Google Inc, the world’s leading search engine, has promised to invest $1 billion in the next five years to support digital transformation in Nigeria and other African nations.
According to the tech giant, the investment will reduce internet prices by 21 percent and lead to a five-fold increase in internet speed in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
The company stated this at the first Google for Africa event held on Wednesday.
Nitin Gajria, the Managing Director for Google in Africa, said, “Google remains committed to being helpful to every African business, person and classroom.
“Google is invested in building our global infrastructure to help bring everyone online.
“This includes Equiano, a state-of-the-art subsea cable that will connect Africa with Europe. We are already making tremendous progress on the construction of branches landing in Nigeria, Namibia, St Helena, and South Africa.
“Named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian born writer and abolitionist, Equiano will provide approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last capable built to serve Africa.
“This will lead to a 21 per cent drop in internet prices, as well as a five-fold increase in internet speed in Nigeria, and almost triple in South Africa.”
He added that between 2022 to 2025, Equiano would indirectly create 1.7 million jobs in Nigeria and South Africa because of the expansion of the digital economy and peripheral sectors.
On Opportunities for Investors as Togo Streamlines Business Procedures and Develops New Infrastructure
Togo’s economy has been resilient and strong during the Covid-19 pandemic. The economy has continued its robust growth trajectory despite the health care and logistics challenges. While some countries in West Africa registered negative economic growth in 2020, Togo’s GDP expanded by 1.8%.
Although this was a stark drop compared to the more than 5% annual growth recorded in the past five years, the IMF and other international groups commended Togo’s performance. Furthermore, Togo has continued to attract foreign direct investment during the pandemic due to the continuous improvement of the business climate, which is a result of five years of aggressive reform and strong government commitment.
For example, it is now possible to set up a business in four hours online with all the required documents in place. Land regulations have been simplified and transfer of ownership is faster. In addition, several financial reforms have stimulated the business environment. As a result, Togo was one of the 10 most improved countries on the World Bank’s 2020 ease of doing business index, jumping 40 places after making it easier to start a business, obtain construction permits, pay taxes, access credit and register property. This progress began in 2019, when Togo moved up 19 places on the index. The performance achieved in 2020 made Togo the top reformer in Africa and the third globally.
GDP growth of 4.8% is expected for 2021, and the average target for the following five years is 7%, reflecting the effects of planned infrastructure projects and related directives. This growth relies on the active participation of the private sector, foreign investors and the restoration of confidence in the broader regional economy.
To what extent did the health crisis undermine the stability of the financial system?
MIVEDOR: During the crisis the Central Bank of West African States took steps to support the regional economy; provide liquidity to areas in need; and ensure that refinancing, restructuring and business support was made readily available. Despite the slowdown in demand caused by lockdowns, movement restrictions and business challenges – particularly prevalent in the airline industry and the tourism sector – financial services proved resilient and responsive to the drop in consumption. The government has taken appropriate measures to support the financial system and weaker businesses in order to maintain a steady level of production and provide financial facilities to firms in need.
Several anchor projects have been implemented despite the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. These projects should build up the ecosystem for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and propel the economy forwards. The Industrial Platform of Adetikopé (Plateforme Industrielle d’Adetikopé, PIA), which was launched in June 2021, will invigorate SMEs in the surrounding area and provide an array of opportunities to foreign investors seeking exposure to the Togolese economy and the wider ECOWAS market.
Certain projects were conceived and completed during the crisis despite logistics and supply chain challenges. For example, the region’s first data centre opened in Togo in June 2021. The data centre will stimulate the national economy by improving connection speeds, creating jobs, providing new services and generating alternative revenue streams.
What role will special economic zones (SEZs) play in Togo’s future?
MIVEDOR: SEZs are catalysts for industrialisation in Togo and a pivotal part of the country’s economic recovery. Togo has already experimented with free zones and SEZs in terms of job creation, and the government understands the importance of creating spaces where SMEs can expand their operations, gain access to capital and grow. The manufacturing sector – and textiles in particular – is poised to take advantage of SEZs.
The PIA hosts a multidisciplinary zone that services the industrial and logistics sectors, providing entry points to hinterland countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and offers a one-stop shop for companies to establish operations in an environment conducive to business. Operationally, the PIA acts as a single point of access to facilitate business transactions and address queries. Together, these features mean lower costs of production for businesses operating out of Togo, as well as a competitive edge against international players.
In terms of job creation, the leading economic segment is the textile industry. We are expecting 15,200 new jobs from the first companies located in the PIA, which will increase to 30,000 in the years to 2026. While cotton is the most important product in terms of value addition and job creation, soybeans and organic soy are up-and-coming niche markets.
