- Sterling Bank, Consortium to Create 20m Jobs through Solar Power Project
Sterling Bank Plc and a consortium of African Energy Summit, Africa Clean Energy Group Incorporated of the United States, Always Green Power & Systems and The Environment Communications Limited are set to create 20 million direct and indirect jobs through the supply of solar energy to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) under a national power programme across the country.
Speaking recently in Lagos during the first inception media chat and presentation of the roadmap for the programme, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar said her ministry was partnering with the consortium on this project because consistent power supply is critical to the survival of MSMEs.
The minister further stated that clean energy such as solar power could be a right step to actualising the implementation of Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).
She noted that the task involved in the diversification of the economy is enormous, adding that it will neither happen quickly nor easily.
Abubakar said she was aware that the consortium was into collaboration with the National Association of Barbers and Salons Employers of Nigeria with the understanding that the association would mobilize over 10 million of its members to subscribe to the supply of solar power generators.
“Also, they are partnering with the Bank of Industry (BoI) and NEPAD, who have shown interest in the project and collaborating to roll out the first batch of the solar generators to members of the National Association of Barbers and Salons Employers of Nigeria under the solar generators supply and installation agreement for empowering MSMEs in Nigeria. The Consortium is partnering with the Covenant University, Ota in the area of research, capacity building and innovation for solar installers/maintenance and technicians,” she explained.
The minister who was represented by a senior official of the ministry, Dr. Francis Alaneme stressed that in implementing NIRP, seven supporting structures of enablers are identified for which infrastructure is one that is addressing energy challenge.
“Nigerian industrial roadmap has captured innovation as one of the enablers, as it underpins sustainable evolution, modernization and improvements in industrial activities. MSMEs need new processes, procedures and automation of activities to be competitive. We must develop a national entrepreneurship that will acquire suitable technology and build competitive production capacities. Nigerian economy’s prosperity is highly dependent on a vibrant entrepreneurship sector,’ she added.
She argued that a solution to the unemployment challenge in Nigeria is the development of entrepreneurial opportunities and capacity, which lead to national economic growth and social wellbeing.
Also speaking, a former General Manager of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Dr. Adetokunbo Adedeji stated that the initiative would create 20 million direct and indirect jobs across the country.
He identified inadequate energy supply as one of the greatest problems facing MSMEs in the country.
“There is interruption of electricity, lack of fuel to power their generators and in some cases, contaminated fuel. There will be no group that will be as lucky as you are. Believe me, your neighbours will envy you. You are doing something novel that no group has ever done and there are a lot of benefits in it,” he said.
Adedeji explained that Nigeria is 25 years behind the global quest for cleaner energy, adding that in other parts of the world, electricity is generated largely through alternative sources such as solar and wind.
Verdant Capital Advises WIOCC on USD80 Million Equity Capital Raise
Verdant Capital has advised WIOCC Holding Company Limited (or “WIOCC”) on an USD 80 million equity capital raise. USD 75 million of equity was invested by CAPE IV, a fund managed by leading African private equity fund manager African Capital Alliance. The balance was invested by management and an existing shareholder.
The equity raised has been supplemented by a debt capital raise. The total capital raise of USD 200 million will be used to expand its connectivity within Africa and internationally, and through Open Access Data Centres (or “OADC”) – a newly created WIOCC Group company – to launch a network of pan-African data centres optimised to serve the needs of the cloud provider and wholesale community.
As well as introducing a strong new investor into the company, the capital will be used to support WIOCC’s expansion strategy across Africa and accelerate its investment in enhancing the continent’s digital infrastructure. Strategic investments in the new Equiano and 2Africa international subsea systems will augment and complement WIOCC’s existing core network infrastructure, cost-effectively adding multi-Terabits (Tbps) of capacity and significantly increasing its options for delivering the high-availability solutions demanded in markets across Africa. WIOCC’s terrestrial strategy, which includes deployment of metro and national networks in key locations, will be extended to include new countries and metropolitan areas, increasing its portfolio of end-to-end solutions for clients across Africa.
Part of the capital raise will be used in funding OADC, which is creating a transformational interconnected pan-African network of open-access, carrier-neutral data centres. First-phase locations will house key submarine cable landings in Lagos, Durban and Mogadishu, supporting the drive to land international submarine capacity directly into carrier-neutral data centres. Each will provide clients with bespoke colocation facilities and ultra-reliable, seamless connectivity directly into new international subsea systems, eliminating the costs and risks traditionally associated with terrestrial backhauling. Construction and fit-out is underway in Lagos and Durban, with both to be launched early in 2022, whilst the Mogadishu data centre will be ready before the end of 2022. Further phases of deployment will deliver more than 20 new data centres in strategic locations throughout the continent, focusing on major connectivity hubs in each country.
