the Global Business Director for the upcoming Future Energy Nigeria, an event that has a solid reputation as a longstanding, high-level gathering place for the region’s power sector, Ade is currently in Nigeria to meet the country’s decision makers and pave the way for another ground-breaking power pow-wow in November.

      “We have to restore investor confidence”
      Ade Yesufu explains: “I don’t see the current recession as a reason to be negative or even cautious about Nigeria’s economic future. If anything, it has focused Government and industry alike to make sure we get the basics right to stimulate much-needed growth and we need a reliable and affordable power supply to do that. The Federal Government’s Nigerian Power Sector Recovery Programme is an important message to the rest of the world that Nigeria is planning significant improvements towards achieving structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy. To me, this creates an important foundation to showcase the enormous business and investment opportunities that the sector provides and I cannot help but be very excited about that.”

      He adds: “we all know that there is a lot of work to do, we have to restore investor confidence, but we are ready to get everyone together and to make sure we showcase the myriad of opportunities in the sector; from gas to renewables, from generation to distribution and from actual building projects to providing specialised services. The power sector knows what to do, needs to stand together and make it happen. Nigeria is ready!”

      New brand – same, innovative event
      Formerly known as the West African Power Industry Convention or WAPIC, which was a firm, favourite fixture on the region’s power calendar for the last 13 years, Future Energy Nigeria, with the support of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Distribution Companies and prominent Generation companies, will once again host many of the country’s leading energy decision makers from 7-8 November 2017 at the Eko Hotel & Suite Convention Centre in Lagos, Nigeria.

      The rebranded Future Energy Nigeria will focus on the bold turnaround plan of the Nigerian government, known as the Power Sector Recovery Program, which is aimed at restoring investor confidence in the sector following reported problems in the country’s electricity market. U$D7.6-billion has been earmarked for this recovery process that the government developed in partnership with the World Bank.

      The event is recognised as being a distinctive gathering of stakeholders within the power value chain which includes governments, power generation companies, transmission and distribution companies, off takers, developers, investors, equipment manufacturers and providers, technology providers, EPCs, legal and consulting firms all with a shared goal of supporting the on-going implementation of finding lasting solutions to Nigeria’s energy challenges. Co-located to the event is the Oil & Gas Council’s Nigeria Assembly.

      Some confirmed conference speaker highlights:

      • Lazarus Angbazo, CEO, Energy Connections Business, GE: Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria
      • Hon. (Princess) Gloria Akobundu, CEO and National Coordinator, NEPAD, Nigeria
      • Onyeche Tifashe, CEO, Siemens, Nigeria
      • Akinwole Omoboriowo, CEO, Genesis Energy, Nigeria
      • Patrick O. Okigbo III, Principal Partner, Nextier, Nigeria
      • Sunkanmi Olowo, Head SME Banking, Ecobank, Nigeria
      • Bart Nnaji, CEO, Geometric Power, Nigeria
      • Joy Ogaji, Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, Nigeria
      • Joel Abrams, Managing Director, Nigeria Solar Capital Partners, Nigeria
      • Olumide Noah Obademi, CEO, Afam Power PLC, Nigeria
      • Nicholas Okafor, Partner, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, Nigeria
      • Olubunmi Peters, Executive Vice Chairman, North South Power Shiroro, Nigeria
      • Segun Adaju, President, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria, Nigeria
      • Engr. Faruk Yabo, Director Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency, FMoPWH

      Industry support
      The 14th edition of the event once again enjoys widespread support from the industry with Lucy Electric, a global secondary distribution leader in the electricity sector, and SkipperSeil Limited already confirmed as platinum sponsors, while Genesis and Jubaili Bros are gold sponsors and Conlog, Landis+Gyr, Hexing and Vodacom are silver sponsors.

