Africa Brief: Zimbabwe road upgrade, draft constitution, mobile for SMEs, and more
Firms to assess feasibility of Zimbabwe highway project
The Zimbabwe transport department has commissioned the European project management, engineering and consultancy group Royal Haskoning to conduct a major road upgrade and tolling study on the 580km-long Harare-Beitbridge highway. The expected cost of rehabilitating the route is more than $600m, some of which will be funded as a loan against revenue from future tolls.
The Danish group said the study was urgent as the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the African Development Bank needed to decide whether to commit funding by next month. The study involves traffic studies, devising a toll strategy, engineering analysis and design, environmental-impact scoping, an economic feasibility study and preparation of a draft project memorandum for potential investors.
For the full story, read Firms to assess feasibility of Zimbabwe highway project by Mark Allix, published in Business Day on 07/02/2013.
One voice from Zimbabwe parliament on draft constitution
Zimbabwe’s parliament yesterday endorsed the country’s draft constitution, paving the way for a referendum and elections to be held this year. Douglas Mwonzora, the constitutional parliamentary committee co-chairman, presented the draft constitution and a report on the constitution-making process to parliament, which gave both documents the green light.
The National Constitutional Assembly now plans to roll out nationwide door-to-door campaigns to mobilise for a rejection of for the draft constitution.
“This is not a democratic and people-driven constitution. Instead, this is a constitution being imposed on us by the three political parties, yet the people are bigger than these three parties,” said activist Lovemore Madhuku.
For the full story, read One voice from Zimbabwe parliament on draft constitution by Ray Ndlovu, published in Business Day on 07/02/2013.
ICT is a driving force behind SME growth in Africa
Across Africa, hundreds of rural communities access village phones, which have been established in areas where electricity is unavailable and where the network can only be accessed with a booster antenna. Fishermen and traders in remote villages and towns rely on cell phones to scout for the most profitable destination for their fish and fresh produce.
Agricultural traders and fishermen use cell phones to reduce the cost of doing business, calling to first establish demand instead of travelling long distances to deliver their catch and fresh food. This allows entrepreneurs to order supplies and pay for goods and services using cell phones, significantly reducing the risk associated with carrying large sums of cash.
The Village Phone programme, M-Agriculture, Mobile Money and many other information and communications technologies (ICT) programmes are just a few examples of how entrepreneurs, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), across the continent are successfully using mobile technologies to connect with customers and grow their businesses.
According to Informa Telecoms & Media, the continent had registered a staggering 700 million mobile subscriptions at the end of December last year, an annual increase of 15%. With its already high cell phone penetration figures, this is yet another example of Africa’s overwhelming appetite for mobile connectivity.
For the full story, read ICT is a driving force behind SME growth in Africa by Farhad Khan, published in The Star, Business Report on 07/02/2013.
Zambia: Longer mining rights on cards
Zambia would probably approve an amendment to its mining law this year, which would be beneficial to companies operating in Africa’s biggest copper producer, Mines Minister Yamfwa Mukanga said yesterday. The changed Mines and Minerals Act would allow for longer licensing permits so investors “have the confidence that they will have security of tenure“, he said.
For the full story, read Zambia: Longer mining rights on cards by Bloomberg, published in The Star, Business Report on 07/02/2013.