Posts tagged as: african

Togo: Yobo Studios Pioneers Short-Format Series Content for Broadcast and Online

London — If you’re a regular visitor to Discop Africa (the largest TV trade show in Africa), you may have noticed her. Or maybe you know ‘Zem’, her mini-TV series that was a hit in Africa and with the african diaspora.

Half Togolese on her father’s side and half from Guadeloupe on her mother’s side, Angela Aquereburu Rabatel founded the company YoBo Studios with her partner Jean-Luc Rabatel in 2009 (the year of the first Discop Africa’s edition). She explains her career and describes her productions to Sylvain Béletre/BalancingAct – April 2017.

Based in Lomé, Togo, YoBo Studios is an audiovisual production company – now one of the largest production companies in the country – whose “objective is to provide original and exportable content”. The other ambition of her team: to bring a different perspective on Africa today.

Q. Before becoming a producer, what was your background? Have you done other things?

A. I went through the ESCP (Ecole Supérieure de Commerce) in Paris to obtain my specialized Master in Entrepreneurship. I worked in measuring instruments and then in an HR consulting firm before turning to the audiovisual sector. I trained on the job: I read a lot of books and viewed many tutorials to learn the trade. Moving to Togo quickly became obvious.

Q. How did you land in the television sector? And why did you choose Togo to establish yourself?

A. My father is already a ‘television dinosaur’ in Togo, as he was one of the first to set up satellite dishes in the region for Canal + Horizon and CFI. My partner, Jean-Luc, was a comedian in Paris and had full-on projects. My father said to us: “Why do you waste your time in France when here the sector is damaged! Look at the mediocre content on television, which does not look like us! “That’s how we decided to do the Zem pilot.

My family lives in Togo and has developed facilities that I can benefit for my productions. Without this family base in Togo, I think we would have had a harder time getting started in audio-visual production …

Q. What were or are your biggest challenges? And your biggest hits?

A. Our greatest popular success: ZEM. Our ‘challenge’? The financing of our productions, our financial margins.

A. Tell us more about YoBo Studios.

Q. We produce fun, entertaining and aesthetic content: TV series, commercials, 3D animation and soon feature films. The company was called Caring International. We then changed our name to something more authentic. The Yo comes from the mina (Togolese dialect), the yovo which means ‘person with white skin’. And the Bo comes from the word ameyibo which means ‘a person with black skin’. A nod to our partnership – Jean-Luc and me – and on cinema … black & white.

Q.What are your main production projects today?

A. This year, we produce Zem Season 3, and “Oasis”, a new drama for Cote Ouest. In 2018, we plan to shoot the “EXPAT” series, which is currently under development, and another series project for the moment confidential. Beginning in 2019, we would like to produce long feature films that cross borders … broadcast on television and in cinemas.

Q. Please tell us more about these new projects.

A. Oasis and Expat are series projects under development. Oasis is a fictional 20-minute episode of 26 minutes in development for Cote Ouest, which has obtained support from the OIF. The series tells the story of a woman who integrates a real estate complex to do industrial espionage, but whose mission will be compromised when she goes back to a knowledge watch. Expat is a ‘drama’ of 10 episodes of 26 minutes that tells the story of a French couple who believes they are leaving in ‘expatriation’, while they land in Porto Novo, Benin …

Q. How would you define ZEM, this series which was the first success of your company?

A. ZEM is a short format series (3 minutes), whose purpose is to establish a humorous dialogue between several motorcycle taxi drivers and their entourage. I think this series was a success because it was the first time at the time that we showed on television in 2009 a short African format shot in HD with actors who had a smooth and fast rapport.

The pilot first made a buzz on Dailymotion France with more than 50,000 views on the first day (at the time it was a lot for African content!). It was also the first time that Canal + Overseas made co-production on a series. Season 1 of ZEM has 26 episodes, Season 2 is 50 episodes and Season 3 has 60 episodes (in preparation). The Season 1 was broadcast on January 4, 2010 on Canal + Afrique and on July 4, 2010 on Comédie (France), Ma Chaine Etudiante (France) and TV5monde in 2012, then the A+ channel in 2016. The Season 2 appeared to the public 12 September 2016 on TV5monde. Zem received a special prize at the Festival Vues d’Afrique in Montreal in 2012.

