Tag Archives: Africa Rising

Africa in 2017: Barclays Forecasts

Today Barclays Africa economists gave their forecasts on Africa and specifically Kenya for the year 2017 at an event that featured several roundtables sessions.

  • Populism: During 2016 the world changed in terms of two surprising votes in the US and the UK that reflected an inward focus. The votes in those countries were driven by populations who felt that their politicians were not pushing their agendas  on matters such as trade and immigration. Also while incomes of the rich & poor have been improving, those of the middle class have stayed stable or declined.
  • US President-elect Trump is expected to reduce the US corporate tax rate which  may woo companies to bring back some of the $2 trillion profits sitting outside the US.
  • barclays-africa-forumBanks are seen as making too much money and not playing their part in society – this has resulted in things like the interest rate cap law in Kenya.
  • Reaching  Entrepreneurs: There are 40-50 million emerging SME’s in Africa but only 1/5 of them have access to capital, and this is because banks ask for collateral
  • Banks operate in cash driven economies and many entrepreneurs don’t want to share information. Banks also have to collect a lot of documentation that bothers customers.
  • Barclays is committed to making sure there’s no systemic risk from their exit from Africa, and that its customers will continue to get good service in all the 10 markets
  • Barclays has a platform called Rise with centers in London, New York, Cape Town, Mumbai, Tel Aviv where they partner with companies on ideas to be implemented.
  • Africa: The continent  is now becoming a bit more fragile, and for the first time in a decade, Africa is going to grow at a slower pace than the global average 3.5% (but if you exclude  South Africa and Nigeria), the growth is still above average for most
  • African countries have been spending much more than their revenue and the years of deficits have eroded Africas strong starting point. Going forward, African countries will face higher financing cost and lower capital inflows.
  • Brexit Impact: 45% of FDI into Africa comes from Europe and  Kenya gets 23% from the UK.  But the pound has continued to weaken since the vote and this will result in reduced global demand for African exports, less tourism from UK/EU, and reduced remittances from African migrants
  • Kenya: The shilling currency has been weakening at a lower rate than its peers. This could make exports expensive and widens the current account deficit. It’s possible that the Kenya shilling  could depreciate to  110/$ over the next 12 months. This is mainly due to the expected dollar strength against all currencies. Kenya has strong exchange reserves and can tap an IMF precautionary fund to cushion shocks.
  • East Africa:  Trade lags the rest of the world. Since East African borders “opened up” around 2010, Kenya’s exports to the EAC have only increased by 8% compared to 50% to the rest of the world.

Growth Crossings: Africa Rising?

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

growthcrossings-nairobi

  • 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.

Domestic Resources Mobilization in Africa

African case studies on tax reform and domestic resource mobilization from Togo, Uganda and Ethiopia.

Togo 

  • IMF was not very happy when they merged the two offices of customs and revenue. But Togo accepted performance monitoring mechanism that was funded by the WB and when they saw that it was working, then the IMF came back on board.
  • Introduced reform in a country where the richest people are civil servants
  • Invested in computers, capacity building, software to have a system that tackles all aspects from declaration to dispute resolution.
  • Got 15,000 new taxpayers last year, while in past years they used to get 7,000.
  • Also improve speed and security. Previously, petroleum revenue used to be manually recorded. They now use PIN’s in different department, and the software is connected to the banking system so no more direct payments (all are done at at banks).
  • While they initally retired a number of officers who did not want to learn or comply, those who remained had improved terms with performance targets for which they earn bonuses
  • 2015 target was 480 billion CFA and they managed to college 516 billion.
  • They have not fully used the system yet. It’s only two years old, but they rely on their neighbours for internet connectivity.

Afcop AfriK4RUganda: 

  • Is in second phase of a 2019-20  plan which targets to  fully financing budget from domestic sources. The revenue authority started in 1991 but reforms started in 2005.
  • Even as the economy has grown, surprisingly the informal sector has also grown to take a larger share of the economy (49% of GDP, up from 43% in 2002. They have had to target the informal sector to keep up e.g via presumptive tax thresholds.
  • The revenue authorities treat the government as ‘private sector’and removed their exemptions like VAT and income tax.
  • Have business bands, and a taxpayer identification number (TIN) is requires for most transactions and permits, whether livestock movement, boda boda purchase, agriculture payments etc. All professionals – doctor engineers lawyers also have TIN’s, and they hope the introduction of national ID cards will enhance tax collection efforts.
  • They have a separate section for international taxation and have built capacity in oil & gas taxation. But as they train staff, other companies hire away their top performer, so they have to be retained.
  • They have simplified tax system so people can pay at their convenience e.g. via mobile money even when banks are closed.

