Africa Brief: Nedbank enters Mozambique market, Nigeria-SA relationship and more

Nedbank purchase signals Mozambique entry

Nedbank Group, which announ­ced on Friday it was entering the Mozambican market, remains on target for a solid financial perfor­mance this year.  Nedbank, Old Mutual Group’s bank subsidiary, is entering Mozam­bique by acquiring an initial 36.4% stake in Banco Unico for $24.4m. Nedbank plans to take a majority stake later.  South African banks are targeting expansion opportunities elsewhere on the continent in line with strategies to tap faster-growing developing countries.

The Ecobank-Nedbank alliance formed in 2008 has a banking network in Africa of more than 1,500 branches in 35 countries. Banco Uni­co manages 14 branches and 259 employees spread across Maputo, Matola, Beira, Tete and Nampula.

Expansion into the rest of Africa is one of Nedbank’s four key strategic focus areas. The combination of Nedbank and Gevisar as equal shareholders, working with the management team, offers a com­pelling  proposition in the Mozam­bican market,” said Smit Crouse, managing executive: Rest of Africa Investments, for Nedbank.

Banco Unico planned to grow through branch expansion, which would entail doubling the number of branches to more than 30 in the next few years. Nedbank said it had produced a solid financial performance in the first quarter of this year.

For the full story, read Nedbank purchase signals Mozambique entry, by Edward West, published by Business Day on 06/05/13

Nigerian state visit is a chance to tackle problems with SA

The arrival of Nigeria‘s pres­ident in SA today for the first Nigerian state visit since 2009 is an important sym­bolic development in the relationship between two of Africa’s most impor­tant countries. The intention behind this visit, and that of our president to Abuja recently, is clear. The states need to leverage their collective strength for the good of the continent and themselves, and tackle the issues that divide them.

The relationship is complicated. It is often described as being simulta­neously co-operative and competitive. Unspoken rivalry about continental leadership bedevils relations. SA’s role of being Africa’s voice in international blocs has served only to rile Nigeria and SA’s attempt to leverage its Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and SA) membership to gain favour in Africa has not impressed the Nigerians. Commentators are quick to seize on issues that raise areas of compet­itiveness.

The commercial interest in Nigeria by SA’s companies has grown over the past few years as wary executives have accepted that no African strategy is complete if it excludes Africa’s biggest market. Strong political ties are important for the success of SA’s business in Nigeria. Most companies do not rely on the government to expand their business interests into other countries, but issues at an official level can affect the kind of welcome they can expect. So it is good for business that the lead­ers of the two countries are increasing official contact.

The perception that SA does not allow Nigerian busi­nesses to invest here is incorrect but it persists, fuelled by uninformed debate. This week’s state visit is, symbol­ically, an important event that is set­ting the tone for a new era in SA-Nigeria relations. It is important that our leaders are talking and that they are seen to be doing so.

For the full story, read Nigerian state visit is a chance to tackle problems with SA by Dianna Games, published by Business Day on 06/05/13

Where the talk is all about Africa

More than 1000 people from businesses, governments and special interest groups in 80 countries will descend on Cape Town this week for the 23rd World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa. The theme of this year’s talks will be phrased “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”.

They will obviously try to look at the positive growth story that we have had over the past few years,” said Giulia Pellegrini, economist and strategist for sub-Saharan Africa at JP  Morgan.

Despite the turbulence of the financial crisis, Africa’s growth was robust at around 5% so they will try and look at the positive growth story to see how to harness that to effectively spread the wealth to make it more inclusive.”

Peter Attard Montalto, emerging markets economist at Nomura, said the real issue will most likely be how to help Africa power ahead when the global economy is going to be providing minimal support in the coining few years.  Although the event is punted as a forum about the whole continent, it is often dominated by a South African agenda. Only 14 African heads of state are expected to attend and in total 35 African countries will be represented.

For the full story, read Where the talk is all about Africa by Rene Vollgraaff, published by Business Day on 06/05/13

David Okwara

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