Q. Hospital IT (pronounced ‘Hospitalité’ in French) is about the medical world, correct?

A. This series of fiction describes a facet of the medical world in Africa. It shows the ambivalence between traditional medicine and Western medicine. The series is coming out this year.

Q. Who distributes your programs globally?

A. Zem and Palabres belong to YoBo Studios, we distribute them. Mi Temps is distributed by Canal+. The rights of Hospital IT and Oasis belong to Cote Ouest which distributes them.

Q. Is brand placement important to the survival of your company? What percentage of the total budget?

A: Yes, it is important funding for some of our productions; today, our partnering channels deal with the placement of trademarks in our productions, when our content has been pre-purchased by a channel that is linked to an ad planning agency (e.g. Canal+ Advertising, FTP). Product or brand placement represents today about 5% of the budget of our productions, at best.

Q. Do you think that the development of the audiovisual sector is important for Africans, and if so why? (In comparison with other sectors and infrastructures – health, water, electricity …)

A. For us it is as important as the rest, but for governments it is not an urgent priority. However, audiovisual programs make it possible to pass on many messages to the population, and not only in an autocratic way. The development of the audiovisual sector is essential: Watching television is the only entertainment that exists for the big mass, outside drink… As a result, the audiovisual sector is a decisive tool to convey strong messages of health, ecology, democracy … In short, we can inform and educate the populations through audiovisual programmes. But it would require a real political will to improve this sector.

Q. How do you think the African audiovisual sector has evolved since 2009?

A. It is a sector in full evolution: I see programs of better quality with more variety. Financing and margins remain the weak point.

Q. What are the current trends in terms of audiences across Africa right now?

A. Mobile TV is growing all over Africa. African people watch a lot of videos on their mobile phones. Some – the most connected – subscribe to VoD services: iROKO, Netflix, etc.

Q. What challenges do you see in the sector? And how do we deal with them?

A. Financing is key. To make exportable and cost-effective content, a minimum investment is required.

Q. Who do you think are the main leaders of the sector in French-speaking Africa? Those who really invest …

A. Local producers and broadcasters, Cote Ouest, Bolloré / Canal+, OIF, TV5Monde, RTI … There are not enough, at least on the French-speaking side. TV5monde has a genuine investment policy on African productions, they also make local ‘coups’ with real action points. RTI (Radio TV Cote d’Ivoire) can be very aggressive in its content acquisition policy but focuses mainly on Ivorian productions when it comes to pre-purchase; The Canal+ group with Canal+ Afrique, the A+ channel, NollywoodTV are key buyers in the sector… And finally Cote Ouest, which has always been a leader in distribution in Africa, but for the last 2 years has started (co-)production.

My Life Is in Danger, Says Opposition Leader

By Moses Havyarimana

Burundi’s main opposition leader and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Agathon Rwasa has claimed his life is in danger following attacks of several of his supporters by unknown people.

He said the attacks and a plot to assassinate him are linked to the coming elections in 2020.

Mr Rwasa pointed an accusing finger at members of the ruling party, Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Restoration of Democracy, CNDD-FDD, and the police.

Mr Rwasa is one of the few opposition leaders who have remained critical of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government. Several of his supporters have lately been killed and others kidnapped and he says these incidents have left him fearing for his life. But the government has dismissed the claims, saying he had not even made an official complaint.

“We suppose that he is well protected by the police and the army because he hasn’t yet reported any abnormal situation of his security,” said Burundi police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye.Video footage surfaced on social media showing the ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure jogging while chanting that they would “impregnate” opposition members so as they “could give birth to Imbonerakure.”

The video stirred up reactions from the international community, with the latest condemnation coming from the UN human rights office.

“The grotesque rape chants by the young men are deeply alarming, particularly because they confirm what we have been hearing from those who have fled Burundi about a campaign of fear and terror by this organised militia,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.The ruling party condemned the Imbonerakure, saying it was contrary to the “rules and the mission of the party.”

“CNDD-FDD condemns the use of that language and the disciplinary commission is investigating and whoever involved will be sanctioned,” a statement read from the ruling party.

Efforts have been made by the East African Community to put an end to the political crisis that continued to dog the country since 2015, although the regional mediated dialogue under the facilitation of former Tanzania president Benjamin Mkapa is yet to produce tangible results.