      Future Energy Nigeria is organised by Spintelligent, a multi-award-winning Cape Town-based exhibition and conference producer across the continent in the infrastructure, real estate, energy, mining, agriculture and education sectors. Other well-known events by Spintelligent include African Utility Week, Future Energy East Africa (formerly EAPIC), Future Energy Central Africa (formerly iPAD Cameroon), Future Energy Uganda, Agritech Expo Zambia, Kenya Mining Forum, Nigeria Mining Week and DRC Mining Week. Spintelligent is part of the UK-based Clarion Events Group.

      Future Energy Nigeria dates and location:
      Strategic conference: 7-8 November 2017
      Venue: Eko Hotel & Suite Convention Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.

      Website: http://www.future-energy-nigeria.com
      Twitter: https://twitter.com/FutureEnergyHub
      Linkedin: FutureEnergyAfrica

        The Hague, September 6 2017 – FMO, the Dutch development bank, is proud to announce that it has become Europe’s first development finance institution and the second company in the Netherlands to become EDGE certified. Economic Dividends from Gender Equality (EDGE) is the leading global standard for gender equality. EGDE Certification requires a rigorous external assessment of the workplace environment through an employee survey and review of company policy and practice against the international best practice defined by EDGE. The standard focusses on five areas of the workplace environment: equal pay for equal work; recruitment and promotion; leadership development and mentoring; flexible working arrangements; and company culture. Achieving EDGE Assess level recognizes FMO’s public commitment to gender equality. FMO’s almost 500 staff consists of 51 % men, 49 % women and over 39 different nationalities.

        Jurgen Rigterink, CEO FMO, commented, “Empowering female entrepreneurs and contributing to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality is a core part of FMO’s strategy. Over the last year, we have financed several projects such as the Women’s Entrepreneurs Debt Fund and a new US $7.5m loan to ASA Pakistan, a leading microfinance institution in Pakistan, to fund women micro-entrepreneurs, as well as organizing a conference with the Global Banking Alliance for Women on the importance of supporting women-owned businesses.

        Fundamental to the success of FMO is building a diverse and inclusive organizational culture internally that supports both men and women to thrive. EDGE certification is an important part of our strategy to support gender equality within FMO, providing an external benchmark for measuring our progress against international best practice standard over time.

        FMO actively stimulates diversity because it brings different perspectives and approaches to our work, which contribute to better performance. Next to the gender equality focus, FMO seeks to build a diverse and inclusive workforce with regard to cultural diversity in order to optimally serve our clients and stakeholders around the world.”

        Aniela Unguresan, co-Founder of the EDGE Certified Foundation, the Global Standard for Gender Equality, said:“ FMO is to be congratulated on achieving its EDGE Assess Certification. It demonstrates that the organization is committed to achieving gender equality and inclusion at all levels. It also sends a strong message to FMO’s employees, key stakeholders and industry peers, that gender equality is an important strategic goal. By attaining EDGE Assess Certification, FMO is joining a select and ever growing number of global institutions committed to closing the gender gap.”

        About FMO FMO is the Dutch development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, and has a 45-year proven track record of empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life.

        FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With a committed portfolio of EUR 9.0 billion spanning over 92 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector developments banks globally. For more information, please visit www.fmo.nl. Press contact FMO: Renée Schnitzler Senior Communications Advisor T: +31 70 314 9308 E: R.Schnitzler@fmo.nl

          Cobb-Vantress, Inc. / Siloam Springs, Arkansas, USA:  Outstanding hatchability has won Senpiliç in Turkey one of the Cobb Champion Awards. They were introduced last year to recognize annual world-class performance at breeder, broiler and hatchery levels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

           

          The award was presented during the VIV Turkey event at Istanbul, Turkey, where Senpiliç’s contracted breeder farm Insa Tarim was congratulated on achieving 88.27 percent cumulative hatchability at 60 weeks – the second highest figure in the entire EMEA region.

           

          Assistant general manager of Senpiliç Mehmet Lyneci, said: “We have had a very strong relationship with Cobb Turkey from the start of their new hatchery in Turkey. We both supported each other and we see Cobb as a very strong business partner. We hope we shall continue to gain awards as our business grows and the family relationship with Cobb develops in the coming years.”

