Tag Archives: Africa

Growth Crossings: Africa Rising?

Excerpts from the Economist Events #GrowthCrossings dinner in Nairobi this week.


  • China grew by exporting to the world, Africa is rising by buying products – Abiola Olaniran
  • There are 1 trillion cash transactions in Africa that can be financially included through partnerships & technology – Sanjay Rughani
  • In two years, the unbanked African population has dropped from 54% to 46% – Sanjay Rughani
  • An ADB study found 3 drivers of Africa growth to be demographics (young urban population), climate change, and digital leapfrogging – Donald Kaberuka
  • A mobile network is many things in Africa, and Safaricom will be an ecosystem for others to succeed e.g in health, education, energy – Stephen Chege.
  • E-commerce is driven by high volumes, consistent delivery, and consumer protection – this takes a lot to succeed in Africa –  Sanjay Rughani.

JW Marriott to open hotel in Nairobi with AVIC

Today, Marriott International and AVIC International signed a partnership agreement which will see Marriott operate a 365-room, 5 star J.W Marriott luxury hotel for AVIC in their Africa headquarters and office complex, in Westlands Nairobi .

AVIC representatives said the company had been in Kenya for the 20 years, engaging in four areas; aviation (built the new JKIA airport terminal, and supplied Y12 aircraft), education (equipment and training for NYS projects), real estate (in which they hope to create 15,000 jobs), and CSR (sponsoring Kenyans to get educated in China). AVIC is a China state-owned company with 60 global offices .

Avic Marriott Nairobi signing

A VP from Marriott said that while the have 110 properties (with 13,000 rooms) in Africa, this was the first J.W Marriott in East Africa and  they planned to expand in 5 more countries by 2020 including Rwanda and Zambia. Also that they have 19 global brands, and may open under a different chain in Mombasa, Kenya). He said they have many Kenyans managing and working at their properties in the Middle East, and who were ready to come back home to work . He said that they choose owners and investors carefully to partner with in China and Africa.

Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero, who was hailed as a supporter of the project, said that the $400 million AVIC complex with JW Marriott hotel represents 6% of Nairobi’s annual new building space and 8% of the annual build cost. He also said that with 5,000 hotel beds, the city is strained when hosting large summits like the upcoming UNCTAD and TICAD 6, which will both be in Nairobi later in 2016.

Construction of the AVIC complex, started in August 2015. It will have 6 towers, with the tallest being 42 storeys. Building works are ongoing, next to the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel that has established itself over the last two years and who challenged the construction of the AVIC complex.

Dreaming of an African Formation

A true Beyonce fan must try to see Beyonce. And if that’s your travel dream, you should make it happen.

A few weeks, ago Beyonce performed at the Super Bowl half-time show. And, just before that, she released her Formation video, about which Awesomely Luvvie wrote .. “this Formation video (directed by Melina Matsoukas) that she dropped on everyone in the middle of a Saturday is the best thing she’s ever done.”

She also announced a Formation Tour with dates in the US and Europe.  The Formation Tour website  lists tickets that are still available  in several cities, some of which can be accessed with reasonable air fares from Nairobi. These include London ($749 round trip fare from Nairobi),  Zurich ($669(, Milan ($649), Copenhagen ($699), and Frankfurt ($649). (You should have saved up for by now, if you’re a true fan.)

A Beyonce super fan who plans to attend a Formation concert says it would be ideal if the concert tour came to Africa, probably Johannesburg (which is always a possibility).

I asked her if going to any of these European cities for the concerts intrigued her? Brussels? Copenhagen? Cardiff? Milan? And is she could combine a trip to those cities with fashion, museums, or something else? She said:

  • I want her to come to South Africa (SA). She needs to be watched with a squad and trying to haul many people to anywhere that requires boarding >1 plane is always hectic. Best option would be London, but those tickets get sold out in a matter of minutes. So. We’ll wait for SA.
  • Going to the city itself isn’t a problem. That’s the easy part. I went to watch Kendrick Lamar (and Usher) in New Orleans last year by myself and the thing that I missed was having my friends there. Just watching the act is fine but Beyonce is such a collective experience (see how the internet reacts whenever she does something, with all stans feeling the need to reach out and engage with other stans) that it seems like a disservice to yourself to do that experience without at least a couple of friends. Then the issue becomes logistics – everyone getting leave, visas, organizing flights, accommodation, etc. The further you go the more time you need, which makes it harder to synchronize.  
  • SA is a quick weekend trip + relatively cheap and hassle-free.  You can go after work on Friday and be back in the office by Monday a.m.