“We had said this before and we will continue saying it that the Burundi government will not sit on the same table with the coup plotters… they only have to face justice,” said Will Nyamitwe, special ambassador of Burundi.

As the country steadily gains stability and the focus turns to the 2020 general elections, the ruling party CNDD-FDD is said to still have the upper hand. The absence of main opposition leaders and weak opposition justifies the dominance of CNDD-FDD.

The intra-Burundi dialogue commission (CNDI) released a report on the findings in the six-month period on what could restore peace.

According to the findings, Burundians called on their lawmakers to scrap term limits that can see the incumbent stay in power.

Burundi is relatively gaining stability after the violent protests in 2015 that led to more than 500 people losing their lives. The country’s Constitution has been at the centerstage of the political crisis the country has faced since the 2015 polls.

Burundi

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South Africa: No Nuclear Energy Option – for Now At Least

analysisBy Hartmut Winkler, University of Johannesburg

A South African court has ruled that critical aspects of the country’s nuclear procurement process are illegal and unconstitutional. The outcome is a significant setback for a network of entities that had been aggressively promoting a 9.6 GW nuclear expansion programme in the face of popular opposition.

Over the past four weeks controversy over the proposed nuclear build has reached new highs. This was sparked by a major cabinet reshuffle in which President Jacob Zuma ousted both his finance and energy ministers, replacing them with individuals regarded as pro-nuclear.

The reshuffle prompted some of the largest and most diverse street protests since the dawn of the country’s democracy in 1994. While many factors contributed to the outpouring of public anger against the president, the nuclear question was a common motif in the protests.

Opposition to the nuclear expansion programme centred on two points: the first was its prohibitive costs – some estimates put it at R 1 trillion which is roughly equivalent to the government’s total annual tax revenue.

The second is that it has become contaminated by allegations of corruption, with evidence pointing to politically connected groups and individuals benefiting handsomely from it.

Back to the drawing board

The court’s ruling in effect means that the planners will have to go back to the drawing board.

The case in the Western Cape High Court was brought by two civil society organisations, Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute (SAFCEI).

The most far reaching aspects of the judgment were that it overturned ministerial proclamations made in 2013 and 2016 that enabled the development of 9.6 GW of nuclear power. It furthermore invalidated the intergovernmental nuclear collaboration agreements South Africa had signed with Russia, the US and South Korea.

The court’s ruling on the promulgations was damning and unambiguous.

South Africa’s Electricity Regulation Act requires the Minister of Energy to promulgate any energy generating capacity expansion through the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). The regulator is required to vet the proclamation to ensure that it is in the public interest.

The Minister of Energy issued two promulgations to establish 9.6 GW of nuclear energy generation. The first one was concluded in 2013 but only made public two years later. The second one, which delegated the nuclear procurement to the state electricity utility Eskom, whose leadership is strongly pro-nuclear, was hurriedly and stealthily implemented in 2016 on the eve of the first sitting of Western Cape High Court on the matter.

Neither of these proclamations allowed a public participation process.

The court ruled that both promulgations were illegal and unconstitutional. It found that the regulator had failed to carry out its mandate because it had endorsed the minister’s directives uncritically and hurriedly. In doing so it had not allowed public input nor had it considered the necessity of the nuclear build or the consequences of its delegation to Eskom.

The court was equally clear on the collaboration agreements. Unlike the relatively vague agreements concluded with the US and South Korea, the Russian agreement had a great deal more detail in it. It specifically committed South Africa to build nuclear power plants using Russian technology, set out a timeframe and placed specific liabilities on South Africa.

South Africa’s constitution stipulates that international agreements that will have a substantive impact on the country must be approved by parliament. The agreement with Russia clearly falls into this category and therefore needed to be submitted to parliament for debate and approval.

The judge was unequivocal that by slipping the Russian agreement through parliament as a routine matter for noting, the former Energy Minister Joemat-Petterssen had committed a gross error. In his judgment he said:

It follows that the Minister’s decision to table the agreement in terms of section 231(3) was, at the very least, irrational. At best the minister appears to have either failed to apply her mind to the requirements of sec 231(2) in relation to the contents of the Russian IGA or at worst to have deliberately bypassed its provisions for an ulterior and unlawful purpose.