           

          During the event the Cobb team met customers, not only from Turkey but the Middle East and other parts of the world, including potential business partners and prominent companies within the poultry sector.

           

          Cobb-Vantress, Inc. makes quality protein accessible, healthy and affordable worldwide. Our research and technology innovates the global poultry industry. With headquarters in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, we are the world’s oldest pedigree broiler breeder. We distribute poultry to more than 120 countries.

          Find more at cobb-vantress.com

            By Alex Hitzemann

            Last week Trump took his first foreign tour which gave us some small glimpses into how the Trump administration will interact with Africa in the coming years. With an American first agenda and a proposed new budget that will slash American aid spending in Africa in 2018, it’s easy to see why Africans feel neglected by America’s new domestically focused president. But will Africa continue to remain low on the agenda?

            Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta meets Trump

            As an investor, businessman, and now politician Trump is not ignorant of the enormous potential Africa presents for those willing to forge partnerships in the continent. He must also realize a lack of Western leadership in Africa opens the door for other countries, especially China, to further penetrate Africa with its unique style of politics and business.

            In his first few weeks, Trump called President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Last week during the G7 summit Trump rubbed shoulders with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou, and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi.

            For Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the US’s main priority in Africa is security. Insuring that Africa does not become the next breeding ground for terrorism is currently the Trump administration’s primary objective in Africa.

            However, while speaking with U.S. Department of State Employees, Tillerson recently revealed he’s optimistic and sees huge potential.

            Tillerson explained, “Africa is a continent of enormous opportunity, and needs and will get and will continue to receive our attention to support stabilizing governments as they are emerging and continuing to develop their own institutional capacity, but also looking at Africa for potential economic and trading opportunities. It’s a huge, I think, potential sitting out there, waiting for us to capture it, and then, obviously, a big focus of our health initiatives, because Africa still struggles with huge health challenges. And those are important to us and they’re going to continue to get our attention.”

            “I think there’s huge potential sitting out there, waiting for us to capture it, and then, obviously, a big focus will be our health initiatives” -Tillerson

            Slashing donations and aid to Africa might also backfire on the President’s anti-terror initiative. “Where you cannot create economic opportunities, in these rural areas all across Africa where agriculture ought to be working will simply become a recruiting field for terrorists. I’m sure that’s not in the interests of the United States nor any other country,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, told Newsweek Magazine this week.

            “Cash from Washington plays a vital role in creating jobs in rural parts of Africa, where young people may otherwise turn to extremism when faced with unemployment and poverty due to environmental issues or conflict,” Adesina continues.

            An article published by African Utility Week interviewed the head of natural resources at Exotix Partners in the UK, Andrew Moorfield, he said there is so much emotion in talks about Trump that he would rather focus on the “knowns” which are the markets. In Moorfield’s analysis there is some possible good news for African economies.

            Moorfield referred to the low rate environment in the US. He said the last 12 months shows a post-Trump bump, but it is now falling again. According to him US rates is expected to remain low in the medium term with some consequences for Africa. This situation, he says, “creates a favourable and stable climate for African investment”.

            “The US dollar has been weakening since January, consistent with Trump’s stated preferences threatening foreign investor returns through continuing depreciation,” he explained.

            It is common cause that one of Trump’s key plans is to invest in US infrastructure and this, Moorfield projects, will buoy commodity demand generally which will benefit African economies as demand for oil, gas minerals and metals will grow.

            According to him Africa has lots of natural resources but is low on capital. “So if Trump executes his plan and invests in infrastructure the effect should be that it would buoy commodities and will benefit African economies.”

            Africa Agribusiness Magazine Media by Alex Hitzemann
            Telephone: +1 773 672 8030
            Email: alex@africaag.org

            African Utility Week:
            Andrew Moorfield interview by Alicestine October
            Senior communications manager: Annemarie Roodbol
            Telephone:  +27 21 700 3558
            Mobile:  +27 82 562 7844
            Email:  annemarie.roodbol@spintelligent.com
            Website:  http://www.african-utility-week.com

              By Busani Bafana

              Retaining maize residues for mulching or feeding to cattle is a difficult decision smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe have to make each harvest season.

