What a difference a century makes. If we stepped back in time to a hundred years ago we’d find an undeveloped China; a Middle East that had yet to discover the riches of oil and most of Southeast Asia consisted of countries that were barely distinguishable from medieval societies. It was an entirely different world.
Roll back two hundred years and many European nations would be far removed from the modern countries they are today. It is an enduring myth that fools us to believe everything has always been like it is today; that the societies at the top of the pile have always been there. Technological and social revolutions have molded the modern world and opportunity is out there for the taking.
When asked why I am so optimistic about Africa my answer is simple: look at how far we have come and look at how fast we are moving forward.
By 2050, it is estimated that Africa will boast a $29-trillion economy. It will have the largest youth labour market in the world and if guided and educated correctly, the same youth will be the workforce of that world.
Even today, the future is starting to glow in Africa. Many projects and initiatives are delivering and being joined by new catalysts every day. According to Jake Bright, co-author of The Next Africa: An Emerging Continent Becomes a Global Powerhouse, there are already over 200 innovation hubs on the continent, 3,500 tech-related ventures and $1 billion in venture capital injected into local start-ups.
Africa is modernising at an unmatched rate. Its tremendous mobile device adoption proves this fact. African companies and people simply accept that new technologies will improve their lives and if what they need does not exist, they will create it. From new solar power systems to the much-celebrated M-PESA mobile banking, Africa innovates at the edge. While other countries wonder about delivering packages with quadcopters, we are already pioneering intelligent drone systems sophisticated enough to track poachers. It was an African student who developed a new rocket fuel – in his mother’s rural kitchen!
This culture of innovation leapfrogging is one of Africa’s secret weapons, supported by a rising tide of SMEs. Though policy and leadership have been slow to respond, we hear new voices promoting SME and innovation cultures every day. Rwanda, for example has reduced new business registrations from over 18 days to as little as 6 hours through a series of reforms that include technology and paperless processes. As a result, more companies were registered there in 2009 than the total five years before that – and it keeps growing. Skills are central to Africa’s future and I see a lot of promise in the growing pool of related projects across the continent. Technology skills are being brought to schools everywhere with innovations including container classrooms and maker hubs. Tertiary skills are also being reinforced through partnerships with universities, as well as award-winning programmes such as SAP Africa’s Skills for Africa and Africa Code Week, the latter which trained over 86, 000 youngsters in basic coding skills last year.
But this is not a services revolution. Africa’s resources and agriculture remain important. They benefit acutely from innovation. One example is the partnership between SAP and GIZ, developing systems used by cashew farmers in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Mozambique to better manage their supply chain.
Thanks to the continent’s demand for hardy and meaningful technology, which is being driven by partnerships that reinforce Africa’s role in creating a better world, Africa is where others will look for the best in new innovation. The SAP Rural Sourcing Management solution is one direct result of this. Refined on African farms, it will serve as a blueprint to meet agriculture and food challenges across the world.
I believe that Africa will emerge to be the third centre of global power, settled in between the worlds of the East and West. The world needs Africa. It needs its resources, its people, its skills and its insights and Africa is rising to meet those expectations. Yes, it has not been a smooth ride, but the winds of change are blowing in the right direction. This will be Africa’s century.
By Brett Parker, MD of SAP Africa
DotConnectAfrica’s (DCA) legal battle to stop the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) delegation of the .africa generic top level domain to the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) finally came to an end at the Superior Court of California where the court denied DCAs application for a preliminary injunction against ICANN.
According to Bernadette Versfeld, a Partner at Webber Wentzel, it means that ZACR is now the official registry operator of the .africa generic top level domain. It will be launched in three phases:
• Sunrise Period (4 April 2017 – 2 June 2017) – during the Sunrise Period trademark owners can secure domain names matching their registered trademarks before .africa is made available to the general public. The registered trademarks must first be validated by a Trade Mark Clearing House (TMCH). Alternatively, and specifically for the .africa gTLD , a system called Mark Validation System (MVS) will be used to validate trade marks which are not yet registered, company names, trust names and common law trade marks (as well as registered trade marks for trade mark proprietors who do not wish to validate through the TMCH)
• Landrush Period (Phase 1 = 5 June – 9 June; Phase 2 = 12 June – 16 June; Phase 3 = 19 June – 23 June; Phase 4 = 26 June – 30 June) – this registration is open to everyone around the world without any restriction, but the registration is sold at a higher price than the regular price.