This could open the door for further action against the minister as well as Zuma, who, according to the court papers, instructed her to sign the Russian agreement.

The US agreement was concluded in 1995 and the South Korean agreement in 2010. But they were only presented to parliament in 2015. The court declared them invalid in view of the inexplicable time delay.

The medium and long term impact

A judicial appeal is widely expected. But it’s unlikely that the government will succeed in overturning the essence of the judgement. And an appeals process will delay any legitimate future nuclear power procurement.

Any attempt to re-initiate a nuclear build would have to start from scratch. Based on the judgement it can safely be assumed that the regulator can only endorse nuclear expansion if it can demonstrate that it’s necessary and that it’s a better solution to any other energy option.

But given the prevalent suspicion around the nuclear expansion, the regulator will be hard pressed to show that the nuclear option is in the public interest.

It is therefore unlikely that any nuclear development will succeed in the foreseeable future.

Disclosure statement

Hartmut Winkler receives funding from the NRF. He is a member of Save South Africa and OUTA, but writes this piece in his personal capacity.

Media Freedom in Africa ‘Not Great’

interviewBy Chrispin Mwakideu

Media watchdogs are voicing concern about curbs on press freedom. DW looks at the media in Africa where restrictions range from subtle forms of censorship to imprisonment for journalists just doing their jobs.

Global press freedom has hit a 13-year low, the US rights organization Freedom House said on Friday. Earlier this week, Reporters Without Borders warned that press freedom was facing serious threats in 72 countries. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) maintains that governments are using increasingly sophisticated tactics to control information and limit critiicsm. DW has been talking to CPJ’s advocacy manager, Kerry Paterson.

DW: How would you describe the state of media freedom in Africa?

Kerry Paterson: Not great is the honest answer. Over the past couple of years there are many countries which have frequently been poor performers when it comes to protecting press freedom, but within the last year or two we’ve really seen some slipping in the countries that have traditionally been quite good on press freedom on the continent, countries like Ghana, Kenya, or South Africa. We’ve seen a real slip backwards from countries that used to be continental leaders.

Is there any reason as to why things are getting worse?

Obviously, each of these different countries has very different political situations, but I think local politics has a huge hand in it. We’ve seen a lot of crackdowns on the press from leaders trying to hang on to power – certainly that was true for what happened in Burundi, in Kenya, with this being an election year, you see an increased effort to clamp down and keep the media toeing a government line, so I think that politics ultimately has a pretty large role in it.

Talking about Kenya, the opposition has just appointed its presidential flagbearer. Looking ahead to the August 8 elections in that country does the current political situation favor freedom of the press?

Kenya is certainly one to watch and we will be watching very closely. CPJ put out a special report on Kenya in 2015 looking at the ways in which the government had paid lip service to press freedom but has actually failed to protect journalists or freedom of the press in a meaningful way. Then, in July of this past year, Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of The Guardian and board member for CPJ, did a mission to Kenya where he interviewed many of the same people who were interviewed in our 2015 report and what we found was that by and large, you still see very much the same government pressure to toe the line. You see moves that appear to be quite obviously political but are harder to prove [as such] and when governments threaten to pull out things like financial support or advertizing revenue from newspapers, then those newspapers are often forced or compelled to fall in line. I think the media is seeing itself under a lot of pressure in Kenya, which is troubling in part because Kenya has been a leader in East Africa when it comes to protecting the press. They have a vibrant media there but it’s going to be tough and we’ll be watching closely to make sure journalists are able to cover the elections in a way that is free and fair and responsible and without intimidation or reprisal.

In Cameroon, we’ve seen an RFI journalist Ahmed Abba sentenced to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges. What message does his sentence send to other journalists working in Cameroon?

A pretty terrible one. Cameroon has really deteriorated quite quickly in the last several months. We’ve been tracking other cases since he was arrested. The ten years is obviously a completely ridiculous sentence. What was his crime? It was an act of journalism. So it is absolutely absurd that he has been sentenced at all. But he also faced the death penalty. The idea that this was the lesser of two punishments he was facing is really the staggering part. Cameroon went from having no journalists in jail to arresting Abba – I think Abba is now one of eight journalists currently behind bars in the country. We’ve seen an increase in other forms of pressure on press freedom, internet shutdowns or censorship or threats and intimidation. Denis Nkwebo, who was the head of the journalist syndicate there, had his car blown up outside of his house a couple of years ago. Journalists are really being sent a message that they are being watched and they need to watch what they say, which is, of course, in direct violation of the press freedom promises that these governments make.

