Kobo360 and SWVL launch in Nairobi on the same day

On one day late in August 2019, two young disruptive, but non-competing, logistics companies had parallel breakfast events to mark significant milestones in Nairobi.

Kobo360: There was the formal launch of Kobo 360, the pan-African logistics company which has been operating for five months in Kenya. Kobo360 pairs cargo owners with transporters, enabling the seamless booking and transport of goods to destinations while lorry owners get extra business and revenue from the running their trucks on the company’s platforms.

Kobo360 aims to is introduce efficiency and predictability to the $150 billion Africa logistics industry through real-time data, by providing insurance & tracking, and all to facilitate trust in delivery and payments. They operate in Nigeria, Kenya, Togo, Ghana, and Uganda and make deliveries to other countries in West, Central and Southern Africa from port cities.

Founded in Nigeria, they view tech adoption as being  higher in Kenya and they want to use it as a launchpad for the East Africa region. Kobo360 has offices in Mombasa and Nairobi and currently have 3,000 trucks and access to 4,000 drivers on their platforms. They have raised funding from the IFC, Goldman Sachs, TL Com, Chandaria Capital, Verod, Asia Africa and WTI.

SWVL Kenya official launch: The same day as the Kobo event, SWVL also announced their official launch in Kenya with a Kshs 1.5 billion expansion of its Kenya operation. This is equivalent to $15 million which is a lot of money that will go towards increasing their route network offering of high-quality public transportation. The company which was started in Egypt in 2017 has been operating in Nairobi for six months now and recently raised $42 million from its investors including BECO Capital and Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures. It has gone from operating four routes on which passengers can book rides on SWVL shuttles to fifty-five routes now across Nairobi. Here is a rice review of using SWVL by a Nairobi commuter.

Social Media That Matters by Ogilvy

Ogilvy Africa and Ogilvy Social Lab held a session in Nairobi a few days ago. Speakers tackled the state of social media in 2019 in terms of technology usage, making brands stand out, and the role of influencers, among other items. 

It looked at trends in the world of media dominated by platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google (the four horsemen of the internet), and we learnt that we are in the middle of the biggest social experiment ever as billions across the globe use these platforms every day to network, communicate, transact, engage and get information.

Some of the highlights included:

  • People look at their mobile phone screens an average of 53 times a day – consuming information as text, images, video, and stories in bit sizes.
  • Users spend an average of 6 hours 45 minutes per day consuming digital media, with social media accounting for 2 hours and 20 minutes of that. In Kenya, one study found that young users spend 3 and ½ hours a day on social media.
  • Kenya has 8 million Facebook users and 700,000 Twitter users. It also has 1.5 million on Instagram and 2.1 million on LinkedIn.
  • But engagement is a poor predictor of business results. Brands should produce less content, personalize it and pay to promote it.

  • Everything is becoming a shop – thanks to tools like augmented reality, ordinary objects like posters and benches can come to life when viewed through a phone lens – and lead to hidden videos and links to merchants as seen in Snapchat Lens, Google Lens and Shopping on Instagram. An example was cited of the Jordan shoe sale marking the 30th anniversary of Michael Jordan’s iconic dunk – people at special Nike parties who watched a geo-located augmented-reality advert on Snapchat were able to order a new release of the vintage shoes, in their size, and have them delivered to their homes in two hours. The shoes sold out in a few minutes.
  • People go to YouTube with ‘intent’ – they know what they are looking for and want to watch (usually in the evenings) and this contrasts with ‘discovery’ driven video consumption in the daytime. Also, the first seconds matter the most – there is 47% awareness created in the first three seconds of a video message.
  • The most ignored influencer is the one who works in customer care.

Equity buys BCDC, its second bank in DRC

Kenya’s Equity Bank Group Holdings has entered an agreement with some shareholders of Banqué Commerciale du Congo (BCDC) to buy a controlling stake in the bank with a view to consolidate it with its DRC subsidiary.

This comes a few years after Equity invested in DRC by purchasing a stake in ProCredit Bank. At the end of 2018, the DRC constitutes 8% of Equity group’s revenue, second behind Kenya’s 75% and ahead of Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. The DRC subsidiary had ~$558 million in assets, accounting for about half of its regional subsidies, with ~$13 million pre tax profit.

The deal is yet to be approved by shareholders of the institutions, the central banks of Kenya and the DRC and other regulatory agencies.

The bank has nine branches in Kinshasa, four in the southern part of the country and sixteen others in the interior of the country (including Bukavu, Goma and Kisangani).  The main shareholders of BCDC are George Arthur Forrest  & family with 66.53% and the Government of DRC with 25.53%, as well as other shareholders who own 7.94% of the bank. In 2017, BCDC had deposits of $485 million, loans of $282 million and a pre-tax profit of $12 million, that was achieved despite challenges of currency fluctuations and bad debt provisions.

NSE Ibuka

The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) “Ibuka” is an incubation program that aims to identify Kenyan companies and fast track their development and governance structures that will gain them exposure from investors. Several companies have joined the program which was launched and entails a ten-month course that will hopefully lead to an eventual listing at the NSE.

