What does it take to successfully expand business across borders? Benson Mwesigwa, Senior Manager, Africa Executive, KPMG Africa, Oliver Facey, Vice President of Operations for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa, Dianna Games, CEO, Africa at Work and author of "Business In Africa: Corporate Insights” and Bisi Sanda, Partner at EY discuss the importance of regional integration to facilitate cross-border opportunities for investors in the continent with CNBC Africa.
Toothpicks are on the list of more than 40 items for which the Central Bank of Nigeria has forbidden the sourcing of foreign currency through the formal banking system for spending on imports, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day SA, 3 August 2015
THERE has been a lot of talk about toothpicks in Nigeria of late. The humble implement for removing elusive morsels of dinner is a culprit in Nigeria’s foreign exchange crisis. It is included in a list of more than 40 items for which the Central Bank of Nigeria has forbidden the sourcing of foreign currency through the formal banking system for spending on imports.
Other items on the list include private jets, tinned fish, vegetable oil, roofing sheets, cosmetics, soap, plastic and rubber products, Indian incense, steel pipes, plywood board, glassware and kitchen utensils.
Although the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s economy has grown from 1.9% in the early 1990s to 6.8%, the country has little to show for years of import bans designed to boost local manufacturing.
BURUNDI’s president goes to the polls this week to stand for president of his tiny nation for the third time, writes DIANNA GAMES.
Pierre Nkurunziza has not been dissuaded by violent protests in which many have died or been displaced. Nor has he been daunted by the African Union’s (AU’s) calls for the vote to be postponed because of the violence,
So, despite improvements in governance in some areas, it is business as usual for sub-Saharan Africa’s third-termers. There was a glimmer of hope late last year that change might be in the air when hundreds of protestors set fire to Burkina Faso’s parliament and forced their president, Blaise Compaore, out of power after 23 years. The president, who tried to try to get himself a third term, is in exile in Cote d’Ivoire.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there were protests in the streets when word got out that the president, Laurent Kabila, was considering running for a third term in next year’s election. He might still run, but the outcry has given him pause for thought.
It is rather different in Rwanda, where President Paul Kagame’s chances of a third term increased after legislators voted overwhelmingly in favour of changing the constitution to allow his extended rule after 2017. More than 3-million people have signed a petition calling for an amendment to the constitution to allow him to stand again.
WE CANNOT afford to disappoint Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari told his party leaders at the weekend, writes DIANNA GAMES.
Published in Business Day SA, 7 July 2015
Mr Buhari was responding to concerns from a nation impatient for signs that their new president has the will and capability to tackle corruption, fight insecurity and instill discipline into the polity.
Just a few weeks into the job, Mr Buhari is battling to get on top of an array of problems plaguing the country, despite bold promises made before the April election that he would move swiftly to build a better Nigeria. He has spent his early days in office fighting fires in his party and in the country.
Last week, it emerged that Mr Buhari may not announce his new cabinet before September — three months into his tenure and nearly six since his election as president.
CHAPTER: Africa’s FMCG & Retail Sectors in Africans Investing in Africa, produced by the Brenthurst Foundation (South Africa) and Tony Elumelu Foundation (Nigeria), published by Palgrave MacMillan (2015)
Political expediency is what drives the government of Zimbabwe, not the economy, not the interests of investors and certainly not the interests of its citizens, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day SA, 5 January 2015
AS 2000 dawned I was at an event where the subject of Zimbabwe came up. Many people in the discussion were adamant that President Robert Mugabe would be out of power within a few years. Then, they said, Zimbabwe would re-emerge as an economic power — Mugabe’s removal was seen as a necessary condition for economic revival.
At the time the economy was in trouble. Zimbabwe’s currency had plunged as a result of huge unbudgeted payouts to war veterans and it was burning money it did not have to prop up the president in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The year 2000 was seen as a watershed year. For the first time since 1980 the population voted against a Zanu (PF) plan — the new constitution — in a referendum at about the same time that a new political opposition emerged, which nearly won the election that year.
It seemed just possible then that Mugabe was on shaky ground.
A degraded new normal happens over time, incident by incident, until you forget what you have lost, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day Sa, 16 February 2015
THE destruction of value in a country is seldom a single event. It is a slow erosion, an incremental shift in perceptions and expectations, year by year, incident by incident, until one day what has been destroyed is largely forgotten and there is a new normal. People no longer complain or protest about what they have lost because they have found a way to adapt to a degraded situation.
An example of this is easily found in the power sector in Africa.
On a trip to Lagos in Nigeria many years ago I couldn’t help but notice the thumping sound of generators around every corner. SA’s lights were on 24 hours a day, barring calamities like lightning strikes, and back-up generators were a novelty.
I commented frequently on this striking contrast between the two great economies of Africa.
It wasn’t always like this, a Nigerian friend said. In the 1960s the Lagos grid functioned properly. But decades of underinvestment in the power sector by successive governments with other priorities had brought Nigeria to a situation where installed capacity of just 4,000MW was all that was available to serve a country of 160-million people.
Dysfunction is fuelled both by powerful vested interests which benefit from the status quo and by millions of people who earn incomes from 'parallel' economic acvities, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day SA, March 16 2015
ONE of the biggest complaints about Nigeria from foreign companies is how unnecessarily difficult it is to do business there. The government is not short of grand plans to diversify its economy and politically expedient quick wins but it is less exercised with dealing with the underlying factors that undermine economic development and diversification.
Many of its policies have focused on stimulating local manufacturing to reduce the country’s huge import bills. Over the years it has imposed import bans, slapped high tariffs on a range of goods and tried to pick winners to boost industrial development. But it has failed to simultaneously address the dysfunction that makes it so challenging to operate businesses in Nigeria.
These include a range of illegal business practices that have developed over the years to the extent they have now become part of the fabric of the economy, despite their corrosive and costly effect on development.