To be fair to African countries, though, we’ve been seeing how US President Donald Trump is waging a war on the mainstream media there. Knowing how much influence the US has on the rest of the world, presumably this is not very good for press freedom?

Absolutely. It’s troubling. By no means are our concerns on press freedom limited to Africa. We see issues of surveillance and attacks on the press in Britain, in France, in America, in Canada. We’re seeing a real clampdown on freedoms that shouldn’t be taken for granted, but has been taken for granted in those countries. As far as Donald Trump is concerned, it is really troubling because it sends a message that it is OK to behave this way, that it’s OK to imprison journalists, that it is OK to dismiss news you don’t like as being fake. You see that he is leading less. You see that echoed by other leaders, you see that with Erdogan in Turkey, you see that with President Xi in China. These are countries that embrace censorship and are silencing dissenting and critical voices. Donald Trump is certainly not doing things at that level yet, but the rhetoric he uses and the way he engages with press certainly suggests a similar animosity towards them which is really troubling, not just for journalists operating in America, but for the message it sends to leaders around the world.

Kerry Paterson is the advocacy manager for the Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Zimbabwe: Government Admits ‘Printing’ Money

By Phillimon Mhlanga

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s embattled administration has for the first time admitted printing money in the form of a virtual currency through the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), acknowledging this cannot be backed by United States dollar bank notes imported by local banks, the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets (C&M) can report.

Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, made the disclosures in Parliament. He said: “Government funds its employees’ salary accounts through electronic transfers over the Real Time Gross Settlement platform. On the contrary, employees would want to obtain physical cash from the banks. This misalignment is the greatest cause of queues at banks for cash as both the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and banks would be required to withdraw foreign exchange from their nostro accounts to meet local cash demand.”

Nostro accounts are accounts held by local banks with offshore financial institutions. They are used predominantly to settle international obligations, including import of goods. Banks have used their nostro accounts to import US dollar bank notes but these have always been used to support real US dollar bank balances for local deposits.

Government had always been denying that it has been creating or printing its own money to pay wages and salaries for its strong workforce of more than 300 000. The salary bill is gobbling more than 90 percent of revenue, leaving very little for infrastructure development.

The printing of money through the RTGS platform can only be backed by local currency, rather than foreign currency which has to be earned through exports of other foreign currency receipts. It would therefore appear the introduction of bond notes, despite public protestations, was meant primarily to fund the virtual currency, which has been described by some analysts as phantom money.

The reason for government resorting to creation of money in the domestic economy has largely been its huge budget deficits, which it started incurring following the collapse of the inclusive government in 2013.

During the inclusive government, then finance minister, Tendai Biti, insisted that government would only spend what it collected in the form of revenue under his famous “we eat what we gather” policy.

He managed to keep government expenditure under check, despite protestations from colleagues, ensuring stability in the economy.

But since the collapse of the inclusive government, the budget deficit problem, which largely funded recurrent expenditure, emerged. In fact, the size of the civil service suddenly shot up, increasing the salary and wage bill.

Although Chinamasa has tried to curb this cost by reducing the size of the civil service through retrenchments, he has faced opposition from Cabinet colleagues.

Chinamasa has indicated that government employment costs are currently at over 93 percent of tax revenue. When government’s debt of over 40 percent of tax revenue is added to this cost, government expenditure far outstrips revenue.

“This shows that we are living beyond our means through borrowing from the market by way of Treasury Bills that translate into government overdraft at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on maturity,” Chinamasa said.

There is indeed an increasing risk that the country may now be drifting towards an inflationary crisis.

Zimbabwe’s inflation was in deflation since October 2014, but since last year, especially after introduction of bond notes, there has been a significant increase in basic food prices.

Annual inflation rate went into positive territory for the first time in over two years in February this year, gaining 0,71 percentage points on the January 2017 rate of -0,7 percent to 0,6 percent.