              One farmer, Simon Madhovi from Madhovi village, ward 28 of Murewa District has found a win-win solution by mulching his field with residues from sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), a nitrogen fixing leguminous crop he intercrops with maize. Sunn hemp is a fast growing cover crop which has been found to improve soil fertility, enhance crop yields and make nutritive feed for livestock.

              Agriculture researchers are promoting hardy purpose crops such as sunn hemp to help livestock and crop farmers cope with droughts which have affected crop and livestock production. In Zimbabwe, smallholder farmers suffer low yields as a result of poor soils and the productivity of their livestock is affected by poor feeding as a result of persistent drought conditions.

              Sunn hemp has been introduced as a mulch and fodder crop to smallholder farmers in Goromonzi, Murewa, Mutoko and Uzumba districts of Mashonaland East Province under the Zimbabwe Crop-Livestock Integration for Food Security (ZimCLIFS) project led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in partnership with Community Technology Development Organization (CTDO), Cluster Agricultural Development Services (CADS) and the government departments. The project funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research aims to improve livelihoods, through increasing food production and food security, enhanced through the adoption of sustainable crop and livestock management practices such as conservation agriculture (CA).

              Under mixed crop-livestock systems, maize residues are often needed for feeding livestock during the dry winter months and for mulching the soil when practicing CA techniques which involve providing at least 30% permanent soil cover using live or dead mulches, crop rotation and reduced soil disturbance.  Due to the low maize yields often generated by farmers in semi-arid areas and the need to feed animals which communally grazed arable fields during winter, farmers often find themselves failing to protect and increase the fertility of their soils leading to poor yields.

              Mulching using sun hemp helped Madhowi reduce labour in having to cut grass and collect leaves which has used for soil cover before he was introduced to the legume crop.

              “Sunn hemp has helped improve our poor soils and allowed me to feed my maize residues to cattle while I mulch my field using sunn hemp residues,” said Madhovi, who also grows forage legumes such as mucuna, lablab, cowpea and groundnuts in rotation with maize to replenish soil fertility and pen feed his livestock. He observed double crop yields under CA compared to conventionally tilled fields.

              After pen fattening, Madhovi’s livestock improved and have been able to draw a ripper marking planting furrows in preparing his fields for the next cropping season. He sold one cow for $900 and bought three more cows and used part of the income for school fees, groceries and agricultural inputs for the next season.

              CIMMYT agronomists provided new legume seeds to farmers at the start of the project and have been involved in farmer training on conservation agriculture and use of equipment use, input use and best farming practices. ILRI researchers have trained the farmers on harvesting legumes for hay, making livestock feed formulation and storing hay.

              The training made a difference because the farmers have adopted CA practices and fodder production principles, says Eleanor Magwaza, a Research Associate and Agronomist at CIMMYT.

              “The farmers’ ability to continue after the ZIMCLIFS project withdrew from the area showed they appreciated the new interventions. The improvement in soil fertility, crop yields and availability of dry season winter feed resulting in higher household income and improved livelihood shows impact.’

              Magwaza said changing farmers’ mindset on the availability of markets for their crops and livestock were a challenge in getting the farmers to adopt sunn hemp. The project assisted in identifying markets for   grains and livestock through innovation platforms, formal platform bring together farmers, extension workers, researchers, traders and buyers to share knowledge in agriculture development.  In anticipation of technical challenges, extension workers and implementing partners were trained on use of equipment and herbicides to assist farmers.

              “Growing fodder crops and mulch is the way to go for farmers doing mixed crop-livestock production,” said Magwaza, adding that, “Competition for resources is reduced yet both crop and livestock production is increased. It is also a way of climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

              Other livestock non -palatable legumes such as tephrosia and grahamiana can also be planted in place of sunn hemp as these persist throughout the dry season and are chopped down to form mulch at the beginning of the next season, Magwaza said.