Ethiopia:

  • Set out to mobilization domestic resources for the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa after foreign donors and partners who had supported previous smaller dams, balked at participation.
  • The GERD (Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) will generate 6,500 MW. It is 1,680 Sq.KM, and 120 kilometres by 14 kilometers and 146 metres high – and it took off  in April 2011, is 70% done, to be completed in July 2017.
  • Because of political impact river to other countries (shared Nile), external funding was blocked by international community and they turned to own people to meet the $4.8 billion cost (11% of their GDP or about 60% of the country’s 2012 budget).
  • Got contributions from individuals and companies –  local and diaspora –  though direct contributions, lotteries, music events.
  • They also had a diaspora bond which has raised $500 million. People bought the 1.5% bond that matured in 5,7, 10 years. The dam will generate income from electricity sales to pay back the bond – and is expected to generate $1 billion per year.
  • They also got support from banks, who expanded branches to reach more of the rural population (one bank now has 1,000 outlets) and mobilized deposits. The banks were required to allocate 27% of every loan they make to buy the bond.

Mobilizing Domestic Resources for Africa’s Transformation

This is the theme of the third Africa for Results Forum (AfriK4R) forum that’s taking place in Nairobi from July 13 to 15, and organized by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The first one was held in  2013 in Harare, and the next  in 2015 in Abidjan. One of the main concerns has been that, with the diminishing official development assistance (ODA)  to Africa, estimated to be 27% in 2014, and down from 38% in 2004., the budget needs of African governments need to be matched by a growth in local resources like taxes, exports and natural resources.

Kenya’s Devolution CS Mwangi Kiunjuri cited some of the resources available to Africa including $520 billion annually from domestic taxes that Africa generates, $168 billion from minerals & fuels,  $400 billion that Africa holds in international reserves, rise in Stock market Capitalization from $200 billion in 1996 to $1.2 trillion in 2007 and $160 billion in sovereign wealth funds (10 African countries have established these)

Challenges of African government face to mobilize domestic resources include: a very narrow tax base and a huge informal sector; high levels of capital flight; tax evasion & avoidance; proliferation of tax exemptions; lack of legitimacy of tax administrations; relatively low penetration of the formal banking sector; and lack of human, technical, legal, regulatory, and financial capacity to deal with illicit financial flows – Thomas Munthali, Director, ACBF.

Munthali, also cited good examples of domestic resource mobilization including the  Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) reform on e-money; the Uganda border-post anti-smuggling trade measures; the Zambian direct deposit of fees into one government account; Zimbabwe’s tapping on the informal sector by introduction of presumptive tax; and Malawi’s use of Electronic Fiscal Devices in VAT collection.

Farewell Naked Pizza – Part II

About two weeks ago, we got the unexpected news that the Naked Pizza chain was closing shop. I sought out Ritesh, the owner, and face, of the Naked Pizza Kenya franchise to ask about what happened.

We met for coffee at one Artcaffé, and he spoke about his background as a career investment banker who had lived an “up in the air” lifestyle (see the George Clooney movie) – at Credit Suisse and HSBC. He worked in Africa, Europe, Middle East and the US.

When he stepped away from banking, he started advising a few companies that were  trying to restructure their operations.  One of them was in the UK health sector. In the process, he bid alongside other investors and was the top bidder. And just a few months after he restructured and re-launched it, another health company bought him out.

When he first stated scouting the food business, no pizza brands were interested in Africa. He convinced Naked Pizza executives to meet him in Dubai when they toured their operation there. He then flew them to Nairobi and won them over and they signed a deal with him for the Kenya franchise.

 He then trained for a few weeks at Naked Pizza in Dubai, including in one of their pizza stores. He returned to Kenya and set out to hire a team, for which he paid above market rates for his staff. Some people working at other Nairobi pizza chains also applied, but after interviewing them, he shied away from them, as he felt they had in-built attitudes and practices. He preferred newbies to the food business.