It went up to 0,21 percent in March, sparking fears among economists of a return to the previous hyperinflationary period that saw inflation reaching a peak of 231 million percent in August 2008.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that the country’s inflation is likely to hit three percent this year and 6,6 percent next year. Given the situation on the ground, this could be a generous assessment from the IMF because it could get worse.

Economists told C&M that the situation is likely to worsen because of the impending elections set for next year.

Prosper Chitambara, an economist with Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said: “The economy is in a roller coaster. It’s in a crisis which will require bold structural reforms. Government knows what’s needed to be done but the will and commitment does not exist.”

He said there were foreign currency leakages because hard cash was going out of the country and not coming back.

“Businesses that are looking to receive money from outside the country are opening accounts outside the country because they have no confidence in government policies and the banking system. With elections coming up next year, we are going to see acceleration of leakages. Inflation, it’s a reflection of bond notes or it pushes inflation factors. In fact, there is a lot of temptation to print more bond notes outside the US$200 million threshold,” he said.

He was referring to the announced $200 million limit in bond notes by the central bank, whose basis is an alleged US$200 facility from the African Export and Import Bank to support exports.

The liquidity squeeze in the country has left many companies unable to pay foreign suppliers, driving many out of business.

According to the IMF, Zimbabwe’s economy is likely to grow by two percent this year.

In March this year, government reviewed Zimbabwe’s economic growth projection from 1,7 percent announced in the 2017 National Budget to 3,7 percent, on the back of a good agricultural season and firming metal prices.

An independent economist, Tinashe Masunda, said: “Zimbabwe has run out of foreign currency resulting in the country completely losing the ability to pay for imports. This means that productivity will continue to suffer as companies fail to access vital inputs because there’s no foreign currency to pay for them. As long as government continues to do things that discourage both local and foreign investment into the productive sector, the situation can only get worse.”

The country abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar in 2009 and adopted a multi-currency regime to escape hyperinflation.

But the foreign currency has been disappearing from the financial market, prompting the central bank to introduce bond notes last year. However, the bond notes appear to be disappearing from the banking system as well.

The severe cash crisis has resulted in banks limiting the amount of cash depositors can withdraw. Most banks have also suspended dispensing money through automated teller machines. In some cases, depositors spend days in bank queues but fail to access cash.

The situation is likely to persist until government urgently fixes the country’s economic fundamentals.

Chinamasa told Parliament that one of the reasons for the shortage of bank notes was that businesses were not banking cash. This, he said, has resulted in long queues for cash at banks.

“This indiscipline is counter-productive and cannot continue to be tolerated. Money is like blood, it needs to circulate for the economy to survive. Money should be circulating in order to deal with queues at banks,” said Chinamasa.

“To date, three traders have been hauled before the courts for not banking their sales proceeds in line with the laws of the country from as far back as June 2016. They have all pleaded guilty to the offence and they now await their sentences,” he said.

Chinamasa implored depositors to make use of plastic money. This, inevitably, would ensure that there is no pressure for the RBZ to print more bond notes to support cash it is creating through the RTGS.

He said: “The factors underpinning cash challenges are beyond banks. Banks find themselves in a difficult position where they are compelled to ration cash withdrawals in order to meet their customers’ demands. Banks have therefore continued to explore pragmatic measures to meet their customers’ demand for cash.

“Government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, is advocating for the use of plastic money in order to ameliorate the mismatch or gap between electronic salary transfers and the demand for cash from banks. Embracing plastic money preserves foreign exchange in the nostro accounts for use for foreign payments whilst at the same time mitigating against non-banking of cash by traders.

Kenya: Dubai Islamic Bank Gets Nod to Operate in Kenya

By Brian Ngugi, Business Daily

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has licensed the Dubai Islamic Bank – owned by the United Arab Emirates’ largest Shariah lender Dubai Islamic Bank – to carry out operations in the country.

CBK said in a statement that DIB intends to exclusively offer Shariah compliant banking services in Kenya.

“It becomes the third fully Shariah compliant bank to be licensed in Kenya, after Gulf African Bank Limited in 2007 and First Community Bank Limited in 2008,” said CBK Friday.

The lender has a presence in Bosnia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey and the UAE.

End of licensing freeze

DIB’s entry into the market marks the end of a moratorium imposed by the CBK on licensing of new banks.