• General Availability (4 July 2017) – registration will open to the general public and works on a “first come, first served” basis.
“The .africa generic top level domain is an essential domain name extension for any business trading in Africa. It is anticipated that the .africa domain name extension will be in high demand and businesses are advised to include this domain name extension in their branding strategy. The cost of registration is minimal compared to the risks of failing to register,” Bernadette concludes.
With about half of the world’s fastest growing countries based in Africa, the continent is quickly becoming a global business and economic hotspot.
However, hand-in-hand with this growth comes rapid industry expansion, recruitment of a global workforce and – of notable concern – increasing risk of qualification and CV fraud.
This is according to Ina van der Merwe, director and CEO of African background screening market leader, Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), who highlights that African qualifications carry a high risk of being fraudulent.
“As a whole, cross-border qualifications are more likely to be fake, altered or all together fraudulent. Our data suggests that risk indicators on these qualifications have increased from 40% in 2015 to 43% in 2016 to-date (January to October).
“Although a portion of this risk can be attributed to other confounding factors, it is clear that there is a greater propensity for qualification fraud with foreign candidates or in countries where background screening is not yet common practice. A candidate may be less likely to lie on their CV if they know that their credentials will be verified.
“Unfortunately, our research shows that the vast majority of cross border recruits are not being screened sufficiently. This means that while opportunities for global competitiveness are abundant, there are an overwhelming amount of job-seekers who are less than honest about their professional capabilities. And seeing that these facts aren’t properly checked, organisations are at high risk of financial and legal implications,” she explains.
Findings from Lex Mundi’s Emerging Africa Conference in Cape Town note that by 2040, Africa’s working age population will rise to 1,1-billion – greater than the working age populations of China and India combined.
With this in mind, Van der Merwe suggests that the drive for business, investment and employment within the continent is clearly justified. However, the risks associated with qualification and CV fraud means that businesses need to strongly consider implementing an international screening program.
“An international screening program ensures that all credentials are verified through relevant and accurate measures irrespective of that credential’s country of origin. This also includes various vetting services such as criminal record and credit history checks which, in addition to qualification verification, are in high demand across specific industries in Southern, East and West Africa specifically,” she says.
She adds that performing a background check on a candidate or employee with foreign work experience or qualifications is typically viewed as being far more complex than doing so locally.
“This is likely the major issue which has held businesses back from conducting such checks in the past. However, this simply cannot be the case moving forward.
“As globalisation continues to blur borders, international screening needs to become a priority and top vetting organisations have solutions and centralised teams in place to make it possible.
“Ultimately, to avoid taking a financial and reputational hit while exploring all Africa has to offer from a growth perspective, it is essential for businesses to know – and verify – their staff,” Van der Merwe concludes.
Menlyn Park Shopping Centre is close to completing its ambitious R2.5 -billion redevelopment which will position it as the largest mall on the continent, and a sought-after destination for shoppers from the surrounding areas as well as farther afield. Retailer and shopper demand was the driving force behind the giant makeover, which has created a total lettable floor space of over 170 000m2.
The new Menlyn Park Shopping Centre will open its doors for the first time on Thursday 24 November 2016.
“We’ve put together a fantastic tenant mix that caters to all our shoppers,” says Olive Ndebele, general manager of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre. The centre attracts residents of all the surrounding and outlying suburbs of Pretoria, a large contingent of foreign businesspeople, diplomats and holidaymakers, and keen shoppers from other African countries, such as Nigeria and Mozambique, where big-name items are hard to find.
Among the established anchor tenants and top international brands making Menlyn Park their home are such on-trend fashion drawcards as Zara clothing, Fabiani menswear and H&M Clothing. “Menlyn Park is the leading shopping destination in Pretoria and we’re proud to be bringing our customers value through fashion, quality and sustainability at the best price,” says Amelia-May Woudstra, public relations manager for H&M Clothing.
Menlyn Park Shopping Centre introduced a large, accessible grocery section during one of the two phases of the redevelopment, anchor tenants Checkers Hyper, Food Lovers Market, New World Discount Stores and Pick n Pay were introduced. “I love the fact that I can get all my monthly groceries from a variety of stores in the same area,” explains Sarah van Zyl, a frequent shopper at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre.