              There is need for increased targeted investment in enhancing the competitiveness of smallholder farmers to realize multiple benefits from livestock production by understanding the importance of feed and health for their animals, says livestock scientist and ILRI Southern Africa region representative, Sikhalazo Dube.

              “Farmers need to strike the right balance in livestock and crop production by understanding that livestock just like soils need to be healthy to be productive,” said Dube. “In this regard the integrated crop and livestock technologies such as the growing and use of legume fodder crops is critical given the rising demand for livestock products and the significant contribution of livestock to the economy.”

              “The solar off-grid grid space is fascinating. Like telecom it is an example where development and private interests are fully compatible.”

              Exclusive interview with Harald Hirschhofer, Senior Advisor, The Currency Exchange Fund (TCX), The Netherlands. Harald is organising a TCX Risk Mitigation workshop during the F&I Forum at African Utility Week, taking place in Cape Town from 16-18 May, and will address attendees on “Understanding of risks and their pricing – how can the supply of long-term local currency financing and hedging be improved?

              1)      Let’s start with some background about your respective organisations and your role there?
              TCX is a unique global provider of innovative currency hedging solutions. We have a very strong development focus and over the past 10 years we have protected millions of borrowers in frontier and emerging markets from the horrible financial consequences on their firm and household budgets from sudden exchange rate depreciations. I am working very closely with our CEO to develop new strategic initiatives to promote local currency financing, both within the domestic financial system as well as cross border from DFIs or private investors.

              2)      What is the most exciting project you have worked on in Africa so far?
              The solar off-grid grid space is fascinating. Like telecom it is an example where development and private interests are fully compatible. Mobile banking applications have created new credit channels and even the poorest can now build a credit history and gradually accumulate assets. However, the gap between the local currency receivables and the hard-currency funding of the sector are still an Achilles heel. TCX is working with the leading firms, such as M-KOPA, and industry associations like GOGLA to reduce such systemic risks. These firms should be financed in local currencies, or if that is not possible, reduce the fx mismatch.

              3)      What did you learn from the investments that did not do so well?
              Well, TCX does not provide funding. We are providing risk management tools like swaps and forwards to all kind of investment projects around the world. Like with any other type of insurance provider, having losses is part of our business. Our losses protect our clients. For example, we lost more than US$40m in one day when the Central Bank of Azerbaijan could not defend its peg anymore, but that probably saved thousands of local firms and borrowers from heavy financial difficulties.

              4)      What in your view is the biggest misconception that people have about investing in Africa? And about renewable energy?
              I think there is too much fear about the uncertainty of some renewable business models which drive up credit spreads. For example, solar technology is well tested now, project implementation risks are low in many countries, and pay as you go schemes work with low default rates. Bankers do not yet fully appreciate this. More needs to be done to share performance information of existing firms and train bankers and investment officers. An industry association like GOGLA is well placed to make progress in this and we at TCX would certainly like to contribute.

              5)      Which countries on the continent are doing the right things? Where are the opportunities?
              Many countries have understood that a stable and modern regulatory, legal, and judiciary environment combined with stable macro-economic policies are critical for development, especially for capital intensive sectors. We must do more in standardization of contracts and processes across Africa, learning from more advanced countries.  Africa is in the unique position to leapfrog, or as some of my African friends say, to jump like an antelope across older technologies. Let us mobilize the solar and fintec entrepreneurs and empower then to find new solutions for the benefits of all. I hope that vested interests and stranded assets will not be allowed to stand in the way of new and better technologies.