“CBK welcomes the entry of international brands such as DIB into the Kenyan banking sector. DIBs entry will expand the offerings in the market, particularly in the nascent Shariah-compliant banking niche,” said the regulator.

Central bank said its entry signifies long-standing economic ties between Kenya and the UAE.

As at September last year, the Emirati bank had an asset base of $47.6 billion and capital of $7.4 billion.

Kenya

Media Freedom in Africa ‘Not Great’

Media watchdogs are voicing concern about curbs on press freedom. DW looks at the media in Africa where restrictions… Read more »

Kenya: Millions Needed to Battle Armyworms

By Lynet Igadwah

The Agriculture ministry requires an additional Sh320 million emergency funding to combat crop-eating caterpillars known as fall armyworms that are ravaging maize fields, further threatening food security.

The government had set aside Sh100 million to tackle the fall armyworm following reports that it had invaded farms from neighbouring Uganda.

“We have requested the Treasury to allocate us an additional Sh320 million because the fall armyworm invasion is bigger than initially thought,” said Clement Muyesu, the assistant director of Agriculture.

The funds will help smallholder farmers access identified pesticides amid concerns on lack money or expertise to use insecticides effectively.

The worms, which breed fast and can migrate 100 kilometres a day, were first reported in Kenya in mid-January.

Among counties that have been invaded are Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Nakuru, Busia and Bungoma, with the pests mainly attacking maize.

These are agricultural rich counties and a widespread attack could aggravate the ongoing food crisis that has seen prices skyrocket.

Kenya is suffering from a drought that has left about 2.7 million people in need of food aid and driven up inflation to a near-five year high.

“The rainfall was better this season so we all expected a very good harvest. The outbreak of fall armyworm undermines what we expected would be a different story,” Mulila Mitti said by phone from Nairobi, where the FAO is meeting to discuss the infestation.

Some countries with confirmed outbreaks have faced bans on exporting their agricultural products.

Experts currently meeting in Nairobi said spotting the pest early –when it is still a larva – was key to prevention.

“We need to put in place effective surveillance systems and respond in time to confirmed outbreaks,” Gabriel Rugalema, FAO country representative in Kenya, said in a statement.

The experts warn that unless the spread of the fall armyworm is contained, the attack is likely to result to a humanitarian crisis as the crop basket is at risk.

“It is all about communicating with the smallholder farmers and dispensing with formalities. We need to move as quickly as possible,” said Joe DeVries the Vice President at Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

The experts from African governments, agricultural research organisations, NGOs, national plant protection organisations and donor agencies are currently meeting in Nairobi to develop a continental management plan on the fall armyworm pest.

The caterpillar can fly long distances, leading the United Nations to fear it could reach Asia and the Mediterranean in the next few years.

Kenya: CBK Licences Dubai Islamic Bank

By Kennedy Kangethe

Nairobi — The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has licensed Dubai Islamic Bank after the bank fulfilled its stipulated requirements.

The move comes even as the regulator is yet to lift the moratorium it had imposed on the licensing of new banks.

Dubai Islamic Bank Kenya intends to exclusively offer Shariah compliant banking services becoming the third fully Shariah compliant bank to be licensed in Kenya, after Gulf African Bank limited in 2007 and First Community Bank Limited in 2008.

Earlier, CBK had stated its intention to finalise the processing of licence applications for two institutions that had been granted an ‘approval in principle’, as a first step to lifting the moratorium on licensing of new commercial banks.

“Accordingly, DIB Bank Kenya Limited (in formation) and Mayfair Bank Limited (in formation) will take the remaining steps to finalise their license applications,” CBK has earlier stated.

The decision is seen to highlight the CBK’s confidence in the stability of the banking sector, which has been experiencing turbulence in the past couple of years, causing the collapse of three lenders in a row.

DIB is a fully owned subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB PJSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) founded in 1975 is the first bank to have incorporated the principles of Islam in all its practices and is the largest Islamic Bank in the UAE.

DIB PJSC as at September 2016 had an asset base of Sh4.8 trillion and capital of Sh754.8 billion.

It has a presence in Bosnia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey and UAE.

“CBK welcomes the entry of international brands such as DIB into the Kenyan banking sector. DIBs entry will expand the offerings in the market, particularly in the nascent Shariah compliant banking niche,” CBK says.