African Capital Alliance was attracted to the investment by the clear vision to develop high quality and synergistic assets and solutions to support its long-term client partnerships. The investments will further position WIOCC to take advantage of the accelerating migration of infrastructure and services into the cloud, driving demand for data transmission, storage and processing in wholesale, enterprise and consumer end-markets in Africa, and bringing forward realisation of WIOCC’s vision to make an enduring contribution to Africa’s communications.
The successful capital raise further strengthens Verdant Capital’s track record as a leading advisor on transactions for or involving pre-eminent private equity firms in Africa.
Investment Opportunities in Africa in Full Display at IATF’s Investor Forum
The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021, which is currently taking place at the Durban International Conference Centre, will be hosting tomorrow, 18 November, its Investment Day. Organised under the theme “Unlocking Investment and Accelerating Deal Flow in Africa”, the Investor Forum is a full day dedicated to showcasing Africa’s investment potential and showcasing investment-ready projects. The Investment Forum will also feature sector specific parallel sessions on: Agriculture, Logistics, Technology and Tourism.
IATF is Africa’s biggest in-person B2B and B2G event of the year and seven Heads of Government attended the opening ceremony. The message was loud and clear that there is the political will and engagement to make the African Continental Free Trade Agreement a success and that at the heart of this is developing intra-African trade and investment.
IATF has featured three days of debates and discussions to help overcome the obstacles holding back trade such as the cost of moving goods and cross-border payments. Afreximbank has developed some specific products to help deal with these structural issues: the Afreximbank African Collaborative Transit Guarantee Scheme (AACTGS) and the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System (PAPSS). A full day of deliberations focusing specifically on the Automotive Sector and the Pharmaceuticals Industry to help grow domestic manufacturing is also taking place.
The Investor Day will focus on investment opportunities on the continent and unlocking cross-border investment by African national champions, focusing on some key sectors and learning from investors and companies who are committed and invested in the African continent.
Confirmed speakers include: Hon. Ms. Bogolo Joy Kenewendo, Global Economist, Kenewendo Advisory and Former Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Botswana; Mr. Amr Kamel, Executive Vice President, Business Development & Corporate Banking, Afreximbank; Dr. Acha Leke, Senior Partner and Chairman, McKinsey & Company, Africa; Mr. Akol Ayii, Founder and Chairman, Trinity Energy; Mr. Paulo Gomes, Chairman, Orango Investment Corporation; Ms. Ndiarka Mbodji, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Kowry Energy; Mr. Abdou Souleye Diop, Managing Partner, Mazars.
“I have always been a believer in the development of national champions and for these national champions to be the locomotive of private sector investment across the continent. We’re seeing it but the examples are still too seldom. The pandemic has highlighted the necessity to become self-reliant and this will require cross-border collaboration,” said Omar Ben Yedder, Project Lead on the Investment Forum and Publisher of African Business magazine. “This Investment Forum is built on this same spirit of cooperation, bringing together projects from across the continent to present the investment potential in Africa,” he added.
To coincide with the dates of the event, the IATF 2021 Investment Forum team, in coordination with African Investment Promotion Agencies, is making available an IATF 2021 Project Book, a compilation of investment ready projects across multiple sectors. The IATF 2021 Project Book can be downloaded here.
Investors, Prepare Now for Trek Towards Normalised Interest Rates
As the Bank of England signals it will soon implement tighter monetary policy, investors should review their portfolios to ensure they successfully navigate increasing complexities, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.
The comments from deVere Group’s Nigel Green come as the UK’s central bank kept interest rates on hold on Thursday, defying market expectations that it would be the first of the world’s major central banks to hike rates following the pandemic.
The Bank of England decided to keep interest rates at an all-time low of 0.1%, rather than raise them to 0.25%, in a 7-to-2 vote.
Mr Green says: “After putting out hawkish signals recently, the Bank ultimately opted not to go for the interest rate hike that the markets had fully priced in, sending sterling falling to a one-month low.
“However, crucially, the BoE did leave the door open to the likelihood of raising rates ‘over coming months.’
“We believe this is the central bank’s way of prepping investors and households that inflation has become a concern and that growth has become slower due to supply side bottlenecks – and, therefore, to expect an interest rate hike as early as December.”
He continues: “Should this happen, stock and bond markets could correct sharply. Investors would be well-advised to stay in the market, but they should review their portfolios to ensure that they are properly diversified across asset class, sectors, regions and currencies.
“This will ensure they are best positioned to mitigate the downsides and seize opportunities arising from the likely volatility.
“The current scenario might normally drive investors to increase their exposure to fixed-income, but it’s almost universally agreed that stocks will continue to outperform bonds. There’s no real alternative at the moment.
“Plus, the growing inflation issue means cash will be eroded in a bank.”
The Bank of England has lifted its inflation forecast, and now sees consumer price inflation peaking around 5% next April, before dropping again. This is more than double its 2% target and an increase from the 3.1% in September.
The deVere CEO concludes: “This is the hardest time to be an investor and worst time not to be.
“There are real opportunities to be had, but navigating the territory is set to become more complex in coming months as we move towards a new era of interest rate normality driven partly by inflation fears.”
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