Category Archives: Ethiopia

Asoko reviews Flower Farms (Floriculture) in Kenya

Asoko Insight has published an interesting review of flower farms and the floriculture industry in Kenya showing trends for the region and new markets for what has been a steady export for the country. It is Interesting that the Netherlands is considered the world’s largest producer of flowers with a 45% of the export value, followed by Colombia 17% and Ecuador 10%. Kenya has 9% of the global flower market, far ahead of Uganda and South Africa in Africa.

  • Export-oriented: Kenya flower exports earned $813 million (Kshs 81 billion) in 2017 according to Kenya’s Horticultural Crops Directorate and these are growing at 11% per year. Kenya’s 2018 economic survey has these cut flowers, 160,000 tones of them representing 71% of horticultural earnings; much larger than vegetables and fruits at Kshs 24 and 9 billion, respectively. Most flowers are grown for export, while domestic demand is but a small fraction that comprises purchase of low grade products. 
  • Producers: There are 236 companies actively growing flowers, 24 are large, and these include Oserian Development, James Finlay, Carzan, Primarosa, Vegpro Group, AAA Growers, Mount Elgon Orchards, Flamingo, PJ Dave, Kariki, and Timaflor. Producers need certification to break into export markets and sell at premiums. Large farms market their flowers to sister companies and contract smaller farms who also have the option of using international wholesalers.
  • Netherlands: FloraHolland is the largest flower auction in the world and has historically Europe has been the main destination of Kenya’s horticultural trading, but the report  mentions that some large Kenyan producers are bypassing the Dutch auction system, directly supplying bouquets and loose flowers to large Western retailers such as Walmart and Tesco who focus on delivery, reliability, and traceability, not just price. Primarosa was recently in the news pushing for the Kenya floriculture industry to set up its own flower auction.
  • Ethiopia: The report also compares the floriculture industry of Kenya and Ethiopia which has been in the news due to the long-running Karuturi versus Stanbic bank case which has highlighted that some flower farms are shifting their floriculture interests and investments to Ethiopia where there are less labour (union) and tax issues in production. Kenya’s flower exports in 2016 were $690 million compared to $190 million for Ethiopia. That said, it has not been smooth sailing for Karuturi in Ethiopia so far.  

Read more in the Asoko report (PDF) on Kenya’s floriculture industry.

Ethiopia privatization window opens

Several weeks of rapid news has seen Ethiopia privatization of state enterprises proposed as one of several changes to sustain what has been one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. This all comes in the wake of a new era under Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, who is leading change within the country and outside, such as on his recent visit to Kenya.

In the last few days the Ethiopian government has lifted a state of emergency, signaled an effective cease-fire with Eritrea, released long-jailed political prisoners, reshuffled security leaders, launched e-visa’s for all international arrivals with a view to dropping visa requirements for all other African nationals, and opened the Menelik palace to tourists among other changes, which have drawn comparisons or Abiy to Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia in the 1980’s.

The surprise was statements about plans for the massive Ethiopia privatization program in which the government would sell minority stakes in roads, logistics, shipping, and prime assets like Ethiopian Airlines, which just took delivery of its 100th aircraft, a Boeing 787, and which is the centrepiece of a logistical, tourism and business hub plan for the country. The program would also extend to two sectors that have been off-limits to foreign investors up to now;  banking and telecommunications.

For comparison, a 2012 list of Eastern Africa’s largest banks had the Commerical Bank of Ethiopia as the largest in the region followed by National Bank of Mauritius and KCB in Kenya, and at last measure (2017) had about  $17 billion of assets, 1,250 branches, and 16 million customers. And in telecommunications, Ethio Telecom, a government-owned monopoly has about 20 million customers in a country with population of 107 million (many of them children), but still a low penetration rate. 

Ethiopia privatization of state enterprises is not a new item, but it is one which the government has put side as it pursued an industrialization model that has seen the building of new infrastructure, new factories, industrial parks, agro-processors, leather parks, vehicles manufacturers etc. but which has not been equally felt by the country’s large and young population – and this has seen wide-spread protests and a state of emergency that ushered in a new leadership with a new prime minister (Abiy). 

It also came after a lengthy story in the FT – Financial Times on the state of Ethiopia’s economy which cited the fatigue that China has with large investments and some projects that are operating below capacity coupled with the high government debt and shortage of foreign currency  – Two investors said that Sinosure, China’s main state-owned export and credit insurance company, was no longer extending credit insurance to Chinese banks for projects in Ethiopia as willingly as it used to. It notes that imports into the country are four times that of exports from  Ethiopia leading to the shortage of foreign currency.

The changes in Ethiopia could also be a warning to other African counties that have been molded in a similar way to Ethiopia model, with heavy borrowing from China and building infrastructure and mega-projects for the future.  When the Ethiopia privatization program starts it’s unclear who will benefit and if Chinese companies will be given priority given that they have invested for a long period in Ethiopia compared to other new companies, such as Vodacom and MTN, who are excited about the prospects that are now opening up

Kenya Airways and Delta Codeshare

Delta Air Lines and Kenya Airways have applied to the US Department of Transportation with an expedited request for the two airlines to be expeditiously granted reciprocal codeshare rights for each others’ flights.

The application (PDF) dated 7th May, applies to Delta and Delta Connection flights in North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean to carry the Kenya Airways (KQ) code, while the Kenya Airways will immediately place Delta’s code (DL) on flights between Nairobi to/from Johannesburg (South Africa), Lilongwe, (Malawi), Djibouti (Rep. of Djibouti) and Maputo, (Mozambique).