Another major drawcard will be Central Park, an open-air piazza surrounded by beautiful Pride of India trees and edged with popular restaurants.
Ndebele says that Menlyn Park will reaffirm its place as the number-one destination in Pretoria for the best entertainment and shopping all year round, with special offers, events and pop-up sales and stores to cater for the whole family.
One of these, coming soon, is “Black Friday”, a popular event in America for the start of the Christmas shopping season, and which is also gaining popularity in South Africa. “We decided to introduce this bargain fest last year and it was hugely successful,” says Ndebele. Shoppers will be given an opportunity on Friday 25 November to take advantage of massive discounts from many stores at Menlyn Park.
Menlyn Park Shopping Centre has also introduced a “Park and Ride” service at the Glenstantia primary school from 24 November to 27 November 2016. Menlyn Park is providing this service to facilitate overflow parking during their launch and Black Friday. The service runs every 30 min from 8am to 5pm. “We want to offer our shoppers every convenient service available, to improve their shopping experience with us,” explains Ndebele.
Menlyn Park Shopping Centre will be extending its shopping hours from 24 November to cater for their customers’ busy schedules. The centre will be open from 9am to 9pm every day except for public holidays, when it will close at 5pm.
From smiley faces to hearts and hugs, emojis (emotive icons) have become an intrinsic part of our everyday lives.
Hot on the heels of its European success, this week saw emoji-africa announce its exclusive distributorship of officially branded emoji products to the sub-Saharan African marketplace.
“Emojis influence how we communicate, providing us with the means to express ourselves in everything we do,” says Paul Hubers, co-founder of emoji-africa.
“Emoji branded products take the feelings and emotions we share when using digital icons into the world of physical and tangible products.”
Having enjoyed a very successful uptake in Europe, Hubers is confident that the same will hold true locally.
“Officially branded emoji products are found on shopping streets and at retail stores across the continent,” he says. He adds that the reason for its success lies in its evergreen potential.
“Emojis are neither a passing fad nor are they connected to any movie or action hero. As a result, potential for long term sustainable uptake is huge. This makes it an obvious choice for local retailers interested in exploring not only new products, but a lucrative and viable additional revenue stream as well.”
Through its joint venture with Durabo Holland, and its extensive network amongst leading European retailers, emoji-africa is able to offer an extensive range of official emoji products, including but not limited to entertainment, homeware, BBB (bath, bed, textiles), toys and gadgets, back to school items such as stationery, storage, wrapping and luggage.
Available soon at leading retail outlets including the likes of Mr Price, Musica, Toys R Us, Checkers and Pick ‘n Pay, together with various online outlets, what has up until now been simply a fun way to communicate is about to become a much bigger part of everyday life.
Image credit: www.emoji-africa.com
South Africa still ranks as the most attractive economy for investments destined for the continent despite challenges emanating from slow growth, a gloomy ratings outlook and waning perceptions, according to an index released by EY.
The auditing and advisory company has also predicted a tough few years ahead for the continent. The global economy is struggling for growth amid slowing down commodity prices and a less rosy outlook for China’s economic transformation and growth outlook.
EY ranks South Africa, the region’s most industrialised and second largest economy, as the most attractive investment destination in Africa in its Africa Attractiveness Index. Morocco, Egypt, Kenya and Mauritius are ranked second, third, fourth and fifth respectively.
“Despite macroeconomic challenges (and a low-growth environment), South Africa still outperforms most other African economies due to relatively high scores across every other dimension (partly a reflection of the fact that the South African economy is more developed than any other African economy),” EY says.
A weaker rand currency has also hobbled South Africa, although this is a problem that is shared with most regional peers such as the Malawi kwacha and Nigerian naira.
Economic growth in SA is likely to be 0.6% this year, according to the IMF, although South Africa Reserve Bank governor Lesteja Kganyago was quoted on Wednesday by the Financial Times as saying “green shoots” of recovery are beginning to appear.
Botswana is ranked seventh while Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy – is ranked fifth. SA’s neighbours, Zambia and Mozambique are ranked 17th and 20th while Botswana is ranked in seventh position.
EY explained that Nigeria’s relative under-performance on the Africa Attractiveness Index was as a result of lower scores on the business enablement, governance and human development pillars which reflected in its overall ranking.
Experts say economic growth across Africa will likely remain slower in the next few years than it has been over the past 10 to 15 years. The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) baseline projection for 2016 has now been revised downwards to 3%.