In terms of energy availability and cost, the energy mix is maturing to include more green sources and reach a 50:50 mix of renewable and non-renewable power. We are ramping up energy capacity to 100 MW in the surrounding area through the Blitta solar power plant, which currently has 50 MW of clean energy capacity. Togo’s energy quality is high, and the cost relevant to neighbouring countries is competitive. One of the founding principles of SEZs is to create jobs, and efforts are under way to improve energy infrastructure to maintain Togo’s attractiveness in the region and help meet this objective.
Private Investment in Africa is Exceeding Expectations in 2021 – AVCA Report
Despite widespread decline felt by most economies across the globe, private equity fundraising in Africa has already managed to reach US$1.3bn for the first half of 2021, when including final and interim closes. Mirroring the gradual stabilisation of Africa’s macroeconomic environment is the African private equity (PE) industry, which continues to prove itself and is once again on a growth trajectory.
This is according to the 2021 H1 African Private Equity Data Tracker released by the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA). The report revealed that North Africa and West Africa jointly attracted the largest share of PE deals by volume, at 23% each. Multi-region deals attracted 50% of deal value for the first half of the year.
The data tracker provides a provisional look at half year PE activity in Africa, which AVCA CEO, Abi Mustapha-Maduakor, believes is particularly salient in these times of economic uncertainty and focused recovery. “Private capital remains fundamental towards sustained economic recovery in Africa. Although the first half results still show the lingering effects of the pandemic, we are pleased to see such levels of deal activity which is testament to investors’ resolve and commitment to supporting growth and scaling of businesses in Africa.”
Even though growth forecasts remained muted at the beginning of 2021, this was due to several African countries understandably grappling with persistent outbreaks of COVID-19, along with the cascading healthcare crisis and resulting socio-economic restrictions.
AVCA Head of Research, Nadia Kouassi Coulibaly, says Africa’s economic recovery is exceeding expectations. “Although the IMF predicted sub-Saharan African growth would be moderate to average at around three percent in 2021, the current numbers prove the resilience of African economies, which has been demonstrated during the pandemic.”
The first half of 2021 saw 120 reported deals to the value of US$2.1bn concluded on the continent. Financials, Consumer Discretionary, Industrials and Information Technology rose to the top, attracting the greatest investment and accounting for more than half (72%) of the total deal volume in the first half of 2021.
Financials demonstrated a marginal increase accounting for 24% of the total deal volume and value reported in 2021 H1, from 20% and 21% in 2020 H1 respectively. Within Industrials, the majority of deals in terms of volume and value were in Transportation with 37% and 77% respectively.
According to Nadia Kouassi Coulibaly, investment activity has also regained momentum. As an example, she points to a large deal within the Industrials sector which saw US$250mn invested into drone delivery startup, Zipline, by a consortium of investors including Emerging Capital Partners.
AVCA CEO, Abi Mustapha-Maduakor, believes this growth and almost unexpected flourishing of PE activity solidifies the need for AVCA, as the authoritative voice for private investment in Africa, to provide accurate industry activity data .
“We will continue to provide the vital data to support investors’ decision making as they drive more capital into Africa. The findings in this report tell a positive story about private investment in Africa, and we are proud to play an important role in supporting businesses driving Africa’s long-term economic growth,” she concludes.
Fintech CEO: No, You Really Shouldn’t Invest Based on Your Hamster’s Advice
Last week, CNN featured an article about a hamster that has made it big on Reddit and Twitch. The hamster, Mr. Goxx, made decisions based on which cryptocurrency his wheel landed on. Subsequently, whether the hamster ran through the buy or sell tunnel determined the action regarding the previously selected cryptocurrency.
According to the hamster’s human, the pet’s portfolio was up over 16% since June. In the same time period, Bitcoin was up by 14% and the S&P 500 was up 5%. It’s worth noting that Berkshire Hathaway B shares are down 2% over the same period of time.
“This is something we shouldn’t have to say. It really isn’t. But, it probably isn’t a great idea to get your investment advice from your pets’ habits, regardless of what tunnels they explore,” remarked Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges. “On the one hand, it’s clear that it’s in the news because of its rarity and absurdity. On the other, it isn’t clear to everybody. In fact, those who probably can least afford the losses are the most likely to give their pets a shot at playing financial advisor.”
“The real problem with this article, though, is that it again paints cryptocurrency investors in a negative light. Sure, the hamster was only playing around with a few hundred euros, not make or break for most investors. But, cryptocurrency has been constantly harangued by regulators and commentators as something with no value that shouldn’t be considered an investment for serious investors. Shenanigans like these only reinforce that myth,” said Gardner.
Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable exchanges, with a client list which includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.
“That, in fact, is poppycock. Value is assigned by whether or not somebody is willing to pay for it. Many of those who say that cryptocurrency is worthless and valueless – well, one Bitcoin is worth more than many of them paid for their child’s wedding. That’s an awful lot of value for something that’s worthless. It’s nonsense. Cryptocurrency has value, and it will continue to have value. It’s unfortunate that these PR spectacles continue to plague the segment’s legitimacy among some in the mainstream,” opined Gardner.
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