Delta routes will be part of the codeshare.

Delta which reaches 325 destinations, currently has services to Dakar (Senegal), Lagos, Accra, and Johannesburg, while Kenya Airways is scheduled to start flights to New York in October 2018. There is no mention of Air France/KLM, who have been Kenya Airways long-term joint-venture partner for two decades, in the new US codeshare application.

The new codeshare arrangement which covers “persons, property, and mail,” is an expansion of a previously approved reciprocal codeshare arrangement between Northwest Airlines and Kenya Airways for flights originating in Kenya and North America. Northwest merged with Delta in 2009. The new codeshare will also extend to all Delta Connection regional affiliate airlines (namely Compass Airlines, Endeavor Air, ExpressJet Airlines, GoJet Airlines, Republic Airline and SkyWest Airlines).

Aside from Kenya, Ethiopian Airlines, which flies to several American destinations of Washington (DC), Newark, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto (Canada), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Rio de Janeiro & São Paulo (Brazil) is also expanding its American network via routes in West Africa. The airline is reported to have secured rights to fly passengers to Houston via Accra, while it also confirmed that it had entered a codeshare with Air Côte d’Ivoire for flights to Newark via Abidjan.

Ethiopia – Kenya relations impact roads and coastal developments

This week, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, visited Kenya on a state visit and with his host, President Uhuru Kenyatta made commitments for regional infrastructure projects of aviation roads, railway, and electricity.

According to the joint communique released by Kenya’s President, some resolutions going forward from their talks include:

  • The two countries will develop Moyale on the border as a city and economic zone.
  •  Kenya will avail land to the Ethiopia government at Kenya’s new port in Lamu that is under construction, and Ethiopia will develop that to facilitate logistics for their country,

  • The two countries will develop the LAPSSET projects including the road from Isiolo, (via Moyale) to Addis Ababa, a railway line from Addis to Nairobi and an electricity transmission line between the two countries. They would also supervise the road between Lamu, to Moyale (via Garissa and Isiolo) and on to Addis (via (Hawassa).
  • Ethiopian Airlines would be granted a second flight frequency to Mombasa,
  • Also, the two countries will have joint military training even as the leaders the lack of  international support to combat Alshabab through AMSIOM which faced inadequate funding and attention. The countries would also cooperate on agriculture, and the exchange of prisoners (edit: this is already happening).

Changes at Lamu are coming, including land acquisition by the government which has been slow and sometimes controversial and recently, a court ruled that the government should compensate Lamu fishermen (4,600 of them) for not consulting them on the port design plans.

Barclays launches the Africa Financial Markets Index 

Barclays launched their first edition of the African Financial Markets Index (AFMI) that ranks and compares the depth of financial markets in seventeen African countries. The countries were score against six broad pillars of (1) Financial markets depth, (2) Access to foreign exchange,  (3) Market transparency & the regulatory environment, (4) Macroeconomic opportunity, (5) Enforceability of agreements and (6) Capacity of local investors.

South Africa came out on top of the AFMI with 92 out of 100. It was classified as a highly developed market but (with a) challenging macroeconomic outlook; It was followed distantly by Mauritius (66), Botswana (65) and Namibia (62).

Kenya was ranked fifth (59), just ahead of Nigeria (53) Ghana (49) and Rwanda (48), and Kenya was found to be the most sophisticated in East Africa due to innovations and reforms by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the Capital Markets Authority (CMA).  Kenya’s scores were quite consistent across the six pillars with recent developments including the de-mutualization and the IPO of the NSE, the launch of a first exchange-traded fund by Barclays Kenya, and the launch of the M-Akiba bond.

Kenya is the seventh largest stock exchange by market capitalization and sixth by bond listings. But George Asante, Managing Director and Head of Markets at Barclays Africa said that Kenya lacked deep-pocketed market-makers who could broker deals, and take price risks and also that Kenya needed to develop a primary dealership network. He added that the participation of local investors in long long-term investing was quite limited and local investors are critical as they buffer volatility caused by foreign investors. Assets were concentrated among buy-and-hold investors, rather than pension funds and insurers. Kenya’s domestic institutional investors have $12.6 billion of assets but this only works out to  $173 per capita and he suggested that Kenyan markets and regulators needed come up with more securities listings, instruments, and innovations.

Barclays Bank of Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said that “The AFMI will be produced annually to drive conversations, track progress and address gaps in financial markets.” Already countries like Rwanda and Morocco want to use the index data to improve their financial markets.  At the tail end of the AFMI was Egypt, Mozambique, Seychelles and Ethiopia. Ethiopia was scored as “a fast-growing economy but with no financial markets depth or local investor capacity.”  

Guests at the launch included Jeffrey Odundo, CEO of the NSE, and Paul Muthaura, CEO of Kenya’s CMA. Muthaura said the CMA had a master plan to make Kenya a choice destination for capital flows by 2023, while Odundo said the NSE has broadened its  revenue and product base (by introducing REIT’s, ETF’s, M-Akiba and next derivatives, and a new law to govern securities lending), and was working to make Kenya more visible. They are active members of the Africa Securities Exchange Association and will host a “Building African Financial Markets” seminar in Nairobi in April 2018. They also plan to join the World Federation of Exchanges.

The AFMI report can be downloaded here from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum website; OMFIF produced the report with Barclays Africa