“From an investment perspective, the next few years may be challenging – this is not because the opportunities are no longer there, but rather because these opportunities are likely to be more uneven than they have been.
“It is now more important than ever for organisations and investors, who sometimes place too great an emphasis on shorter term economic growth trends, to adopt a granular, fact-based approach to assessing investment and business opportunities for the long-term,” said Sugan Palanee, Africa markets leader at EY.
The EY Attractiveness Index aids in measuring “likely resilience in the face of current macroeconomic pressures, as well as progress being made (by governments) in critical areas of longer-term development, namely governance, diversification, infrastructure, business enablement and human development”.
A new report by the World Bank says protection from domestic and foreign competition is the reason why firms in developing countries — particularly in the retail and wholesale trade, as well as in finance and transport sectors — are reluctant to adopt new digital technologies, even if this would boost their competitiveness.
The World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends, due to be released in Cape Town this week, says digital technology creates opportunities to accelerate growth, but these are often overlooked because firms in sectors where technology’s impact is greatest are frequently protected from innovative competitors.
Firms that intensively use digital technologies share other high-productivity characteristics. They tend to be larger, fast-growing, skill intensive, export intensive and located in the capital city. The report says firms that face more competition use digital technology more intensively and effectively, as it enables them to reduce their costs to outperform their competitors.
“But firms in developing countries do not necessarily have the incentive to adopt new technologies to increase their cost effectiveness because they are often protected from domestic or foreign competition,” the report says.
It cites companies in the retail and wholesale trade, finance, transport, along with public utilities, saying this is where digital technology can increase productivity the most.
The goal is for firms’ Internet usage to promote competition, which encourages even more companies to use the Internet.
“But that will not happen if vested interest groups are strong enough to capture regulators and create new barriers to competition and technology adoption. A level playing field for business was always important — digital technologies have made it an imperative,” the report says
The report says more productive firms are more likely to adopt the Internet and use it more intensively. African firms using the Internet have on average 3,7 times higher labour productivity than nonusers and 35% higher total factor productivity.
The report documents examples where the Internet, cell phones and other digital technologies have delivered digital dividends by boosting growth, expanding opportunities and improving services.
It notes that governments are increasingly going digital, and more government jobs in developing countries are information communication technology intensive than in the private sector.
By 2014, all 193 United Nations member states had national Web sites; 101 enabled citizens to create personal online accounts; 73 to file income taxes; and 60 to register a business.
But the report also finds the broader benefits have fallen short and have gone disproportionately to the wealthy, skilled and powerful. The lives of the majority of people remain largely untouched by the digital revolution. Only about 15% can afford access to broadband Internet.
Cell phones, reaching almost four-fifths of the world’s people, provide the main form of Internet access in developing countries. But even then, nearly 2-billion people do not own a cell phone, and nearly 60% of the world’s population has no access to the Internet, according to the World Bank report.
By Bekezela Phakathi for www.bdlive.co.za
African businesses are struggling to scale and grow businesses due to lack of funds. This is where global crowd-funding platforms come in.
Attracting funders from around the world, platforms such as Malaik channels the funds it raises to small and medium sized enterprises (SME) around the African continent.
“Young companies all over Africa face a scarcity of funds to fuel their growth,” founder and CEO, Neku Atawodi, said in a statement – something the platform is trying to change.
Atawodi believes that there is no shortage of good, actionable ideas in Africa but investors are deterred by the risk associated with the continent.
“The African narrative is changing for the better, and the continent’s exponential growth in the last decade shows that an investment in impact focused African businesses can yield high returns.”
As testament to this, Malaik will be showcasing its first fully funded company, i-Drop, at FinovateEurope 2016 later this week. Malaik will be the only African company demonstrating a product at the conference.
Not content with one success, Malaik has issued a call to all African start-ups and SMEs with high-impact and original ideas to apply and start vying for potential investors.
By Brendyn Lotz for www.htxt.co.za
The African continent is experiencing rapid retail expansion, and is being compared to China in 1987 when it was forecast to be the next big thing.
After more than a decade of digital disruption, the African entertainment and media industry has entered a new landscape – one where the media is no longer divided into distinct traditional and digital spheres, according to a report from PwC entitled Entertainment and media outlook: 2015 – 2019 (South Africa – Nigeria-Kenya).