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Africa Brief: Inflationary pressure feared, Togo-Ecobank goes on hiring drive, Famous Brands in Africa and more

Inflationary pressure feared 

Uganda‘s central bank held its benchmark lending rate at 11 percent on 2 July 2013, citing renewed inflationary pressure. Policymakers said the bank expected annual core inflation would rise slightly over the next two or three months, before falling back towards its medium-term target of 5 percent. The adverse weather conditions being experienced in most parts of the country could push up prices in the near term and this poses an upward risk to the inflation forecast.

For the full story, read Inflationary pressure feared by Reuters, published by The Star, Business Report on 03/07/13

Togo-Ecobank goes on hiring drive 

Ecobank Transnational, Africa’s most geographically diverse lender, is seeking a new investment banking chief as it hires people across the continent to tap growth. Ecobank is based in Lome, Togo. It’s corporate and investment banking arm had almost 600 staff in 33 African. Countries as well as in Paris and London. Ecobank merged its corporate and investment banking businesses last year to compete with larger rivals.

Excerpt from Togo-Ecobank goes on hiring drive by Reuters, published by The Star, Business Report on 03/07/13

Food group serves up offerings for Africa

Famous Brands, whose port­folio includes Wimpy, Debonairs Pizza and Steers is on track with its plan to open about 55 restaurants in Africa this year.

“With more than 12 years’ experience in the region, we’re quite a long way up the learning curve; we’ve paid our school fees.”

Our philosophy about Africa is to think narrow and deep rather than wide … for us; it’s about 15 African countries and working those very hard with regard to the brands and trading formats. For the March to May quarter, the group’s Africa region, which excludes SA, saw a 27.2% improve­ment in sales.

“What this figure is really telling us is that they’re forging into the rest of Africa and that is making a big difference for them,”says Chris Gilmour, an analyst at Absa Investments.

Avior equity analyst Jiten Bechoo says the greatest challenge for Famous Brands will be to establish a supply chain to service its outlets as infrastructure in the rest of Africa is poor. The other challenge that it could encounter is the difficulty in establishing credible and sustain­able suppliers of inputs. African expansion by companies which supply the group in SA is still slow and tentative due to the political and economic risks still evident in African countries, he says.

“On the whole, Famous Brands’ African expansion strategy should therefore be tentative to prevent a misallocation of capital, together with a mistiming of entry.”

Africa’s fast-growing prospects have caught the eye of local players Spur Corporation and Taste Hold­ings, as well as global chains.

Excerpt from Food group serves up offerings for Africa by Zeenat Moorad, published by Business Day on 03/07/13

Tawana resumes trading after Liberia iron-ore study

Australian Stock Exchange- and JSE-listed Tawana Resources has lifted the trading halt on its stock after announcing a positive result from initial studies of its Mofe Creek iron-ore project in Liberia. Mr Kolff cited the project’s close proximity to the coast and potential to produce a high-quality 60% iron concentrate through a low-cost mining operation as positive factors. Mr Cockerill said:

“I believe there are still good prospects for iron-ore mining in West Africa although these have been scaled back, as they have been around the world.

“The big advantage the West African projects have is that they will not be subject to the very high costs of expensive Australian labour. Tawana is aiming to develop an open-cut mining operation with a production period of at least 10 years.

Petmin executive chairman Ian Cockerill, who is also chairman of Hummingbird.

For the full story, read Tawana resumes trading after Liberia iron-ore study by Brendan Ryan, published by Business Day on 03/07/13

Zimbabwe gold production soars

The Blanket gold mine in Zimbabwe has recorded a 10.7% rebound in second-quarter production. Experts are saying the restoration of certainty in the operating and regulatory framework will provide growth impetus to the sector, as Zimbabwe has low pro­duction costs while no capital is needed to market minerals. Goldsearch Technical Services executive Vimbai Chakanetsa said gold producers are being held back by capital and power constraints. The Blanket gold mine had production of 22,064oz of gold, a 6.5% increase on gold production in the first half of the previous year. Freda Rebecca gold mine produced 65,350oz of gold in the 12 months to March 2013.

For the full story, read Zimbabwe gold production soars by Tawando Karombo, published by Business Day on 03/07/13

David Okwara

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