Awesomely Luvvie’s Beyonce Mixed GIF

Reasonable air fares from Nairobi are also available to US cities  that still have Formation tour tickets available between between April to June 2016, including Tampa, Raleigh, Nashville, San Diego,Seattle (WA, Edmonton, Minneapolis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.

Back to the formation video, which  is loaded with lots of references for Beyonce fans; to important pieces like the New Orleans, the Creole people, and towns in her life, like Alabama (Nairobi roundtrip tp Montgomemerry $1,589) and Lousiana (Baton Rouge $1,589) and Texas (Houston $1,099). 

Also see why Kenya is unlikely to have a Beyonce concert, any time soon.

Namibia President wins Mo Ibrahim Prize

President Hifikepunye Pohamba was today announced as the winner of the 2014 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The award

Earlier, there was some speculation or expectation, with the announcement being made in Nairobi, that Kenya’s former president Mwai Kibaki might be this year’s winner. The prize panel comprising Salim Ahmed Salim, Martti Ahtisaari  Aïcha Bah Diallo, Mohamed ElBaradei, and Graça Machel addressed that in a  Q&A session after the announcement was made by Salim

He said President Pohamba made a mark in terms of reconciliation, cohesion, and respect for the constitution. He had offered sound leadership while remaining humble. His achievements were seen in gender equality (48% of parliamentarians are women) a focus on health (80% of HIV cases receive therapy and transmission rates are falling) and education, tackling poverty (social safety nets and disability grants) while grappling with challenges like the widening inequality.

  • Questioned on the criteria, Baradei said the awards are not given in a vacuum – and this is measured by improvements in governance and leadership. President have to do the right things amid challenges, and create a cohesive society in which citizens can work together. Aicha mentioned his acceptance of political parties  and consultation with opposition leaders.  Graca said the achievements in his country were done in a very short period of time.
  • Are all winners from the Southern Africa region? Machel said that was not true and they analyze every case regardless of region. She said that while three winners are from Southern Africa, the SADC regional also had some bad (young) countries
  • Does it create encouragement? Has the prize had an impact in Africa and is it work all that money? Yes they said. Salim said they would rather go a few years without an award, than give an award for no reason. There has been no winner for three years, and that may happen again in future. Ultimately, the answers lie in numbers derived from the Foundation’s Index of African Governance.
  • The MC read out a tweet from a Kenyan newspaper that Kibaki lost to the prize to Pohamba’ – and Salim said that it was an assumption that they had considered Kibaki for the prize.Mo Ibrahim at the 2014 Prize announcement
  • Chris Kirubi compared giving a prize to wealthy retired presidents to putting water back into the river. Mo Ibrahim stood and disagreed with the that generalization saying it was detrimental  to make. He said this was due to Africans relying on foreign media  and only knowing a few continental leaders like Mandela and then the infamous ones – and asked how many in the room knew the past winners like presidents’ Festus Mogae  or Pedro Rodrigues Pires or Pohamba (before today)? He appealed to the media to report properly on Africa by knowing the 54 presidents, some of who were wealthy, but others who lived humble lives, and find more heroes, beyond Mandela. He said Pires, a former liberation leader who became president, called a taxi and went to live with his mother after he lost the election. He also cited Botswana’s former President Masire who once traveled to  a meeting in Addis where he was overlooked by VIP protocol as they didn’t know he was traveling in economy class (to set an example).
  • ElBaradei said  the fact they don’t have winner every year is also a message. They would like to see 2 or 3 qualified ex-presidents every year but Africa is still facing challenges of transiting to democracy and good governance.
  • The award, which is a $5 million prize paid over 10 years, followed by $200,000 annually for life thereafter, remains open to any president who has left office in the previous three years. It affords winners a chance to have dignified years in retirement and invest or fund activities they believe in.