The companies that have signed up so far are:

  • (1) January 31 2019 – The NSE admitted APT Commodities, a leading tea exporter with a wide portfolio of brands such as Jambo Chai Tangawizi, Hassan Tea and Equity Green Tea, to join the Ibuka Program.
  • (2) March 15 –  Globetrotter Agency is a leading travel and tours company with enhanced domestic and international travel solutions, offers a wide variety of services including medical tourism.
  • (3) March 21 – Moad Capital provides independent commercial real estate advice and consultancy services.
  • (4) March 27 – Bluenile Rolling Mills is a leading hot rolled steel and wire products manufacturer with an annual turnover of Kshs. 4.5 billion. Established in 2007, it provides high-quality products across the region under its signature brands – Kifaru and Kifaru. It produces over 6,000 tons per month and has 800 employees.
  • (5) April 3 – Myspace Properties (Kenya), established in 2008,  is a private properties company serving the housing and property needs of real estate clientele.
  • (6) April 12 – Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Limited (VAELL) provides bespoke leasing services across in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia and has correspondent relationships with other leasing firms in South Africa and India.
  • (7) May 3 – Polygon Logistics, a company that was co-founded by a husband and his wife in 2010, does clearing and forwarding, imports and exports shipments as well as air charter flight services and airline representation.
  • (8) May 9 – Nile Capital Insurance Brokers provides general and life insurance products. Established in 2013, it is one of Kenya’s fastest growing insurance brokers and a preferred broker for domestic and international underwriters.
  • (9) May 13 – Nyali Capital, the company led by the best woman in business in Mombasa in 2018, is a non-deposit taking microfinance providing credit facilities, financial advisory services and training programs with special focus on empowering women and youth-owned businesses.

  • (10) May 14 – HomeBoyz Entertainment became the first entertainment company to join the program. Established in 1992, it offers bespoke services in event production and is listed as one of the top 10 event production companies in Africa.
  • (11) 30 May – TSG Realty, founded in January 2010, it focuses on serviced and furnished apartments, town homes and commercial real estate in the high-end, luxury market.
  • (12) June 25 – Naveah Capital Insurance Agency was established in January 2018 and aims to become the leading champion of wealth preservation in Africa through the provision of risk management and financial planning services.
  • (13) July 10 – Capital Power was formed in 2013 to undertake various renewable energy projects in Kenya.
  • (14) July 23 – Masumali Meghji Insurance Brokers is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Mombasa, and has served the region for more than 36 years, offering commercial and industrial covers to its clients.
  • (15) Aug 1 – Tusker Mattresses (Tuskys), which currently serves over 10 million customers monthly across 63 branches in Kenya and Uganda and on its premium e-commerce platform, aims to enhance its growth as the leading retail chain in the region. Founded in 1990, it has 6,000 staff and 3,000 suppliers.
  • (16) Aug 13 – Ceven aims to enhance service delivery among electricity customers in Kenya. It currently serves two contractual assignments with Kenya Power for distribution of pre-paid electricity tokens and processing post-paid payments.
  • (17) Sept 5 – RentCo East Africa seeks to leverage on the NSE Ibuka Program to enhance its growth as the leading asset leasing company in the region. The company leases out construction equipment, vehicles and aircraft to both public and the private sector. (via Business Daily)

Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) envisions having four new listings on the NSE every year.  Other companies expected to list, not necessarily through Ibuka, include Cytonn,  Jamii Bora, Vitaform, Bank of Kigali (Rwanda) and National Oil (NOCK).

Hopefully, the Ibuka program will eliminate the taint of the GEMS listings when new companies introduced to the NSE like Atlas Africa (already exited), Home Africa and Kurwitu have under-performed and disappointed investors who now view them as not being ready for a public listing.

UNCTAD report shows an unequal digital global economy

The increased use of digital platforms in everyday lives across the world is leading to a divide between under-connected nations from hyper-digitalized societies

The Digital Economy Report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) shows that China and the USA have done the most to harvest the digital economy and now dominate the rest of the world and leading to an unequal state of e-commerce. The two countries host seven global “super-platform” companies – Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Tencent and Alibaba that account for two-thirds of the total market value of the seventy largest digital platforms with Naspers as the only African company in the group.

Google and Facebook collected 65% of the $135 billion spent on internet advertising in 2017, while, in Australia, Google took 95% of the “search advertising” revenue while Facebook took 46% of the “display advertising” revenue.

Europe’s share of the digital economy is only 4% while Africa and Latin America combine for 1%.  In Africa, progress has also been uneven with four countries – Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa accounting for 60% of digital entrepreneurship activity. They are followed by a second tier of Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda (with a combined 20%)

The Report showed that the evolving digital economy has a major impact on achieving sustainable development goals (SDG’s) and calls for governments in developing nations to focus efforts on things like:

  • Skills development & re-education e.g. consider that in the Western world, you can do a whole university degree online.
  • Revising policies on data privacy & sharing e.g. have restricted local data sharing pools and have tariffs on cross-border data.
  • Revising competition regulations e.g. curb the tendency where platform companies tend to capture/acquire young promising companies in the developing world.
  • Taxation e.g. developing country governments should seek to tax digital platform companies.
  • Employment e.g. by setting minimum wages & work conditions for gig-economy workers.
  • Break down silos: no longer think of government as being separate from academia, private sector, civil society and tech communities.
  • Also, while the US and Europe have divergent views on data protection, it cites a survey which found that Kenyans had the least concerns about data privacy (at 44%).

Speaking at an unveiling of the Report in Nairobi, Dr. Monica Kerretts-Makau said that the world is trending towards a captive society where you have to be on a platform to transact in an economy and that presents problems and opportunities in the African context.

The 2019 issue of the Report, that was previously focused on the “information economy”, can be downloaded here.