Ragin Cajun at Naked Pizza Kenya

Setting up took longer. They had to import equipment and build a supply chain with companies who would deliver quality cheese, meats, grains, and vegetables to be ever fresh.

The (Westlands) store location was not ideal for some (like me), but it worked – as 85-90% of their pizza business was deliveries. And being in that building was about 1/3 of the cost of setting up in a mall.

They had a soft launch, with a focus on product, customer, and delivery. i.e. to get fast deliveries of great pizza to happy customers.

In the early days they built their own neighbourhood mapping system to ensure fast deliveries. He also got on the bike and did deliveries with the riders, as the teams noted unique Nairobi details (“e.g. the blue gate on Parklands Road, after three bumps”), which they then added into the ordering system to ensure faster deliveries in the future.

On some days when orders came in, and all the delivery motorbikes were out, he’d sometimes grab a pizza and do the delivery with his car. They started with deliveries near the store, and slowly increased i.e. from a store radius of 5 minutes, then 10, then accepting orders to neighbourhoods with 15 minutes radius of the store. This was a challenge as people from farther would call and ask for pizza, and they would have to decline orders, as they were outside the radius.

They had opened shortly before the 2013 Kenya election, and on election day,  they became an object of curiosity with their commitment to remain open and deliver pizza on election day.  They also ensured that all their staff got to vote, by having them take different work shifts.

International media came to cover the pizzeria that vowed it would be open to serve customers, despite the wide international fear that Kenya’s election would again be violent. The Kenya election may also have been a turning point for him in ways that he did not realise till much later. The election news coverage was noticed in the USA – by some pizza managers who did not associate pizza with Africa, but could now see Ritesh on CNN.

They never had to market the chain. They got a lot of mileage from a fun twitter account that he ran by himself, before he handed it over to a keen staff member. They would tweet on customers, deliveries, and suppliers, and also  when rival pizza owners would come to eat at Naked Pizza and see what was drawing their customers. He resisted doing promotions like the buy one get one free pizza that captivates many in Nairobi.

They had loyal customers who kept ordering more pizza. Their were also some awkward moments with the customers – like some who ordered pizza, while they were on a date somewhere, but the pizza was taken to their house (which was listed in Naked Pizza system) – and that was  a surprise! Or others who ordered the smallest food item to go along with a large quantity of reasonably priced alcohol to be delivered by Naked Pizza just before 11PM.

Ritesh couldn’t talk about numbers paid for the exit (Pizza Hut bought the restaurant operations of Naked Pizza). One of the things he negotiated for in the deal, was for the buyers’ company to take on all his Naked Pizza staff to work in their different companies.

But the departure was not about the difficulty of the business, which was a success, but one full of battles that were not necessary. He had a whole wall of licenses (as does every Kenyan business, that any government inspector could walk in and ask to see any of a dozen different licenses at any given time), equipment that got stuck at the port with demands for bribes, they did well on tenders that were later canceled and re-advertised, there were phone calls, arrest and harassment of delivery motorcycle riders etc.

The decision to exit was not instant. Soon after he signed on for the franchise, an investor power shift took places at Naked Pizza headquarters that ejected the key partners who he had negotiated with. This left him without crucial mentorship and support that he needed. He got some help in Nairobi – where  some food executives such as Kevin Ashley (Java) and Gavin Bell (Kengeles), welcomed him, and advised him. But others, especially in the pizza sector were not as welcoming.

As he’d grown the business, he’d scaled back the ambitions he had – his initial plan was for 15 stores, then 10, and then 5. Eventually they opened three stores in three years. Pizza’s need customers, and there are some industry numbers that are true no matter what country you are in the world e.g. one pizza store needs to serve 50,000 households in the area.  Also a new store opening nearby can drop the sales of a pizza restaurant by  30–40% instantly, which they could expect and could build back these numbers over the next few months.

But the more pizza stores that are in an area, the more buyers everyone would have to find. And he really didn’t see the market, that other global brands were now chasing. Nairobi now had Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. The new entrants, inspired by “Africa Rising” statistics (and his CNN and CNBC stories!) were ambitious and opened stores at a rapid clip, and had plans to open many more in locations that did not make apparent sense to him. He own findings did not show that there was a prosperous middle class, ready and able, to buy quality pizza in Nairobi.

So it was time to move on.