Discussion with Jason Kazilimani on investment prospects in Zambia

Africa Brief: New Swazi airport stands idle as citizens count cost; Standard Bank new rules put Angolan unit in black; and more…

Swaziland: New airport stands idle as citizens count cost

SWAZI King Mswati III seems oblivious to descriptions of his new R3 billion airport as a “vanity project”. Opening the facility this week, he named the airport after himself. “The nation will agree with me that we have all been looking forward to this day because the new airport comes with mul­tiple benefits for the general populace. We welcome you all to this new jewel for the kingdom,” he said.

It is hard to agree with King Mswati as the airport is surrounded by open fields, goats and cattle rather than hotels and service businesses. It also seems very unlikely that travellers would not rather arrive at OR Tambo in Johannesburg which is a mere 30 minutes away from the new Swazi airport by plane.

At the time, the cost of the airport per person was R500. Eleven years later, with a population one-third larger and costs having bal­looned six fold, the airport price for every Swazi man, woman and child has become R2 300.

To add to the imminent failure of the new Swazi airport a study has shown that for the airport to cover all of its operating costs it will need to accommodate 400 000 passengers a year of which only 70 000 are making up the current demand.

Excerpt from New Swazi airport stands idle as citizens count cost published on 12 March 2014 by Business Report.

Iliad Africa to grow core Buco chain after reshuffle

BUILDING materials distribu­tor Iliad Africa will focus on growing its Buco chain of hard­ware and building material stores as it wraps up its port­folio restructuring projects. The hardware supplier caters to large-scale develop­ment and construction groups as well as do-it-yourself home­owners and operates through 74 stores nationally.

During the 12 months to De­cember last year, Iliad Africa sold its underperforming ceramics stores and timber wholesale business. This reshuffling resulted in the group ending the year with net cash of R38.8 million, com­pared with a net overdraft of R76.9m in the previous year. Revenue for the year lifted 4.1 percent to R4.2 billion. Excluding the once-off costs, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) increased by 1.9 per­cent to R149m.

The first six months of the com­pany’s financial year had been challenging as it was undergo­ing restructuring, whereas the second half of the year repre­sented some hope in regards to consumer spending.

Excerpt from Iliad Africa to grow core Buco chain after reshuffle published on 12 March 2014 by Business Report.

New rules put Angolan unit in black

Standard Bank broke even in Angola in August last year after a law requiring oil firms to pay suppliers in kwanzas and use local banks lifted revenue, assets and credit at the unit Revenue rose 80 percent year on year to $75 million (R806m) last year, while assets increased by 150 percent to $1.7 billion.

Excerpt from New rules put Angolan unit in black published on 12 March 2014 by Business Report.

Zimbabwe: Expansion costs hit Jet Stores

Profit at the Zimbabwe unit of Jet Stores, which now has 23 shops in the country declined 40 percent during the year to January 14 although holding company Edgars Zimbabwe posted an after-tax profit of $4.2 million (R45.1m) for the period.

Excerpt from Expansion costs hit Jet Stores published on 12 March 2014 by The Star, Business Report.

Zambia: StanChart buys into Copperbelt

Standard Chartered’s private equity arm has acquired a quarter of Zambia’s Copperbelt Energy for $57 million (R613m).

Excerpt from ZAMBIA: StanChart buys into Copperbelt published on 12 March 2014 by The Star, Business Report.

Cameroon: Ecobank board removes chief

The board of Ecobank decided yesterday to remove chief executive Thierry Tanoh following months of turmoil at one of the biggest financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Excerpt from CAMEROON: Ecobank board removes chief published on 12 March 2014 by the Star, Business Report.

Kenya/Uganda: Orange mulls scaling down

Orange was considering cutting its holdings in Kenya and Uganda, it said yesterday, potentially scaling back investments by the largest French cellular carrier in Africa.

Its options for Uganda and Kenya included finding new financial or operational partners to help invest in phone networks and support the development of the carriers.

Excerpt from KENYA/UGANDA: Orange mulls scaling down published on 11 March 2014 by The Star, Business Report. 

Tanzania: Annual inflation remains at 6%

Tanzania’s year-on-year inflation was 6 percent last month, unchanged from January.

Analysts expect the inflation rate to rise because of higher energy and fuel costs, making it unlikely the government will achieve its 5 percent inflation target by June.

Excerpt from TANZANIA: Annual inflation remains at 6% published on 10 March 2014 by The Star, Business Report.

Nigeria: Mobile games take off 

IT’s a common enough scenario in Nigeria and across Africa: how to get rid of pesky mosquitoes whose buzzing disturbs sleep and whose bites can carry malaria and other diseases. Therefore it is no wonder that Nigerian start-up has tapped this and created the online game known as “Mosquito Smasher” which has earned com­parisons to worldwide mobile appli­cation (app) success Angry Birds. Another, the highly popular Okada Ride, has players guide a motorcycle-taxi driver around roadside street vendors, road-blocks and police in the noto­rious traffic of Lagos.

The popularity of the online games is due to two reasons namely, that the games are simple and that they give the gamer the everyday feel of being in the centre of Lagos, Nigeria. Maliyo, the makers of Mosquito Smasher and Okada Ride, as well as Kuluya are both based in Lagos and are striving to allow the African market to feature prominently on the radar of game developers.

Excerpt from Mobile games take off in Nigeria published on 10 March 2014 by Business Day.

David Okwara

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