              6)      You are organising the TCX Risk Mitigation workshop in the F&I Forum at African Utility Week this year. What will be your message to attendees and what can they expect of this workshop?
              Do not speculate! Entrepreneurs should strive to only accept those risks in their business model which they are able to somehow control and manage. For example, project implementation risks, supply risks. Risks which they cannot influence should be insured and the insurance costs made part of the cost envelop. FX risk, which manly consists of market fluctuation and in-convertibility risks, is one of those risks, which should be eliminated from the business model. Otherwise, an otherwise healthy firm and its customers and funders can suffer huge losses, because of events which lie completely out of their control. Think of the copper price in Zambia, or the Tuna bonds in Mozambique. We still need to make a lot of efforts in awareness building and deepen the understanding how modern financial instruments like those offered by TCX can help. The Risk Mitigation workshop at African Utility Week is an opportunity to make progress.

              Link to interview online: http://www.african-utility-week.com/TCX-HaraldHirschhofer-interview

              More interviews like this: http://www.african-utility-week.com/expertinterviews

              More about African Utility Week: http://www.african-utility-week.com/pressreleases

              Media contact:
              Senior communications manager: Annemarie Roodbol
              Office: +27 21 700 3558
              Email: annemarie.roodbol@spintelligent.com

              Media and Website by Alex Hitzemann alex@africaag.org 

              More than 40 trainees took part in the first scientific workshop organized jointly by the Al Watania Poultry Institute of Technology (WIT) and Cobb-Vantress for the Saudi poultry industry.

              During the three-day event Cobb specialists from Europe and Brazil shared their experience with the trainees on poultry breeding, management of broiler breeders and broilers, health and vaccination, ventilation in hot climates and nutrition.

              “The participants greatly appreciated the efforts of Cobb,” said Dr Shakeel Ahmad, head of the institute.  “They found the training sessions very useful in complementing their poultry knowledge and skills. They would like such training programs and workshops to be conducted regularly to benefit the poultry industry of Saudi Arabia.”

              Hosam Amro, Cobb senior technical service manager in the region, stated: “The business partnership between Cobb and the Al Watania Poultry Company, not only in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but in the region, is one of the most solid relationships in the Middle East.

              “Since 1998 Cobb has been working closely with Al Watania to provide the best genetics to meet the growing market demand for fresh whole bird birds and cut-up products. Participating in the WIT training programme is another area of business development where Cobb and Al Watania are working closely together to benefit the future of the local industry.”

              Matthew Wilson, Cobb technical services director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, added:  “WIT is a unique facility not only in the Middle East region but globally, combining both scientific poultry training with practical experience in its training facility.

              “It’s an honor for the Cobb technical team to support WIT in training the next generation of poultry specialists. There is no greater contribution you can make to your fellow citizens than providing healthy, affordable and sustainable protein. Cobb is the global leader in poultry genetics while Al Watania is the leading producer of sustainable poultry production in the Middle East, and together our partnership goes from strength to strength.”

              Participants at the workshop included trainees from the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture & Water, and the Gassim Veterinary School.

              –  The Al Watania Poultry Institute of Technology was established in 2014 to promote education and skills in the poultry industry in Saudi Arabia, with the first intake of students in 2015.  At present more than 120 are receiving training at the institute, which is equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories, hatchery and farms to provide hands-on tuition.  Cobb joined hands with WIT in 2016 to provide practical training at its European and US production facilities, and in July the first eight WIT trainees gained first-hand experience there.

               

              Cobb-Vantress, Inc. is a poultry research and development company engaged in the production improvement and sale of broiler breeding stock.  Cobb is the world’s oldest pedigree broiler breeding company. Founded in 1916, Cobb has grown into one of the world’s leading suppliers of broiler breeding stock with distribution into over 120 countries. Cobb has contributed to the dynamic efficiency and growth of an industry that has transformed chicken into an economically affordable healthy protein source for many of the over seven billion people in the world.

               

              www.cobb-vantress.com

               

                It has been a remarkably year, 2016, with its attendant successes and failures for peoples, industries and nations. More remarkably, it has been a year of great technological strides and achievements with technologies that provided avenues to solving big problems and opening up opportunities, ranging from self-driving cars to Advanced Robotics, Improved Data Science, Genomics, Improved Solar energy technologies etc.