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Major Cement Producers Profit Margin Decline in 2016

Major cement producers struggled in the market last year with declining profit after sales revenue slumped due to intense competition and lower government spending on infrastructure projects.

The producers, Tanzania Portland Cement Company (TPCC) trading as Twiga Cement and Tanga Cement Company Limited, trading as Simba Cement recorded reduced profit margins due to increased competition in market following the entry of new players who boosted installed production capacity beyond the current domestic demand.

The situation is also blamed on low government spending on infrastructure projects that would have boosted cement demand and ease pressure from overcapacity in the market. For TCCL, net profit dropped by half to 4.2bn/- in the year under review compared to 8.2bn/- in 2015, according to financial statement for the year ending 31st December 2016.

The company’s operating profit declined by 0.3 per cent to 19.8bn/-compared to 19.9bn/- of the previous year due to anticipated 198 per cent increase in depreciation resulting from the extensive capital expansion of the new integrated production line commissioned in 2016.

Profit before tax dropped to 5.7bn/- from 8.7bn/- of the prior year due to increased financing cost of the senior debt which financed the expansion of the production capacity.

For Twiga Cement, TPCC profit for the year slowed by 29 per cent to 39.8bn/- in the year under review compared to 56.2bn/- of the year before. Similarly, operating profit reached 53.8bn/-, which is below 27 per cent compared to 73.7bn/- of the preceding year due to revenue fall and assets impairment.

However, TPCC achieved similar cost of sales in 2015 due to high production efficiency, recruitment of new distributors, improved internal processes and enhanced product portfolio.

To capitalise on the growing demand for cement in Tanzania and East African region, TPCC has expanded its capacity, rehabilitated old clinker lines, improved grinding and packing facilities, internal system integration and process improvements.

The cement industry is experiencing supply excess despite strong domestic consumption with installed production capacity at 8.3 million tonnes per annum against current demand of 4.3 million tonnes per annum, by mid last year.

The local market continues to attract new investors as the local producers are struggling to retain their market share with strategies to cut on costs and improve efficiency. However the prospects in the industry are buoyed by launching of major road and railway infrastructure projects late last year and in 2017 which are expected to drive business and boost growth.

Tanzania

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Botswana: Communal Farmers Certification for EU Market Process On

By Mothusi Galekhutle

Ghanzi — The veterinary department on Tuesday started the roll out of qualifying and certifying communal farmers for access to EU market.

Botswana Animal Information and Traceability System (BAITS) coordinator, Dr Nlingisisi Babayani said during the roll out in Xanagas, Ghanzi south that they had re-defined the guidelines in an effort to allow communal farmers to access the lucrative EU market.

“The department has come up with guidelines to qualify the communal farmers to sell directly to the EU market without going through the feedlots,” Dr Babayani said in an interview.

The initiative, he said would be rolled out to a total of 13 farmers identified from Xanagas, Tsootsha and Karakubis in Ghanzi South.

After implementing the guidelines, he said the EUwould be informed so that they could audit it with a view to agree and modify it to their preference as they were the ones who prescribed the requirements.

Dr Babayani was confident that their guidelines would satisfy the EU market requirements.

He stated, “our hope is that once we have qualified these farmers we will snow ball and cover the whole district and subsequently the whole country. Farmers will stand to benefit on the prime returns from the EU market.”

He noted that all along farmers had to go through fenced farm or feedlot to sell to EU market.

He said the requirement was that their cattle spent 40 days in the fenced farm or feedlot before accessing EU market.

Dr Babayani said this was very difficult to fulfill under communal set up hence they sold their cattle through feedlots.

The redefined guidelines requires a farmer to clock all cattle husbandry management practices including watering, kraal-ling milking and vaccination.

“We are not changing the way the farmer has been doing things, what we are saying is that document it,” the BAITS coordinator explained.

Under this re-defined guidelines a farmers should choose type of holding to be classified under and it is easier to clock the husbandry management activities.

Though he said they have five types of holding namely water point, feedlots, integrated farming, ranch and kraal, only three are applicable to communal farming which were water point, kraal and integrated farms.

He said when the farmer chooses the type of a holding, one must consider that all cattle in the selected holding should comply with requirement of EU market for instance all must be ear tagged and must be registered in BAITS.

BOPA

Botswana

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