                Agricultural stakeholders and technology enthusiasts in Africa also witnessed the introduction of the Zenvus Technology, a unique innovation from a team of highly talented individuals led by Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe driven to exploit the ever burgeoning power of technology and science to revolutionize farming output efficiency and productivity in Africa.

                4ecd56cc-c17f-46dc-aafb-a127af6f5006_111_20161212_foto1kl_Ghana maize afflicted by numerous stresses PhotoMarloes_van_Loon_WUR“Zenvus is an intelligent solution for farms that uses proprietary electronics sensors to collect soil data like moisture, nutrients, pH etc and send them to a cloud server via GSM, satellite or Wifi. Algorithms in the server analyze the data and advice farmers on farming. As the crops grow, the system deploys special cameras to build vegetative health to help detection of drought stress, pests and diseases. The data generated is aggregated, anonymized and made available via subscription for agro-lending, agro-insurance, commodity trading to banks, insurers and investors”, Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe.

                The Zenvus technology among other things would allow farmers and stakeholders make informed decisions by providing real time data for the farmers and stakeholders thus eliminating guesses on timing, procedure and crops for farming. Indeed, as the American Data Scientist W. Edward Feming quipped , “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion” we have long continued to rely on opinions and poor forecast to make decisions on Agricultural investments and this has taken a toll on agricultural yield. The technology also provides data analytics that relate information on possible outbreak of pests and diseases in farms which usually reduces yield, allowing farmers to initiate preventive measures.

                This is a timely innovation for an industry that has been tipped to boost many economies in Africa with many African leaders pledging commitment towards Agriculture in the present and future. It is a peerless stride in an industry seldom associated with innovation in Africa. However, as continuous push is being made for a deeper penetration of mechanized farming in Africa, it is necessary to remind ourselves that Agriculture has remained an industry driven by innovation and technology in the developed societies. Agricultural yields have been maximized through innovation, technology and science as demonstrated by countries like Israel. In the economic account of Israel in their phenomenal book, Start-up Nation, the authors recounted that President Shimon Peres had asserted that Agriculture is ninety-five percent science and five percent work. This drove his underlying commitment for innovation in Agriculture which saw Israel increase its agricultural yield seventeen times within twenty-five years.

                The promise of this innovation is apparent and its impact is scalable and measurable. Little wonder that within months of its introduction, the technology was a finalist of the 2016 Singularity University Food Grand Challenge and have been featured in many leading technology reviews. The technology has also recorded noteworthy milestones within the last 6 months of launch, such as a grant support from Facebook to develop the artificial intelligence which will power farming decision making via Zenvus Bot which is on beta at the moment.

                The technology has also been quickly adopted by leading Agricultural stakeholders and policy proponent in Africa. For instance, Zenvus will begin piloting its technology for African Development Bank which wants to deploy it across all farms it is providing funding. The Bank of Agriculture, Nigeria is also adopting Zenvus as the technology platform to drive agricultural innovation in Nigeria. More recently, Zenvus have signed a contract with an African farm union to support 12.2 million farmers from 2017.

                Nonetheless, more commitment would be required by the government and its attendant social institutions across Africa towards delivering needed incentives that can encourage and support more farmers in integrating this technology to increase crop yield.

                As Professor Joel Mokyr noted in his book, The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress.

                …to encourage technological creativity and innovation in a society, …three conditions have to be satisfied,… there has to be a core group of ingenious and resourceful innovators who are both willing and able to challenge their physical environment for their improvement,… Secondly, economic and social institutions have to encourage these potential innovators by providing the right incentive structure and thirdly such society most encourage diversity and tolerance.

                The team at Zenvus technology has done an exceptional job in developing this technology; it would be great if such technological creativity comes under the aegis of the governments and agricultural stakeholders in Africa who can devote resources towards scaling this technology for farmers because of the positive impact on farm productivity accruable to this technology. This could hold the key to more productive farming in Africa from 2017 going forward.

                 

                Kingsley Egbo, a Commonwealth Scholar writes from the UK

                Digital Media for Africa Agribusiness Magazine by Alex Hitzemann